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Scorpion Men are featured in several Akkadian language myths, including the Enûma Elish and the Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. They were also known as aqrabuamelu or girtablilu. The Scorpion Men are described to have the head, torso, and arms of a man and the body of a scorpion.
They were first created by the Tiamat in order to wage war against the younger gods for the betrayal of her mate Apsu. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, they stand guard outside the gates of the sun god Shamash at the mountains of Mashu. These give entrance to Kurnugi, the land of darkness. The scorpion men open the doors for Shamash as he travels out each day, and close the doors after him when he returns to the underworld at night. They also warn travellers of the danger that lies beyond their post. Their heads touch the sky, their "terror is awesome" and their "glance is death". This meeting of Gilgameš, on his way to Ūta-napišti, with the Scorpion-folk guarding the entrance to the tunnel is described in Iškār Gilgāmeš, tablet IX, lines 47-81.
Comparative mythology and religions
The scorpion is likewise a magical guard to an entrance among, e.g., the Mekeo of Papua -- "a scorpion charm is used to protect ... your house."
According to Aztec legend such beings were called Tzitzimime, spirits of defeated gods cast out of the sky after they destroyed the sacred grove of fruit trees. A pair of blue anthropomorphic creatures, one with arms and tail of a scorpion decorate the pillars in the "Star-Chamber" at the Cacaxtla archeological site southeast of Mexico City. A reproduction of the murals can be seen at the National Museum of Anthropology.
In popular culture
- Scorpion Men feature as powerful myth units for the Egyptians in the game Age of Mythology. It can sting human soldier units for extra damage in a short interval. The stinging action will repeat once in about 15 seconds making them devastators for human armies. The Scorpion Men are associated with Nephthys.
- The role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons features centauric scorpion-men called Stingers, normally found in desert locales and devoted to gods of the waste, often those reflecting the Pharaonic or Babylonian pantheons.
- In Warlords Battlecry III, scorpion-people are the primary servants of Melkor, the Lord of Famine.
- Scorpion Men are found in the world of Glorantha by Greg Stafford. A Scorpion Man features in one of the Beast Quest books.
- In The Secret Saturdays, the character Baron Finster has a robotic scorpion for a lower body. Other concepts in the show also reference Mesopotamian myth.
- In Blood Brothers, the familiar Girtablilu has a scorpion for a lower body.
- In Shantae, there are Scorpion Men enemies of male and female genders.
- In Legends of Chima, Scutter of the Scorpion Tribe is shown to have an appearance that is similar to a Scorpion Man.
- A. R. George : The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic. Oxford University Press, 2003. p. 493
- Michele Stephen : A'isa's Gifts. University of California Press, 1995. p. 259
- Graphic of Scorpion man (From boundary stone: Kudurru). Pictured in register IV-(row IV). (Article with Detail-graphic)