- For the musician, see Etana (musician)Etana (musician)Shauna McKenzie known commonly as Etana is a reggae singer from Jamaica. Her debut album "The Strong One" was released in June 2008.-Biography:...
Etana was an ancient, legendary Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....
ian king of the city of Kish
Kish is modern Tell al-Uhaymir , and was an ancient city of Sumer. Kish is located some 12 km east of Babylon, and 80 km south of Baghdad ....
, and was, according to the Sumerian king list
Sumerian king list
The Sumerian King List is an ancient manuscript originally recorded in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer from Sumerian and neighboring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, and the locations of "official" kingship...
, one of the kings who reigned after the deluge. He is listed as the successor of Arwium, the son of Mashda, as king of Kish. The list also calls Etana "the shepherd, who ascended to heaven and consolidated all the foreign countries", and states that he ruled 1560 years (some copies read 635) before being succeeded by his son Balih, said to have ruled 400 years.
Myth of EtanaA Babylonian legend says that Etana was desperate to have a child, until one day he helped save an eagle from starving, who then took him up into the sky to find the plant of birth. This led to the birth of his son, Balih.
In the detailed form of the legend, there is a tree with the eagle's nest at the top, and a serpent at the base. Both the serpent and eagle have promised Utu
Utu is the Sun god in Sumerian mythology, the son of the moon god Nanna and the goddess Ningal. His brother and sisters are Ishkur and Inanna and Erishkigal....
(the sun god) to behave well toward one another, and they share food with their children.
But one day, the eagle eats the serpent's children. The serpent comes back and cries. Utu tells the serpent to hide inside of the stomach of a dead bull. The eagle goes down to eat the bull. The serpent captures the eagle, and throws him into a pit to die of hunger and thirst. Utu sends a man, Etana, to help the eagle. Etana saves the eagle, but he also asks the bird to find the plant of birth, in order to become father of a son. The eagle takes Etana up to the heaven of the god Anu
In Sumerian mythology, Anu was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, Consort of Antu, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as...
, but Etana becomes afraid in the air and he goes back to the ground. He makes another attempt, and finds the plant of birth, enabling him to have Balih.
So far, three versions of different language have been found. The Old Babylonian version comes from Susa and Tell Harmal. The Middle Assyrian version comes from Assur. The Standard version is from Nineveh (Dalley 189).