One of these myths is the famous story of Ishtar's descent to Irkalla or Aralu, as the lower world was called, and her reception by her sister who presides over it; the other is the story of Nergal's offence against Ereshkigal, his banishment to the kingdom controlled by the goddess and the reconciliation between Nergal and Ereshkigal through the latter's offer to have Nergal share the honours of the rule over Irkalla.
The Elamite king was dethroned and imprisoned in 700 B.C. by his brother Khallusu, who six years later marched into Babylonia, captured the son of Sennacherib, whom his father had placed there as king, and raised a nominee of his own, Nergal-yusezib, to the throne.
NERGAL, the name of a solar deity in Babylonia, the main seat of whose cult was at Kutha or Cuthah, represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim.
Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, there can be little doubt that Nergal represents the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice which brings destruction to mankind.
It is a logical consequence that Nergal is pictured also as the deity who presides over the nether-world, and stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead, who are supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla.
Ordinarily the consort of Nergal is Laz.
Nergal was pictured as a lion and on boundary-stone monuments his symbol is a mace surmounted by the head of a lion.
As in the case of Ninib, Nergal appears to have absorbed a number of minor solar deities, which accounts for the various names or designations under which he appears, such as Lugalgira, Sharrapu ("the burner," perhaps a mere epithet), Ira, Gibil (though this name more properly belongs to Nusku, q.v.) and Sibitti.
A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninib and Nergal, perhaps due to the traces of two different conceptions regarding these two solar deities.
Nergal is called the "raging king," the "furious one," and the like, and by a play upon his name - separated into' three elements Ne-urugal "lord of the great dwelling" - his position at the head of the nether-world pantheon is indicated.
In the astral-theological system he is the planet Mars, while in ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to be a symbol of Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi are probably intended to typify Ninib.
The cult of Nergal does not appear to have been as widespread as that of Ninib.
(606-586 B.C.), the great templebuilder of the neo-Babylonian monarchy, alludes to his operations at E-shid-lam in Kutha, he makes no mention of a sanctuary to Nergal in Babylon.
Bel-ebus of Babylon Assur-nadin-sumi, son of Sennacherib 700 Nergal-yusezib 694 Musezib-Merodach.
562 Nergal - sarra - uzur (Ner gal-sharezer).
Hades, the abode of Nin-erisgal or Allat, had been entered by Nergal, who, angered by a message sent to her by the gods of the upper world, ordered Namtar to strike off her head.
She, however, declared that she would submit to any conditions imposed on her and would give Nergal the sovereignty of the earth.
Nergal accordingly relented, and Allatu became the queen of the infernal world.
The zodiacal Virgo is held to represent the Assyrian Venus, Ishtar, the ruling divinity of the sixth month, and Sagittarius the archer-god Nergal, to whom the ninth month was dedicated.
That the figures symbolic of Rakab or Hadad were compounded or amalgamated by the Israelites with those symbolic of Nergal (the lion-god) and Ninib (the eagle-god), is not surprising.
It may be of interest to record the names of the governors of Nineveh: Nergal-mudammik.
At the same time, the possibility of a confusion between Ninib and Nergal must be admitted, and perhaps we are to see the solution of the problem in the recognition of two diverse schools of theological speculation, the one assigning to Ninib the role of the spring-tide solar deity, the other identifying him with the sun of the summer solstice.
The Phoenician settlers at the Peiraeus worshipped the Assyrian Nergal, and their proper names are compounded with the names of Babylonian and Arabian deities (NSI.
Indeed, the other gods, Sin, Shamash (Samas), Adad, Ninib and Nergal, and even Ea, take on the warlike traits of Assur in the epithets and descriptions given of them in the annals and votive inscriptions of Assyrian rulers to such an extent as to make them appear like little Assurs by the side of the great one.
The title " lord of heaven " - whether the Sun or Addu, there was a Nebo, Nergal, &c.); there were the closely-related goddesses Ashira and Ishtar-Astarte (the Old Testament Asherah and Ashtoreth).
Passing on into still later periods, Saturn's day was associated with the Jewish sabbath, Sunday with the Lord's Day, Tuesday with Tiw, the god of war, corresponding to Mars of the Romans and to the Nergal of the Babylonians.
Other sun-deities, as Ninib and Nergal, the patron deities of important centres, retained their independent existence as certain phases of the sun, Ninib becoming the sun-god of the morning and of the spring time, and Nergal the sun-god of the noon and of the summer solstice, while Shamash was viewed as the sun-god in general.
Besides absorbing the prerogatives of Ea and Bel, Marduk was also imbued with the attributes of other of the great gods, such as Adad, Shamash, Nergal and Ninib, so that, more particularly as we approach the days of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the impression is created that Marduk was the only real deity recognized, and that the other gods were merely the various forms under which he manifested himself.
This process, which reached its culmination in the post-Khammurabic period, led to identifying the planet Jupiter with Marduk, Venus with Ishtar, Mars with Nergal, Mercury with Nebo, and Saturn with Ninib.
Associated with Marduk was his consort Sarpanit, and grouped around the pair as princes around a throne were the chief deities of the older centres, like Ea and Damkina of Eridu, Nebo and Tashmit of Borsippa, Nergal and Allatu of Kutha, Shamash and A of Sippar, Sin and Ningal of Ur, as well as pairs like Ramman (or Adad) and Shala whose central seat is unknown to us.
In this process of accommodating ancient prerogatives to new conditions, it was inevitable that attributes belonging specifically to the one or the other of these gods should have been transferred to Marduk, who thus from being, originally, a solar deity becomes an eclectic power, taking on the traits of Bel, Ea, Shamash, Nergal, Adad and even Sin (the moon-god)- a kind of composite residuum of all the chief gods.
In this way Ninib, whose chief seat appears to have been at Shirgulla (Lagash), became the sun-god of the springtime and of the morning, bringing joy and new life to the earth, while Nergal of Kutha was regarded as the sun of the summer solstice and of the noonday heat - the harbinger of suffering and death.