Enuma elish, the Babylonian creation epos


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And see translation in English.
The Epic of Creation Enuma elish is written on seven tablets, each between 115 and 170 lines long. It was to be recited at the New Year festival in Babylon and reports about the success of the hero-god Marduk, the city-god of Babylon: how Marduk became the supreme deity, king over all gods of heaven and earth.
About the style

The epos is written in a style which is different from every day speach at the time. It uses an extended word variation with literary words that are normally not very frequent, characteristic for poetry. In prose texts there is no such inclination to use alternative formulations, like in the bible in Genesis I: ''And God saw ..., and God saw ..., and God created ..., and God created ....'' with little variation.

The text is constructed from two-line verses (sentence units). A concept is explained in two lines, a distich (from Greek di 'two' and stichos 'verse'). The two members maintain a relation that one could call ''rhyme in an abstract sense'' on the level of meaning. The meaning content of each verse appears in two parallel formulations often separated by leaving a blanc space, the so called parallelismus membrorum. The second part either emphasize the first part in different wording thereby extending the meaning, or the second part is an opposite statement, contrasting the first part. Compare the opening verse:

When above: the heaven has not been named
Nor earth below: pronounced by name
Metre in the strict sense in which Greek and Latin literature is composed (groups of long and short syllables) was not used, but a line often has three to four (rarely five) stresses/beats. End rhyme nor alliteration occurs.

Summary The poet describes on tablet V the organization of heaven and earth, the assignment of duties and fuctions to Gods and stellar bodies by Marduk, who has now become the supreme deity. The story of the creation of man from the blood of a fallen god (on tablet VI) is transferred from an earlier story an Ea and ascribed here to Marduk. It is reinterpreted as Marduk having the idea and Ea doing the work.


The final scene of the story of creation shows us the gods assembled in their newly built heavenly mansions solemny affirming the supremacy of Marduk. The epic ends with the enumeration of Marduk's fifty honorific names.
Date of the composition
The first primaeval beings: Tiamat and Apsu and their offspring

In the epic of creation Tiamat is the first primaeval being, a kind of primordeal godlike creature that existed before the gods were created. These beings were thought of as being monstrous and having cosmic dimensions. In Akkadian tiamat means 'sea' and is used for the Perzian Golf ('Nether sea') and the Mediterranean Sea ('Upper sea'), 'nether' and 'upper' with respect to course of the rivers.

Tiamat is the (female) personification of 'Sea' and 'sea water'. She appears as such in other epics as well. De names of Tiamat and the other primaeval beings to be mentioned (Apsu, Mummmu) are missing the determinative sign for divinity. The reason is unknown but should not be seen in relation to their wicked disposition, because e.g. names of demons do carry this determinative sign.

Apsu, the second primaeval being that existed before the creation of heaven and earth, is the male personification of subterranean waters. The personification of Apsu (as somebody who acts and speaks) is unique in the epic of creation, probably induced by the personification of Tiamat. In other texts Apsu is used in the objective/impersonal sense as the 'underground water', representing the depot of precipitation and mineral water, something that can be reached by digging a hole. It is the domain of the (water)god Ea, who controls this water supply. The Apsu feeds the rivers with respect to their continuous water supply. The seasonal changes and the precipitation itself are the domain of the (weather)god Adad; Ea and Adad both are responsible for the fertility of the fields. On cylinder seals one sees the Apsu as a shrine with Ea seated on his throne with running water aside.
The Apsu borders the underworld, the residence of the deceased, the domain from which no return is possible. In other context Apsu is sometimes equivalent with the underworld.

Tiamat and Apsu create their offspring. Apsu is called the begetter of the great gods in line 29 of tablet I. The first pair is

Lahmu and Lahamu. These names known in Sumerian times in the 21st century BC (texts of Gudea, Cylinder A). Lahmu is the gatekeeper of the Apsu, seen as the domain of the god Ea (Sumerian Enki). He is portraited as a strong person with %%%%%%%%%%%Lahmu kerel met zes tressen (dikke vlechten haar), die de deurpost ondersteunt. Er zijn meerdere Lahmu's. In godenlijsten twee, soms 8, ook wel 50. Gudea (op Kleicylinder A) spreekt van 50 Lahama's van de engur (ong.\ synoniem met abzu). Het grote aantal is in het scheppingsepos de En\uu ma eliš gereduceerd tot het paar Lahmu en Lahamu (man en vrouw? Het staat er niet!) omdat dat nodig is in deze theogonie, naar analogie van de andere paren. Elders wordt over Lahmu in meervoud gesproken. Ze worden ook wel voorgesteld als portiers van een tempel, daar waar de zonnegod Šamaš dagelijks in het oosten en westen van de onderwereld naar de hemel vertrekt en omgekeerd. De poort van Aps\^u wordt gepasseerd door de zonnegod. De Lahmu's doen hem 's avonds bij zijn intree in de Apsu en onderwereld de deur open. Enki/Ea zwaait hem uit. Lahmu en Lahamu worden verbonden met de deurstijlen van die poort, als personificatie van de deurpost. Zij staan met hun voeten op de aarde en torsen met hun handen de hemel. Zij zorgen ervoor dat het hemeldak niet op de aarde valt en bewerken daarmee de scheiding tussen hemel en aarde. Ze cre\"eren daarmee de ruimte op aarde. Deze kosmische symboliek komt terug in veel tempels, waarbij de deurstijlen gezien worden als de poorten en stutten van hemel en aarde. %%%%%%%%%Ansjar

\citem[An\sj ar], Oergod, (Sum.\ an 'hemel', \sj ar '3600', v\'e\'el, totaliteit): In het scheppingsepos En\uu ma eli\sj samen met Ki\sj ar het eerste godenpaar dat, als personificatie van hemel en aarde, geschapen wordt door de oerpersonen \see Ti\aa mat en \see Apsu. Dit ouderpaar verwekt de hemelgod Anum. An\sj ar als oergod komt ook wel el-ders voor, maar is meestal een vorm van Anum en niet zozeer zijn vader. Ki\sj ar (Sum.\ ki 'aarde') is in het epos slechts een analogie uitgelokt door An\sj ar. An\sj ar \deus Ki\sj ar ibb\^an\uu: 'An\sj ar en Ki\sj ar werden geschapen' \refer{Ee-i-12} An\sj ar \logo{lugal dingir\mdot dingir $=$ An\sj ar \sj ar il\ii, 'An\sj ar koning der goden' \refer{Ee-iv-83} Epitheton van An\sj ar, die a.h.w.\ op teken-niveau een verklaring geeft voor de naam An\sj ar: \LUGAL\BB \logo{lugal} is ook \logo{\sj\`ar} en \DINGIR\BB \logo{dingir} is ook \logo{an} %%%%%%%%% %%%%%%%%%Kisjar \citem[Ki\sj ar], Oergod, (Sum.\ ki 'aarde', \sj ar '3600', v\'e\'el, totaliteit): In het scheppingsepos En\uu ma eli\sj samen met An\sj ar het eerste godenpaar dat, als personificatie van hemel en aarde, voortgebracht wordt door de oerpersonen \see Ti\aa mat en \see Apsu. Dit ouderpaar verwekt de hemelgod Anum. An\sj ar als oergod komt ook wel elders voor, maar is meestal een vorm van Anum en niet zozeer zijn vader. Ki\sj ar (Sum.\ ki 'aarde') is in het epos slechts een analogie uitgelokt door An\sj ar. An\sj ar \deus Ki\sj ar ibban\^u 'An\sj ar en Ki\sj ar werden geschapen' \refer{Ee-i-12} %%%%%%%%


Different versions of the epic of creation Copies discovered at Nineveh, Assur, and Sultantepe in Assyria, and at various Babylonian sites differ very little; they all seem to go back to one prototype.
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