Myths of Babylonia and Assyria
Figure VII.2. "THE SEVEN TABLETS OF CREATION"
From the Library of Ashur-bani-pal at Kouyunjik (Nineveh): now in the British Museum
Now Apsu and Tiamat remained amidst confusion in the deeps of chaos. They were troubled because their offspring, the high gods, aspired to control the universe and set it in order. Apsu was still powerful and fierce, and Tiamat snarled and raised tempests, smiting herself. Their purpose was to work evil amidst eternal confusion.
Then Apsu called upon Mummu, his counsellor, the son who shared his desires, and said, "O Mummu, thou who art pleasing unto me, let us go forth together unto Tiamat and speak with her."
So the two went forth and prostrated themselves before the Chaos Mother to consult with her as to what should be done to prevent the accomplishment of the purpose of the high gods.
Apsu opened his mouth and spake, saying, "O Tiamat, thou gleaming one, the purpose of the gods troubles me. I cannot rest by day nor can I repose by night. I will thwart them and destroy their purpose. I will bring sorrow and mourning so that we may lie down undisturbed by them."
Tiamat heard these words and snarled. She raised angry and roaring tempests; in her furious grief she uttered a curse, and then spake to Apsu, saying, "What shall we do so that their purpose may be thwarted and we may lie down undisturbed again?"
Mummu, the counsellor, addressing Apsu, made answer, and said, "Although the gods are powerful, thou canst overcome them; although their purpose is strong, thou canst thwart it. Then thou shalt have rest by day and peace by night to lie down."
The face of Apsu grew bright when he heard these words spoken by Mummu, yet he trembled to think of the purpose of the high gods, to whom he was hostile. With Tiamat he lamented because the gods had changed all things; the plans of the gods filled their hearts with dread; they sorrowed and spake with Mummu, plotting evil.
Then Ea, who knoweth all, drew near; he beheld the evil ones conspiring and muttering together. He uttered a pure incantation and accomplished the downfall of Apsu and Mummu, who were taken captive.
Kingu, who shared the desires of Tiamat, spake unto her words of counsel, saying, "Apsu and Mummu have been overcome and we cannot repose. Thou shalt be their Avenger, O Tempestuous One."
Tiamat heard the words of this bright and evil god, and made answer, saying, "On my strength thou canst trust. So let war be waged."
Then were the hosts of chaos and the deep gathered together. By day and by night they plotted against the high gods, raging furiously, making ready for battle, fuming and storming and taking no rest.
Mother Chuber, the creator of all, provided irresistible weapons. She also brought into being eleven kinds of fierce monsters--giant serpents, sharp of tooth with unsparing fangs, whose bodies were filled with poison instead of blood; snarling dragons, clad with terror, and of such lofty stature that whoever saw them was overwhelmed with fear, nor could any escape their attack when they lifted themselves up; vipers and pythons, and the Lachamu, hurricane monsters, raging hounds, scorpion men, tempest furies, fish men, and mountain rams. These she armed with fierce weapons and they had no fear of war.