Utu (Akkadian rendition of Sumerian dUD 𒀭𒌓 "Sun") later worshipped by East Semitic peoples as Shamash (Akkadian šamaš "Sun" is cognate to Phoenician: 𐤔𐤌𐤔 šmš, Classical Syriac: ܫܡܫܐ šemša, Hebrew: שֶׁמֶשׁ šemeš and Arabic: شمس šams) was the ancient Mesopotamian god of the sun, justice, morality, and truth, and the twin brother of the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven. His main temples were in the cities of Sippar and Larsa. He was believed to ride through the heavens in his sun chariot and see all things that happened in the day. He was the enforcer of divine justice and was thought to aid those in distress. According to Sumerian mythology, he helped protect Dumuzid when the galla demons tried to drag him to the Underworld and he appeared to the hero Ziusudra after the Great Flood. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, he helps Gilgamesh defeat the ogre Humbaba.
Quotes about Utu
- Emerging [from] below and gazing upwards, Utu, great physician, father of the black-headed, wearing a lapis-lazuli beard in the E-babbar! Utu, great hero, focus of the assembly, king, bison running over the mountains! Utu, bison running over the mountains!
- Utu, the son born with the city to Ningal in the E-nun-ana (House of the prince of heaven), a bull, a cedar fed with water thriving among cypresses, holy, patient-hearted, playful, radiating light, he is iridescent radiance! Then, as my king comes forth, the heavens tremble before him and the earth shakes before him.
- He has raised his head over the mountains; he is indeed their king! Utu who decrees judgments for all countries, the lord, the son of Ningal, who renders decisions for all countries, the lord who is highly skilled at verdicts, the son of Enlil, highly knowledgeable and majestic Utu. [...] He has lifted his head over the Land. My king Utu, you cross all the shining mountains like an eagle! He has lifted his gaze over the mountains.
- Utu, who eats butter, who eats cream, nevertheless touches the table of the poor.
- May the people marvel admiringly, and may Utu witness it in joy.
- At that time the day was lord, the night was sovereign, and Utu was king.
- The messenger gave heed to the words of his king. He journeyed by the starry night, and by day he travelled with Utu of heaven.
- After day had broken and Utu had risen, the sun god of the Land lifted his head high. The king combined the Tigris with the Euphrates. He combined the Euphrates with the Tigris. Large vessels were placed in the open air, and he stood small vessels beside them, like lambs lying on the grass.
- Utu, I greet you! Let me be ill no longer! Hero, Ningal's son, I greet you! Let me be ill no longer! Utu, you have let me come up into the mountains in the company of my brothers. In the mountain cave, the most dreadful spot on earth, let me be ill no longer! Here where there is no mother, there is no father, there is no acquaintance, no one whom I value, my mother is not here to say "Alas, my child!" My brother is not here to say "Alas, my brother!" … Don't make me flow away like water in a violent death! Don't make me eat saltpetre as if it were barley! Don't make me fall like a throw-stick somewhere in the desert unknown to me! Afflicted with a name which excites my brothers' scorn, let me be ill no longer! Afflicted with the derision of my comrades, let me be ill no longer! Let me not come to an end in the mountains like a weakling!
- Utu, shepherd of the land, father of the black-headed, when you go to sleep, the people go to sleep with you; youth Utu, when you rise, the people rise with you.
- Youthful Utu, [...] brilliant light, great lion, [...] hero emerging from the holy interior of heaven, storm whose splendour covers the Land and is laden with great awesomeness; Utu, king of justice that befits the true offspring, made Culgi, the trustworthy shepherd, glorious in the battle. The great wild bull, youthful Utu, who like a torch illuminates the Land from the holy heavens; the wise one of all the countries, the fearsome radiance of Urac, the just god among the Anuna gods, the long, holy dragon, the first-born son cherished by Suen, the lord born to command -- Utu bestowed the kingship of the Land on Culgi.
- Utu, assign a sweet destiny to the king.
- Youthful Utu chose the shepherd in his heart. Years of plenty are assigned to Culgi, the trustworthy shepherd, the king, as his fate. From the shrine in Nibru, Enlil bestowed this on the trustworthy shepherd, whose fate is determined by Utu.
- Lord of all the great divine powers, borne by Ningal! Youthful Utu, lord of all the great divine powers, borne by Ningal.
- Say to Utu my lord, the exalted judge of heaven and earth, who cares for the Land, who renders verdicts; just god, who loves to keep man alive, who heeds entreaty, who extends mercy, who knows [...] compassion, who loves justice, who selects honesty. Repeat to the bearded one, the son of Ningal, [...] who opens the bolts of heaven and earth, who creates brightness in darkness; foremost lord who alone is resplendent, whose greatness is unequalled; warrior, son given birth by Ningal, who guards and gathers together the divine powers; just god, prince who determines all the fates, my lord, father of the black-headed: this is what Sîn-iddinam, king of Larsa, your servant, says:
Distress has been caused in your city Larsa, which you have chosen in your heart. The broad squares where days have been passed in merriment have been reduced to silence. Your commendable troops who were assembled have been annihilated like reeds from a reed fence splitting apart. Your young men have been harvested like barley at the due time; they have been picked and have been plucked like ripened fruit. The people have been smashed like terracotta figurines; they have perished all together. An evil storm took away the little ones from the laps of their mothers. [...] I serve the great gods daily with prayers, and my fervent entreaties are sublime. O youthful Utu, for that reason look favourably upon your city Larsa! Say "Alas!" for your city! Say "Alas for the sanctuary!"! Extend sympathetic compassion to Larsa! [...] So that may escape the clutches of death. May its seed be great! May sing your praises! And as for me, for my reverence give me life! Bestow on me long life as a gift!
- The warrior is unique, he alone is the equal of many; Utu is unique, he alone is the equal of many. With your life you should always be on the side of the warrior; with your life you should always be on the side of Utu.
- You should not question the words of your mother and your personal god. The mother, like Utu, gives birth to the man.
- Oh Utu, you are my judge: pronounce my judgement! You are my decision-maker, decide my case! The dream that I have seen -- turn it into a favourable one! Let me walk straight, so that I can catch up with my companion!
- Utu's glance is prayerful. Utu's heart is compassionate. A devotee of Utu is among the holy. Allotted by Utu to be fortunate, a [...] ship reaches the quay.
- When a man comes forward as a witness, saying: "Let me tell you what I know," but does not know the relevant information, it is an abomination to Utu.
- When a trustworthy boat sets sail, Utu seeks out a trustworthy harbour for it.
- Utu, the lord who loves justice, extirpates wickedness and prolongs righteousness.
- He who despises a just decision, who loves wicked decisions, is an abomination to Utu.
- Proverb of unknown provenance, text online.
- Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses: Utu/Šamaš (god) at Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus (Oracc) - University of Pennsylvania.