Inanna and the mes
According to one story, Inanna tricked the god of culture, Enki, who was worshipped in the
city of Eridu, into giving her the 'Mes'. The 'Mes' ("maes") represented everything from
truth to weaving to prostitution. Inanna traveled to Enki's city Eridu, and by getting him
drunk, she got him to give her hundreds—the exact number is unknown, because the text
breaks off—of Mes, which she took to her city of Uruk. Upon sobering up, Enki sent mighty
Abgallu (sea monsters, from ab, sea or lake + gal, big + lu, man) to stop her boat as it sailed
the Euphrates and retrieve his gifts, but she gave him the slip. This story may represent
the historic transfer of power from Eridu to Uruk.
Inanna's descent to the underworld
Most curious is perhaps the story of Inanna's descent to the underworld. In Sumer the
Underworld was a dreary, dark place; a home to deceased heroes and ordinary people alike.
Based on their behavior they could be afforded better treatment or positions in the
Inanna's reason for visiting the underworld is unclear. The reason she gives to the
gatekeeper of the underworld is that she wants to attend her brother-in-law Gud-gal-ana's
funeral rites. However, this may be a ruse; Inanna may have been intending to conquer the
underworld. Ereshkigal , queen of the underworld and Inanna's sister, may have
suspected this, which could explain her treatment of Inanna.
Before she left, Inanna instructed her minister Ninshubur to plead with the gods Enlil,
Nanna, and Enki to save her if anything went wrong.
Inanna dresses elaborately for the visit, with a turban, a wig, a lapis lazuli necklace, beads
upon her breast, the 'pala dress' (the ladyship garment), mascara, pectoral, a golden ring on
her hand, and she held a lapis lazuli measuring rod. Perhaps Inanna's garments,
unsuitable for a funeral, along with Inanna's haughty behaviour make Ereshkigal
Following Ereshkigal's instructions, the gatekeeper tells Inanna she may enter the first
gate of the underworld, but she must hand over her lapis lazuli measuring rod. She asks
why and is told 'It is just the ways of the Underworld'. She obliges and passes through.
Inanna passes through a total of seven gates, each removing a piece of clothing or jewelry
she had been wearing at the start of her journey. In Sumerian mythology some forms of