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Tammuz

Tammuz (täˈməz) [key], ancient nature deity worshiped in Babylonia. A god of agriculture and flocks, he personified the creative powers of spring. He was loved by the fertility goddess Ishtar, who, according to one legend, was so grief-stricken at his death that she contrived to enter the underworld to get him back. According to another legend, she killed him and later restored him to life. These legends and his festival, commemorating the yearly death and rebirth of vegetation, corresponded to the festivals of the Phoenician and Greek Adonis and of the Phrygian Attis. The Sumerian name of Tammuz was Dumuzi. In the Bible his disappearance is mourned by the women of Jerusalem (Ezek. 8.14).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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