ABOVE: These pictures look similar, don't they? Ishtar (left) was demonized by the Christians. She eventually became the Devil (at right, Tarot depiction).

Ishtar was the Sumerian-Akkadian-Babylonian goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and war. As goddess of war, she had quite the temper. In the Gilgamesh saga, when the hero, King Gilgamesh of Uruk, shows off after some heroics, Ishtar falls in love with him. He refuses her advances and reminds her that she turned one of her exes into a mole and another into a wolf. Ishtar gets angry and threatens the god of air, Enlil, with this ultimatum: let her release the gargantuan Bull of Heaven (a very big, nasty bull with wings and a human head) into Uruk to trample the fields and give the folks a fright, or she'd make the dead have dinner with the living (which she'd already done once). Enlil chooses the former - not only is the Bull huge, it's ferocious too, but a fright from a giant, winged, human-headed bull seems preferable to sitting down to eat with a bunch of spooky ghosts!

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