Tarhunna

One of the principal deities in the Anatolian pantheon was the storm-god whose Hittite name was Tarhunna or Tarhunta (Luwian Tarhunza, Palaic Taru). The root here is the verb tarh- 'overcome, vanquish', but the formation with *-u-no- is curiously parallel to that of Perkunas and Perun.34

The attested mythology of Tarhunna contained in the so-called Kumarbi cycle is largely taken over from the Hurrian storm-god Tessub and does not reflect Indo-European myth. There is, however, one detail in the story of his birth that deserves notice. He is confined in Kumarbi's belly with two other gods, having grown there after Kumarbi swallowed the seed of Anu, that is, of the personified Heaven. There is discussion in the fragmentary text of how they might come out. One of the alternatives is 'the good place', which seems to be neither the mouth nor the skull, and it is by this route that the Storm-god is born. It involves a rupture of Kumarbi's body, which has to be stitched up.

There is an intriguing parallel in a dialogue hymn of the Rigveda which begins with the unborn Indra inside his mother (unnamed). She has held him there for a thousand months. She, or someone, calls for him to be born in the traditional, tried and tested way by which all gods have been born. But he declares, 'I will not go out this way, it is bad going (durgaha) thus. Sideways from her ribs I will go out.' And so he does, without explaining why he regards this as a superior place of exit. Macdonell suggested that 'this trait may possibly be derived from the notion of lightning breaking from the side of the storm-cloud'.35 That seems plausible enough, and if the Indo-European storm-god was said for this reason to have been born from his mother's side, designated as 'the good place', the motif might have been imported into the Hittite version of the Hurrian narrative.

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