How the Mighty Serpent was Slain

Hittites settled in Anatolia (modern day Turkey) about 5,000 years ago and ruled over a powerful empire that extended all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Here’s a story of one of their gods.

Published: 13th December 2013 10:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th December 2013 10:14 AM   |  A+A-


Hittites settled in Anatolia (modern day Turkey) about 5,000 years ago and ruled over a powerful empire that extended all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Here’s a story of one of their gods.

Teshub was the Storm God who had usurped all of his father’s powers. Of course Kumarbi, his father, could not really complain as he had taken over from his own father Anu, the Sky God, in a not too amicable way. His father tried in vain to contain him many times but did not meet with much success.

Mighty though he was, Teshub could not vanquish Illuyanka. Now Illuyanka was a powerful serpent with whom Teshub fought many battles. After one very humiliating defeat, he decided that enough was enough. He’d find a way to put down the evil serpent. Maybe he needed to seek help from the other gods. It was his daughter. Inara, the patron goddess of  wild animals, who offered to help.

“How?” asked Teshub who was willing to listen to others’ ideas for he really didn’t have one himself.

“I’ll find a way,” promised Inara. She went down to earth and sought out Hupasiya. Hupasiya was only a human but Inara had taken a fancy to him somehow.

“Hupasiya, I need you to come with me on a mission. Leave everything and come with me at once!” she begged of him. Hupasiya, who in turn loved the beautiful goddess, agreed without even asking her what this was all about. On their way up to the heavens Inara explained to him her plan.

“Illuyanka is a very dangerous serpent and a threat to gods and mortals alike. My father Teshub had tried several times to defeat him but has not been able to do so. My plan is to befriend the enemy and then ensnare him,’’ she told Hupasiya.

“What do I have to do?” Hupasiya asked as he was not exactly the warrior sort and was kind of wary of an encounter with a deadly serpent.

“Oh... You and I are going to play host at a very spirited party... that’s what,” Inara was smiling as she said this.

“For whom?” asked Hupasiya still looking puzzled.

“Sup with the enemy, that is what it’s going to be...” laughed Inara and quickly explained her plan to Hupasiya.

Inara prepared a big feast and went to the lair of the serpent Illuyanka.

“Oh Iluyanka, you are the mightiest of all serpents and the supreme of all creations. To celebrate your victory over all gods and mortals, I have prepared a grand feast. All in your honour! Please do come to my humble abode with all your sons and partake of it,” Inara thus invited the serpent and his clan.

Flattered and surprised (pleasantly so), the unsuspecting Iluyanka slithered up with his entire family in tow. Inara was dressed in all her finery and looked every inch the radiant hostess.

Hupasiya waited hiding in a dark corner, unseen by the guests. What a feast it was! Barrels and barrels of wine were emptied as the merry making went on through the night.

Inara made sure that every one of her guests was well fed or rather, well overfed!

As the night wore on, Illuyanka and his sons were all feeling bloated and drowsy. And snakes of any kind, as you know, when they eat a great deal, become all swollen and large.

So when they slithered, sleepy and drunk, back into their den, they found that they were too big to squeeze through.

This was the moment that Inara was waiting for. “Hupasiya, here’s your chance, quickly now…” she called to the waiting mortal.

Hupasiya went down with a thick, long rope and tied up Illuyanka and all his sons.

The serpent was too far gone to even know what was happening and continued to doze, dead to the world. 

Inara now alerted her father, the Storm God. Tehsub came down with his great thunder weapons and killed Illuyanka and all his sons too. Finally the great serpent was dead!

After killing all of the serpent clan, Tehsub scattered their remains over the earth, preserving all of creation for another year. As for Inara, she took Hupasiya up to the land of Tarukka where she set up home with him high on an isolated, tall rock. What happened with them after that is a story for another day.

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