Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria
Dibarra was probably a variant of Nergal, in his guise as solar destroyer. Concerning him a strange myth is recounted as follows:
"The sons of Babylon were as birds and thou their falconer. In a net thou didst catch them, enclose them, and destroy them, O warrior Dibarra. Leaving the city, thou didst pass to the outside, taking on the form of a lion, thou didst enter the palace. The people saw thee and drew their weapons."
So spoke Ishum, the faithful attendant of Dibarra, by way of beginning an account of the havoc wrought in the valley of Euphrates by the war- and plague-god. "Spare no one," is the gist of his commands to his satellites. "Have neither fear nor pity. Kill the young as well as the old and rob Babylon of all its treasures."
Accordingly against the first city a large army was dispatched to carry out these instructions, and the battle with bow and sword was begun, a strife which ended so disastrously for the soldiers and inhabitants that their blood flowed "like torrents of water through the city's highways." This defeat the great lord Merodach was compelled to witness, powerless to help or avert it. Enraged at his helplessness and overcome with fury, he cursed his enemies until he is said to have lost consciousness because of his grief.
From this scene of devastation Dibarra turned his attention to Erech, appointing others of his host to mete out to this city the fate of Babylon. Ishtar,[Pg 107] goddess of Erech, saw her devoted city exposed to plunder, pillage, and bloodshed, and had to endure the agony of inactivity experienced by Merodach. Nothing she could do or say would stay the violence of Dibarra's vengeance.
"O warrior Dibarra, thou dost dispatch the just, thou dost dispatch the unjust; who sins against thee thou dost dispatch, and the one who does not sin against thee thou dost dispatch."
These words were used by Ishum, Dibarra's servant, in a subsequent address to the god of war. He knew his lord's craving for battle and bloodshed was still unappeased, and he himself was planning a war more terrible than any he had yet conducted, a conflict not only world-wide but which was to embrace heaven itself. So in order to gain Dibarra's consent to the hideous destruction he anticipated, he continued to pander to his war-like tendencies.
Said he: "The brightness of Shul-panddu I will destroy, the root of the tree I will tear out that it no longer blossom. Against the dwelling of the king of gods I will proceed."
To all of which the warrior-god listened with growing pleasure, until fired by his myrmidon's words he cried out in sudden fierce resolve—"Sea-coast against sea-coast, Subartu against Subartu, Assyrian against Assyrian, Elamite against Elamite, Cassite against Cassite, Sutaean against Sutaean, Kuthean against Kuthean, Lullubite against Lullubite, country against country, house against house, man against man. Brother is to show no mercy towards brother; they shall kill one another."