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Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 31

"Mighty was he to look upon."—Evelyn Paul.


Soon he came to Tiawath's retreat, but at sight of the monster he halted, and with reason, for there crouched the great dragon, her scaly body still[Pg 78] gleaming with the waters of the abyss, flame darting from her eyes and nostrils, and such terrific sounds issuing from her widely open mouth as would have terrified any but the bravest of the gods. Merodach reproached Tiawath for her rebellion and ended by challenging her to combat. Like the dragons of all time, Tiawath appears to have been versed in magic and hurled the most potent incantations against her adversary. She cast many a spell. But Merodach, unawed by this, threw over her his great net, and caused an evil wind which he had sent on before him to blow on her, so that she might not close her mouth. The tempest rushed between her jaws and held them open; it entered her body and racked her frame. Merodach swung his club on high, and with a mighty blow shattered her great flank and slew her. Down he cast her corpse and stood upon it; then he cut out her evil heart. Finally he overthrew the host of monsters which had followed her, so that at length they trembled, turned, and fled in headlong rout. These also he caught in his net and "kept them in bondage." Kingu he bound and took from him the tablets of destiny which had been granted to him by the slain Tiawath, which obviously means that the god of a later generation wrenches the power of fate from an earlier hierarchy, just as one earthly dynasty may overthrow and replace another. The north wind bore Tiawath's blood away to secret places, and at the sight Ea, sitting high in the heavens, rejoiced exceedingly. Then Merodach took rest and nourishment, and as he rested a plan arose in his mind. Rising, he flayed Tiawath of her scaly skin and cut her asunder. We have already seen that the north wind bore her blood away, which probably symbolises the distribution of rivers over[Pg 79] the earth.[5] Then did Merodach take the two parts of her vast body, and with one of them he framed a covering for the heavens. Merodach next divided the upper from the lower waters, made dwellings for the gods, set lights in the heaven, and ordained their regular courses.

As the tablet poetically puts it, "he lit up the sky establishing the upper firmament, and caused Anu, Bel, and Ea to inhabit it." He then founded the constellations as stations for the great gods, and instituted the year, setting three constellations for each month, and placing his own star, Nibiru, as the chief light in the firmament. Then he caused the new moon, Nannaru, to shine forth and gave him the rulership of the night, granting him a day of rest in the middle of the month. There is another mutilation at this point, and we gather that the net of Merodach, with which he had snared Tiawath, was placed in the heavens as a constellation along with his bow. The winds also appear to have been bound or tamed and placed in the several points of the compass; but the whole passage is very obscure, and doubtless information of surpassing interest has been lost through the mutilation of the tablet.


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