Shamash was the sun god in the mythology of the ancient Near East. Associated with truth, justice, and healing, he was one of the most active gods in the pantheons of ancient Sumer*, Babylonia*, and Assyria*.

The son of the Sumerian moon god Sin, Shamash was the brother of the goddess Ishtar. His wife Aya (youth) bore him four sons—Giru (fire), Kittum (truth), Mesharum (justice), and Nusku (light). As god of the sun, Shamash moved across the sky during the day, and according to some legends, he moved through the underworld during the night. In other stories, the god and his sons crossed the sky in a chariot by day and rested in a palace on a mountain at night.

Shamash was responsible for maintaining the order of the universe. Nothing could hide from his bright light, which banished darkness and revealed lies. The defender of the poor and the weak, he was the enemy of evil.

pantheon all the gods of a particular culture

underworld land of the dead

epic long poem about legendary or historical heroes, written in a grand style

immortality ability to live forever

In the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, Shamash offered the hero help and advice in carrying out a dangerous quest for immortality. In ancient art, Shamash was usually shown as a disk or wheel, although sometimes he appeared as a king holding a staff of justice and a whee l of truth.

See also Gilgamesh ; Ishtar ; Semitic Mythology ; Sun .

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: