Adapa god

Adapa was a Mesopotamian mythical figure who accidentally refused immortality. He was a wise sage and a priest of Ea (Enki), the god of wisdom and water, in Eridu. While fishing in the Persian Gulf, a sudden south wind capsized his boat. Enraged, Adapa cursed the wind. Anu, the god of the heavens and the wind’s owner, summoned Adapa for his actions.

Ea warned Adapa about Anu’s offer of bread and water of death. He advised Adapa to refuse them. However, Ea also mentioned that if Adapa showed humility, Anu might offer him bread and water of life for immortality.

Adapa followed Ea’s instructions and refused Anu’s offer. Anu, offended, cursed Adapa with mortality and sent him back to earth. Adapa was thus denied immortality and barred from heaven.

The Adapa myth resembles the Fall of Man story. It delves into human mortality, the gods-human relationship, and the consequences of pride and disobedience. Reflecting the Mesopotamian view, the story portrays a world of order and chaos, with capricious gods.

The story of Adapa, a presents a fascinating and complex character from Mesopotamian mythology. Adapa, considered the son of the god Ea and a king of Eridu, is often recognized as the first sage and man, though not immortal. This narrative holds several intriguing parallels and contrasts with the biblical story of Adam.

In this myth, Adapa’s abilities and experiences reflect significant themes:

  • Invention of Speech: Unlike Adam, who named animals and birds, Adapa is credited with the invention of speech itself, highlighting his role as a bringer of knowledge and civilization.
  • Encounter with the South Wind: On a fishing trip, Adapa’s curse is so powerful that it breaks the wings of the south wind, showcasing his extraordinary capabilities and the respect and fear he commands, even among natural forces.
  • Summons to Heaven: His actions lead to a summons by the god Anu. This ascent to heaven is symbolic, representing a mortal’s direct interaction with the divine realm.
  • Advice from Ea: Before his heavenly journey, Ea instructs Adapa to abstain from eating any food offered in heaven. This advice, reminiscent of the Edenic prohibition in the Adam and Eve story, sets the stage for a significant decision.
  • Encounter with Tammuz: Adapa’s interaction with Tammuz (related to the goddess Ishtar) and his mourning for Tammuz’s absence from Earth indicates a deep connection between the divine and the mortal, and a recognition of the cycles of life and death.
  • Offer of Immortality: Anu, appeased by Adapa’s honesty, offers him the food and water of life. Adapa’s refusal, based on Ea’s advice, results in him missing the chance for immortality, a twist that parallels the loss of eternal life in the Garden of Eden.
  • Consequences of His Actions: The tale concludes with a poignant realization. Like Adam, Adapa learns that his actions (and in his case, adherence to his father’s advice) have significant consequences, leading to the introduction of disease and death as the fate of humankind.

The story of Adapa is rich in symbolism and moral lessons, reflecting on themes like the pursuit of knowledge, the relationship between mortals and the divine, and the nature of wisdom and folly. It provides a valuable insight into ancient Mesopotamian beliefs and their understanding of human nature and destiny.


Cotterell, Arthur, A Dictionary of World Mythology, New York, G. P. Putman’s Sons, 1980, p. 23