Lord of the gods

A Babylonian myth In the beginning there was only Tiamat, the goddess of the salt waters and chaos, and Apsu, the god of the fresh waters. Together they created all the o

Published: 16th March 2012 12:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:36 PM   |  A+A-


(Express News Photo)

A Babylonian myth

In the beginning there was only Tiamat, the goddess of the salt waters and chaos, and Apsu, the god of the fresh waters. Together they created all the other gods.

With so many gods there was so much clamour and the noise made Apsu mad. He decided he would kill them all and that was that! When the young gods heard that they were afraid but Ea, the wise water god, set out to vanquish Apsu.

He was able to slay Apsu in battle but when an angry Tiamat came chasing with her army of serpents and dragons, he fled for his life.

No one can defeat evil Tiamat, he thought to himself, she’s just too powerful, and wicked to boot! He sent for his son Marduk. Marduk although young, was brave and intelligent. “If anyone can defeat Tiamat, it is you,” he told Marduk. “Can you do it?”

Marduk thought for a while. “Well father, it’s going to be a tough fight. But if I win, will you make me the king of the gods?”

“I would gladly agree but these things, my son, need common consensus. All the good gods have to agree. You see, there are some older gods who may not entirely approve of a young boy ruling over them. Anyway let me call for a banquet and get them here,” replied Ea.

So Ea held a big banquet and what a feast it was! There were pancakes, palace cakes, truffles, barley bread with grilled lamb, and smoked fish. Huge jars filled with date wine and barley were brought in and the gods drank with long straws straight from the jar! Musicians made sweet notes with their pipes and lyres with bleating sheep in accompaniment. The gods were thus in a merry mood and agreed to Ea’s plan. Privately they didn’t think Marduk stood much of a chance.

Marduk was the god of the Storms and went to battle with his net of storms, a saw-toothed lightning dagger and a thunder club. Tiamat opened her mouth and sent vile serpents and dragons. But all of them were caught in the net of storms and smouldered with lightning. Marduk now came face to face with evil Tiamat.

She opened her cavernous mouth wide to let forth more of her minions but Marduk shot an arrow straight down her throat and there she was — dead! With his thunder club, Marduk cut her into two. Half her body he placed in the sky and made it the heavens.

He posted guards there so that she would not escape (you could never tell with evil Tiamat) and hung twinkling lights (the stars) to show that all was well. He also made the moon whom he entrusted with patrol duty, going back and forth.

And with the other half of Tiamet’s body he made the land. From her eyes flowed the rivers Tigris and Euphrates which watered the land. Marduk blessed the land with rain, forests and orchards. He also planted grain and vegetables.

All the bad gods who were Tiamet’s followers were put to work in the fields. But they grew tired and begged Marduk to be let off.

“We hail you as our supreme god! Please get us off this punishment,” they begged.

Marduk took pity and let them off all that hard work. To take their place humans were created.

Pretty impressive, agreed all the gods. Young Marduk is brave and kind, a true leader. They appointed him the supreme god. And Marduk with his saw-toothed lightning dagger in his belt was crowned the Lord of the Gods.

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