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Enuma Elish 2
The Babylonian Creation Myth
2 The continued story
The Enuma Elish story continues: Tiamat bears with the noise, but her spouse Apsu is aggravated and together with his vizier Mummu plots to kill the gods. The gods hear about it, and one of them, Ea (also called Nudimmud), kills Apsu and ties up Mummu. The verb ‘tie’ is the same as that for ‘conquer’. In the epic, both meanings of the word are used. Marduk, Ea’s and Damkina’s son, is created within Apsu’s corpse. Marduk is given power over the winds, by which he makes a flood-wave that stirs up Tiamat. Some of the gods – unclear which ones – complain to Tiamat:
Because they slew Apsu your lover and
You did not go to his side but sat mute,
He has created the four, fearful winds
To stir up your belly on purpose, and we simply cannot sleep!
They insist that she should do battle with the gods guilty of Apsu’s death and the continued unrest.
Tiamat is convinced by the complaining gods, and prepares for battle against “the gods inside him (Apsu).” Snakes with bodies filled of venom are created, and terrible dragons. The monsters are created by ‘Mother Hubur’, another name for Tiamat. All in all, she creates eleven kinds of monsters, of which nine are named: a horned serpent, a mushussu-dragon, a lahmu-hero, an ugallu-demon, a rabid dog, a scorpion man, aggressive umu-demons, a fish-man, and a bull-man.
Dalley’s Enuma Elish version has eleven monsters in addition to the ones mentioned. Wikander’s Enuma Elish version has it to be eleven monsters, all in all. King’s Enuma Elish version implies eleven kinds of monsters, all in all, which is also how he expressly interprets it. If so, the snakes and dragons mentioned before the list of nine additional monsters must be included in the group of eleven. The Enuma Elish text is often translated so that it implies plural on some of the monsters, but it may very well point to singular.
Tiamat also promotes her lover Qingu to head her army, and gives him the Tablet of Destinies. Qingu (previously spelled Kingu) is little known outside Enuma Elish. The meaning of the name is unknown.
Ea learns about this, and reports it to his grandfather Anshar, who blames him for it and demands of him to soothe Tiamat’s uprising. When Ea fails, his son Marduk volunteers to battle Tiamat and her monsters, but demands in return to be given supreme power over the gods:
Then Marduk decides to create man, to serve the gods with offerings, so that they can be at leisure. The word used in Enuma Elish for man is lullu, meaning a first, primitive man. The same word is used about the savage Enkidu in the Gilgamesh epic. Since Qingu is found guilty of the war between the gods, his blood is used to create mankind. Here, it is unclear if Marduk or Ea creates mankind. Later in the Enuma Elish text, Ea is specified as the creator of man. Finally, the gods praise Marduk, and give him fifty names that represent different aspects of his powers and sovereignty.
The Enuma Elish text ends with instructions on how it should be passed on from generation to generation, and the command to worship Marduk, king of the gods.
Enuma ElishThe Babylonian Creation Myth
This article about the Enuma Elish Babylonian Creation Myth was originally written in the year 2007 for a seminar at the Department of History of Ideas, Lund University, as a part of my dissertation in progress on Creation Myths and their patterns of thought. Transforming the text to webpages, I have excluded footnotes, or edited them into the text.