The Greek goddess Io was equivalent to the Egyptian goddess Hathor. Io, as Hathor, was associated with the "cow" and the "moon" and was mother of a son Epaphos, whose name had the double meaning of "seize" and "caress" (Bernal, Black Athena, p 92). Epaphos was the Egyptian god Horus the Elder son of Hathor. He was better known in Mesopotamia as Adad, a name that carried the related double meaning of "fierce" and "beloved".
In time Io passed the title of leading lady to the younger Isis who became the new cow and moon goddess. Io was considered the daughter of the river-god Inochus, a name that recalls Biblical Enoch and the Mesopotamian river-god Enki. In Mesopotamian myth, Isis was called Inanna and sometimes referred to as the child of Enki, especially in the legend of "Inanna and Enki" where she . Isis was unfortunately barren and had to adopt the son of Horus the Elder and Hathor as her own. This child was also called Horus (the Younger) and Epaphos (II) after his true father. Isis, as the new Io, also adopted one of the daughters of Horus the Elder/Epaphos the Elder as her own successor in queenship. In Greek myth this daughter of Epaphos was called Libya. After the flood she would become the chief queen.
Libya we are told became mother to Agenor ("manly") and Belus ("lord/baal") by the god of the sea Poseidon. These post-Flood princes established kingdoms in Egypt and Canaan. Their names and rivalvry mirrored that of Horus the Elder and Seth from before the Deluge. Agenor, although the younger, became consort of his mother and fathered the renowned Cadmos. Libya as the wife of Agenor is called Telephassa ("far-shiner"), a recognized epithet of the moon goddess (Graves, The Greek Myths, p 97).
In Sumerian myth, the most important queen after the Flood is called Ninsun, "cow goddess", which is obviously more of a title for the Great Goddess than a personal name. The name Ninsun therefore indicates that this woman had been placed in the role of Io/Isis/Inanna/Ishtar. In Sumerian, the root sun can also indicate "moon" and "bearded", which provides further confirmation of her status, not only as queen, but as a ruler in her own right.
In Akkadian legends relating to Etana and Gilgamesh, Ninsun is in fact called Ishtar and actively pursues sexual relationships with leading princes. She has at least one son named Gilgamesh. In order to fully establish her position, she also seeks to have another son by that son. She is however rebuffed by Gilgamesh. He isn't interested in playing the tragic role of "Ishtar's lover". Gilgamesh, perhaps the first to scorn a woman in the office of Ishtar, ultimately lost the succession to a younger brother named Agga who was willing to "ascend with Ishtar".
The Bible notes that Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth had wives but does not distinguish them with names. In fact, as a royal family, they did not have wives in the traditional sense. The leading woman of the family was free to couple with any or all of her male relatives. Although Ham became the dominant male of this clan and could claim the title of "father", he evidently did not actually produce the next generation of leading princes, specifically Mizraim (Belus/Gilgamesh) and Cush (Agenor/Agga). His brother Japheth, as the newly elected Posiedon, "god of the sea" and "lover of the moon goddess", did instead. Consistent with this conclusion the ancient Greeks claimed descent both from Hellen (Ham) son of Deucalian (Noah) and from "Poseidon" (Japheth)
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.