An historic basis for the Iliad…?

Post by Kantzveldt at ATS.
It seems quite possible to me that the historical basis that inspired the composing of the Iliad took place at the same time as the epic is first thought to have originated in the 7th century Bc with regard to specific events of 646 Bc, the sacking of Susa in Iran by the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal and the return of the Goddess Nanaya to her home in Uruk, from whence she had been abducted 1,635 years previously…


The Kuyunjik tablets texts describe how 1,635 years before the goddess had become angry and left her abode, since then staying in Elam in unbeftting circumstances. The return of the goddess is here represented as the execution of an ancient divine command, with Ashurbanipal taking the role of the predestined champion of the gods who brings Nanaya back to her sanctuary E-hili-anna at the Eanna temple in Uruk.

The Goddess Nanaya was understood as the physical incarnation of Inanna and the perfection of beauty, just as the Greek Helen was held to be the very representation of Aphrodite. The actions of the warlike Assyrians in recovering this Goddess from her exile then parallel the Greek justification for the attack on Troy.


The king justifes his attack on Elam as divinely ordered retribution for wrongs committed against his ancestors, more specifcally a destruction wrought 1,635 years ago:

“Kudur-Nanhundi, the Elamite who did not respect the oath by the great gods, who in his madness trusted in his own strength, brought his hand against the sanctuaries of the land of Akkad and ruined the land of Akkad”

Later in the text, afer a description of his campaigns against Humban-haltaˇs, the king tells how he escorted the goddess Nanaya back to the Eanna temple

Of course the Illiad is a fictional work set in an entirely Greek setting, but the actions of Ashurbanipal provide the best basis for historical inspiration contemporary to the author.

Ashurbanipal was a keen student of history and tradition he styled himself after writings of the Neo-Sumerian basis of the late 3rd Millenium, there is strong correspondence to his own claims of origin and those of the Neo-Sumerian King Shulgi, it is not so surprising then that he sought to right a wrong recorded from the Late 3rd millenium and the destruction of Akkad by the Elamites.


I knew no father or mother, I grew up in the lap of my goddess. As a child the great gods guided me, going with me on the right and left.

The Lady of Nineveh, the mother who bore me, endowed me with unparalleled kingship; the Lady of Arbela, my creator, ordered everlasting life for me.

The Goddess Nanaya that was returned to Uruk was of course her primary cultic statue, these were invested with magical qualities and highly prized, Ashurbanipal claims his own creation with regards to the cultic statue shrine of Istar of Arbela, these were quite rare and to my knowledge no primary Sumerian cultic statue has ever been found, Nanaya was held in the E-hili-anna or ‘House of Allurement’.


In the Hellenistic period Nanaya or Nanâ was frequently assimilated with Artemis.

A Roman temple for Artemis-Nanâ was built in the middle of the city of Dura Europos, and a dedicatory inscription identified Nanȃ as the chief goddess of that city. In this temple were erected the images of Aphrodite (winged victory), and Tyche or Fortuna which shows that Nanâ combined her characteristics with all those Graeco-Roman divinities.

An inscription accompanying the image of Artemis in Greek dress on a tessera from Palmyra identifies her as Nanaya
Her cult is also known from Aššur and Hatra. Nanai or Nanaya had the epithet “the great goddess of the entire earth”

The treasures seen illustrated are all of Bactria-Margiana and reflect the prominence of the cult of Nanaya in central Asia, it is considered that her influence extended due to her sojourn in Susa as in this article Nanaya in Bactria, she was syncetized with many Greek Goddesses and also in that region had association with the mythos of Eros and Psyche and their child Cupid, as a Goddess of love.


Hear o regions of the world the praise of queen nanay

Glorify the beautiful one, extol her of voice resounding

Exalt the splendid one, hail the mighty one

Make continuous prayer and entreaty to her.

Ash urbanipals self image.

Elam and Ashurbanipal

Nanaya in Syria and Mespotamia

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