Myths of Babylonia and Assyria
Page: 35In addition to water and atmospheric deities Babylonia had also its fire gods, Girru, Gish Bar, Gibil, and Nusku. Their origin is obscure. It is doubtful if their worshippers, like those of the Indian Agni, believed that fire, the "vital spark", was the principle of life which was manifested by bodily heat. The Aryan fire worshippers cremated their dead so that the spirits might be
Figure III.2. WINGED MAN-HEADED LION
In Marble. From N.W. Palace of Nimroud: now in the British Museum
It is possible, of course, that fire was regarded as the vital principle by some city cults, which were influenced by imported ideas. If so, the belief never became prevalent. The most enduring influence in Babylonian religion was the early Sumerian; and as Sumerian modes of thought were the outcome of habits of life necessitated by the character of the country, they were bound, sooner or later, to leave a deep impress on the minds of foreign peoples who settled in the Garden of Western Asia. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that imported deities assumed Babylonian characteristics, and were identified or associated with Babylonian gods in the later imperial pantheon.