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Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 73

A heavy rain at eventide was the sign for Ut-Napishtim to enter the ship and fasten the door. All night long it rained, and with the early dawn "there came up from the horizon a black cloud. Ramman in the midst thereof thundered, and Nabu and Marduk went before, they passed like messengers over mountain and plain. Uragal parted the anchor-cable. There went Ninib, and he made the storm to burst. The Annunaki carried flaming torches, and with the brightness thereof they lit up the earth. The whirlwind of Ramman mounted up into the heavens, and all light was turned into darkness." During a whole day darkness and chaos appear to have reigned on the earth. Men could no longer behold each other. The very gods in heaven were afraid and crouched "like hounds," weeping, and lamenting their share in the destruction of mankind. For six days and nights the tempest raged, but on the seventh day the rain ceased and the floods began to abate. Then, says Ut-Napishtim—"I looked upon the sea and cried aloud, for all mankind was turned back into clay. In place of the fields a swamp lay before me. I opened the window and the light fell upon my cheek, I bowed myself down, I sat down, I wept; over my cheek flowed my tears. I looked upon the world, and behold all was sea."

[Pg 176]

The Bird Messengers

At length the ship came to rest on the summit of Mount Nitsir. There are various readings of this portion of the text, thus: "After twelve (days) the land appeared;" or "At the distance of twelve (kasbu) the land appeared;" or "Twelve (cubits) above the water the land appeared." However this may be, the ship remained for six days on the mountain, and on the seventh Ut-Napishtim sent out a dove. But the dove found no resting-place, and so she returned. Then he sent out a swallow, which also returned, having found no spot whereon to rest. Finally a raven was sent forth, and as by this time the waters had begun to abate, the bird drew near to the ship "wading and croaking," but did not enter the vessel. Then Ut-Napishtim brought his household and all his possessions into the open air, and made an offering to the gods of reed, and cedar-wood, and incense. The fragrant odour of the incense came up to the gods, and they gathered, "like flies," says the narrative, around the sacrifice. Among the company was Ishtar, the Lady of the Gods, who lifted up the necklace which Anu had given her, saying: "What gods these are! By the jewels of lapis-lazuli which are upon my neck I will not forget! These days I have set in my memory, never will I forget them! Let the gods come to the offering, but Bel shall not come to the offering since he refused to ask counsel and sent the deluge, and handed over my people unto destruction."


Ut-Napishtim makes Offering to the Gods—Alan Stewart
By permission of Messrs. Hutchinson and Co.



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