Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria
Page: 82The Triad of Earth, Air, and Sea
The habit of invoking the great triad became almost a commonplace in later Babylonia. They nearly always take precedence in religious inscriptions, and we even find some monarchs stating that they hold their regal authority by favour of the trinity. Whenever a powerful curse has to be launched, one may be certain that the names of the gods of the elements will figure in it.
Dawkina was the consort of Ea, and was occasionally invoked along with him. She was a goddess of some antiquity, and, strangely enough for the mate of a water-god, she appears to have originally been connected in some manner with the earth. Therefore she was an elemental deity. In later times her attributes appear to have been inherited by Ishtar. According to some authorities Bel was the son of Ea and Dawkina, Bel in this case meaning Merodach. We find her name frequently alluded to in the Magical Texts, but her cult does not seem to have been very widespread.
We have already alluded to Anu's position in the triad with Ea and Bel in later Babylonian times. When he stands alone we find him taking a more human guise than as the mere elemental god of earlier days. He is frequently mentioned in the texts apart[Pg 198] from Ea and Bel, and is occasionally alluded to along with Ramman, the god of thunder and storms, who of course would naturally stand in close relationship with the sky. We also find him connected with Dagan of Biblical celebrity. But in this case Dagan appears to be the equivalent of Bel.
There is also a host of lesser deities, the majority of whom are no more than mere names. They do not seem to have achieved much popularity, or if they did it was an evanescent one. The names of some are indeed only mentioned once or twice, and so little is known concerning them as almost to leave us entirely in the dark regarding their natures or characteristics.
The entire religious system of Babylonia is overshadowed by Merodach, its great patron deity. We remember how he usurped the place of Ea, and in what manner even the legends of that god were made over to him, so that at last he came to be regarded as not only the national god of Babylonia but the creator of the world and of mankind. He it was who, at the pleading of the other gods, confronted the grisly Tiawath, and having defeated and slain her, formed the earth out of her body and its inhabitants out of his own blood. It is almost certain that this cosmological myth was at one time recounted of Ea, and perhaps even at an earlier date of Bel. The transfer of power from Ea to Merodach, however, was skilfully arranged by the priesthood, for they made Merodach the son of Ea, so that he would naturally inherit his father's attributes. In this transfer we observe the passing of the supremacy of the city of Eridu to that of Babylon. Ea, or Oannes, the fish-tailed god of Eridu, stood for the older and more southerly civilization of the Babylonian race, whilst Merodach, patron god of Babylon, a very different type of deity, represented the newer political power.