Tashmetum is a Babylonian goddess, and Her name, which derives from the Akkadian shamu means something like "the granting of requests". She is the wife of Nabu, the patron god of the scribes, and together with Him was worshipped in Borsippa. With Nabu, She is often invoked in Late Babylonian and Late Assyrian prayers and ritual texts as a merciful mediator, protector from evil and goddess of love and potency. Astronomically, She was identified with Capricorn, and seen as a traditional wife and marital consort, a Goddess and young Queen.
I decided to call Tashmetum the Assyrian Beloved Consort grounded on the following :
a) Nabu´s rise to the status of great god is attributed partly because of his mediating role, which He shared with Tashmetum, the god of the scribes and letters, the foundation for the organised state in Mesopotamia;
b) Thus, both god and goddess seem to be open to supplication and generally well disposed towards humanity. They are constantly invoked together, and this reflects that the couple got along well, following the norm of Divine Couples in Mesopotamia;
c) Furthermore, Tashmetum as Nabu´s consort in the South was called Nanar, a Ishtar-like goddess of love. Therefore, the Divine Scribe has as His partner a much loved goddess, His Beloved indeed.
We have three letters of Assyrian temple officials which refer to the nuptials of Nabu and Tashmetum (see Matsushima´s translations 1987:132), and for your delight, I am including a text from the Neo-Assyrian period that tells of an encounter between Nabu and Tashmetum, beginning with a prayer to both gods, and a vow of trust in the loving couple. Matsushima suggests that there is a cultic context for this composition, with its prayer-like introduction and the mention of incense burning in the background. I tend to see Nabu and Tashmetum as an ideal of stability, peace and prosperity that could never be really achieved in Assyria, because both gods represent the younger generation of divine rulers of the land, the Divine Scribe and His Beloved Consort. Unfortunately, the Assyrian empire was drawn to battle in defense of their boundaries, but the ideal represented by the loving relationship of the younger generation of gods is still with us, straight from clay tablets of the olden days.
LOVE LYRICS OF NABU AND TASHMETUM
Singers: Let whom will thrust where he trusts, As for us, our trust is in Nabu, We give ourselves over to Tashmetum. What is ours is ours: Nabu is our lord, Tashmetum is the mountain we trust in. Singers to Tashmetum: Say to her, to her to her of the wall, to Tashmetum, ..., talke your place in the sanctuary, May the scent of holy juniper fill the dais. (Tashmetum?): Shade of cedar, shade of cedar, shade of cedar, ... is come for the king´s shelter, Shad of cypress is (for) his great ones, The shade of a juniper branch is shelter for my Nabu, for my play. Singers: Tashmetum dangles a gold garment in my Nabu´s lap, "My lord, put an earring on me, 'That I may give you pleasure in my garden, ´Nabu, my darling, put an earring on me, ´That I may make you happy in the [ ]'. (Nabu) My Tashmetum, I put on you bracelets of carnelian, [ ] you bracelets of carnelian I will open.......... [gap] O Tashmetum, whose thighs are a gazelle in the steppe, O Tashmetum, whose ankles are a springtime apple, O Tashmetum, whose heels are obsidian stone, O Tashmetum, whose whole self is a tablet of lapis! Singers: Tashmetum, looking voluptuous entered the bedroom She locked her door, sending home the lapis bolt. She washes herself, she climbs into bed. From one lapis cup, from the other lapis cup, her tears flow, He wipes away her tears with a tuft of read wool, There, ask (her), ask (her), find out, find out! 'Why, why are you so adorned, my Tashmetum?' ´So I can go to the garden with you, my Nabu.' ´Let me go to the garden, to the garden and [ ] ´Let me go again to the exquisite garden, ´They would not have me take my place among the wise folk.' Singers: I would see with my own eyes the plucking of your fruit, I would hear with my own ears your birdson. Nabu: There, bind fast, hitch up, bind your days to the garden and to the Lord, Bind your nights to the exquisite garden,Let my Tashmetum come with me to the garden, Among the wise folk her place be foremost. ´May she she with her own eyes the plucking of my fruit, May she hear with her own ears my birdsong, May she see with her own eyes, may she hear with her own ears!
Foster, Benjamim R. (1995) From distant days: myths, tales and poetry from Ancient Mesopotamia. CDL Press, Bethesda, Maryland.
Leick, Gwendolyn (1991) A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology. Routledge, London and New York.
Leick, Gwendolyn (1994) Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature. Routledge, London and New York.
Matsushima, E. (1987) Le Rituel Hierogamique de Nabu, Acta Sumerologica 9:131-75.
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