Ullikummi – a giant stone monster

In Hurrian mythology, Ullikummi is a giant stone monster, son of Kumarbi and the sea god’s daughter, Sertapsuruhi or a female cliff.

The narrative of Ullikummi is one episode, the best preserved and most complete, in an epic cycle of related “songs” about the god Kumarbi, who aimed to replace the weather god Teshub and destroy the city of Kummiya; to this end Kumarbi fathered upon a rock cliff a genderless, deaf, blind, yet sentient pillar of volcanic rock, Ullikummi, which he hid in the netherworld and placed on the shoulder of Upelluri. Upelluri, absorbed in his meditations, did not feel Ullikummi on his shoulder [Upelluri stands in the netherworld, holding the earth and sky on his shoulder like the Greek Atlas; a mere giant such as Ullikummi is barely noticeable, although Upelluri does feel a bit of pain in his shoulder once Ullikummi has grown up]. Ullikummi grew quickly until he reached the heavens. Ullikummi’s brother Teshub thundered and rained on Ullikummi, but it did not harm him. Teshub fled and abdicated the throne [the weather god and his vizier and brother, Tasmisu, are defeated in their first battle with Ullikummi, as Tasmisu relates to Teshub’s wife, Hebat; as a result Teshub is banished to a “little place,” probably meaning a grave]. Teshub asked Ea for help [Ea, who lives in the Apsu, underground source of earth’s waters, obtains the toothed cutting tool with which heaven and earth were cut apart shortly after creation; this tool will disable Ullikummi]. Ea visited Upelluri and cut off the feet of Ullikummi, toppling him [that is, Ea cuts Ullikummi loose from Upelluri’s shoulder and then urges the weather god to fight again; the end of the story is broken away and scholars simply assume Ullikummi is finally defeated].

The “song of Ullikummi” was recognized from its first rediscovery as a predecessor of Greek myths in Hesiod. Parallels to the Greek myth of Typhoeus, the ancient antagonist of the thunder-god Zeus, have been elucidated by Walter Burkert, Oriental and Greek Mythology, pp. 19–24, and Caucasian parallels in his “Von Ullikummi zum Kaukasus: Die Felsgeburt des Unholds”, Würzburger Jahrbücher N. F., 5 (1979) pp. 253–61.

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