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Mesopotamia / Religions / Gods and goddesses /
Babylonia / Religion /

Nergal,  in the rock sanctuary of Yazilikaya, Hattusha (Turkey).
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Nergal, in the rock sanctuary of Yazilikaya, Hattusha (Turkey).

In Babylonian religion, god the underworld, of war and pestilence. He was thought of as a raging and furious god
Nergal was a god of the sun, but representing only certain dimensions, like the sun's destructive qualities, heat and drought, as well as the sun's nightly capacity. Hence his role as lord of the dead is not in conflict with his solar identity. Some myths makes him a united quality with Shamash, the sun god. Into his concept, other solar deities were absorbed. This happened through political expansion, and theological development.
In his capacity as lord of the dead he was associated with the goddess Ereshkigal (Allatu in Akkadian). She is in some contexts made his consort, otherwise Laz is called his wife.
In the myth about him becoming lord of the dead, we learn that Ereshkigal threatens to destroy all life on earth if he abandons her.
Nergal is often represented as a lion.
His cult centre was in Cuthah, his temple was known as Meslam. There is little material to suggest that there were shrines or temples to him outside Cuthah.
In Akkadian, his named changed into Ni-Marad.

By Tore Kjeilen