Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 49

Seven days passed by, and Anu, the lord of heaven, waited for the coming of the South Wind. But Shutu came not; the rains and the floods were delayed, and Anu grew impatient. He summoned to him his minister Ilabrat.

"Wherefore doth Shutu neglect her duty?" he asked. "What hath chanced that she travels not afield?"

Ilabrat bowed low as he made answer: "Listen, O Anu, and I will tell thee why Shutu flieth not abroad. Ea, lord of the deep and creator of all things, hath a son named Adapa, who hath crushed and broken the wings of thy servant Shutu, so that she is no more able to fly."

"If this be true," said Anu, "summon the youth before me, and let him answer for his crime."

"Be it so, O Anu!"

When Adapa received the summons to appear in heaven he trembled greatly. It was no light thing[Pg 118] to answer to the great gods for the ill-usage of their servant, the demon Shutu. Nevertheless he began to make preparations for his journey, and ere he set out his father Ea instructed him as to how he should comport himself in the assembly of the gods.

"Wrap thyself not in a vesture of gold, O my son, but clothe thee in the garments of the dead. At the gates of heaven thou wilt find Tammuz and Gishzida guarding the way. Salute the twain with due respect, I charge thee, baring thy head and showing all deference to them. If thou dost find favour in their eyes they will speak well of thee before Anu. And when thou standest within the precincts of heaven, don the garment that is given thee to wear, and anoint thy head with the oil that is brought thee. But when the gods offer thee food and drink, touch them not; for the food will be the 'Meat of Death,' and the drink the 'Water of Death'; let neither pass within thy lips. Go now, my son, and remember these my instructions. Bear thyself with humility, and all will be well."

Adapa bade his father farewell and set out on his journey to heaven. He found all as his father had predicted; Tammuz and Gishzida received him at the portals of the divine dwelling, and so humble was Adapa's attitude that they were moved with compassion towards him. They led him into the presence of Anu, and he bowed low before the great god.

"I am come in answer to thy summons," said he. "Have mercy upon me, O thou Most High!"

Anu frowned upon him.

"It is said of thee," he made answer, "that thou hast broken the wings of Shutu, the South Wind.[Pg 119] What manner of man art thou, who darest destroy Shutu in thy wrath? Knowest thou not that the people suffer for lack of nourishment; that the herb droopeth, and the cattle lie parched on the scorching ground? Tell me why hast thou done this thing?"

"I was out on the sea fishing," said Adapa, "and the South Wind blew violently, upsetting my boat and casting me into the water. Therefore I seized her wings and broke them. And lo! I am come to seek thy pardon."