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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 159

As the "bull of light" Jupiter had solar associations; he was also the shepherd of the stars, a title shared by Tammuz as Orion; Nin-Girsu, a developed form of Tammuz, was identified with both Orion and Jupiter.

Ishtar's identification with Venus is of special interest. When that planet was at its brightest phase, its rays were referred to as "the beard" of the goddess; she was the "bearded Aphrodite"--a bisexual deity evidently. The astrologers regarded the bright Venus as lucky and the rayless Venus as unlucky.

Saturn was Nirig, who is best known as Ninip, a deity who was displaced by Enlil, the elder Bel, and afterwards regarded as his son. His story has not been recovered, but from the references made to it there is little doubt that it was a version of the widespread myth about the elder deity who was slain by his son, as Saturn was by Jupiter and Dyaus by Indra. It may have resembled the lost Egyptian myth which explained the existence of the two Horuses--Horus the elder, and Horus, the posthumous son of Osiris. At any rate, it is of interest to find in this connection that in Egypt the planet Saturn was Her-Ka, "Horus the Bull". Ninip was also identified with the bull. Both deities were also connected with the spring sun, like Tammuz, and were terrible slayers of their enemies. Ninip raged through Babylonia like a storm flood, and Horus swept down the Nile, slaying the followers of Set. As the divine sower of seed, Ninip may have developed from Tammuz as Horus did from Osiris. Each were at once the father and the son, different forms of the same deity at various seasons of the year. The elder god was displaced by the son (spring), and when the son grew old his son slew him in turn. As the planet Saturn, Ninip was the ghost of the elder god, and as the son of Bel he was the solar war god of spring, the great wild bull, the god of fertility. He was also as Ber "lord of the wild boar", an animal associated with Rimmon[316].

Nebo (Nabu), who was identified with Mercury, was a god of Borsippa. He was a messenger and "announcer" of the gods, as the Egyptian Horus in his connection with Jupiter was Her-ap-sheta, "Horus the opener of that which is secret[317]". Nebo's original character is obscure. He appears to have been a highly developed deity of a people well advanced in civilization when he was exalted as the divine patron of Borsippa. Although Hammurabi ignored him, he was subsequently invoked with Merodach, and had probably much in common with Merodach. Indeed, Merodach was also identified with the planet Mercury. Like the Greek Hermes, Nebo was a messenger of the gods and an instructor of mankind. Jastrow regards him as "a counterpart of Ea", and says: "Like Ea, he is the embodiment and source of wisdom. The art of writing--and therefore of all literature--is more particularly associated with him. A common form of his name designates him as the 'god of the stylus'."[318] He appears also to have been a developed form of Tammuz, who was an incarnation of Ea. Professor Pinches shows that one of his names, Mermer, was also a non-Semitic name of Ramman.[319] Tammuz resembled Ramman in his character as a spring god of war. It would seem that Merodach as Jupiter displaced at Babylon Nebo as Saturn, the elder god, as Bel Enlil displaced the elder Ninip at Nippur.


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