The following is a retelling of the Hittite myth known today as The Wrath of Telipinu. This rendition draws heavily from Gary Beckman’s translation in The Context of Scripture (Vol. 1), often quoting verbatim with minor stylistic modifications.
The Wrath of Telipinu
The god Telipinu disappeared from the land in a rage. What pissed off the son of the Storm-god, nobody knew, but he left in such a temper that he shoved his shoes on the wrong feet and vanished into the wilderness.
A petrifying mist seized the land in the god’s absence. The world shuddered and fell silent. The hustle and bustle halted and all became still, as if suspended in mid-air.
The arid frost permeated the windows and spread through the houses. On each hearth, the red-hot coals grew black and the smoking logs were stifled.
On their altars in the town shrines, the gods were stifled. In the fold, the sheep were stifled. In the corral, the cows were stifled. The mother sheep refused to feed her lamb. The cow would not suckle her calf.
When Telipinu went off into the moor, he fell asleep. The halenzu plant spread over him and his pulse stilled.
It was as if Telipinu carried the life of the world in his waking body, for when he disappeared into the meadow and the moor, he took with him the flourishing of the grain and the fertility of the herds.
Barley and wheat stopped growing. Cows, sheep, and humans could no longer conceive, and pregnant mothers could not give birth.
The mountains dried up. The trees dried up, so that no buds emerged. The pastures dried up. The springs dried up. Famine smote the land. Humans and gods perished from hunger.
The Sun-god prepared a feast and invited the Thousand Gods. They ate, but were not sated. They drank, but were not satisfied.
The Storm-god grew worried about his son, Telipinu. He knew of Telipinu’s rages and havoc he could wreak on the land simply through the movement of his tempestuous body.
“My son Telipinu is not here,” Storm-god said at last, when the gods had finished their meager meal. “He became angry and took away for himself everything good.”
The great gods and the lesser gods began to search for Telipinu. Their host, the Sun-god, dispatched an eagle to scout out the high mountains, deep valleys, and blue sea.
But the eagle returned from his journey with nothing to show for it. “I didn’t find the honored god Telipinu,” he reported to the Sun-god.
The Storm-god despaired of his son. “What will we do?” he asked the Mother-goddess. “We will perish from hunger!”
The Mother-goddess looked the Storm-god straight in the eyes. “What will we do?” she echoed. “Do something, Storm-god! You go search for Telipinu.”
The Storm-god shouldered his mallet and wedge and set off in search of Telipinu. He came to his city and started hacking at its gates, but to no avail. The gates did budge and in his hands was a busted hammer. The storm-god dropped the smashed tools with a groan, wrapped himself in his robe and sat down in defeat.
He looked over at the Mother-goddess. In her outstretched palm was a tiny bee flexing its wings. She pulled the creature close to her face. “You go,” she whispered to it. “You go search for Telipinu.”
The Storm-god rolled his eyes. “The great gods and the lesser gods searched for him over and over, but they didn’t find him. And you think this bee can find him? This small bee with a miniscule wingspan?”
The Mother-goddess ignored him. “Go!” she whispered, and the bee flew off in search of Telipinu.
The bee headed away from the city, across the fields, and into the meadow where Telipinu slept tangled in the halenzu plant. The matted brush was no trouble for the bee; it flew easily through its small gaps.
The bee stung Telipinu on his hands and feet. The god jolted awake. His hands and feet felt like they were on fire. He shouted and cursed and flailed his arms wildly to beat back the brush, stumbling across the meadow on his swollen feet.
But back in the town, the ritual practitioner was ready. She had gathered the grains, fruits, and oils needed to placate the god’s anger, expiate the evil from his body, and entice him back to the land. With the help of Kamrusepa, goddess of magic, Telipinu’s wrath would be turned aside.
She ground up malt and beer and held a bowl of the mixture up to the nose of Telipinu’s cult statue. “Let the pleasant smell summon you, Telipinu,” she said. “Now you are choked with rage. May you be reconciled with gods and humans!”
The ritualist set before Telipinu sweet water, nuts, oil, honey, ghee, wine, and figs.
“Let your heart be pacified, O Telipinu. Let your heart be sated with oil. As figs are sweet, let your heart become sweet. As the grape holds wine in its heart, may you hold goodness in your heart. As malt and beer-bread are joined in essence, may you O Telipinu be joined to the words of humans. As honey is sweet and ghee is mild, let your heart heart become sweet and mild.”
The ritualist prepared the god’s path and resting place. She cut stalks of lemongrass and boughs of sahi and happuriya and arranged them into a bed for Telipinu. She set her face in the direction whence she knew the god would come and sprinkled his path with fine oil.
Telipinu returned in a fury. He thundered and flashed and hurled a bolt of lightning toward the dark earth below.
But the magic goddess Kamrusepa saw Telipinu coming and took an eagle’s wing, an instrument of magic. On earth, the ritualist reached for an eagle’s wing, her motions mirroring the movements of Kamrusepa in heaven.
Kamrusepa above and her human double below carried off Telipinu and set to work ending his wrath before he reached the land. She burned incense of purification around Telipinu’s body on all sides, drawing the evil from it.
“I have taken his displeasure. I have taken his wrath. I have taken his irritation. I have taken his anger. Telipinu is wrathful. His heart and his image were stifled like kindling. As I have burned this kindling, let the displeasure, wrath, and anger of Telipinu likewise burn away.”
The rituals continued until Telipinu’s rage was turned aside from each part of the city.
“Let Telipinu’s body release the anger and displeasure Let the house release them. Let the central courtyard release them. Let the windows release them. Let the door-pivot release them. Let the city gate release them. Let the gate structure release them. Let the royal road release them. They will not go to the fertile field, or garden, or grove.”
Telipinu returned home and turned his thoughts to nourishing his land. The mist released the windows and the house. The altars were reconciled with the gods. The logs in the hearths burst again into orange flame. The sheep and cows awoke. The mother sheep nursed their lambs and the cows suckled their calves.
And as of old, the storm god Telipinu concerned himself with the life, health, and future of the royal house. For the king, he destined long years and progeny, and a future of great renown.