The Babylonian Legends of the Creation

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i.e., Nippur) had not been made, E-kur [Cuneiform] had not been built,

7. "Erech [Cuneiform] had not been made, E-Aena [Cuneiform] had not been built,

8. The Deep
Terra-cotta figure of a god. From a foundation deposit at Babylon. [No. 90,9961]

25. "He created grass, the vegetation of the marsh, seed and shrub;

26. "He created the green plants of the plain,

27. "Lands, marshes, swamps,

28. "The wild cow and the calf she carried, the wild calf, the sheep and the young she carried, the lamb of the fold,

29. "Plantations and shrub land,

30. "The he-goat and the mountain goat ...

31. "The lord Marduk piled up a dam in the region of the sea (i.e., he reclaimed land)

32. "He ... a swamp, he founded a marsh.

33. "... he made to be

34. "Reeds he created, trees he created,

35. "... in place he created

36. "He laid bricks, he built a brick-work,

37. "He constructed houses, he formed cities.

38. "He constructed cities, creatures he set [therein].

39. "Nippur he made, E-Kur he built.

40. "[Erech he made, E-Anna] he built.

[The remainder of the text is fragmentary, and shows that the text formed part of an incantation which was recited in the Temple of E-Zida, possibly the great temple of Nabu at Borsippa.]

Bronze figure of a Babylonian god. [No. 91,147]

The Legend of the Creation According to Berosus and Damascius.

Versions in Greek of the Legends found by George Smith had long been known to classical scholars, owing to the preservation of fragments of them in the works of later Greek writers, e.g., Eusebius, Syncellus, and others. The most important of these is derived from the History of Babylonia, which was written in Greek by BEROSUS, a priest of Bel-Marduk, i.e., the "Lord Marduk," at Babylon, about 250 B.C. In this work Berosus reproduced all the known historical facts and traditions derived from native sources which were current in his day. It is therefore not surprising to find that his account of the Babylonian beliefs about the origin of things corresponds very closely with that given in the cuneiform texts, and that it is of the greatest use in explaining and partly in expanding these texts. His account of the primeval abyss, out of which everything came, and of its inhabitants reads:--

Babylonian Monster. [No. 108,979.]

"There was a time in which there existed nothing but darkness and an abyss of waters, wherein resided most hideous beings, which were produced on a two-fold principle. There appeared men, some of whom were furnished with two wings, others with four, and with two faces. They had one body but two heads; the one that of a man, the other of a woman; and likewise in their several organs both male and female. Other human figures were to be seen with the legs and horns of goats; some had horses' feet; while others united the hind-quarters of a horse with the body of a man, resembling in shape the hippo-centaurs. Bulls likewise were bred there with the heads of men, and dogs with four told bodies, terminated in their extremities with the tails of fishes; horses also with the heads of dogs; men too and other animals, with the heads and bodies of horses and the tails of fishes. In short, there were creatures in which were combined the limbs of every species of animals. In addition to these, fishes, reptiles, serpents, with other monstrous animals, which assumed each other's shape and countenance. Of all which were preserved delineations in the temple of Belus at Babylon."

Babylonian Demon. [No. 93,089.]


"The person, who presided over them, was a woman named OMUROCA; which in the Chaldean language is THALATTH; in Greek THALASSA, the sea; but which might equally be interpreted the Moon. All things being in this situation, Belus came, and cut the woman asunder: and of one half of her he formed the earth, and of the other half the heavens; and at the same time destroyed the animals within her. All this (he says) was an allegorical description of nature."


"For, the whole universe consisting of moisture, and animals being generated therein, the deity above-mentioned6 took off his own head: upon which the other gods mixed the blood, as it gushed out, with the earth; and from whence were formed men. On this account it is that they are rational and partake of divine knowledge."


"This Belus, by whom they signify Jupiter, divided the darkness, and separated the Heavens from the Earth, and reduced the universe to order. But the animals not being able to bear the prevalence of light, died. Belus upon this, seeing a vast space unoccupied, though by nature fruitful, commanded one7 of the gods to take off his head, and to mix the blood with the earth; and from thence to form other men and animals, which should be capable of bearing the air. Belus formed also the stars, and the sun, and the moon, and the five planets. Such, according to Polyhistor Alexander, is the account which Berosus gives in his first book." (See Cory, Ancient Fragments, London, 1832, pp. 24-26.)

In the sixth century of our era DAMASCIUS the SYRIAN, the last of the Neo-Platonic philosophers, wrote in Greek in a work on the Doubts and Solutions of the first Principles, in which he says: "But the Babylonians, like the rest of the Barbarians, pass over in silence the One principle of the Universe, and they conceive Two, TAUTHE and APASON; making APASON the husband of TAUTHE, and denominating her the mother of the gods. And from these proceeds an only-begotten son, MOYMIS, which I conceive is no other than the Intelligible World proceeding from the two principles. From these, also, another progeny is derived, DACHE and DACHUS; and again, a third, KISSARE and ASSORUS, from which last three others proceed, ANUS, and ILLINUS, and AUS. And of AUS and DAUCE is born a son called Belus, who, they say, is the fabricator of the world, the Demiurgus." (See Cory, Ancient Fragments, London, 1832, p. 318.)