Histoire de serpents dans le monde hittite


fr Anthropozoologica 47 (1) - Pages 315-322

Published on 29 June 2012

This article is a part of the thematic issue Ophiaca. Diffusion and Reception of Ophidian Lore in Antiquity

Serpent’s tale in the Hittite world

The Hittites' universe is divided into three layers. First the upper world; secondly the earthly world; then the underground world. Each of them corresponds to a different animal: the Eagle is situated at the highest part of the universe, the Bee represents the earth and the Snake belongs to the underground world. The universe is symbolized by a magic tree whose snake encircles its roots. Mythology relates the cosmic fight between the Snake called Illuyanka and the Storm God that reflects the celestial world. The snake which is gifted with an outstanding strength manages to defeat the Storm God who will take his revenge thanks to and through his daughter Inara, Goddess of the wild world or with the illegal son he had with a human. The text dates back to the times of the old Hittite period (16th cent. BC). A relief from Malatya that belongs to the 10th cent. reminds us of this cosmic fight. In this relief the Storm God can be seen killing a giant snake with his spear.


Illuyanka, Storm God, Hittite Mythology, Hittite Rituals, Comparatism, Macrovipera lebetina.

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