Myths of Babylonia and Assyria
In my stars I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em. Thy Fates open their hands....
or when Byron wrote:
Ye stars! which are the poetry of heaven!If in your bright leaves we would read the fateOf men and empires--'t is to be forgivenThat in our aspirations to be great,Our destinies o'erleap their mortal stateAnd claim a kindred with you....
Our grave astronomers are no longer astrologers, but they still call certain constellations by the names given them in Babylonia. Every time we look at our watches we are reminded of the ancient mathematicians who counted on their fingers and multiplied 10 by 6, to give us minutes and seconds, and divided the day and the night into twelve hours by multiplying six by the two leaden feet of Time. The past lives in the present.
Derivation of Ashur--Ashur as Anshar and Anu--Animal forms of Sky God--Anshar as Star God on the Celestial Mount--Isaiah's Parable--Symbols of World God and World Hill--Dance of the Constellations and Dance of Satyrs--Goat Gods and Bull Gods--Symbols of Gods as "High Heads"--The Winged Disc--Human Figure as Soul of the Sun--Ashur as Hercules and Gilgamesh--Gods differentiated by Cults--Fertility Gods as War Gods--Ashur's Tree and Animal forms--Ashur as Nisroch--Lightning Symbol in Disc--Ezekiel's Reference to Life Wheel--Indian Wheel and Discus--Wheels of Shamash and Ahura-Mazda--Hittite Winged Disc--Solar Wheel causes Seasonal Changes--Bonfires to stimulate Solar Deity--Burning of Gods and Kings--Magical Ring and other Symbols of Scotland--Ashur's Wheel of Life and Eagle Wings--King and Ashur--Ashur associated with Lunar, Fire, and Star Gods--The Osirian Clue--Hittite and Persian Influences.
The rise of Assyria brings into prominence the national god Ashur, who had been the city god of Asshur, the ancient capital. When first met with, he is found to be a complex and mystical deity, and the problem of his origin is consequently rendered exceedingly difficult. Philologists are not agreed as to the derivation of his name, and present as varied views as they do when dealing with the name of Osiris. Some give Ashur a geographical significance, urging that its original form was Aushar, "water field"; others prefer the renderings "Holy", "the Beneficent One", or "the Merciful One"; while not a few regard Ashur as simply a dialectic form of the name of Anshar, the god who, in the Assyrian version, or copy, of the Babylonian Creation myth, is chief of the "host of heaven", and the father of Anu, Ea, and Enlil.
If Ashur is to be regarded as an abstract solar deity, who was developed from a descriptive place name, it follows that he had a history, like Anu or Ea, rooted in Naturalism or Animism. We cannot assume that his strictly local character was produced by modes of thought which did not obtain elsewhere. The colonists who settled at Asshur no doubt imported beliefs from some cultural area; they must have either given recognition to a god, or group of gods, or regarded the trees, hills, rivers, sun, moon, and stars, and the animals as manifestations of the "self power" of the Universe, before they undertook the work of draining and cultivating the "water field" and erecting permanent homes. Those who settled at Nineveh, for instance, believed that they were protected by the goddess Nina, the patron deity of the Sumerian city of Nina. As this goddess was also worshipped at Lagash, and was one of the many forms of the Great Mother, it would appear that in ancient times deities had a tribal rather than a geographical significance.