The Epic of Gilgamesh


who was the shepherd god

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Tablet VI reveals a great deal about the importance of Ishtar, the goddess of love, and her mortal lovers. In response to Ishtar’s advances, Gilgamesh explains he knows all about her past human lovers who became animals—a shepherd who was changed into a broken-winged bird, a goat herder who became a wolf, a gardener who became a frog. In particular, Gilgamesh mentions Tammuz, a mortal shepherd who becomes a god after his relationship with Ishtar. After his death, he goes to the underworld. Reasons for his death vary from translation to translation, but Ishtar is generally at fault in most traditions.