The Akkadian Creation Epic - Part 1

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The Akkadian Creation Epic - Part 1

Post  Jepetto on Thu Aug 07, 2008 12:12 pm

Heres another creation story. Even though its incomplete, as in the tablets having sustained damage, its still a great story and has a few elements which have also appeared in other stories. Unfortunately the first three tablets were not included in the book. Its also too big to post as one so Ive split it into two parts.

The Akkadian Creation Epic

This is taken from the book The Ancient Near East Vol 1 Edited by James B. Pritchard and published by Princeton University Press Sixth Ed. 1973.

Translated by E.A. Speiser

(Tablets I-III recount the birth of the gods, who spring from the primordial Apsu and Tiamat, and the choice of Marduk as the champion of the younger gods in the battle against Tiamat.)

Tablet IV

They erected for him a princely throne.
Facing his fathers, he sat down, presiding.
"Thou art the most honored of the great gods,
Thy decree is unrivaled, thy command is Anu. *1
Thou, Marduk art the most honored of the great gods,
Thy decree is unrivaled, thy word is Anu.
From this day unchangeable shall be thy pronouncement.
To raise or bring low - these shall be (in) thy hand.
Thy utterance shall be true, thy command shall be unimpeachable.
No one among the gods shall transgress thy bounds! (10)
Adornment being wanted for the seats of the gods,
Let the place of their shrines ever be in they place.
O Marduk, thou art indeed our avenger.
We have granted thee kingship over the universe entire.
When in assembly thou sittest, thy word shall be supreme.
Thy weapons shall not fail; they shall smash thy foes!
But pour out the life of the god who seized evil."
Having placed in their midst a piece of cloth,
They have addressed themselves to Marduk, their first-born: (20)
"Lord, truly thy decree is first among gods.
Say but to wreck or create; it shall be.
Open thy mouth: the cloth will vanish!
Speak again, and the cloth shall be whole!"
At the word of his mouth the cloth vanished.
He spoke again, and the cloth was restored.
When the gods, his fathers, saw the fruit of his word,
Joyfully they did homage: Marduk is king!"
They conferred on him scepter, throne, and vestment;
they gave him matchless weapons that ward off the foes: (30)
"Go and cut off the life of Tiamat.
May the winds bear her blood to places undisclosed."
Bel's destiny thus fixed, the gods, his fathers,
Caused him to go the way of success and attainment.
He constructed a bow, marked it as his weapon,
Attached thereto the arrow, fixed its bow-cord.
He raised the mace, made his right hand grasp it;
Bow and quiver he hung at his side.
In front of him he set the lightning,
With a blazing flame he filled his body. (40)
He then made a net to enfold Tiamat therein.
The four winds he stationed that nothing of her might escape,
The South Wind, the North Wind, the East Wind, the West Wind.
Close to his side he held the net, the gift of his father, Anu.
He brought forth Imhullu "the Evil Wind," the Whirlwind, the Hurricane,
The Fourfold Wind, the Sevenfold Wind, the Cyclone, the Matchless Wind;
Then he sent forth the winds he had brought forth, the seven of them.
To stir up the inside of Tiamat they rose up behind him.
Then the lord raised the flood-storm, his mighty weapon.
He mounted the storm-chariot irresistible [and] terrifying. (50)
He harnessed (and) yoked to it a team-of-four,
The Killer, the Relentless, the Trampler, the Swift.
Sharp were their teeth bearing poison.
They were versed in ravage, in destruction skilled.
On his right he posted the Smiter, fearsome in battle,
On the left the Combat, which repels all the zealous.
For a cloak he was wrapped in an armor of terror;
With his fearsome halo his head was turbaned.
The lord went forth and followed his course,
Towards the raging Tiamat he set his face. (60)
In his lips he held a spell;
A plant to put out poison was grasped in his hand.
Then they milled about him, the gods milled about him,
The gods, his fathers, milled about him, the gods milled about him.
The lord approached to scan the inside of Tiamat,
(And) of Kingu, her consort, the scheme to perceive.
As he looks on, his course becomes upset,
His will is distracted and his doings are confused.
And when the gods, his helpers, who marched at his side,
Saw the valiant hero, blurred became their vision. (70)
Tiamat emitted [a cry], without turning her neck,
Framing savage *2 defiance in her lips: *3
"Too [imp]ortant art thou [for] the lord of the gods to rise up against thee!
Is it their place that they have gathered, (or) in they place?"
Thereupon the lord, having [raised] the flood-storm, his mighty weapon,
[To] enraged [Tiamat] he sent word as follows:
"Why art thou risen, art haughtily exalted,
Thou hast charged thine own heart to stir up conflict,
...sons reject their own fathers,
Whilst thou, who hast born them, hast foresworn love! (80)
Thou hast appointed Kingu as thy consort,
Conferring upon him the rank of Anu, not rightfully his.
Against Anshar, king of the gods, thou seekest evil;
[Against] the gods, my fathers, thou hast confirmed thy wickedness.
[Though] drawn up be thy forces, girded on thy weapons,
Stand thou up, that I and thou meet in single combat!"
When Tiamat heard this,
She was like one possessed; she took leave of her senses.
In fury Tiamat cried out aloud.
To the roots her legs shook both together. (90)
She recites a charm, keeps casting her spell,
While the gods of battle sharpen their weapons.
Then joined issue Tiamat and Marduk, wisest of gods.
They strove in single combat, locked in battle.
The lord spread out his net to enfold her,
The Evil Wind, which followed behind, he let loose in her face.
When Tiamat opened her mouth to consume him,
He drove in the Evil Wind that she close not her lips.
As the fierce winds charged her belly,
Her body was distended and her mouth was wide open. (100)
He released the arrow, it tore her belly,
It cut through her insides, splitting the heart.
Having thus subdued her, he extinguished her life.
He cast down her carcass to stand upon it.
After he had slain Tiamat, the leader,
Her band was shattered, her troupe broken up;
And the gods, her helpers who marched at her side,
Trembling with terror, turned their backs about,
In order to save and preserve their lives.
Tightly encircled, they could not escape. (110)
He made them captives and he smashed their weapons.
Thrown into the net, they found themselves ensnared;
Placed in cells, they were filled with wailing;
Bearing his wrath, they were held imprisoned.
And the eleven creatures which she had charged with awe,
The band of demons that marched. [..] before her,
He cast into fetters, their hands [...].
For all their resistance, he trampled (them) underfoot.
And kingu, who had been made chief among them,
He bound and accounted him to Uggae. *4 (120)
He took from him the Tables of Fate, not rightfully his,
Sealed (them) with a seal *5 and fastened (them) on his breast.
When he had vanquished and subdued his adversaries,
Had ... the vainglorious foe,
Had wholly established Anshar's triumph over the foe,
Nudimmud's desire had achieved, valiant Marduk
Strengthened his hold on the vanquished gods,
And turned back to Tiamat whom he had bound.
The lord tron on the legs if Tiamat,
With his unsparing mace he crushed her skull. (130)
When the arteries of her blood he had severed,
The North Wind bore (it) to places undisclosed.
On seeing this, his fathers were joyful and jubilant,
They brought gifts of homage, they to him.
Then the lord paused to view her dead body,
That he might divide the monster and do artful works.
He split her like a shellfish into two parts:
Half of her he set up and ceiled it as sky,
Pulled the bar and posted guards.
He bade them to allow not her waters to escape. (140)
He crossed the heavens and surveyed the regions.
He squared Apsu's quarter, the abode of Nudimmud,
As the lord, measured the dimensions of Apsu.
The Great Abode, its likeness, he fixed as Esharra,
The Great Abode, Esharra, which made as the firmament.
Anu, Enlil, and Ea he made occupy their places.

Tablet V

He constructed stations for the great gods,
Fixing their astral likeness as constellations.
He determined the year by designating the zones:
He set up three constellations for each of the twelve months.
After defining the days of the year [by means] of (heavenly) figures,
He founded the station of Nebiru *6 to determine their (heavenly) bands,
That none might transgress or fall short.
Alongside it he set up the stations of Enlil and Ea.
Having opened up the gates on both sides,
He strengthened the locks to the left and the right. (10)
In her belly *7 he established the zenith.
The Moon he caused to shine, the night (to him) entrusting.
He appointed him a creature of the night to signify the days:
"Monthly, without cease, form designs with a crown.
At the month's very start, rising over the land,
Thou shalt have luminous horns to signify six days,
On the seventh day reaching a [half]-crown.
At full moon *8 stand in opposition *9 in mid-month.
When the sun [overtakes] thee at the base of heaven,
Diminish [thy crown] and retrogress in light. (20)
[At the time of disappearance] approach thou the course of the sun,
And [on the twenty-ninth] thou shalt again stand in opposition to the sun."
(The remainder of this tablet is broken away or too fragmentary for translation.)
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Part 2

Post  Jepetto on Thu Aug 07, 2008 12:13 pm

Tablet VI

When Marduk hears the words of the gods,
His heart prompts (him) to fashion artful works.
Opening his mouth, he addresses Ea
To impart the plan he had conceived in his heart:
"Blood I will mass and cause bones to be.
I will establish a savage, 'man' shall be his name.
Verily, savage-man I will create.
He shall be charged with the service of the gods That they might be at ease!
The ways of the gods I will artfully alter.
Though alike revered, into two (groups) they shall be divided." (10)
Ea answered him, speaking a word to him,
Giving him another plan for the relief of the gods:
"Let but one of their brothers be handed over;
He alone shall perish that mankind may be fashioned. *10
Let the great gods be here in Assembly,
Let the guilty be handed over that they may endure."
Marduk summoned the great gods to Assembly;
Presiding graciously, he issues instructions.
To his utterance the gods pay heed.
The king addresses a word to the Annunaki: (20)
"If your former statement was true,
Do (now) the truth on oath by me declare!
Who was it that contrived the uprising,
And made Tiamat rebel, and joined battle?
Let him be handed over who contrived the uprising.
His guilt I will make him bear. You shall dwell in peace!"
The Igigi, the great gods replied to him,
To Lugaldimmerankia, *11 counselor of the gods, their lord:
"It was Kingu who contrived the uprising,
And made Tiamat rebel, and joined battle." (30)
They bound him, holding him before Ea.
They imposed on him his guilt and severed his blood (vessels).
Out of his blood they fashioned mankind.
He *12 imposed the service and let free the gods.
After Ea, the wise, had created mankind,
Had imposed upon it the service of the gods-
That work was beyond comprehension;
As artfully planned by Marduk, did Nudimmud create it-
Marduk, the king of the gods divided
All the Anunnaki above and below. *13 (40)
He assigned (them) to anu to guard his instructions.
Three hundred in the heavens he stationed as a guard.
In like manner the ways of the earth he defined.
In heaven and on earth six hundred (thus) he settled.
After he had ordered all the instructions,
To the Anunnaki of heaven and earth had alloted their portions,
The Anunnaki opened their mouths
And said to Marduk, their lord:
"Now, *14 O lord, thou who hast caused our deliverance,
What shall be our homage to thee? (50)
Let us build a shrine whose name shall be called
'Lo, a chamber for our nightly rest'; let us repose in it!
Let us build a throne, a recess for his abode!
On the day that we arrive *15 we shall repose in it."
When Marduk heard this,
Brightly glowed his features, like the day:
"Like that of lofty Babylon, whose building you have requested,
Let its brickwork be fashioned. You shall name it 'The Sanctuary.'"
The Anunnaki applied the implement;
For one whole year they molded bricks. (60)
When the second year arrived,
They raised high the head of Esagila equaling Apsu. *16
Having built a stage-tower as high as Apsu,
They set up in it an abode for Marduk, Enlil, (and) Ea
In their presence he adorned (it) in grandeur.
To the base of Esharra its horns look down.
After they had achieved the building of Esagila,
The Anunnaki themselves erected their shrines.
[...] all of them gathered,
[...] they had built as his dwelling. (70)
The gods, his fathers, at his banquet he seated:
"This is Babylon, the place that is your home!
Make merry in its precints, occupy its broad [places]."
The great gods took their seats,
They set up festive drink, sat down to a banquet.
After they had made merry within it,
In Esagila, the splendid, had performed their rites,
The norms had been fixed (and) all [their] portents,
All the gods apportioned the stations of heaven and earth.
The fifty great gods took their seats. (80)
The seven gods of destiny set up the three hundred [in heaven].
Enlil raised the bo[w, his wea]pon, and laid (it) before them.
The gods, his fathers, saw the net he had made.
When they beheld the bow, how skillful its shape,
His fathers praised the work he had wrought.
Raising (it), Anu spoke up in the Assembly of the gods,
And he kissed the bow: "This is my daughter!"
He named the names of the bow as follows:
"Longwood is the first, the second is [...];
Its third name is Bow-Star, in heaven I have made it shine." (90)
He fixed a place which the gods, its *17 brother, [...].
After Anu had decreed the fate of the Bow,
And had placed the exalted royal throne before the gods,
Anu seated it in the Assembly of the gods.
When the great gods had assembled, (95)
And had [...] the fate which Marduk had exalted,
They pronounced among themselves a curse,
Swearing by water and oil to place life in jeopardy.
When they had granted hm the exercise of kingship of the gods,
They confirmed him in dominion over the gods of heaven and earth. (100)
Anshar pronounced supreme his name Asar(u)luhi:
"Let us make humble obeisance at the mention of his name;
When he speaks, the gods shall pay heed to him.
Let his utterance be supreme above and below!"
"Most exalted be the Son, our avenger;
Let his sovereignty be surpassing, having no rival.
May he shepherd the black-headed ones, *18 his creatures.
To the end of days, without forgetting, let them acclaim his ways.
May he establish for his fathers the great food-offerings; (110)
Their support they shall furnish, shall ten their sanctuaries.
May he cause incense to be smelled, ... their spells,
A likeness on earth of what he has wrought in heaven.
May he order the black-headed to re[vere him],
May the subjects ever bear in mind their god,
And may they at his word pay heed to the goddess.
May food-offerings be borne for their gods and goddesses.
Without fail let them support their gods!
Their lands let them improve, build their shrines,
Let the black-headed wait on their gods. (120)
As for us, by however many names we pronounce, he is our god!
Let us then proclaim his fifty names....


*1 i.e. it has the authority of the sky-god Anu.
*2 "her incantation" is not impossible.
*3 Tiamat's taunt as recorded in the next two lines, is not clear.
*4 God of Death
*5 This was an essential act of attestation in Mesopotamian society.
*6 i.e. the planet Jupiter. This station was taken to lie between the band of the north, which belonged to Enlil, and the band of the south, which belonged to Ea.
*7 Tiamat's
*8 Akkadian sapattu, the prototype of the "Sabbath" in so far as the injunctions against all types of activity are concerned.
*9 i.e. with regard to the sun. This verb was a technical term in Babylonian astronomy.
*10 Out of his blood.
*11 "The king of the gods if heaven and earth."
*12 Ea.
*13 Here and elsewhere in this epic the Anunnaki are understood to be the celestial gods (normally Igigi) as well as those of the lower regions.
*14 Not "O Nannar," as translated by some.
*15 For the New Year's festival.
*16 Meaning apparently that the height of Esagila corresponded to the depth of Apsu's waters.
*17 Referring to the Bow.
*18 A common Akkadian metaphor for "the human race."
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