Origin/Historian/Author: Babylonian (ca 1700 BCE)
Source: The Sacred Books and Literature of the East, By Prof. Charles F. Horne, Ph.D.
The Sacred Books and Literature of the East Translations conducted by:
Morris Jastrow, Jr., LL.D., Rev. A.H. Sayce, LL.D., Robert W. Rogers, LL.D., George A. Barton, LL.D., Leonard W. King, F.S.A., Stephen Langdon, PH.D., Arno Poebel, PH.D., and other scholars.

This incantation to Ishtar was initially thought to be from the early Babylonian period, ca 1700 BCE. However, the length of some lines indicate it may have been recorded at a later time. It comes to us on a single well preserved tablet with no damages or breaks to the text itself. A rubric occurs at the end of the text beginning on what would be line 107. It gives directions for preparations, performing the ceremonial or ritualistic order, and recital of the prayer.

It is perhaps one of the most telling sources regarding Ishtar’s influence over the early 2nd millennium peoples of the Ancient Near East. Addressed to her character as a ruling goddess of battle, lines 1-41 contain rhetoric descriptive of her power and splendor. This is followed by the suppliant’s own petitions, describing his state of affliction and praying for deliverance.

The earlier Akkadians were known to have conflated the identities of the Sumerian goddess Inanna and the Semitic goddess Ishtar. Because of this, it is sometimes difficult to determine which goddess is being referred to. Luckily, in this case the text offers genealogical information that allows us to make an accurate assumption. Here we see Ishtar described as a daughter of the Moon god, which indicates her genealogy to differ from the Sumerian goddess Inanna. However, much like the goddess Inanna, Ishtar is well known as a goddess of battle and ruler of heaven and earth. It is well known that in course of time Ishtar was identified by the Babylonians and Assyrians with other goddesses, e.g., Ninni, Nana, Anunitum, and Belit; and when so identified she absorbed their names, titles, and attributes. In these passages we have two additional instances of her identification with other deities. On line 105 she is addressed by the title Irnini and on line 12 she is addressed as Gutira.

Full Text Below

I pray unto thee, lady of ladies, goddess of goddesses!
O Ishtar, queen of all peoples, directress of mankind!
O Innini, thou art raised on high, mistress of the Spirits of heaven;
Thou art mighty, thou hast sovereign power, exalted is thy name!
5 Thou art the light of heaven and earth, O valiant daughter of the Moon-god.
Ruler of weapons, arbitress of the battle!
Framer of all decrees, wearer of the crown of dominion!
O lady, majestic is thy rank, over all the gods is it exalted!
Thou art the cause of lamentation, thou sowest hostility
among brethren who are at peace;
10 Thou art the bestower of strength!
Thou art strong, O lady of victory, thou canst violently attain my desire!
O Gutira, who art girt with battle, who art clothed with terror,
Thou wieldest the scepter and the decision, the control of earth and heaven!
Holy chambers, shrines, divine dwellings, and temples worship thee!
15 Where is thy name not heard ? Where is thy decree not obeyed ?
Where are thine images not made ? Where are thy temples not founded?
Where art thou not great ? Where art thou not exalted ?
Anu, Bel, and Ea have raised thee on high; among the gods have they made great thy dominion;
They have exalted thee among all the Spirits of heaven, they have made thy rank pre-eminent.
20 At the thought of thy name the heaven and the earth quake,
The gods tremble, the Spirits of the earth falter.
Mankind payeth homage unto thy mighty name,
For thou art great, and thou art exalted.
All mankind, [2] the whole human race, boweth down before thy power.
25 Thou judgest the cause of men with justice and righteousness;
Thou lookest with mercy on the violent man, and thou settest right the unruly every morning.
How long wilt thou tarry, O lady of heaven and earth, shepherdess of those that dwell in human habitations?
How long wilt thou tarry, O lady of the holy E-anna,[2] the pure Storehouse?
How long wilt thou tarry, O lady, whose feet are unwearied, whose knees have not lost their vigor?
30 How long wilt thou tarry, O lady of all fights and of the battle?
O thou glorious one, that ragest among the Spirits of heaven, that subduest angry gods,
That hast power over all princes, that controllest the scepter of kings,
That openest the bonds of all handmaids,
That art raised on high, that art firmly established — O valiant Ishtar, great is thy might!
35 Bright torch of heaven and earth, light of all dwellings,
Terrible in the fight, one who can not be opposed, strong in the battle!
O whirlwind, that roarest against the foe and cuttest off the mighty!
O furious Ishtar, summoner of armies!
O goddess of men, O goddess of women, thou whose counsel none may learn!
40 Where thou lookest in pity, the dead man lives again, the sick is healed;
The afflicted is saved from his affliction, when he beholdeth thy face!
I, thy servant, sorrowful, sighing, and in distress cry unto thee,
Look upon me, O my lady, and accept my supplication,
Truly pity me, and harken unto my prayer!
45 Cry unto me ” It is enough!” and let thy spirit be appeased!
How long shall my body lament, which is full of restlessness and confusion?
How long shall my heart be afflicted, which is full of sorrow and sighing?
How long shall my omens be grievous in restlessness and confusion?
How long shall my house be troubled, which mourneth bitterly?
50 How long shall my spirit be troubled, which aboundeth in sorrow and sighing?
O . . . Irnini, fierce lioness, may thy heart have rest!
Is anger mercy ? Then let thy spirit be appeased!
May thine eyes rest with favor upon me;
With thy glorious regard, truly in mercy look upon me!
55 Put an end to the evil bewitchments of my body; let me behold thy clear light!
How long, O my lady, shall mine enemies persecute me?
How long shall they devise evil in rebellion and wickedness,
And in my pursuits and my pleasures shall they rage against me?
How long, O my lady, shall the ravenous demon pursue me?
60 They have caused me continuous affliction, but I have praised thee.
The weak have become strong, but
I am weak; I am sated like a flood which the evil wind maketh to rage.
My heart hath taken wing, and hath flown away like a bird of the heavens;
I moan like a dove, night and day.
65 I am made desolate, and I weep bitterly;
With grief and woe my spirit is distressed.
What have I done, O my god and my goddess?
Is it because I feared not my god or my goddess that trouble hath befallen me?
Sickness, disease, ruin, and destruction are come upon me;
70 Troubles, turning away of the countenance, and fulness of anger are my lot,
And the indignation and the wrath of all gods and men.
I have beheld, O my lady, days of affliction, months of sorrow, years of misfortune;
I have beheld, O my lady, slaughter, turmoil, and rebellion.
Death and misery have made an end of me!
75 My need is grievous, grievous is my humiliation;
Over my house, my gate, and my fields is affliction poured forth.
As for my god, his face is turned elsewhere;
My strength is brought to naught, my power is broken!
But unto thee, O my lady, do I give heed, I have kept thee in my mind;
80 Unto thee therefore do I pray, dissolve my ban!
Dissolve my sin, my iniquity, my transgression, and my offense!
Forgive my transgression, accept my supplication!
Secure my deliverance, and let me be loved and carefully tended!
Guide my footsteps in the light, that among men I may gloriously seek my way!
85 Say the word, that at thy command my angry god may have mercy,
And that my goddess, who is wroth, may turn again!
The darkness hath settled down, so let my brazier be bright;
Thou art the ruler, let then my torch flame forth!
May my scattered strength be collected;
90 May the fold be wide, and may my pen be bolted fast!
Receive the abasement of my countenance, give ear unto my prayer,
Truly pity me, and accept my supplication!
How long, O my lady, wilt thou be angry and thy face be turned away?
How long, O my lady, wilt thou rage and thy spirit be full of wrath?
95 Incline thy neck, which is turned away from my affairs, and set prosperity before thy face;
As by the solving waters of the river may thine anger be dissolved!
My mighty foes may I trample like the ground;
And those who are wroth with me mayest thou force into submission and crush beneath my feet!
Let my prayer and my supplication come unto thee,
100 And let thy great mercy be upon me,
That those who behold me in the street may magnify thy name,
And that I may glorify thy godhead and thy might before mankind!
Ishtar is exalted! Ishtar is queen!
My lady is exalted! My lady is queen!
105 Irnini, the valiant daughter of the Moon-god, hath not a rival!

[1] Literally, “the black-headed”; i.e., mankind.
[2] Literally, “the house of heaven”; i.e., the temple of Ishtar in the city of Uruk.