Lords of Brightness

In the beginning there was only the primeval sea, Nammu [mankind's mother]. Nammu gave birth to An [heaven] and Ki [earth]. It was the union of An and Ki, heaven and earth, which produced the Anunna and Anunnaki [Those who descended from Heaven to Earth].

Enlil and Ninlil begot Nanna Suen, the moon, who with Ningal, daugher of Enki and Ninkurga, fathered Utu, the sun, Erishkigal and Inanna.

An took the heavens unto himself, and the expanse between heaven and earth, or 'lil' [air, wind, spirit, breath], became the realm of Enlil; but Enki [lord-earth], who's mother was Nammu, became lord of the (fresh) waters under the earth. Ereshkigal [Queen of the Great Below] was given the Kur (Kurnugia), the netherworld and land of no return.

Enlil and Ninlil

Ninbarsheguru advised her daughter not to go the canal to bathe, where Enlil was sure to see her. Not heeding her mother's advise Ninlil went to the canal anyway, and when Enlil, coming up along the far bank, saw her he asked to make love to her. Enlil was unconvinced by Ninlil's refusal and ordered his servant Nusku to fetch him a boat. Sailing across the canal he lay with Ninlil.

Ninlil conceived Nanna, the moon, but when the gods learned Enlil had raped Ninlil he was expelled from the city. Enlil knew Ninlil was following, and coming to the gate he instructed the gatekeeper not to tell Ninlil of his whereabouts. Ninlil spoke to the gatekeeper and asked to be impregnated, that she might conceive a substitute for the netherlands and allow Nanna-Suen to go into the heavens. The gatekeeper agreed to make love to his mistress, but Enlil took the gatekeeper's place, and Nergal was conceived. This episode repeated when Enlil and Ninlil met the river man, and Ninazu was conceived. The routine was completed a third time with Silulim the ferryman, and Enlil and Ninlil begot Enbilulu. -- Gateway to Babylon

Nergal took Ereshkigal to wife and became king of Irkalla.

The Eridu Genesis (Akkadian c. BCE 1800) relates that An, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursanga created the black-headed people, but the earth became overpopulated and Enlil decided to send a flood to destroy mankind. Enki warned Ziusudra (Atrahasis), the ruler of Shuruppak, of the impending disaster and instructed him to build a boat. There followed a storm that raged for seven days, and the huge boat was tossed about on great waters. After the deluge Ziusudra prostrated himself before An and Enlil, and in reward for saving mankind the gods gave him 'breath eternal' and took him to dwell in Dilmun.

The Enuma Elish (Babylonian c. BCE 1100)

In the beginning the heaven and earth was unnamed, and the waters of primeaval Abzu and the chaos of Tiamat [fresh and salt waters] were mingled together. Then Lahmu and Lahamu [the muddy ones] were called into being and ages increased. Then Ansur and Kishar were created [sky pivot and earth axle], and after long days there came forth Anu and Ki [sky and earth].

Thus were the great gods created, but Tiamat and Abzu were troubled. The younger gods made too much noise and babel, and Abzu became annoyed. Then Abzu cried that by day he could not rest and by night he could not lie down in peace. Abzu determined to kill the younger gods but Tiamat disagreed. The vizier Mummu sided with Abzu, but Tiamat warned Ea of Abzu's plan.

Ea used magic to place Abzu in a deep sleep, and killed him, and Mummu was cast out. Ea then became chief among the gods, and with his consort Damkina, conceived his son Marduk. The young god was given the wind to play with and he used it to make dust, storms and tornadoes. This disrupted Tiamat's great body and caused the gods residing inside her to be unable to sleep.

They persuaded Tiamat to take revenge for the death of her husband Abzu. Some of the gods joined her and her power grew. She created 11 monsters to help her win the coming battle and elevated Kingu, her new husband, to 'Supreme dominion.' The gods were unable to overcome the threats that followed, but Marduk offered to save them if they made him king and allowed him to remain such when the threat was over.

To this the gods agreed and Marduk became their champion. In single combat he challenged Tiamat and destroyed her. Marduk tore her corpse into two halves with which he fashioned the earth and sky. He then created the calendar, organized the planets and stars and regulated the moon, sun and weather.

The gods who sided with Tiamat were initially forced to labor in the service of the other gods. They were freed from their servitude only after Marduk slew Kingu, and from the god's blood, created humankind. Babylon was established as the residence of the chief gods, and the gods conferred kingship on Marduk and hailed him with fifty names.

Most noteworthy in the Enuma Elish is Marduk's symbolic elevation over Enlil, who had been seen by earlier Mesopotamian civilizations as the king of the gods.

Black Book > Sumerian/Babylonian Myth Cycle