TarhunAs promised here is Balladeer’s Blog’s examination of the second of two different versions of the ancient myth about the Hittite storm god Tarhun battling the supreme serpent Illuyanka. Both versions tie in with the Purulli Festival.

VERSION TWO – Illuyanka, a miles- long serpent, emerged from his lair in the depths of the sea (NOT the Netherworld like in the first version) and unleashed havoc and disorder. Tarhun the storm god clashed with Illuyanka in Kiskilussa and, unexpectedly, the serpent was triumphant. Illuyanka plucked out Tarhun’s eyes and his heart and left him to live blind and helpless (yes, even though he had no heart).

The difference in the two versions centers around the way in which Tarhun eventually gets revenge on Illuyanka. In this version the defeated, blind and “heartless” storm god, seemingly living in exile from his heavenly kingdom following his defeat, marries “the daughter of a poor man”. Neither the name of the daughter or the father is mentioned in the surviving fragments of the myth.

Tarhun has a son (also unnamed in the tablets) by this woman and eventually this son courts and marries the humanoid daughter of Illuyanka. This is all part of the storm god’s plan for revenge which involves exploiting a loophole in the Hittite marriage laws. Those laws stated a poverty- stricken groom – as Tarhun’s son is, since his father is helpless and penniless since he was overthrown by Illuyanka – may go to live with a wealthy bride’s family as a servant in exchange for a “bride price” after they are wed.

The storm god’s son makes his “bride price” the eyes and heart of Tarhun, which Illuyanka has kept as  trophies of his conquest. Apprehensive but bound by the law, the supreme serpent agreed. To nobody’s surprise when Tarhun was again whole he challenged Illuyanka to a rematch and this time was triumphant. No fool, Tarhun decided to kill Illuyanka and all his children to prevent any chance of the serpent deity or his kin ever posing a threat to him again.

The storm god’s son, out of obligation to his new wife’s family, insisted his father slay HIM (the son) as well, since Illuyanka had taken him into his household and complied with the bride price obligation. Regretfully Tarhun did so. The tablet goes on to detail a conflict arising because of all this, but it is not clear how nor is it clear why it ties into the naming of which deity will be the “state” deity of the city of Kastama. The completion of the myth has not survived so barring new archaeological finds we will never know what one part of this second version has to do with the other. 

In this second version even though Tarhun still employs treachery, at least he wins a fair fight with Illuyanka, rather than kill him while he’s bound and drunk. Also in this version the fact that the serpent emerges from the sea instead of the Netherworld gives the story an even greater resemblance to the Canaanite storm god Baal’s battle with Yam, the sea deity. 

FOR ALL OF VERSION ONE CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2014/05/30/hittite-mythology-the-storm-god-versus-the-serpent-deity/

FOR MORE HITTITE DEITIES CLICK HERE:  https://glitternight.com/2014/04/22/hittite-mythology-the-top-deities/


© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Filed under Mythology


  1. I preferred this version where he fights him not kills him when hes tied up.

  2. Your mythology posts are my favorite part of your blog!

  3. Ugi

    Interesting differences in the two versions.

  4. Kita

    Where do you get the information? There are no links to follow up the supposed facts you post

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