Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

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[103] To this middle class belong the evil gods who rebelled against the beneficent deities. According to Hebridean folk belief, the fallen angels are divided into three classes--the fairies, the "nimble men" (aurora borealis), and the "blue men of the Minch". In Beowulf the "brood of Cain" includes "monsters and elves and sea-devils--giants also, who long time fought with God, for which he gave them their reward".[104] Similarly the Babylonian spirit groups are liable to division and subdivision. The various classes may be regarded as relics of the various stages of development from crude animism to sublime monotheism: in the fragmentary legends we trace the floating material from which great mythologies have been framed.

[78] The Acts, xvii, 22-31.
[79] Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia, vol. ii, p. 149 et seq.
[80] Egyptian Myth and Legend, xxxix, n.
[81] Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt, J.H. Breasted, pp. 38, 74.
[82] Custom and Myth, p. 45 et seq.
[83] The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 108.
[84] Act iv, scene 1.
[85] Paradise Lost, book ix.
[86] Chapman's Caesar and Pompey.
[87] Natural History, 2nd book.
[88] Indian Myth and Legend, 70, n.
[89] Indian Myth and Legend, pp. 202-5, 400, 401.
[90] Teutonic Myth and Legend, p. 424 et seq.
[91] Indian Myth and Legend, p. 164 et seq.
[92] Popular Religion and Folk Lore of Northern India, W. Crooke, vol. i, p. 254.
[93] When a person, young or old, is dying, near relatives must not call out their names in case the soul may come back from the spirit world. A similar belief still lingers, especially among women, in the Lowlands. The writer was once present in a room when a child was supposed to be dying. Suddenly the mother called out the child's name in agonized voice. It revived soon afterwards. Two old women who had attempted to prevent "the calling" shook their heads and remarked: "She has done it! The child will never do any good in this world after being called back." In England and Ireland, as well as in Scotland, the belief also prevails in certain localities that if a dying person is "called back" the soul will tarry for another twenty-four hours, during which the individual will suffer great agony.
[94] A Journey in Southern Siberia, Jeremiah Curtin, pp. 103, 104.
[95] Vol. i, p. 305.
[96] Adi Parva section of Mahàbhàrata, Roy's trans., p. 635.
[97] Jastrow's Aspects of Religious Belief in Babylonia, &c., p. 312.
[98] R.C. Thompson's trans.
[99] The Elder or Poetic Edda, Olive Bray, part i, p. 53.
[100] Babylonian Religion, L.W. King, pp. 186-8.
[101] The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia, R. Campbell Thompson, vol. i, p. 53 et seq.
[102] Omens and Superstitions of Southern India, E. Thurston, p. 124.
[103] The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 110.
[104] Beowulf, Clark Hall, p. 14.

Chapter V. Myths of Tammuz and Ishtar


Forms of Tammuz--The Weeping Ceremony--Tammuz the Patriarch and the Dying God--Common Origin of Tammuz and other Deities from an Archaic God--The Mediterranean Racial Myth--Animal Forms of Gods of Fertility--Two Legends of the Death of Tammuz--Attis, Adonis, and Diarmid Slain by a Boar--Laments for Tammuz--His Soul in Underworld and the Deep--Myth of the Child God of Ocean--Sargon Myth Version--The Germanic Scyld of the Sheaf--Tammuz Links with Frey, Heimdal, Agni, &c.--Assyrian Legend of "Descent of Ishtar"--Sumerian Version--The Sister Belit-sheri and the Mother Ishtar--The Egyptian Isis and Nepthys--Goddesses as Mothers, Sisters, and Wives--Great Mothers of Babylonia--Immortal Goddesses and Dying Gods--The Various Indras--Celtic Goddess with Seven Periods of Youth--Lovers of Germanic and Classic Goddesses--The Lovers of Ishtar--Racial Significance of Goddess Cult--The Great Fathers and their Worshippers--Process of Racial and Religious Fusion--Ishtar and Tiamat--Mother Worship in Palestine--Women among Goddess Worshippers.

Among the gods of Babylonia none achieved wider and more enduring fame than Tammuz, who was loved by Ishtar, the amorous Queen of Heaven--the beautiful youth who died and was mourned for and came to life again. He does not figure by his popular name in any of the city pantheons, but from the earliest times of which we have knowledge until the passing of Babylonian civilization, he played a prominent part in the religious life of the people.