Ishtar was the goddess of love and war to the ancient Babylonians. This same goddess was also worshiped throughout the Near East and Mediterranean world from the beginning of recorded history until the predominance of Christianity. Her name varied from place to place, but it was the same goddess who, among other lesser known names, was known as Inanna, Innin, Astarte, Ashtar, and Aphrodite. Ishtar first arose among the Sumerians sometime in the third millennium. They created an entire pantheon of gods who were like humans - only better. The gods of Sumer reflected the general pessimism of the Sumerians but also their belief that the human mind could divine the minds of gods by observing perceived supernatural activity.
Ishtar had no male counterpart, she reigned in her own right and united in her were all the aspects of femininity. Her position in the Babylonian pantheon was the highest.
Her husband, who was also her son and her brother, was Tammuz or Dumuzi to the Sumarians. He was the god of the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers. When Tammuz died in the summer and all vegetation died with him, Ishtar searched for him all over the world. Finally she found him in the underworld and brought him back to life. When Tammuz was reborn the vegetation could flourish again with the first rain of autumn. This was celebrated at the ritual-festival of the "Holy Marriage" which took place at the time of the autumn equinox.
For the Assyrians, Ishtar was predominantly a goddess of war and was known as the Lioness of the Battle. However, as with the Babylonians, love and sexuality also fell into her realm of influence. She was also the Assyrian goddess of justice and healing.