Myths of Babylonia and Assyria
Page: 90Perhaps it was due to the monotheistic tendency, if not to the fusion of father-worshipping and mother-worshipping peoples, that bi-sexual deities were conceived of. Nannar, the moon god, was sometimes addressed as father and mother in one, and Ishtar as a god as well as a goddess. In Egypt Isis is referred to in a temple chant as "the woman who was made a male by her father Osiris", and the Nile god Hapi was depicted as a man with female breasts.
God and Heroes and the "Seven Sleepers"--Quests of Etana, Gilgamesh, Hercules, &c.--The Plant of Birth--Eagle carries Etana to Heaven--Indian Parallel--Flights of Nimrod, Alexander the Great, and a Gaelic Hero--Eagle as a God--Indian Eagle identified with Gods of Creation, Fire, Fertility, and Death--Eagle carries Roman Emperor's Soul to Heaven--Fire and Agricultural Ceremonies--Nimrod of the Koran and John Barleycorn--Gilgamesh and the Eagle--Sargon-Tammuz Garden Myth--Ea-bani compared to Pan, Bast, and Nebuchadnezzar--Exploits of Gilgamesh and Ea-bani--Ishtar's Vengeance--Gilgamesh journeys to Otherworld--Song of Sea Maiden and "Lay of the Harper"--Babylonian Noah and the Plant of Life--Teutonic Parallels--Alexander the Great as Gilgamesh--Water of Life in the Koran--The Indian Gilgamesh and Hercules--The Mountain Tunnel in various Mythologies--Widespread Cultural Influences.
One of the oldest forms of folk stories relates to the wanderings of a hero in distant regions. He may set forth in search of a fair lady who has been taken captive, or to obtain a magic herb or stone to relieve a sufferer, to cure diseases, and to prolong life. Invariably he is a slayer of dragons and other monsters. A friendly spirit, or a group of spirits, may assist the hero, who acts according to the advice given him by a "wise woman", a magician, or a god. The spirits are usually wild beasts or birds--the "fates" of immemorial folk belief--and they may either carry the hero on their backs, instruct him from time to time, or come to his aid when called upon.