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The Epic of Creation

When Heaven and Earth were yet unnamed, only Apsu and Mummu Tiamat existed, their waters mixed together.

Then the Gods were born within them. Lahmu and Lahamu came forth, called by name.

From Lahmu and Lahamu were born Anšar and Kišar, more powerful than their parents.

Anšar and Kišar gave birth to Anu, and Anu reflected Nudimmud, his image.

Nudimmud was more powerful than his ancestors, he was deeply wise and very strong.

These five Gods played around and disturbed Tiamat's belly, but as their mother she would not stop them. Apsu, too, was disturbed, but he could not stop their clamor.

Finally Apsu had had enough, and with his vizier Mummu went to Tiamat. He told her he could not rest by day or sleep at night, and asked if he could kill all the Gods. Tiamat refused, protecting her children. Mummu whispered to Absu, and said that he should kill them anyway so that they could all get some rest. Absu agreed with Mummu, and planned how he would kill all the Gods.

But Ea, deeply wise, heard their plot and told the Gods. They were worried, but he designed a plan and made a powerful spell. He recited his spell and stilled the waters, putting Absu, Mummu and Tiamat to sleep. Then Ea took Absu's crown and mantle and donned them himself. He then killed Absu and tied up Mummu, laying him across Absu. He built his house on top of Absu and held Mummu by a nose-rope. When he had done all this, he sang a victory song and rested in his private chamber with his lover Damkina. He called his chamber Absu and built chapels within it for all the Gods.

In this Chamber of Destinies, the Hall of Designs, in the middle of Apsu, Ea and Damkina gave birth to Bel, wiser and stronger than any of the other Gods before him; he is called Marduk. He was created doubly perfect in every way, right from the beginning. He was majestic, clothed in the radiance of ten Gods, with five rays above his head. His grandfather Anu gave him the four winds to play with.

When he played, he began to bother Tiamat and the other Gods. They tried to convince Tiamat to avenge her lover Apsu, and give her children rest.

Tiamat agreed, and they plotted war. As mother Hubur, she made twenty types of demons: a horned serpent, a mušhuššu-dragon, a lahmu-hero, an ugallu-demon, a rabid dog, a scorpion-man, tireless umu-demons, a fish-man, a bull-man and eleven others. She promoted Qingu to be general over them. She cast a spell for him and made him greatest in the Assembly of the Gods, and gave him the Tablet of Destinies, making him clasp it to his breast, giving him the Power of Anu.

"With this" she said "your pronouncements shall never be changed, your word shall be law!"

Qingu then decreed the fates of the Gods his sons, and commanded war.

Second Tablet

So Tiamat mustered her troops.

When Ea heard it he became frightened and angry. He went to his father Anšar and told him everything that Tiamat had planned, the war, the demons, and her exaltation of Qingu.

When Anšar had heard it, he was worried. He told Ea that he must declare war against Tiamat, as he had destroyed Absu.

Ea respected his father's words. Anšar blessed him with courage to rise up against Tiamat.

Then Anšar gave his son Anu the mighty kašušu-weapon. He told him to go up to Tiamat and stand his ground until her anger subsided.

But when Anu approached Tiamat, she laid her hand over him, and he could not withstand her. He returned to Anšar and told him this.

Anšar didn't know what to do. He assembled the Igigi and the Anukki to try and figure out a strategy. They asked: "Will no God come forward? Is fate fixed? Can no one go out to bravely face Tiamat?"

Then Ea in secret called forth the Perfect One, Marduk the Hero.

Ea told Marduk what he had planned; he told him to approach Anšar in humility, and to offer himself for the battle. He told Marduk to stand his ground when Anšar would try to dissuade him.

Marduk went and stood before Anšar. Anšar looked at him and kissed him with joy, but said nothing.

Marduk said: "Father, please say something. Let me go to battle Tiamat!"

Anšar answered: "What kind of man has ordered you out to his war? My son, do you not realize that it is Tiamat, a woman, who will advance against you with arms?"

Marduk replied: "Father, my creator, don't worry - you will soon set your foot upon Tiamat's neck!"

Anšar responded: "Then go, my son, knowing all wisdom! Quell Tiamat with your Pure Spell! Set out immediately in the Storm Chariot, advance all the way, and turn them back!"

Marduk was pleased with what he said. He asked Anšar to give him a special fate, the power to fix destiny.

Third Tablet

So Anšar spoke to Kakka, his vizier.

He told him to go to Lahmu and Lahamu, to convince them to come to a banquet and feast on grain and choice wine.

He told Kakka to tell them the whole story of Tiamat's plotting, how she planed to kill all the Gods, how she created demons, and how she elevated Qingu to the most powerful post; how Anu tried but could not face Tiamat, and how Marduk came forth of his own will and offered to fight her. Finally, he should tell Lahmu and Lahamu that Marduk requires a special fate, the power to fix destiny, and that they must hurry to the Assembly of the Gods to decree this destiny!

Kakka went out to Lahmu and Lahamu and prostrated himself in front of them. He told them everything Anšar had said.

Then Lahmu and Lahamu, along with all the Igigi and Anukki, said: "This is terrible! Until now we didn't even know what our mother Tiamat was planning!"

So they all came to Anšar's banquet. They milled around and greeted one another, all the Great Gods who fix the fates. They ate grain, drank choice wine, let sweet beer trickle through their drinking straws. As they feasted they became drunk, and in a happy mood they decreed the destiny for their Avenger, Marduk.

Fourth Tablet

The Great Gods made a shrine for Marduk, and set him up as ruler, giving his this destiny:

"O Marduk, you are the Honored One among the Great Gods.

Your destiny is unequalled, your command is Anu!

From this day onward your command shall not be changed.

Yours is the power to exalt and to abase!

May your utterance be sure, your command carried out!

No one shall overstep your boundary.

May everything needed for the shrines of the Gods,

Wherever they have temples, be established for you!

O Marduk, you are our Avenger!

We hereby give you Kingship over the totality of the Universe,

So when you sit in the Assembly, foremost shall be your word!

May your weapons never miss, may they smash your foes!

O Lord, spare the life of him that puts his trust in you,

but as for the God who has espoused evil - pour out his life!"

As a test of their decrees, they set up a constellation in the middle of the Assembly. Then they told Marduk first to command its destruction, then its recreation, saying: "By the word of your mouth, let the constellation vanish! Speak again, and let it reappear!"

Marduk said the word, and it vanished; he commanded again, and the constellation reappeared. The Gods were pleased, called him King, and invested him with scepter, throne, and the staff of office. They also gave him an indomitable weapon.

They urged him to go out and kill Tiamat, and to let the winds bear her blood back to them as good news. The Gods had decreed the destiny of the Lord and set him on the road of peace and obedience.

Now he went to battle against Tiamat. He brought a bow, carried a mace in his right hand, and made lightning flash before him. He made a net large enough for Tiamat, and marshalled the four winds, the gifts of his father Anu, to carry it. Then he created seven more winds, the imhullu: the evil wind, the cyclone, the hurricane, the fourfold wind, the sevenfold wind, the tornado, the incomparable wind. He kept them behind.

Then he lifted his great Flood-weapon and mounted the irresistible Storm Chariot. The Chariot was yoked to four devastating horses, called "Slayer," "Pitiless," "Racer," and "Flyer." On his right he stationed Fiercesome Fight and Conflict, and on his left Battle. Ready for the fight, he sought Tiamat. In his lips he gripped a spell, in his hand a herb to counter poison.

Marduk looked into the middle of Tiamat, seeking Qingu's strategy. When Qingu and his minions saw him, they became frightened and confused.

Then Tiamat cast her spell and teased Marduk.

Then the Lord readied himself to strike and sent Tiamat a message, asking why she wanted to kill her children only because they were noisy and disrespectful. Then accusing her, Marduk challenged her to come and fight.

Tiamat kept reciting her spell and came up to Marduk, who cast his net around her, followed by the imhullu which was behind him. Tiamat swallowed it, but she could not contain it all and started to expand like a balloon: then Marduk fired an arrow which burst her open and went into her heart. The Lord was victorious. He cast her down and stood on top of her carcass.

With their leader gone, even Qingu could not fight. Marduk destroyed their weapons and threw them into the net. All the demons he bound with nose-ropes and tied their arms. He bound Qingu and counted him among the Dead Gods. He took the Tablet of Destinies, sealed it with his seal and clasped it to his breast. He sang his victory song over all the defeated.

Then Marduk smashed Tiamat's skull and cut open her arteries so that the North Wind could carry her blood as good news to the Gods.

They saw it and prepared a celebration.

Then the Lord rested, looking at Tiamat's body. He decided to create marvellous things with it.

He cut her in half; put up half of her as the sky, held by a crossbar; he made the sea with her waters, and built a temple in the sky with sanctuaries for Anu, Ellil and Ea.

Fifth Tablet

He made daises for the Great Gods, and set up constellations. He measured the year with three stars for each month. At her liver, her center, Marduk located the Zenith. He created the moon to mark out the days, and made its phases to measure the month.

The Lord ordained the New Year's Festival for eleven days. He took up the spittle of Tiamat and made clouds, rains, and fogs. Where he placed her skull springs gushed out. The Euphrates and Tigris came from her eyes; from her breasts smooth mountains. He tied her tail as the bond between Heaven and Earth, and placed Apsu beneath his feet. He cut her in half, and put one half up as the sky, held up by her thigh; the other half the earth. Thus he finished the work, set apart Heaven and Earth and tied their knots.

After he had established the ritual of creation, Marduk turned it over to Ea. He presented the Tablet of Destinies to Anu and Ea for its first recitation. He led the vanquished as captives to his Fathers the Gods. He made images of the demons of Tiamat and placed them at the entrance of Apsu, saying: "This shall be a sign that will never be forgotten in times to come."

Then all the Gods embraced him and greeted him. He appointed Usmu to be Ea his Father's vizier, to take care of the shrines of Apsu. All the Igigi and Anunnaki called Marduk King.

They removed his battle clothes and sprinkled him with pure water from cypress branches. He donned his royal robe and crown. He picked up his mace in his right hand and his bow in his left. He set one of Tiamat's creatures, the mušhuššu-dragon, at his feet, and put his throne over it. He put the staff of peace beside the throne. A bull-man he put on each side of his throne, an umu-demon at the inner-chamber of his throne, and in his cellar a scorpion man. He found places for all the Gods.

Lahmu and Lahamu came forth and announced that Marduk was King, calling him Lugal-dimmer-ankia (King of the Gods of Heaven and Earth).

Then Marduk spoke to the Gods his Fathers:

"Over the Apsu, the sea-green dwelling,

In front of Ešara, which I created for you,

Where I strengthened the ground beneath it for a shrine,

I shall make a house to be a luxurious dwelling for myself,

And shall found his cult center within it,

And shall establish my private quarters, and confirm my Kingship.

Whenever you come up from the Apsu for an Assembly,

Your night's resting place shall be in it, receiving you all.

Whenever you come down from Heaven for an Assembly,

Your night's resting place shall be in it, receiving you all.

I hereby name it Babylon, home of the Great Gods.

We shall make it the Heart of Religion."

The Gods listened to this and accepted his command to build Babylon for them. They praised him and granted him once more everlasting rule.

Sixth Tablet

Now Marduk decided to create more marvellous things.

He told Ea of his decision to create lullû, the first Human. Marduk would impose upon humanity the Work of the Gods, so that the Gods could be at rest.

Ea suggested to Marduk how to execute this plan for the Leisure of the Gods. He said that a hostile God should be destroyed, and people created from him. The Gods should assemble and choose who it would be.

So Marduk assembled the Gods and asked them to judge who incited the war. The Gods answered that it was Qingu who incited had Tiamat; it was Qingu who should therefore be sacrificed.

They pronounced judgement in front of Ea and cut open his arteries. From Qingu's blood he created human beings, and imposed upon them the Work of the Gods. Nudimmud did this with the wonders of Marduk. Marduk then divided the Igigi and the Anunnaki; the 300 Igigi in the Sky, and the 600 Anunnaki in the Air and on the Earth. When he had given them their places, they asked for a shrine in Babylon.

He then commanded them to make Babylon. The Anunnaki worked for a year making bricks, and when the second year arrived Esagila was built in front of the Apsu and a Ziggurat for the Apsu. They also built a house for Anu, Ellil and Ea. Then all the Igigi and Anunnaki assembled for a banquet in Marduk's great new house.

The Great Gods sat down with their beer-mugs and made a taqribtu offering in the Glorious Esagila. All the destinies were decided that day; the fifty Great Gods fixed the seven destinies of the cult. Marduk received his bow, and set it in front of them. The Gods marvelled at the bow, and Anu picked it up kissed it, saying "May She Go Far." Then Anu named the bow three other names: Long and Far, Victorious, and Bowstar. After he had thus decreed her destiny, he set the bow down on her throne, saying: "You are the highest of the Gods!"

Then the Gods together swore obedience to Marduk with an oath on water and oil, and by touching their throats; they confirmed his Kingship and mastery over all the Gods of Heaven and Earth.

Now Anšar called him Asarluhi, the shepherd of all peoples, who sets up rites and offerings: "Although all the peoples have different Gods, by whatever name he is called he is always our God!"

Then they named him his fifty names.

1. Marduk, Master of Fertility, who gave humanity the Work of the Gods, Savior.

2. Marukka, Creator.

3. Marutukku, Rescuer.

4. Meršakušu, Perfect Balance.

5. Lugal-dimmer-ankia, Lord of All the Gods.

6. Nari-lugal-dimmer-ankia, Director of all the Gods.

7. Asarluhi, Light of the Gods.

8. Namtila, Giver of Life, Raiser of the Dead.

9. Namru, The Pure God who Purifies our Path.

These names Anšar, Lahmu and Lahamu called him. They instructed the other Gods to do likewise.

10. Asare, God of Vegetation and Harvest.

11. Asar-alim, Counsellor.

12. Asar-alim-nuna, who Provides Plenty.

13. Tutu, Renewer.

14. Zi-ukkina, Stationer.

15. Ziku, Sustainer.

16. Agaku, Merciful Liberator.

17. Tuku, of the Pure Spell.

18. Šazu, Omniscient Judge.

19. Zisi, Who Stops Aggression.

20. Suhrim, Just Warrior.

21. Suhgurim, Who makes Enemies Kneel.

22. Zahrim, Destroyer of Foes.

23. Zahgurim, Solitary Warrior.

24. Enbilulu, Lord of Omens and Abundant Waters.

25. Epadun, Lord of Canals and Fertile Land.

26. Gugal, Lord of Luxury and Surplus.

27. Hegal, Lord of Abundance.

28. Sirsir, Maker of Mountains and Lands.

29. Malah, Boatman of the Barque of Tiamat.

30. Gil, Who Piles up Heaps of Produce.

31. Gilma, Establisher of the Bond of the Universe.

32. Agilima, Separator of Upper and Lower.

33. Zulum, Apportioner of Wealth.

34. Mummu, Maker of Heaven and Earth.

35. Zulum-ummu, Strongest.

36. Giš-numun-ab, Maker of All People.

37. Lugal-ab-dubur, King Who Establishes.

38. Pagal-guena, Leader of All Lords.

39. Lugal-durmah, Lord of the Cosmic Bond.

40. Aranuna, Counsellor of Ea.

41. Dumu-duku, Decision Maker of the Holy Mound.

42. Lugal-šuanna, Supreme King.

43. Iruga, Uniter of Wisdom.

44. Irqingu, Capturer of Qingu.

45. Kinma, Director of All the Gods.

46. E-sizkur, Who Sits Highest in the House of Prayer, Performer of Miracles.

47. Gibil, Who makes Weapons Strong, Wiser than All the Gods.

48. Addu, Who Covers the Whole Sky.

49. Ašaru, Lord of the Gods of Destinies.

50. Neberu, Establisher of the Paths of Heaven and Earth.

Then Father Enlil further named him Enkurkur, Great Master of the Mountain's Mountain, and all the Gods called him also by this name. With these fifty names the Great Gods called him, making his way first among them.

May you always hold these names dear, and may the elder explain them to the youth, the wise and learned discuss them, the father teach them to his son, and the mother to her daughter.

May the shepherd and the herdsman hear them, and may they always worship Marduk, the Ellil of the Gods, that his land be fertile, and all be well with him.

The Lord's word is true, his command unalterable. No God can change what he says. When angry he stays firm, when enraged no God dares confront him. His mind is unsearchable, his heart is profound. Nothing escapes his watch.

This scribe wrote down the secret instruction which the elders had recited in his presence, and set it down for future generations to read.

May all the people of Marduk, created by the Igigi, weave the tale and call upon his name in remembrance of the song of Marduk, who defeated Tiamat and gained the Kingship.