September 17, 2009 § Leave a comment
When on high the heaven had not been named,
Firm ground below had not been called by name,
When primordial Apsu, their begetter,
And Mummu-Tiamat, she who bore them all,
Their waters mingled as a single body,
No reed hut had sprung forth, no marshland had appeared,
None of the gods had been brought into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies determined–
Then it was that the gods were formed in the midst of heaven.
Lahmu and Lahamu were brought forth, by name they were called
Apsu (male, fresh water) and Tiamat (female, sea water) mingle and engender Lahmu (male) and Lahamu (female) who are silt deposits as well as Anshar (rim of the sky) and Kishar (rim of the earth. Anshar and Kishar engender Anu (Sky) who in turn engenders Ea-Nudimmud (who ends up as the ruler of fresh waters).
Ea’s wife is named Damkina. Ea is created in the image of his father Anu. The younger gods disturb Apsu and Tiamat who prefer lack of activity. Apsu plans to kill them. The younger gods learn of Apsu’s plans and Ea puts Apsu to sleep and kills him, also capturing Apsu’s advisor/vizier Mummu. Ea builds his house on Apsu.
Marduk is born to Ea and Damkina. He has four ears and four eyes and is generally superior.
Anu creates the winds and streams which disturb Tiamat and some of the other gods. Some of the gods remind Tiamat that she failed to act when Ea killed Apsu and defeated Mummu. Tiamat then creates monsters to fight against her enemies. The chief of these is Kingu whom she makes commander-in-chief and her consort, taking Apsu’s place. She gives him the Table of Destinies (tablets containing the future?).
Ea learns of Tiamat’s plans. Anshar sends Ea to defeat Tiamat. Ea fails. Anshar sends Anu to speak to Tiamat. Anu chickens out and Anshar asks Marduk to kill Tiamat.
Marduk agrees so long as he will be made ruler over all the gods. Marduk (Bel) kills Tiamat. When she opens her mouth to swallow him, Marduk sends in the winds to keep her jaws open. He shoots her heart with an arrow. Marduk then subdues her army, captures Kingu and takes the Tablet of Destinies.
Marduk splits Tiamat in half dividing the waters above from the waters below. He removes her eyes and the Tigris and Euphrates are formed. He puts the appropriate gods in their appropriate star sites. Earth is to be the mirror of heaven and Marduk King of the gods.
Then Marduk decides to create humans (lullu – barbarians, savages, aboriginal humans) to serve the gods. Ea and the other gods shape humans out of the blood of the executed Kingu. Marduk and the other gods create Babylon and the great temple Esagila.
The Enuma Elish ends with a Hymn to the 50 Names of Marduk.
Spirit or Politics?
The Enuma Elish is not just a creation myth that tries to explain natural phenomena that Babylonians did not understand. It tells us the story of the battle between the gods and the triumph of Marduk and it clearly intends to glorify Marduk as God of Gods and as creator of heaven and earth. The story served to legitimize supreme ruling of Marduk, and his claim to rule all the cities of the world, including Babylon.
A nice sideline is also the intention of proving the importance of Babylon in the past, as the city that Anunnaki built for the gods.
The Enuma Elish is a highly political story. And in the light of pre-emptive violence insights, have a look at Genesis and Enuma Elish creation myth comparisons!
A very sticky peme (political meme) indeed.
Farting! … It is as stupid to believe in the myth, as it is to ignore someone coming at you with an axe raised high, swinging it as if they are going to chop off your head, or worse, that of one of your family members, or of someone who cannot defend him or herself and/or serves mankind in another way than by being a warrior: children, old people, the injured, the artist, the priest, the pacifist, … Not only self survival plays a part, also survival of the species … and everything we feel connected to.
The attacker and axe do not go away by not believing in the myth. It is all about the importance of free thinking, and allowing yourself to think for yourself in the moment! And about acting congruently, with clarity of mind.
- Gods in Babylonia (brighthub.com)
- (book review) “The Christian Delusion” – Ch. 5: The Cosmology of the Bible (part 5) (war-on-error.xanga.com)
- Similarities between Sumerian Anki and Vedic Agni by Jean-Yves Lung (auromere.wordpress.com)