The name Nergal, Nirgal, or Nirgali ' onMouseout='HidePop("3117")' href="/topics/Aramaic_language">Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

 ܢܹܪܓܵܐܠ; ) refers to a deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 in Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 with the main seat of his cult at Cuthah
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. Nergal is mentioned in the Hebrew bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 as the deity of the city of Cuth (Cuthah): "And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth
Succoth-benoth or Succoth Benoth was a Babylonian deity, one of the deities of the city of Samaria mentioned by name in 2 Kings 17:30. The Bible says that these deities were idols, although the Samaritans were not punished because they worshipped the God of the Israelites as well...

, and the men of Cuth made Nergal" (2 Kings
Books of Kings
The Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...

, 17:30). He is the son of Enlil
Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of the most prominent poets of the Victorian era. Her poetry was widely popular in both England and the United States during her lifetime. A collection of her last poems was published by her husband, Robert Browning, shortly after her death.-Early life:Members...

 and Ninlil
In Sumerian religion, Ninlil , also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mullitu, is the consort goddess of Enlil. Her parentage is variously described. Most commonly she is called the daughter of Haia and Nunbarsegunu...



Nergal actually seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash
Shamash was a native Mesopotamian deity and the sun god in the Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian pantheons. Shamash was the god of justice in Babylonia and Assyria, corresponding to Sumerian Utu...

, but only a representative of a certain phase of the sun. Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle.

Nergal was also the deity who presides over the netherworld
The Underworld is a region which is thought to be under the surface of the earth in some religions and in mythologies. It could be a place where the souls of the recently departed go, and in some traditions it is identified with Hell or the realm of death...

, and who stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead (supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla
In Babylonian mythology, Irkalla is the hell-like underworld from which there is no return. It is also called Arali, Kigal, Gizal, and the lower world...

). In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu
Allatu is an underworld goddess modeled after the mesopotamic goddess Ereshkigal and worshipped by western Semitic peoples, including the Carthaginians. She also may be equate with the Canaanite goddess Arsay....

 or Ereshkigal
In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler.Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and...

, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. In some texts the god Ninazu
Ninazu in Sumerian mythology was a god of the underworld, and of healing. He was the son of Enlil and Ninlil or, in alternative traditions, of Ereshkigal and Gugalana, and was the father of Ningiszida...

 is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal.

Ordinarily Nergal pairs with his consort Laz. Standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

, and boundary-stone monuments symbolise him with a mace
Ceremonial mace
The ceremonial mace is a highly ornamented staff of metal or wood, carried before a sovereign or other high official in civic ceremonies by a mace-bearer, intended to represent the official's authority. The mace, as used today, derives from the original mace used as a weapon...

 surmounted by the head of a lion.

Nergal's fiery aspect appears in names or epithets such as Lugalgira, Sharrapu ("the burner," a reference to his manner of dealing with outdated teachings), Erra, Gibil (though this name more properly belongs to Nusku
Nusku was the name of the light and fire-god in Babylonia and Assyria, who is hardly to be distinguished, from a certain time on, from a god Girra - formerly Gibil.Nusku-Girru is the symbol of the heavenly as well as of the terrestrial fire...

), and Sibitti. A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta
Ninurta in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology was the god of Lagash, identified with Ningirsu with whom he may always have been identical...

 and Nergal. Nergal has epithets such as the "raging king," the "furious one," and the like. A play upon his name—separated into three elements as Ne-uru-gal (lord of the great dwelling) -- expresses his position at the head of the nether-world pantheon.

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet
A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.The term planet is ancient, with ties to history, science,...

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 either to the combative demigod Heracles
Heracles ,born Alcaeus or Alcides , was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus...

 (Latin Hercules
Hercules is the Roman name for Greek demigod Heracles, son of Zeus , and the mortal Alcmene...

) or to the war-god Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

 (Latin Mars) -- hence the current name of the planet. In Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

Nergal's chief temple at Cuthah bore the name Meslam, from which the god receives the designation of Meslamtaeda or Meslamtaea, "the one that rises up from Meslam". The name Meslamtaeda/Meslamtaea indeed is found as early as the list of gods from Fara while the name Nergal only begins to appear in the Akkadian period. Amongst the Hurrians
The Hurrians were a people of the Ancient Near East who lived in Northern Mesopotamia and adjacent regions during the Bronze Age.The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the kingdom of Mitanni. The population of the Hittite Empire in Anatolia to a large part consisted of Hurrians, and...

 and later Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning "the son of Enlil". As God of the plague, he was invoked during the "plague years" during the reign of Suppiluliuma, when this disease spread from Egypt.

The cult
The word cult in current popular usage usually refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre. The word originally denoted a system of ritual practices...

 of Nergal does not appear to have spread as widely as that of Ninurta, but in the late Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism
Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...

 seems to have fused the two divinities, which were invoked together as if they were identical. Hymns and votive and other inscriptions of Babylonian and Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n rulers frequently invoke him, but we do not learn of many temples to him outside of Cuthah. Sennacherib
Sennacherib |Sîn]] has replaced brothers for me"; Aramaic: ) was the son of Sargon II, whom he succeeded on the throne of Assyria .-Rise to power:...

 speaks of one at Tarbisu to the north of Nineveh
Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo Assyrian Empire. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq....

, but significantly, although Nebuchadnezzar II (606 BC - 586 BC), the great temple-builder of the neo-Babylonian monarchy, alludes to his operations at Meslam in Cuthah, he makes no mention of a sanctuary to Nergal in Babylon. Local associations with his original seat—Kutha—and the conception formed of him as a god of the dead acted in making him feared rather than actively worshipped. Nergal was also called Ni-Marad in Akkadian . Like Lugal Marad in Sumerian, the name means "king of Marad," a city, whose name means "Rebellion" in Akkadian, as yet unidentified. The name Ni-Marad, in Akkadian means "Lord of Marad". The chief deity of this place, therefore, seems to have been Nergal, of whom, therefore, Lugal-Marad or Ni-Marad is another name. Thus, some scholars have drawn the connection of Ni-Marad being yet another deified name for Nimrod, the rebel king of Babylon and Assyria mentioned in Genesis 10: 8-11.

In demonology

Being a deity of the desert, god of fire, which is one of negative aspects of the sun, god of the underworld
The Underworld is a region which is thought to be under the surface of the earth in some religions and in mythologies. It could be a place where the souls of the recently departed go, and in some traditions it is identified with Hell or the realm of death...

, and also being a god of one of the religions which rivalled Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, Nergal was sometimes called a demon
call - 1347 531 7769 for more infoIn Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an "unclean spirit" which may cause demonic possession, to be addressed with an act of exorcism...

 and even being identified with Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

. According to Collin de Plancy
Collin de Plancy
Jacques Albin Simon Collin de Plancy was a French occultist, demonologist and writer; he published several works on occultism and demonology. He was born in 1793 or 1794 in Plancy and died in 1881 in Paris. He was a free-thinker influenced by Voltaire...

 and Johann Weyer
Johann Weyer
Johann Weyer , was a Dutch physician, occultist and demonologist, disciple and follower of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa. He was among the first to publish against the persecution of witches...

, Nergal was said to be the chief of Hell's "secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

", and said to be "an honorary spy in the service of Beelzebub
Beelzebub -Religious meaning:Ba‘al Zəbûb is variously understood to mean "lord of flies", or "lord of the dwelling". Originally the name of a Philistine god, Beelzebub is also identified in the New Testament as Satan, the "prince of the demons". In Arabic the name is retained as Ba‘al dhubaab /...


In popular culture

  • In the Dungeons & Dragons
    Dungeons & Dragons
    Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy role-playing game originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. . The game has been published by Wizards of the Coast since 1997...

    roleplaying game, Nergal
    Nergal (Dungeons & Dragons)
    Nergal is an outcast Duke of Hell, one of the Rabble of Devilkin, in the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game.-Publication history:Nergal first appears in Ed Greenwood's article "The Nine Hells Part I" in Dragon #75 ....

     is the name of an outcast devil
    Devil (Dungeons & Dragons)
    In the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, devils are a powerful group of monsters used as a high-level challenge for players of the game. Devils are Lawful Evil in alignment and originate from the Nine Hells of Baator. True to their Lawful Evil alignment, devils are locked in a strict and brutal...

    . Additionally, the demigod Jergal of the Forgotten Realms
    Forgotten Realms
    The Forgotten Realms is a campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Commonly referred to by players and game designers alike as "The Realms", it was created by game designer Ed Greenwood around 1967 as a setting for his childhood stories...

     campaign setting
    Campaign setting
    A campaign setting is usually a fictional world which serves as a setting for a role-playing game or wargame campaign. A campaign is a series of individual adventures, and a campaign setting is the world in which such adventures and campaigns take place...

     derives his name from Nergal.
  • In the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Nergal is a demon and recurring villain, but later marries Billy's aunt Sis and has a child named Nergal Jr.
  • In the DC Comics universe, Nergal (also spelled Negal) was originally a Golden Age villain opposing Doctor Fate
    Doctor Fate
    Doctor Fate is the name of a succession of fictional sorcerers who appear in books published by DC Comics. The original version was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Howard Sherman, and first appeared in More Fun Comics #55...

    . He was also shown as a primary antagonist to the Vertigo character John Constantine
    John Constantine
    John Constantine is a fictional character, an occult detective anti-hero in comic books published by DC Comics, mostly under the Vertigo imprint. The character first appeared in Swamp Thing #37 , and was created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, John Totleben and Rick Veitch...

    . He is the primary villain in the Doctor Fate story in Countdown to Mystery mini-series. His name appeared as Nergal in the Hellblazer comics and in the reprint of More Fun Comics #67 in Weird Secret Origins, though in Countdown to Mystery and The Golden Age Doctor Fate Archives, he is referred to as "Negal," even in the latter's reprint of More Fun #67.
  • In the seventh Fire Emblem video game, Nergal is the name of the main villain; Ereshkigal
    In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler.Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and...

     is the name of his tome (magic weapon), a reference to Nergal's wife, goddess of the Irkalla
    In Babylonian mythology, Irkalla is the hell-like underworld from which there is no return. It is also called Arali, Kigal, Gizal, and the lower world...

    , land of the dead.
  • In the MMORPG Lunia, Nergal is the boss of the tenth floors of the Cave of Chaos raid.
  • A customizable parody video circulated by has Glenn Beck
    Glenn Beck
    Glenn Edward Lee Beck is an American conservative radio host, vlogger, author, entrepreneur, political commentator and former television host. He hosts the Glenn Beck Program, a nationally syndicated talk-radio show that airs throughout the United States on Premiere Radio Networks...

     claiming that the viewer of the video is in league with Nergal, using a convoluted transliteration and translation process from English to Greek to Aramaic
    Aramaic language
    Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

     and back to English with the letters N G and L added.
  • In 1988 Finnish gothic rock
    Gothic rock
    Gothic rock is a musical subgenre of post-punk and alternative rock that formed during the late 1970s. Gothic rock bands grew from the strong ties they had to the English punk rock and emerging post-punk scenes...

     group Russian Love
    Russian Love
    Russian Love was a rock group that came from Northern Finland and was one of the first gothic rock bands in Finland to sing in English and the first one have an album released...

     released their first album entitled Nergal. The album was re-released in 2007 by Finnish record company Plastic Passion and Italian record company Eibon Records
    Eibon Records
    Eibon Records is an independent record label from Milan, Italy, founded in 1996. It is owned by Mauro Berchi and primarily focuses on very fringe underground music, noise/ambient and doom metal . It is also home to Berchi's own dark ambient group, Canaan...

  • Nergal is also the stage name of Adam Darski
    Adam Darski
    Adam Michał Darski also known by his stage name Nergal and previously Holocausto, is a Polish musician and television personality, best known for being the frontman for blackened death metal band Behemoth.- Biography :...

    , the vocalist/guitarist of the Polish black/death metal band Behemoth
    Behemoth (band)
    Behemoth is a Polish blackened death metal band from Gdańsk, formed in 1991. They are considered to have played an important role in establishing the Polish extreme metal underground, alongside bands such as Vader, Decapitated, Vesania and Hate....

    . "And Nergal to me is more important than my real name, which is Adam, and only my parents and my girlfriend Doda
    Dorota Rabczewska
    Dorota Rabczewska , more commonly known as Doda Elektroda, is a Polish musical artist, among the most successful Polish artists ever in terms of number of prizes won. She was first known as a member of the Polish rock band Virgin...

     call me Adam or Adaś. Most people just call me Nergal or Ner."
  • Swedish Symphonic metal band Therion
    Therion (band)
    Therion is a Swedish symphonic metal band founded by Christofer Johnsson in 1987. The word "therion" comes from the Greek therion , meaning "Beast," i.e., that of the Christian Book of Revelation...

     wrote a song dedicated to Nergal titled The Siren of the Woods
    The Siren of the Woods
    "Siren of the Woods" is the second single released by Swedish heavy metal band Therion.-Track listing:# "The Siren of the Woods" # "Cults of the Shadow" # "Babylon"...

  • In both table top RPGs Warhammer
    Warhammer may refer to:*War hammer, a weapon*Warhammer Fantasy, a series of high fantasy games and the fictional universe in which they take place**Warhammer Fantasy Battle, a table-top fantasy miniature wargame...

     and Warhammer 40,000
    Warhammer 40,000
    Warhammer 40,000 is a tabletop miniature wargame produced by Games Workshop, set in a dystopian science fantasy universe. Warhammer 40,000 was created by Rick Priestley in 1987 as the futuristic companion to Warhammer Fantasy Battle, sharing many game mechanics...

     by Games Workshop
    Games Workshop
    Games Workshop Group plc is a British game production and retailing company. Games Workshop has published the tabletop wargames Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000...

     Nergal is a direct inspiration to the major chaos god Nurgle.
  • In Catherine (video game)
    Catherine (video game)
    is a horror puzzle-platformer adventure game developed by Atlus Persona Team and published by Atlus for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game is Atlus' first internally-developed game for seventh-generation consoles in high definition, and is described as an "adult-oriented" title by the game's...

     there is a demon named Nergal, who is the father of Catherine and lord of the Underworld.

See also

  • Apollo
    Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

  • Hades
    Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

  • Mamitu
    In Mesopotamian mythology Mamitu was the goat-headed goddess of destiny, who decreed the fate of the new-borns. She was also worshipped as goddess of the oath, later a goddess of fate and a judge in the underworld, where she lives with the Anunnaku. She is occasionally regarded as a consort of...

  • Mot
  • Pazuzu
    In Assyrian and Babylonian mythology, Pazuzu was the king of the demons of the wind, and son of the god Hanbi. He also represented the southwestern wind, the bearer of storms and drought.- Iconography :...

  • Set
  • Tyr
  • Ghosts in Mesopotamian religions
    Ghosts in Mesopotamian religions
    There are many references to ghosts in Mesopotamian religions - the religions of Sumer, Babylon, Assyria and other early states in Mesopotamia. Traces of these beliefs survive in the later Abrahamic religions that came to dominate the region....

External links

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