Return to Telepinu (person)

(Also Telepinus)

”The Noble God”

Telepinu was an important deity in [Hittite] [religion] and the subject of an [epic cycle]. Son of the [storm-god], [Taru], and the great mother, [Hatepinu], he personified [fertility] in both plants and animals. Telepinu’s focus was on [plow]ing, [irrigation] and crop growth. He was also somewhat responsible for controlling the [weather], in particular [fructifying] rains and storms. He is mentioned in the earliest [Hittite] records from around 1800 [B.C.]

This god is often interpreted as a local representation of the dying and [resurrection] vegetation gods that were popular in the [Near East], but not as prevalent in [IE] [mythology]. Other examples of this type of deity are [Dumuzi] in [Sumeria], [Tammuz] in [Akkadia], and [Osiris] in [Egypt]. It is more than likely that Telepinu‘s [worship] dates back to [Neolithic] times in the [Near East], and that the god was also the prototype for [Dionysus], whose cult came to [Greece] from [Asia-Minor] in the early [Iron Age].

The epic cycle of Telepinu starts with the [fertility-god] becoming angry (perhaps at his father) and rushing off (which can be interpreted as symbolizing death). With him, Telepinu took the fertile wind and rains, and the growth of plants and animals. By doing so, he put the land into a great [draught] which caused widespread [famine]. The wind would not spread the seed, man and animals would not conceive and nothing would sprout. Telepinu took the earth’s gifts to a grove and fell asleep. [Taru], the [storm-god] and Telepinu’s father, saw what had happened and asked the other gods to look for Telepinu, but he could not be found.

Taru then went to his father to ask advice on what to do about his son. His father said that Telepinu had been angered by Taru, and unless Taru found his son and worked out the problem, he would be killed. No better off, Taru then consulted his mother [Nintu] ([Hannahanna]), who told him that she would send a [bee] to find Telepinu. The bee found the sleeping god, and then stung his hands and feet and smeared his eyes with [wax] to purify him.

This just infuriated Telepinu further, and in response he caused more damage to the earth. He dried up whole streams and caused great flood at the coast, drowning men and animals. Finally, the [goddess] of healing was called upon to cast charms on the angry [god], and a human male was chosen to pray to Telepinu to stop his [rampage]. He was finally calmed by the goddess and the human, and restored all of nature to as it had been before ([symbolic] of his return to life from [death]).