Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 54

On Tammuz, the spouse of thy youth,
Thou didst lay affliction every year.
King's Translation.

References in the Sumerian hymns suggest that there also existed a form of the legend which gave an account of the slaying of the young god by someone else than Ishtar. The slayer may have been a Set-like demon--perhaps Nin-shach, who appears to have symbolized the destroying influence of the sun. He was a war deity, and his name, Professor Pinches says, "is conjectured to mean 'lord of the wild boar'". There is no direct evidence, however, to connect Tammuz's slayer with the boar which killed Adonis. Ishtar's innocence is emphasized by the fact that she mourned for her youthful lover, crying:

Oh hero, my lord, ah me! I will say;
Food I eat not ... water I drink not ...
Because of the exalted one of the nether world, him of the
radiant face, yea radiant,
Of the exalted one of the nether world, him of the dove-like
voice, yea dove-like.[110]

The Phrygian Attis met his death, according to one legend, by self-mutilation under a sacred tree. Another account sets forth, however, that he was slain by a boar. The Greek Adonis was similarly killed by a boar. This animal was a form of Ares (Mars), god of war and tempest, who also loved Aphrodite (Ishtar). The Celtic Diarmid, in his character as a love god, with lunar attributes, was slain by "the green boar", which appears to have been one of the animals of a ferocious Hag, an earth and air "mother" with various names. In one of the many Fingalian stories the animal is

... That venomous boar, and he so fierce,
That Grey Eyebrows had with her herd of swine.[111]

Diarmid had eloped with the wife of Finn-mac-Coul (Fingal), who, like Ares, plotted to bring about his rival's death, and accordingly set the young hero to hunt the boar. As a thunder god Finn carried a hammer with which he smote his shield; the blows were heard in Lochlann (Scandinavia). Diarmid, like Tammuz, the "god of the tender voice and shining eyes", had much beauty. When he expired, Finn cried:

No maiden will raise her eye
Since the mould has gone over thy visage fair...
Blue without rashness in thine eye!
Passion and beauty behind thy curls!...
Oh, yesternight it was green the hillock,
Red is it this day with Diarmid's blood.[112]

Tammuz died with the dying vegetation, and Diarmid expired when the hills apparently were assuming their purple tints.[113] The month of Tammuz wailings was from 20th June till 20th July, when the heat and dryness brought forth the demons of pestilence. The mourners chanted:

He has gone, he has gone to the bosom of the earth,
And the dead are numerous in the land....
Men are filled with sorrow: they stagger by day in gloom ...
In the month of thy year which brings not peace hast thou gone.
Thou hast gone on a journey that makes an end of thy people.