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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 94

They laid him down upon his back
And cudgelled him full sore;
They hung him up before a storm
And turned him o'er and o'er.
They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim,
They heaved in John Barleycorn--
There let him sink or swim.
They wasted o'er a scorching flame
The marrow of his bones,
But the miller used him worst of all,
For he crushed him between two stones.

Hercules, after performing many mythical exploits, had himself burned alive on the pyre which he built upon Mount Oeta, and was borne to Olympus amidst peals of thunder.

Gilgamesh, the Babylonian Hercules, who links with Etana, Nimrod, and Sandan, is associated with the eagle, which in India, as has been shown, was identified with the gods of fertility, fire, and death. According to a legend related by Aelian,[204] "the guards of the citadel of Babylon threw down to the ground a child who had been conceived and brought forth in secret, and who afterwards became known as Gilgamos". This appears to be another version of the Sargon-Tammuz myth, and may also refer to the sacrifice of children to Melkarth and Moloch, who were burned or slain "in the valleys under the clefts of the rocks"[205] to ensure fertility and feed the corn god. Gilgamesh, however, did not perish. "A keen-eyed eagle saw the child falling, and before it touched the ground the bird flew under it and received it on its back, and carried it away to a garden and laid it down gently." Here we have, it would appear, Tammuz among the flowers, and Sargon, the gardener, in the "Garden of Adonis". Mimic Adonis gardens were cultivated by women. Corn, &c., was forced in pots and baskets, and thrown, with an image of the god, into streams. "Ignorant people", writes Professor Frazer, "suppose that by mimicking the effect which they desire to produce they actually help to produce it: thus by sprinkling water they make rain, by lighting a fire they make sunshine, and so on."[206] Evidently


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