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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 166

The Irish system of ages suggests an early cultural drift into Europe, through Asia Minor, and along the uplands occupied by the representatives of the Alpine or Armenoid peoples who have been traced from Hindu Kush to Brittany. The culture of Gaul resembles that of India in certain particulars; both the Gauls and the post-Vedic Aryans, for instance, believed in the doctrine of Transmigration of Souls, and practised "suttee". After the Roman occupation of Gaul, Ireland appears to have been the refuge of Gaulish scholars, who imported their beliefs and traditions and laid the foundations of that brilliant culture which shed lustre on the Green Isle in late Pagan and early Christian times.

The part played by the Mitanni people of Aryan speech in distributing Asiatic culture throughout Europe may have been considerable, but we know little or nothing regarding their movements and influence, nor has sufficient evidence been forthcoming to connect them with the cremating invaders of the Bronze Age, who penetrated as far as northern Scotland and Scandinavia. On the other hand it is certain that the Hittites adopted the planetary system of Babylonia and passed it on to Europeans, including the Greeks. The five planets Ninip, Merodach, Nergal, Ishtar, and Nebo were called by the Greeks after their gods Kronos, Zeus, Ares, Aphrodite, and Hermes, and by the Romans Saturnus, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercurius. It must be recognized, however, that these equations were somewhat arbitrary. Ninip resembled Kronos and Saturnus as a father, but he was also at the same time a son; he was the Egyptian Horus the elder and Horus the younger in one. Merodach was similarly of complex character--a combination of Ea, Anu, Enlil, and Tammuz, who acquired, when exalted by the Amoritic Dynasty of Babylon, the attributes of the thunder god Adad-Ramman in the form of Amurru, "lord of the mountains". During the Hammurabi Age Amurru was significantly popular in personal names. It is as Amurru-Ramman that Merodach bears comparison with Zeus. He also links with Hercules. Too much must not be made, therefore, of the Greek and Roman identifications of alien deities with their own. Mulla, the Gaulish mule god, may have resembled Mars somewhat, but it is a "far cry" from Mars-Mulla to Mars-Nergal, as it is also from the Gaulish Moccus, the boar, called "Mercury", to Nebo, the god of culture, who was the "Mercury" of the Tigro-Euphrates valley. Similarly the differences between "Jupiter-Amon" of Egypt and "Jupiter-Merodach" of Babylon were more pronounced than the resemblances.

The basal idea in Babylonian astrology appears to be the recognition of the astral bodies as spirits or fates, who exercised an influence over the gods, the world, and mankind. These were worshipped in groups when they were yet nameless. The group addressed, "Powerful, O sevenfold, one are ye", may have been a constellation consisting of seven stars.[337] The worship of stars and planets, which were identified and named, "seems never to have spread", says Professor Sayce, "beyond the learned classes, and to have remained to the last an artificial system. The mass of the people worshipped the stars as a whole, but it was only as a whole and not individually."[338] The masses perpetuated ancient animistic beliefs, like the pre-Hellenic inhabitants of Greece. "The Pelasgians, as I was informed at Dodona," wrote Herodotus, "formerly offered all things indiscriminately to the gods. They distinguished them by no name or surname, for they were hitherto unacquainted with either; but they called them gods, which by its etymology means disposers, from observing the orderly disposition and distribution of the various parts of the universe."[339] The oldest deities are those which bore no individual names. They were simply "Fates" or groups called "Sevenfold". The crude giant gods of Scotland are "Fomhairean" (Fomorians), and do not have individual names as in Ireland. Families and tribes were controlled by the Fates or nameless gods, which might appear as beasts or birds, or be heard knocking or screaming.


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