Catégorie : Mythologies mésopotamiennes

La Descente d’Ishtar aux Enfers

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Ishtar (‘Ishtar), Inanna : une divinité du Panthéon Moyen-Oriental (depuis le quatrième millénaire avant Jésus-Christ). Fille de Sin (la lune) dans le Panthéon akkadien et babylonien ; elle représente la planète Vénus. Elle est « la Reine du ciel » « La déesse des champs et les dépôts des dattes et les produits de l’agriculture et du pâturage ». Elle aussi la déesse de la guerre et des batailles ; la déesse protectrice des prostituées sacrées.
Elle épouse le dieu-berger (Dummuzi ou Tammuz). Un jour elle décide de descendre au monde inférieur (les enfers) pour prendre le pouvoir sur ce monde détenu par sa sœur (Ereshkigal) ; elle échoue et perd la vie.
Le monde supérieur (le monde des vivants), en son absence, perd sa force fertile ; donc il a fallu l’intervention du seigneur des dieux (Éa) pour lui rendre la vie et l’extraire du monde des morts, mais en échange, elle était obligée de choisir un vivant pour prendre sa place aux Enfers ; pour cela elle délivre son époux (Tammuz) aux diables qui l’emmènent aux mondes des morts.
Regrettant plus tard la perte de son époux Tammuz, elle obtient des dieux l’autorisation de son retour cyclique parmi les vivants pour redonner à la vie sa puissance fertile.
Ce mythe permettait d’expliquer aux humains la succession des saisons et les différentes modifications de la nature au cours du déroulement de l’année ; à l’automne et à l’hiver, Tammuz est absent parmi les vivants, et à son retour (le printemps et l’été) la vie réapparaître sur terre.

Au Pays-sans-retour, le domaine d’Éreshkigal, 
Ishtar, la fille de Sîn, décida de se rendre
Elle décida de se rendre, la fille de Sîn,
En la Demeure obscure, la résidence d’Irkalla,
En la Demeure d’où ne ressortent jamais
Ceux qui y sont entrés,
Par le Chemin à l’aller sans retour,
En la Demeure où les arrivants
Sont déprivés de lumière,
Ne subsistant plus que d’humus, alimentés de terre,
Affalés dans les ténèbres, sans jamais voir le jour,
Revêtus, comme des oiseaux, d’un accoutrement de plumage,
Tandis que la poussière s’entasse
Sur verrous et vantaux.
Chez la divinité souveraine de l’« Immense-Terre »
La déesse qui siège en l’Irkalla,
Chez Éreshkigal, souveraine de l’immense-Terre,
La déesse qui réside en l’Irkalla,
En cette propre demeure d’Irkalla
D’où ne reviennent plus ceux qui s’y rendent,
Ce lieu où il n’y a de lumière pour personne,
Cet endroit où les morts sont couverts de poussière,
Cette demeure ténébreuse
Où les astres ne se lèvent jamais,
La fille de Sîn décida de se rendre!
Elle rumina et résolut de partir
à l’aller sans retour…

Arrivée à la porte du Pays-sans-retour,
Elle adressa ces mots au gardien de la porte :
– Gardien! Ouvre ta porte !
Ouvre ta porte, que j’entre, moi qui te parle!
Si tu ne me laisses pas entrer,
Je martèlerai la porte, à en briser les verrous;
J’en secouerai les montants, à en démolir les vantaux,
Et je ferai remonter les morts,
Qui dévoreront les vivants,
Tant et si bien que les morts
Dépasseront en nombre les vivants!

Le gardien ouvrit donc la bouche, prit la parole
Et s’adressa à la puissante Ishtar :
« Madame, reste là, ne quitte point la porte :
Je vais t’annoncer à la reine Ereshkigal ! »

Il entra donc et s’adressa à Éreshkigal :
– Il y a là, dit-il, ta « sœur » Ishtar,
Qui attend à la porte,
Celle qui joue (?) à la grand- Corde-à-rauter
Et qui révolutionnerait l’Apsrû, jusqu’en présence d’Éa !

Lorsque Éreshkigal eut ouï cette adresse,
Son visage blêmit comme un rameau coupé
Et, tel un éclat de roseau (?), ses lèvres s’assombrirent!
Que me veut-elle ? Qu’a-t-elle encore imaginé ?
le veux banqueter en personne en compagnie des Anunnaki
(Doit-elle se dire) :
M’alimenter comme eux de terre,
Et m’abreuver d’eau trouble ;
Déplorer le destin
Des jeunes-hommes enlevés à leurs épouses,
Des jeunes-femmes arrachées à leurs maris,
Et des bébés expédiés avant leur heure! »
Va lui ouvrir la porte, gardien,
Mais traite-la selon la règle antique de l’Enfer!

Le gardien s’en fut donc, et lui ouvrit la porte :
« Entre, Madame (lui dit-il),
Kutû se réjouit de t’accueillir!
Le palais du Pays-sans-retour
Est tout heureux de ta visite ! »
L’introduisant alors par la première porte, il lui ôta
Et confisqua la grand-Couronne de sa tête.
«Pourquoi (dit-elle), ô gardien,
Emportes-tu la grand-Couronne de ma tête ?
– Entre, Madame! Telle est la règle
Posée par la souveraine d’Enfer!»
L’introduisant par la seconde porte, il lui ôta
Et confisqua ses Boucles d’oreilles.
« Pourquoi (dit-elle), ô gardien,
Emportes-tu mes Boucles d’oreilles ?
– Entre, Madame! Telle est la règle
Posée par la souveraine d’Enfer! »
L’introduisant par la troisième porte, il lui ôta
ET confisqua son Collier de perles.
« Pourquoi (dit-elle), ô gardien,
Emportes-tu mon Collier de perles ?
– Entre, Madame ! Telle est la règle
Posée par la souveraine d’Enfer! »
L’introduisant parla quatrième porte, il lui ôta
Et confisqua le Cache-seins de sa poitrine.
« Pourquoi (dit-elle), ô gardien,
Emportes-tu le Cache-seins de ma poitrine ?
– Entre, Madame! Telle est la règle
Posée par la souveraine d’Enfer! »
L’introduisant parla cinquième porte, il lui ôta
Et confisqua la Ceinture de pierres-fines de ses lombes.
« Pourquoi (dit-elle), ô gardien,
Emportes-tu la Ceinture de pierres-fines de mes lombes ?
– Entre, Madame ! Telle est la règle
Posée par la souveraine d’Enfer! »
L’introduisant par la sixième porte, il lui ôta
Et confisqua ses Anneaux de mains et de pieds.
« Pourquoi (dit-elle), ô gardien,
Emportes-tu mes Anneaux de mains et de pieds ?
– Entre, Madame ! Telle est la règle
Posée par la souveraine d’Enfer! »
L’introduisant par la septième porte, il lui ôta
Et confisqua le Manteau-d’apparat qui lui couvrait le corps
« Pourquoi (dit-elle), ô gardien, Emportes-tu le Manteau-d’apparat qui me
couvre le corps?
– Entre, Madame! Telle est la règle Posée par la souveraine d’Enfer! »

Sitôt Ishtar ainsi descendue
Éreshkigal, qui Au tréfonds du Pays-sans retour,
À sa vue, Éreshkigal entra en fureur,
Et, inconsidérément, Ishtar se jeta sur elle!
Mais Érshkigal ouvrit la bouche, prit la parole
Et adressa ces mots à Namtar, son lieutenant ;
« Va, Namtar !
Lâche sur elle les Soixante maladies :
Les maladies des yeux sur ses yeux!
Les maladies des bras sur ses bras!
Les maladies des pieds sur ses pieds!
Les maladies des entrailles sur ses entrailles!
Les maladies de la tête sur sa tête !
Lâche-les sur son corps tout entier! »

Or, une fois Ishtar [ainsi retenue en Enfer],
Voici que nul taureau ne montait plus de vache,
Nul baudet ne fécondait plus d’ânesse,
Nul homme n’engrossait plus de femme, à
son gré:
Chacun dormait seul en sa chambre
Et chacune s’en allait coucher à part!
C’est pourquoi Papsukkal, lieutenant des grands-dieux,
Préoccupé et inquiet,
Habillé et coiffé de deuil,
S’en vint, désemparé,
Pleurer (en vain) devant Sîn, le père d’Ishtar!
Puis il laissa découler ses larmes
Devant Éa-le-souverain :
« Ishtar (leur disait-il), descendue en Enfer,
N’en est pas remontée !
Et depuis qu’elle est ainsi partie
Au Pays-sans-retour,
Voici que nul taureau ne monte plus de vache,
Nul baudet ne féconde plus d’ânesse,
Nul homme n’engrosse plus de femme, à son gré :
Chacun dort seul en sa chambre,
Et chacune s’en va coucher à part! »

Alors, Éa, dans sa profonde intelligence, eut une idée :
Il créa Âsu-su-namir, l’Inverti (et lui dit) :
– Va, Âsu-su-namir! Porte tes pas
Vers l’entrée du Pays-sans-retour,
Et qu’une fois ouvertes devant toi les Sept portes,
Éreshkigal, à ta vue, soit égayée!
Sitôt son coeur jovial et son esprit de bonne humeur,
Soutire-lui un serment par les grands-dieux.
Puis enhardis-toi et jette les yeux sur l’Outre :
– Madame (lui diras-tu),
Qu’on m’accorde de m’abreuver à l’Outre! »»
A ces mots, Éreshkigal
Se frappa les cuisses, de dépit,
Et se mordit les doigts, de rage :
– Tu m’as demandé là (dit-elle), quelque chose d’interdit!
Eh bien ! je vais porter contre toi, Â.su-su-namir,
Une grande malédiction,
Et t’assigner à jamais un pénible destin ;
Désormais ta pitance
Sera celle produite parles « charrues-de-ville »,
Et ta boisson, celle tirée de caniveaux de la ville.
Tu ne stationneras .
Que dans les renfoncements des remparts
Et ne demeureras qu’au seuil des portes.
Ivrognes et soiffards te souffletteront à leur gré!

Puis Éreshkigal rouvrit la bouche, reprit la parole
Et adressa ces mots à Namtar, son lieutenant :
– Va faire ouvrir, Namtar, la porte de l’Égalgina,
Parsèmes-en le seuil de coquilles apotropéennes,
Et convoque les Anunnaki
Pour les y faire siéger sur leurs cathèdres d’or!
Puis asperge Ishtar d’eau vitale et amène-la-moi!

Namtar s’en alla donc
Faire ouvrir la porte de l’Égalgina, Dont il parsema le seuil de coquilles apotropéennes ;
Et, après avoir convoqué les Anunnaki,
Il les y fit siéger sur leurs cathèdres d’or!
Puis Ishtar, aspergée d’eau vitale,
Il l’amena devant Éreshkigal.

Quand il lui fit franchir la première porte, il lui restitua
Le Manteau-d’apparat qui lui couvrait le corps.
Quand il lui fit franchir la deuxième porte, il lui restitua
Ses Anneaux de mains et de pieds.
Quand il lui fit franchir la troisième porte, il lui restitua
La Ceinture de pierres fines de ses lombes.
Quand il lui fit franchir la quatrième porte, il lui restitua
Le Cache-seins de sa poitrine.
Quand il lui fit franchir la cinquième porte,
Son Collier de perles. il lui restitua Quand il lui fit franchir la sixième porte, il lui restitua
Ses Boucles d’oreilles.
Quand il lui fit franchir la septième porte, il lui restitua
La grand-Couronne de sa tête!

– Que si elle ne te fournit pas un remplaçant,
Ramène-la !

Pour ce qui est de Tammuz, « l’époux » de terre son premier amour,
Fais-le se laver d’eau claire, se frotter de parfum,
Se revêtir d’une tenue d’éclat :
Qu’il batte de la Baguette bleue
Et que des filles de joie lui animent le coeur!

Or, Belili, ayant parachevé sa parure,
Sa poitrine était recouverte
D’un collier de perles d’onyx (?).
Lorsqu’elle ouït l’appel désespéré de son frère,
Elle arracha de son corps la parure
Et les perles d’onyx (?) qui lui recouvraient le giron :
« C’est mon unique frère (criait-elle) :
Ne me l’arrachez pas!

Lorsque remontera Tammuz
Baguette bleue et Cercle rouge
remonteront avec lui!
Remonteront, pour l’escorter, ses pleureurs et pleureuses.

  • Texte extrait de :
    • Jean Bottéro, Samuel, Noah Kramer.  » Lorsque les dieux faisaient l’homme « . Editions Gallimard ; 1989 ; p: 319-324.

L’épopée de Gilgamesh

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Gilgamesh est un roi à demi légendaire de la cité d’Ourouk (Uruk), qui aurait régné vers 2600 avant notre ère.

Gilgamesh, Palais de Sargon II

Monarque semi-légendaire Gilgamesh, « celui qui a tout vu » , est le héros à la fois despotique et humain d’une longue épopée mainte fois remaniée qui est la base de la littérature antique. Les exploits du cinquième roi d’Ourouk, évoquent ceux d’Ulysse et d’Héraclès et offrent une réflexion sur la vie éternelle, l’amitié et l’art de vivre. Selon les versions, il serait le fils de la déesse Ninsun et du roi-guerrier Lugalbanda, ou celui d’un grand prêtre. « Pour deux tiers il est dieu, pour un tiers il est homme.  » De plus, Shamash lui a donné la beauté, et Adad, le courage. Pour mettre un frein à la fougue tyrannique du roi Gilgamesh, les dieux qui reçoivent les doléances de son peuple, demandent à la déesse Aruru de faire naître dans le désert un homme fort et sauvage, Enkidu ou Enkidou (la créature d’Enki), qui saura s’opposer à l’activité fébrile du roi. Aruru fabrique avec de l’argile un être à l’image et à l’essence d’Anu, dieu du ciel, et de Ninurta, dieu de la guerre. Dans un premier temps Enkidu va vivre totalement à l’écart de la civilisation ; il broute l’herbe en compagnie des gazelles et partage la vie des bêtes sauvages qui sont ses seuls amis. Il détruit les pièges que posent les chasseurs qui ne manquent pas de venir se plaindre auprès du roi ; ce dernier  décide de le faire venir à sa cour en lui envoyant une femme pour le convaincre. Au cours des six jours et sept nuit qu’il passera avec Shamhat il va découvrir son humanité et l’amour mais c’est au détriment des ses anciens compagnons qui s’écartent de lui au trou d’eau où ils avaient l’habitude de venir boire. Elle le décide d’aller à Ourouk pour découvrir la ville et sa civilisation; lors du trajet, pour la première fois, il mange et boit des aliments de la civilisation fabriqués par des bergers et il est obligé de combattre les bêtes sauvages qui désormais le fuient. De plus par l’intermédiaire de rêves qui vont l’informer de son destin tout au long du récit, il sait que le roi lui-même, Gilgamesh, va être son rival.  Aussitôt entré dans la ville, il est accueilli par une foule en liesse, on lui offre à boire et à manger, on l’oint avec des huiles précieuses. Il a maintenant l’aspect d’un homme civilisé; mais l’aspect seulement, Gilgamesh refuse de le voir et demande Shamhat de l’emmener hors de sa vue. Elle commence alors à apprendre au jeune rustre tous les raffinements de la vie civilisée et de la morale humaine; Enkidu change complètement sa façon de vivre. Au cours d’un deuxième rêve, le héros s’imagine être aux Enfers, et il en déduit que sa mort est proche. Pourtant il va s’opposer au roi que sa tyrannie révolte. Un jour, alors qu’il assiste à un mariage, il interdit l’entrée au roi venu pour exercer un droit de premier mâle. Les deux hommes vont se livrer un dur combat. Dans la version sumérienne, Gilgamesh vainc Enkidu, qui devient son serviteur, alors que dans la version babylonienne, les deux hommes sont de même force et il devient l’ami du roi. Gilgamesh brûle d’accomplir un exploit extraordinaire qui laisserait à jamais son nom gravé sur les tablettes d’argile et dans la mémoire des hommes. La rencontre d’Enkidu lui en fournit l’occasion, et tous deux décident de réaliser ensemble prouesses sur prouesses. Gilgamesh a déjà décidé de tuer le géant Humbaba et forge des armes puissantes Avant de commencer une entreprise si difficile, les deux amis prient Shamash, dieu du soleil, et se rendent chez la mère du roi, prêtresse du dieu. Enkidu, à vrai dire, est un peu effrayé et essaie de persuader son ami de renoncer à une entreprise si hasardeuse. Les citoyens d’Uruk, à leur tour, ont peur. Tout esprit héroïque leur fait défaut ils essaient donc de dissuader leur roi. Après une dernière prière à Shamash et de nouveaux conseils de prudence, les deux amis s’en vont.

Humbaba attaqué par Gilgamesh et Enkidu

En trois jours, alors que le voyage normal aurait demandé un mois et demi, ils se rendent sur la Montagne, couper les cèdres qui y poussent. Après ce long voyage, ils arrivent à l’entrée de la forêt et s’étonne devant la taille des arbres. L’entrée de la forêt des cèdres, interdite aux mortels, est gardée par le géant Houmbaba (Houwawa ou Khoumbaba) « le grand mal ». C’est un démon terrible, ses dents sont celles d’un dragon, sa face celle d’un lion, ses pieds sont des serres et il se défend en émettant une série de cris qui glacent d’épouvante quiconque les entend. De plus ce fils de la Montagne est protégé des dieux, enfin pas tous, car Shamash interviendra au moment décisif. Mais Enkidu est saisi de peur et les forces lui manquent pour continuer. Alors Gilgamesh le raisonne et le soutient moralement. Ils pénètrent finalement dans la forêt où les cèdres dressent leurs troncs immenses et c’est au tour de Gilgamesh de faiblir. Mais les voilà enfin face à face avec le monstre qui se moque: C’est avec ce sauvageon que tu veux me défier ?Le combat est terrible; heureusement que Shamash intervient et jette dans la bataille les treize grands vents: Le Vent du Nord, le Vent du Sud, le Vent d’Est, le Vent d’Ouest, le Vent-Souffleur, le Vent-Tourbillon, le Vent-Mauvais, le Vent-Poussières, le Vent-Gel, le Tourbillon, la Tempête, la Tornade et l’Ouragan, qui bloquent le géant afin qu’il ne puisse plus bouger. C’est la fin du combat, Khumbaba supplie Gilgamesh de l’épargner; il lui offre ses meilleurs bois. Celui-ci est sur le point d’accepter, mais Enkidu l’engage à tuer l’ennemi. Les deux héros frappent violemment Humbaba. qui en mourant prononce cette malédiction. Malgré leur fatigue, nos deux héros prennent leur butin tandis d’épaisses ténèbres s’abattent sur la Montagne des Cèdres. Ils comprennent, trop tard, que les dieux ne voulaient pas de cette exécution. Le dieu de la terre, Enlil, est très en colère, et décide de les tuer. Shamash intervient et obtient que seul Enkidu meure plus tard.

La déesse Ishtar est séduite par l’héroïque roi d’Uruk et essaie de lui faire du charme, mais le monarque repousse avec dédain les avances de la grande déesse; il l’insulte même, en lui reprochant violemment sa vie de luxure qui, par vice, se donne aux hommes et même aux animaux. La déesse, furieuse de l’injure subie, prie le dieu Anu de venger sa honte, en pétrissant un taureau céleste, capable de terrasser et de tuer Gilgamesh. Ishtar menace de détruire les remparts de enfers alors Anu accède au désir de la déesse et un taureau gigantesque descend sur la terre, mais Enkidu l’affronte immédiatement et le tue. La colère d’Ishtar se déchaîne à nouveau ; elle se rend sur les murailles de la ville d’Uruk, d’où elle lance les injures les plus atroces au roi, en le maudissant. Enkidu se saisit alors d’un (du?) membre du taureau abattu, et le jette en signe de moquerie aux pieds de la déesse. Gilgamesh détache les cornes du taureau, qui peuvent contenir au moins six vats(?) d’huile, et les destine aux onctions rituelles du culte de Lugalbanda, pour qui il avait une vénération toute particulière. Après quoi les deux amis, s’étant lavés les mains dans l’Euphrate, regagnèrent Uruk parmi les acclamations du peuple. Après les fêtes célébrées en l’honneur des deux héros, fêtes qui se terminent par un banquet. Enkidu a de nouveau des rêves de mauvais augure. Un jour Enkidu tombe gravement malade, pendant douze jours il va lutter contre son mal et la mort qui le guette. Malgré tous les soins attentionnés, à l’aube du treizième jour, Enkidu expire entre les bras de son ami. Ainsi s’accomplit le songe funèbre, qui l’avait troublé au début du poème. Gilgamesh, désespéré, entonne une lamentation funèbre en l’honneur de son incomparable compagnon et pleure pendant six jours et six nuits. Il sait que, lui aussi, devra mourir et une peur panique le fait s’enfuir. Toutefois il espère mériter la vie éternelle, à l’instar des dieux et du héros du Déluge Universel, Outnapishtim. A cet effet, le roi abandonne tout et décide d’aller demander à ce bienheureux personnage le secret de l’immortalité. L’Épopée évoque, ici, le voyage long et harassant entreprit par le Roi pour arriver à la demeure d’Outnapishtim, dans l’île des Bienheureux. La première des épreuves est de se débarrasser de lions puis il arrive au mont Mashu ou Mashou (les monts Jumeaux) qui se compose en effet de deux monts jumelés sur lesquels repose la voute des cieux et c’est là que chaque soir le soleil vient traverser le tunnel qui s’enfonce sous la terre et qui le conduit vers l’Est.

Homme-scorpion

La porte de la montagne est gardée par les terribles hommes-scorpions (un mâle et sa femelle), dont la tête touche à la terrasse des cieux et dont la poitrine atteint les Enfers. A leur vue, Gilgamesh sent son visage pâlir de crainte et d’effroi; il reprend néanmoins ses esprits et s’incline devant eux. En fait les hommes-scorpions reconnaissent en lui « la chair des dieux » et après être lui avoir demandé les raisons de sa visite, lui ouvrent la porte aux vantaux en bois de cèdre. Il chemine dans une obscurité épaisse pendant onze doubles-heures et par une de plus s’il ne veut pas être brûlé par l’astre solaire. Enfin, la lumière brille de nouveau, et Gilgamesh se trouve dans un jardin merveilleux qui s’étend le long de la mer et où les arbres portent, à la place de fruits, des pierres précieuses de toutes les couleurs. Au bord de ce rivage splendide, vivait Siduri, la cabaretière des dieux, établie là pour accueillir on ne sait qui ; elle prit peur en voyant arriver le héros sale et vêtu de peaux de bêtes qu’elle prit tout d’abord pour un assassin. Elle s’enferma à double tour dans sa taverne mais  Gilgamesh menaça d’enfoncer la porte et de briser le verrou si elle n’ouvrait pas rapidement. Il se fit connaître en racontant brièvement ses aventures et lui demanda des renseignements nécessaires pour la suite de son voyage. La déesse consentit alors à l’écouter, mais elle s’étonna de son aspect négligé et mal en point. Elle lui montra d’abord l’inutilité de son voyage et lui proposa de rester sur la plage avant de lui donner finalement les informations demandées. Il poursuit sa quête en allant tuer les Etres de Pierre du passeur Ur-Shanabi qui, sensible aux tourments du roi, accepte de le conduire à Outnapishtim grâce aux perches de bois qu’il a ramassées. Aidés par les vents de Shamash, il arrive sur la rive d’Outnapishtim mais Gilgamesh est changeant; chez lui, le pire côtoie le meilleur et a du mal à accepter les paroles sensées du dieu. Le paysage se transforme au rythme des sentiments qui animent le roi. Gilgamesh y rencontre Outnapishtim et son épouse, et demande au Héros du Déluge comment il a obtenu l’immortalité. Ce dernier commence son histoire en partant de l’époque où il habitait à Shuruppak. Il décrit ensuite comment les dieux décidèrent de détruire l’humanité par le Déluge universel. Ea lui révéla alors le dessein des dieux, en lui enjoignant de construire un bateau où il pourrait monter avec toute sa famille, les animaux et les plantes. Les dieux accourent, mais ils sont encore irrités à cause de la punition trop cruelle infligée aux hommes. Enlil, pour les amadouer, se réconcilie avec Outnapishtim, le bénit et lui concède ainsi qu’à son épouse l’immortalité. Outnapishtim lui propose une expérience à Gilgamesh: qu’il demeure six jours sans dormir, et à son tour il pourra devenir immortel. Il échoue. Alors le roi d’Uruk reprend le chemin pour revenir à la ville ; en cours de route, Outnapishtim lui montre une herbe au fond de la mer, porteuse du souffle vital, appelée  « Le vieillard rajeunit ». Gilgamesh plonge au fond de la mer, y trouve l’herbe magique. Mais tandis que le roi s’arrête près d’une source pour se laver, un serpent sort à l’improviste d’un trou, s’empare de l’herbe et disparaît. Le roi pleure, parce qu’avec cette herbe il a perdu la jeunesse éternelle. Il retourne finalement à Uruk. Toujours plus inquiet sur son propre sort, il consulte l’ombre de son ami mort, qui, par une permission toute particulière du roi des Enfers, Nergal, revient sur la terre et répond aux questions angoissées du roi, concernant la vie dans le monde souterrain et beaucoup d’autres problèmes. L’épopée se termine ainsi. Mais, bizarrement, la 12ième tablette reprend le fil du récit avec Enkidu et y ajoute une péripétie : pour aller y chercher « la baguette »et « le cerceau » de Gilgamesh, Enkidu fait le voyage aux Enfers, où il reste prisonnier. Son fantôme parvient toutefois à s’en échapper brièvement et rapporte à Gilgamesh de ce qu’il y a vu. Unique enseignement : au pays des morts, celui qui dans sa vie n’a eu qu’un fils « pleure amèrement », quand celui qui en a eu sept est « assis en compagnie des dieux » et « écoute de la musique ». L’immortalité du héros, c’est la survivance littéraire de ses exploits, disent les onze premiers pavés d’argile ; l’immortalité de l’homme du peuple, c’est la pérennité de sa lignée, ajoute in extremis le douzième.

 

ENUMA ELISH – THE EPIC OF CREATION

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ENUMA ELISH 
THE EPIC OF CREATION
L.W. King Translator
(from The Seven Tablets of Creation, London 1902)

The Enuma Elish (which are the first two words of the epic and mean simply “When on high”) is the creation myth of ancient Mesopotamia. This is the Babylonian version of a much older Sumerian myth and originally the chief figure of the myth was Enlil, the Sumerian storm god. When Babylon conquered the rest of Mesopotamia and established the Old Babylonian Empire around 1800 BCE, it became necessary to explain how the local god of Babylon, Marduk, had now become supreme among the gods. Therefore, the older Sumerian myth of creation was retold and Marduk was substituted for Enlil.

THE FIRST TABLET

When in the height heaven was not named,
And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name,
And the primeval Apsu, who begat them,
And chaos, Tiamut, the mother of them both
Their waters were mingled together,
And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen;
When of the gods none had been called into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies were ordained;
Then were created the gods in the midst of heaven,
Lahmu and Lahamu were called into being…
Ages increased,…
Then Ansar and Kisar were created, and over them….
Long were the days, then there came forth…..
Anu, their son,…
Ansar and Anu…
And the god Anu…
Nudimmud, whom his fathers, his begetters…..
Abounding in all wisdom,…’
He was exceeding strong…
He had no rival –
Thus were established and were… the great gods.
But Tiamat and Apsu were still in confusion…
They were troubled and…
In disorder…
Apru was not diminished in might…
And Tiamat roared…
She smote, and their deeds…
Their way was evil…
Then Apsu, the begetter of the great gods,
Cried unto Mummu, his minister, and said unto him:
« O Mummu, thou minister that rejoicest my spirit,
Come, unto Tiamut let us go!
So they went and before Tiamat they lay down,
They consulted on a plan with regard to the gods, their sons.
Apsu opened his mouth and spake,
And unto Tiamut, the glistening one, he addressed the word:
…their way…
By day I can not rest, by night I can not lie down in peace.
But I will destroy their way, I will…
Let there be lamentation, and let us lie down again in peace. »
When Tiamat heard these words,
She raged and cried aloud…
She… grievously…,
She uttered a curse, and unto Apsu she spake:
« What then shall we do?
Let their way be made difficult, and let us lie down again in peace. »
Mummu answered, and gave counsel unto Apsu,
…and hostile to the gods was the counsel Mummu gave:
Come, their way is strong, but thou shalt destroy it;
Then by day shalt thou have rest, by night shalt thou lie down in peace. »
Apsu harkened unto him and his countenance grew bright,
Since he (Mummu) planned evil against the gods his sons.
… he was afraid…,
His knees became weak; they gave way beneath him,
Because of the evil which their first-born had planned.
… their… they altered.
… they…,
Lamentation they sat in sorrow
………………
Then Ea, who knoweth all that is, went up and he beheld their muttering.

[about 30 illegible lines]

… he spake:
… thy… he hath conquered and
… he weepeth and sitteth in tribulation.
… of fear,
… we shall not lie down in peace.
… Apsu is laid waste,
… and Mummu, who were taken captive, in…
… thou didst…
… let us lie down in peace.
… they will smite….
… let us lie down in peace.
… thou shalt take vengeance for them,
… unto the tempest shalt thou…! »
And Tiamat harkened unto the word of the bright god, and said:
… shalt thou entrust! let us wage war! »
… the gods in the midst of…
… for the gods did she create.
They banded themselves together and at the side of Tiamat they advanced;
They were furious; they devised mischief without resting night and day.
They prepared for battle, fuming and raging;
They joined their forces and made war,
Ummu-Hubur [Tiamat] who formed all things,
Made in addition weapons invincible; she spawned monster-serpents,
Sharp of tooth, and merciless of fang;
With poison, instead of blood, she filled their bodies.
Fierce monster-vipers she clothed with terror,
With splendor she decked them, she made them of lofty stature.
Whoever beheld them, terror overcame him,
Their bodies reared up and none could withstand their attack.
She set up vipers and dragons, and the monster Lahamu,
And hurricanes, and raging hounds, and scorpion-men,
And mighty tempests, and fish-men, and rams;
They bore cruel weapons, without fear of the fight.
Her commands were mighty, none could resist them;
After this fashion, huge of stature, she made eleven [kinds of] monsters.
Among the gods who were her sons, inasmuch as he had given her support,
She exalted Kingu; in their midst she raised him to power.
To march before the forces, to lead the host,
To give the battle-signal, to advance to the attack,
To direct the battle, to control the fight,
Unto him she entrusted; in costly raiment she made him sit, saying:
I have uttered thy spell, in the assembly of the gods I have raised thee to power.
The dominion over all the gods have I entrusted unto him.
Be thou exalted, thou my chosen spouse,
May they magnify thy name over all of them the Anunnaki. »
She gave him the Tablets of Destiny, on his breast she laid them, saying:
Thy command shall not be without avail, and the word of thy mouth shall be established. »
Now Kingu, thus exalted, having received the power of Anu,
Decreed the fate among the gods his sons, saying:
« Let the opening of your mouth quench the Fire-god;
Whoso is exalted in the battle, let him display his might! »

THE SECOND TABLET

Tiamat made weighty her handiwork,
Evil she wrought against the gods her children.
To avenge Apsu, Tiamat planned evil,
But how she had collected her forces, the god unto Ea divulged.
Ea harkened to this thing, and
He was grievously afflicted and he sat in sorrow.
The days went by, and his anger was appeased,
And to the place of Ansar his father he took his way.
He went and, standing before Ansar, the father who begat him,
All that Tiamat had plotted he repeated unto him,
Saying, « Tiamat our mother hath conceived a hatred for us,
With all her force she rageth, full of wrath.
All the gods have turned to her,
With those, whom ye created, thev go at her side.
They are banded together and at the side of Tiamat they advance;
They are furious, they devise mischief without resting night and day.
They prepare for battle, fuming and raging;
They have joined their forces and are making war.
Ummu-Hubur, who formed all things,
Hath made in addition weapons invincible; she hath spawned monster-serpents,
Sharp of tooth, and merciless of fang.
With poison, instead of blood, she hath filled their bodies.
Fierce monster-vipers she hath clothed with terror,
With splendor she hath decked them; she hath made them of lofty stature.
Whoever beholdeth them is overcome by terror,
Their bodies rear up and none can withstand their attack.
She hath set up vipers, and dragons, and the monster Lahamu,
And hurricanes and raging hounds, and scorpion-men,
And mighty tempests, and fish-men and rams;
They bear cruel weapons, without fear of the fight.
Her commands are mighty; none can resist them;
After this fashion, huge of stature, hath she made eleven monsters.
Among the gods who are her sons, inasmuch as he hath given her support,
She hath exalted Kingu; in their midst she hath raised him to power.
To march before the forces, to lead the host,
To give the battle-signal, to advance to the attack.
To direct the battle, to control the fight,
Unto him hath she entrusted; in costly raiment she hath made him sit, saving:.
I have uttered thy spell; in the assembly of the gods I have raised thee to power,
The dominion over all the gods have I entrusted unto thee.
Be thou exalted, thou my chosen spouse,
May they magnify thy name over all of them
She hath given him the Tablets of Destiny, on his breast she laid them, saying:
‘Thy command shall not be without avail, and the word of thy mouth shall be established.’
Now Kingu, thus exalted, having received the power of Anu,
Decreed the fate for the gods, her sons, saying:
‘Let the opening of your mouth quench the Fire-god;
Whoso is exalted in the battle, let him display his might!' »
When Ansar heard how Tiamat was mightily in revolt,
he bit his lips, his mind was not at peace,
…, he made a bitter lamentation:
… battle,
… thou…
Mummu and Apsu thou hast smitten
But Tiamat hath exalted Kingu, and where is one who can oppose her?
… deliberation
… the … of the gods, -Nudimmud.

[A gap of about a dozen lines occurs here.]

Ansar unto his son addressed the word:
« … my mighty hero,
Whose strength is great and whose onslaught can not be withstood,
Go and stand before Tiamat,
That her spirit may be appeased, that her heart may be merciful.
But if she will not harken unto thy word,
Our word shalt thou speak unto her, that she may be pacified. »
He heard the word of his father Ansar
And he directed his path to her, toward her he took the way.
Ann drew nigh, he beheld the muttering of Tiamat,
But he could not withstand her, and he turned back.
… Ansar
… he spake unto him:

[A gap of over twenty lines occurs here.]

an avenger…
… valiant
… in the place of his decision
… he spake unto him:
… thy father
 » Thou art my son, who maketh merciful his heart.
… to the battle shalt thou draw nigh,
he that shall behold thee shall have peace. »
And the lord rejoiced at the word of his father,
And he drew nigh and stood before Ansar.
Ansar beheld him and his heart was filled with joy,
He kissed him on the lips and his fear departed from him.
« O my father, let not the word of thy lips be overcome,
Let me go, that I may accomplish all that is in thy heart.
O Ansar, let not the word of thy lips be overcome,
Let me go, that I may accomplish all that is in thy heart. »
What man is it, who hath brought thee forth to battle?
… Tiamat, who is a woman, is armed and attacketh thee.
… rejoice and be glad;
The neck of Tiamat shalt thou swiftly trample under foot.
… rejoice and be glad;
The neck of Tiamat shalt thou swiftly trample under foot.
0 my son, who knoweth all wisdom,
Pacify Tiamat with thy pure incantation.
Speedily set out upon thy way,
For thy blood shall not be poured out; thou shalt return again. »
The lord rejoiced at the word of his father,
His heart exulted, and unto his father he spake:
« O Lord of the gods, Destiny of the great gods,
If I, your avenger,
Conquer Tiamat and give you life,
Appoint an assembly, make my fate preeminent and proclaim it.
In Upsukkinaku seat yourself joyfully together,
With my word in place of you will I decree fate.
May whatsoever I do remain unaltered,
May the word of my lips never be chanced nor made of no avail. »

THE THIRD TABLET

Ansar opened his mouth, and
Unto Gaga, his minister, spake the word.
« O Gaga, thou minister that rejoicest my spirit,
Unto Lahmu and Lahamu will I send thee.
… thou canst attain,
… thou shalt cause to be brought before thee.
… let the gods, all of them,
Make ready for a feast, at a banquet let them sit,
Let them eat bread, let them mix wine,
That for Marduk, their avenger they may decree the fate.
Go, Gaga, stand before them,
And all that I tell thee, repeat unto them, and say:
‘Ansar, vour son, hath sent me,
The purpose of his heart he hath made known unto me.
The purpose of his heart he hath made known unto me.
He saith that Tiamat our mother hath conceived a hatred for us,
With all her force she rageth, full of wrath.
All the gods have turned to her,
With those, whom ye created, they go at her side.
They are banded together, and at the side of Tiamat they advance;
They are furious, they devise mischief without resting night and day.
They prepare for battle, fuming and raging;
They have joined their forces and are making war.
Ummu-Hubur, who formed all things,
Hath made in addition weapons invincible; she hath spawned monster-serpents,
Sharp of tooth and merciless of fang.
With poison, instead of blood, she hath filled their bodies.
Fierce monster-vipers she hath clothed with terror,
With splendor she hath decked them; she hath made them of lofty stature.
Whoever beboldeth them, terror overcometh him,
Their bodies rear up and none can withstand their attack.
She hath set up vipers, and dragons, and the monster Lahamu,
And hurricanes, and raging bounds, and scorpion-men,
And mighty tempests, and fish-men, and rams;
They bear merciless weapons, without fear of the fight.
Her commands are miahty; none can. resist them;
After this fashion, huge of stature, hath she made eleven monsters.
Among the gods who are her sons, inasmuch as he hath given her support,
She hath exalted Kingu; in their midst she hath raised him to power.
To march before the forces, to lead the host,
To give the battle-signal, to advance to the attack,
To direct the battle, to control the fight,
Unto him hath she entrusted; in costly raiment she hath made him sit, saying:
I have uttered thy spell; in the assembly of the gods
I have raised thee to power,
The dominion over all the gods have I entrusted unto thee.
Be thou exalted, thou my chosen spouse,
May they magnify thy name over all of them … the Anunnaki. »
She hath given him the Tablets of Destiny, on his breast she laid them, saying:
Thy command shall not be without avail, and the word of thy mouth shall be established. »
Now Kingu, thus exalted, having received the power of Anu,
Decreed the fate for the gods, her sons, saving:
Let the opening of your mouth quench the Fire-god;
Whoso is exalted in the battle, let him display his might! »
I sent Anu, but he could not withstand her;
Nudimmud was afraid and turned back.
But Marduk hath set out, the director of the gods, your son;
To set out against Tiamat his heart hath prompted him.
He opened his mouth and spake unto me, saying: « If I, your avenger,
Conquer Tiamat and give you life,
Appoint an assembly, make my fate preeminent and proclaim it.
In Upsukkinaku seat yourself joyfully together;
With my word in place of you will I decree fate.
May whatsoever I do remain unaltered,
May the word of my lips never be changed nor made of no avail. »‘
Hasten, therefore, and swiftly decree for him the fate which you bestow,
That he may go and fight your strong enemy.
Gaga went, he took his way and
Humbly before Lahmu and Lahamu, the gods, his fathers,
He made obeisance, and he kissed the ground at their feet.
He humbled himself; then he stood up and spake unto them saying:
« Ansar, your son, hath sent me,
The purpose of his heart he hath made known unto me.
He saith that Tiamat our mother hath conceived a hatred for us,
With all her force she rageth, full of wrath.
All the gods have turned to her,
With those, whom ye created, they go at her side.
They are banded together and at the side of Tiamat they advance;
They are furious, they devise mischief without resting night and day.
They prepare for battle, fuming and raging;
They have joined their forces and are making war.
Ummu-Hubur, who formed all things,
Hath made in addition weapons invincible; she hath spawned monster-serpents,
Sharp of tooth and merciless of fang.
With poison, instead of blood, she hath filled their bodies.
Fierce monster-vipers she hath clothed with terror,
With splendor she hath decked them, she hath made them of lofty stature.
Whoever beboldeth them, terror overcometh him,
Their bodies rear up and none can withstand their attack.
She hath set up vipers, and dragons, and the monster Lahamu,
And hurricanes, and raging hounds, and scorpion-men,
And mighty tempests, and fish-men, and rams;
They bear merciless weapons, without fear of the fight.
Her commands are mighty; none can resist them;
After this fashion, huge of stature, hath she made eleven monsters.
Among the gods who are her sons, inasmuch as he hath given her support,
She hath exalted Kingu; in their midst she hath raised him to power.
To march before the forces, to lead the host,
To give the battle-signal, to advance to the attack, To direct the battle, to control the fight,
Unto him hath she entrusted; in costlv raiment she hath made him sit, saving:
I have uttered thy spell; in the assembly of the gods I have raised thee to power,
The dominion over all the gods have I entrusted unto thee.
Be thou exalted, thou my chosen spouse,
May they magnify thy name over all of them…the Anunnaki.
She hath given him the Tablets of Destiny on his breast she laid them, saving:
Thy command shall not be without avail, and the word of thy mouth shall be established.’
Now Kingu, thus exalted, having received the power of Anu,
Decreed the fate for the gods, her sons, saying:
‘Let the opening of your mouth quench the Fire-god;
Whoso is exalted in the battle, let him display his might!’
I sent Anu, but he could not withstand her;
Nudimmud was afraid and turned back.
But Marduk hath set out, the director of the gods, your son;
To set out against Tiamat his heart hath prompted him.
He opened his mouth and spake unto me, saying:
‘If I, your avenger,
Conquer Tiamat and give you life,
Appoint an assembly, make my fate preeminent and proclaim it.
In Upsukkinaku seat yourselves joyfully together;
With my word in place of you will I decree fate.
May, whatsoever I do remain unaltered,
May the word of my lips never be changed nor made of no avail.’
Hasten, therefore, and swiftly decree for him the fate which you bestow,
That he may go and fight your strong enemy!
Lahmu and Lahamu heard and cried aloud
All of the Igigi [The elder gods] wailed bitterly, saying:
What has been altered so that they should
We do not understand the deed of Tiamat!
Then did they collect and go,
The great gods, all of them, who decree fate.
They entered in before Ansar, they filled…
They kissed one another, in the assembly…;
They made ready for the feast, at the banquet they sat;
They ate bread, they mixed sesame-wine.
The sweet drink, the mead, confused their…
They were drunk with drinking, their bodies were filled.
They were wholly at ease, their spirit was exalted;
Then for Marduk, their avenger, did they decree the fate.

THE FOURTH TABLET

They prepared for him a lordly chamber,
Before his fathers as prince he took his place.
« Thou art chiefest among the great gods,
Thy fate is unequaled, thy word is Anu!
O Marduk, thou art chiefest among the great gods,
Thy fate is unequaled, thy word is Anu!
Henceforth not without avail shall be thy command,
In thy power shall it be to exalt and to abase.
Established shall be the word of thy mouth, irresistible shall be thy command,
None among the gods shall transgress thy boundary.
Abundance, the desire of the shrines of the gods,
Shall be established in thy sanctuary, even though they lack offerings.
O Marduk, thou art our avenger!
We give thee sovereignty over the whole world.
Sit thou down in might; be exalted in thy command.
Thy weapon shall never lose its power; it shall crush thy foe.
O Lord, spare the life of him that putteth his trust in thee,
But as for the god who began the rebellion, pour out his life. »
Then set they in their midst a garment,
And unto Marduk,- their first-born they spake:
« May thy fate, O lord, be supreme among the gods,
To destroy and to create; speak thou the word, and thy command shall be fulfilled.
Command now and let the garment vanish;
And speak the word again and let the garment reappear!
Then he spake with his mouth, and the garment vanished;
Again he commanded it, and. the garment reappeared.
When the gods, his fathers, beheld the fulfillment of his word,
They rejoiced, and they did homage unto him, saying,  » Marduk is king! »
They bestowed upon him the scepter, and the throne, and the ring,
They give him an invincible weapony which overwhelmeth the foe.
Go, and cut off the life of Tiamat,
And let the wind carry her blood into secret places. »
After the gods his fathers had decreed for the lord his fate,
They caused him to set out on a path of prosperity and success.
He made ready the bow, he chose his weapon,
He slung a spear upon him and fastened it…
He raised the club, in his right hand he grasped it,
The bow and the quiver he hung at his side.
He set the lightning in front of him,
With burning flame he filled his body.
He made a net to enclose the inward parts of Tiamat,
The four winds he stationed so that nothing of her might escape;
The South wind and the North wind and the East wind and the West wind
He brought near to the net, the gift of his father Anu.
He created the evil wind, and the tempest, and the hurricane,
And the fourfold wind, and the sevenfold wind, and the whirlwind, and the wind which had no equal;
He sent forth the winds which he had created, the seven of them;
To disturb the inward parts of Tiamat, they followed after him.
Then the lord raised the thunderbolt, his mighty weapon,
He mounted the chariot, the storm unequaled for terror,
He harnessed and yoked unto it four horses,
Destructive, ferocious, overwhelming, and swift of pace;
… were their teeth, they were flecked with foam;
They were skilled in… , they had been trained to trample underfoot.
… . mighty in battle,
Left and right….
His garment was… , he was clothed with terror,
With overpowering brightness his head was crowned.
Then he set out, he took his way,
And toward the raging Tiamat he set his face.
On his lips he held …,
… he grasped in his hand.
Then they beheld him, the gods beheld him,
The gods his fathers beheld him, the gods beheld him.
And the lord drew nigh, he gazed upon the inward parts of Tiamat,
He perceived the muttering of Kingu, her spouse.
As Marduk gazed, Kingu was troubled in his gait,
His will was destroyed and his motions ceased.
And the gods, his helpers, who marched by his side,
Beheld their leader’s…, and their sight was troubled.
But Tiamat… , she turned not her neck,
With lips that failed not she uttered rebellious words:
« … thy coming as lord of the gods,
From their places have they gathered, in thy place are they!  »
Then the lord raised the thunderbolt, his mighty weapon,
And against Tiamat, who was raging, thus he sent the word:
Thou art become great, thou hast exalted thyself on high,
And thy heart hath prompted thee to call to battle.
… their fathers…,
… their… thou hatest…
Thou hast exalted Kingu to be thy spouse,
Thou hast… him, that, even as Anu, he should issue deerees.
thou hast followed after evil,
And against the gods my fathers thou hast contrived thy wicked plan.
Let then thy host be equipped, let thy weapons be girded on!
Stand! I and thou, let us join battle!
When Tiamat heard these words,
She was like one posessed, .she lost her reason.
Tiamat uttered wild, piercing cries,
She trembled and shook to her very foundations.
She recited an incantation, she pronounced her spell,
And the gods of the battle cried out for their weapons.
Then advanced Tiamat and Marduk, the counselor of the gods;
To the fight they came on, to the battle they drew nigh.
The lord spread out his net and caught her,
And the evil wind that was behind him he let loose in her face.
As Tiamat opened her mouth to its full extent,
He drove in the evil wind, while as yet she had not shut her lips.
The terrible winds filled her belly,
And her courage was taken from her, and her mouth she opened wide.
He seized the spear and burst her belly,
He severed her inward parts, he pierced her heart.
He overcame her and cut off her life;
He cast down her body and stood upon it.
When he had slain Tiamat, the leader,
Her might was broken, her host was scattered.
And the gods her helpers, who marched by her side,
Trembled, and were afraid, and turned back.
They took to flight to save their lives;
But they were surrounded, so that they could not escape.
He took them captive, he broke their weapons;
In the net they were caught and in the snare they sat down.
The … of the world they filled with cries of grief.
They received punishment from him, they were held in bondage.
And on the eleven creatures which she had filled with the power of striking terror,
Upon the troop of devils, who marched at her…,
He brought affliction, their strength he…;
Them and their opposition he trampled under his feet.
Moreover, Kingu, who had been exalted over them,
He conquered, and with the god Dug-ga he counted him.
He took from him the Tablets of Destiny that were not rightly his,
He sealed them with a seal and in his own breast he laid them.
Now after the hero Marduk had conquered and cast down his enemies,
And had made the arrogant foe even like
And had fully established Ansar’s triumph over the enemy
And had attained the purpose of Nudimmud,
Over the captive gods he strengthened his durance,
And unto Tiamat, whom he had conquered, he returned.
And the lord stood upon Tiamat’s hinder parts,
And with his merciless club he smashed her skull.
He cut through the channels of her blood,
And he made the North wind bear it away into secret places.
His fathers beheld, and they rejoiced and were glad;
Presents and gifts they brought unto him.
Then the lord rested, gazing upon her dead body,
While he divided the flesh of the … , and devised a cunning plan.
He split her up like a flat fish into two halves;
One half of her he stablished as a covering for heaven.
He fixed a bolt, he stationed a watchman,
And bade them not to let her waters come forth.
He passed through the heavens, he surveyed the regions thereof,
And over against the Deep he set the dwelling of Nudimmud.
And the lord measured the structure of the Deep,
And he founded E-sara, a mansion like unto it.
The mansion E-sara which he created as heaven,
He caused Anu, Bel, and Ea in their districts to inhabit.

THE FIFTH TABLET

He (Marduk) made the stations for the great gods;
The stars, their images, as the stars of the Zodiac, he fixed.
He ordained the year and into sections he divided it;
For the twelve months he fixed three stars.
After he had … the days of the year … images,
He founded the station of Nibir [the planet Jupiter] to determine their bounds;
That none might err or go astray,
He set the station of Bel and Ea along with him.
He opened great gates on both sides,
He made strong the bolt on the left and on the right.
In the midst thereof he fixed the zenith;
The Moon-god he caused to shine forth, the night he entrusted to him.
He appointed him, a being of the night, to determine the days;
Every month without ceasing with the crown he covered him, saying:
« At the beginning of the month, when thou shinest upon the land,
Thou commandest the horns to determine six days,
And on the seventh day to divide the crown.
On the fourteenth day thou shalt stand opposite, the half….
When the Sun-god on the foundation of heaven…thee,
The … thou shalt cause to …, and thou shalt make his…
… unto the path of the Sun-god shalt thou cause to draw nigh,
And on the … day thou shalt stand opposite, and the Sun-god shall…
… to traverse her way.
… thou shalt cause to draw nigh, and thou shalt judge the right.
… to destroy… »

[Nearly fifty lines are here lost.]

The gods, his fathers, beheld the net which he had made,
They beheld the bow and how its work was accomplished.
They praised the work which he had done…
Then Anu raised the … in the assembly of the gods. He kissed the bow, saving,  » It is…! »
And thus he named the names of the bow, saving,
« ‘Long-wood’ shall be one name, and the second name shall be …,
And its third name shall be the Bow-star, in heaven shall it…! »
Then he fixed a station for it…
Now after the fate of…
He set a throne…
…in heaven…
[The remainder of this tablet is missing.]

THE SIXTH TABLET

When Marduk heard the word of the gods,
His heart prompted him and he devised a cunning plan.
He opened his mouth and unto Ea he spake
That which he had conceived in his heart he imparted unto him:
« My blood will I take and bone will I fashion
I will make man, that man may
I will create man who shall inhabit the earth,
That the service of the gods may be established, and that their shrines may be built.
But I will alter the ways of the gods, and I will change their paths;
Together shall they be oppressed and unto evil shall they….
And Ea answered him and spake the word:
« … the … of the gods I have changed
… and one…
… shall be destroyed and men will I…
… and the gods .
… and they… »

[The rest of the text is wanting with the exception of
the last few lines of the tablet, which read as follows.]

They rejoiced…
In Upsukkinnaku they set their dwelling.
Of the heroic son, their avenger, they cried:
 » We, whom he succored…. ! »

They seated themselves and in the assembly they named him…,
They all cried aloud, they exalted him…

THE SEVENTH TABLET

O Asari, [Marduk] « Bestower of planting, » « Founder of sowing »
« Creator of grain and plants, » « who caused the green herb to spring up! »
O Asaru-alim, [Mardk] « who is revered in the house of counsel, » « who aboundeth in counsel, »
The gods paid homage, fear took hold upon them!

O Asaru-alim-nuna, [Marduk] « the mighty one, » « the Light of the father who begat him, »
« Who directeth the decrees of Anu Bel, and Ea! »
He was their patron, be ordained their…;
He, whose provision is abundance, goeth forth…
Tutu [Marduk] is « He who created them anew »;
Should their wants be pure, then are they satisfied;
Should he make an incantation, then are the gods appeased;
Should they attack him in anger, he withstandeth their onslaught!
Let him therefore be exalted, and in the assembly of the gods let him… ;
None among the gods can rival him!
15 Tutu [Marduk] is Zi-ukkina, « the Life of the host of the gods, »
Who established for the gods the bright heavens.
He set them on their way, and ordained their path;
Never shall his … deeds be forgotten among men.
Tutu as Zi-azag thirdly they named, « the Bringer of Purification, »
« The God of the Favoring Breeze, » « the Lord of Hearing and Mercy, »
« The Creator of Fulness and Abundance, »  » the Founder of Plenteousness, »
« Who increaseth all that is small. »
In sore distress we felt his favoring breeze, »
Let them say, let them pay reverence, let them bow in humility before him!
Tutu as Aga-azag may mankind fourthly magnify!
« The Lord of the Pure Incantation, »  » the Quickener of the Dead, »
« Who had mercy upon the captive gods, »
« Who removed the yoke from upon the gods his enemies, »
« For their forgiveness did he create mankind, »
« The Merciful One, with whom it is to bestow life! »
May his deeds endure, may they never be forgotten ,
In the mouth of mankind whom his hands have made!
Tutu as Mu-azag, fifthly, his « Pure incantation » may their mouth proclaim,
Who through his Pure Incantation hath destroyed all the evil ones! »
Sag-zu, [Marduk] « who knoweth the heart of the gods, »  » who seeth through the innermost part! »
« The evil-doer he hath not caused to go forth with him! »
« Founder of the assembly of the gods, » who … their heart! »
« Subduer of the disobedient, » « …! »
« Director of Righteousness, » « …, »
 » Who rebellion and…! »
Tutu as Zi-si, « the …, »
« Who put an end to anger, » « who…! »
Tutu as Suh-kur, thirdly, « the Destroyer of the foe, »
« Who put their plans to confusion, »
« Who destroyed all the wicked, » « …, »
… let them… !

[There is a gap here of sixty lines. But somewhere among the lost lines belong the following fragments.]

who…
He named the four quarters of the world, mankind hecreated,
And upon him understanding…
« The mighty one…! »
Agil…
« The Creator of the earth…! »
Zulummu… .
« The Giver of counsel and of whatsoever…! »
Mummu,  » the Creator of…! »
Mulil, the heavens…,
« Who for…! »
Giskul, let…,
« Who brought the gods to naught….! »
……………
…  » the Chief of all lords, »
… supreme is his might!
Lugal-durmah, « the King of the band of the gods, »  » the Lord of rulers. »
« Who is exalted in a royal habitation, »
« Who among the gods is gloriously supreme!
Adu-nuna,  » the Counselor of Ea, » who created the gods his fathers,
Unto the path of whose majesty
No god can ever attain!
… in Dul-azag be made it known,
… pure is his dwelling!
… the… of those without understanding is Lugaldul-azaga!
… supreme is his might!
… their… in the midst of Tiamat,
… of the battle!

[Here follows the better-preserved ending.]

… the star, which shineth in the heavens.
May he hold the Beginning and the Future, may they pay homage unto him,
Saying, « He who forced his way through the midst of Tiamat without resting,
Let his name be Nibiru, ‘the Seizer of the Midst’!
For the stars of heaven he upheld the paths,
He shepherded all the gods like sheep!
He conquered Tiamat, he troubled and ended her life, »
In the future of mankind, when the days grow old,
May this be heard without ceasing; may it hold sway forever!
Since he created the realm of heaven and fashioned the firm earth,
The Lord of the World, » the father Bel hath called his name.
This title, which all the Spirits of Heaven proclaimed,
Did Ea hear, and his spirit was rejoiced, and he said:
« He whose name his fathers have made glorious,
Shall be even as I, his name shall be Ea!
The binding of all my decrees shall he control,
All my commands shall he make known!  »
By the name of « Fifty  » did the great gods
Proclaim his fifty names, they, made his path preeminent.

EPILOGUE

Let them [i.e. the names of Marduk] be held in remembrances and let the first man proclaim them;
Let the wise and the understanding consider them together!
Let the father repeat them and teach them to his son;
Let them be in the ears of the pastor and the shepherd!
Let a man rejoice in Marduk, the Lord of the gods,
That be may cause his land to be fruitful, and that he himself may have prosperity!
His word standeth fast, his command is unaltered;
The utterance of his mouth hath no god ever annulled.
He gazed in his anger, he turned not his neck;
When he is wroth, no god can withstand his indignation.
Wide is his heart, broad is his compassion;
The sinner and evil-doer in his presence…
They received instruction, they spake before him,
… unto…
… of Marduk may the gods…;
… May they … his name… !
… they took and…
……………………………..!

END OF THE CREATION EPIC
THE FIGHT WITH TIAMAT

(ANOTHER VERSION)
[Note: Strictly speaking, the text is not a creation-legend, though it gives a variant form of the principal incident in the history of the creation according to the Enuma Elish. Here the fight with the dragon did not precede the creation of the world, but took place after men had been created and cities had been built.]

The cities sighed, men …
Men uttered lamentation, they …
For their lamentation there was none to help,
For their grief there was none to take them by the hand.
· Who was the dragon… ?
Tiamat was the dragon…..
Bel in heaven hath formed…..
Fifty kaspu [A kaspu is the space that can be covered in two hours travel, i.e. six or seven miles] in his length, one kaspu in his height,
Six cubits is his mouth, twelve cubits his…,
Twelve cubits is the circuit of his ears…;
For the space of sixty cubits he … a bird;
In water nine cubits deep he draggeth…. »
He raiseth his tail on high…;
All the gods of heaven…
In heaven the gods bowed themselves down before the Moon-god…;
The border of the Moon-god’s robe they hastily grasped:
« Who will go and slay the dragon, »
And deliver the broad land from…
And become king over… ?
 » Go, Tishu, slav the dragon,
And deliver the broad land from…,
And become king over…! »
Thou hast sent me, O Lord, to… the raging creatures of the river,
But I know not the… of the Dragon!

[The rest of the Obverse and the upper part of the Reverse of the tablet are wanting.]

REVERSE
…………….
And opened his mouth and spake unto the god…
 » Stir up cloud, and storm and tempest!
The seal of thy life shalt thou set before thy face,
Thou shalt grasp it, and thou shalt slay the dragon. »
He stirred up cloud, and storm and tempest,
He set the seal of his life before his face,
He grasped it, and he slew the dragon.
For three years and three months, one day and one night
The blood of the dragon flowed. …