The celestial bull is a mythical creature in several myths of ancient high cultures that stands by the gods or guards a treasure. The earliest tradition comes from the Gilgamesh epic , which describes the life of the Mesopotamian king Gilgamesh (around 2700 BC).
In order to soften the strict rule of the king over the city of Uruk , the gods create a companion for him, the "animal man" Enkidu . When he is civilized to be human, he goes out on heroic deeds with Gilgamesh. Then the goddess of love Ishtar calls on the gigantic king to a "holy wedding", which he refuses. Ishtar then sends the heavenly bull, but the two heroes manage to kill the giant animal.
The further course of the epic revolves around human mortality and Gilgamesh's attempt to escape it. In the underworld, he learns how Utnapishtim (the biblical Noah ) was given an immortal name by the Flood, and gains eternal fame by building the first city wall. Since then the celestial bull has graced the starry sky as a constellation .
The celestial bull of the Gilgamesh epic also appears in later heroic legends - for example as the Cretan bull and the father of the Minotaur in Greek mythology . One of Heracles' heroic deeds is the victorious fight against this mighty beast, which he can finally tame. A link to the symbolic bull killing in the Mithras cult of the 1st millennium is also possible.