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Ancient Mesopotamian myth concerning dynastic succession. The gods chose Etana as the first king, but his wife, though pregnant, could not give birth, and thus Etana had no heir. The god Shamash answered Etana's prayers by directing him to rescue a maimed eagle, which rewarded Etana by carrying him high up in the sky, near heaven, where Etana could obtain the birth plant to help his wife. Surviving texts are incomplete and divergent: in one version Etana makes it to heaven (but the text then breaks off); in another he falls to earth. A king named Etana ruled Kish in southern Mesopotamia sometime in the 3rd millennium BC.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Etana Epic, visit Britannica.com.
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