The creation story of ancient Sumeria. Translator Unknown.
TABLET I When skies above were not yet named Nor earth below pronounced by name, Apsu, the first one, their begetter And maker Tiamat, who bore them all, Had mixed their waters together, But had not formed pastures, nor discovered reed-beds; When yet no gods were manifest, Nor names pronounced, nor destinies decreed, Then gods were born within them. Lahmu and Lahamu emerged, their names pronounced. As soon as they matured, were fully formed, Anshar and Kisar were born, surpassing them. They passed the days at length, they added to the years. Anu their first-born son rivalled his forefathers: Anshar made his son Anu like himself, And Anu begot Nudimmud in his likeness. He, Nudimmud, was superior to his forefathers: Profound of understanding, he was wise, was very strong at arms. Mightier by far than Anshar his father’s begetter, He had no rival among the gods his peers. The gods of that generation would meet together And disturb Tiamat, and their clamour reverberated. They stirred up Tiamat’s belly, They were annoying her by playing inside Anduruna. Apsu could not quell their noise And Tiamat became mute before them; However grievous their behaviour to her, However bad their ways, she would indulge them. Finally Apsu, begetter of the great gods, Called out and addressed his vizier Mummu, ‘O Mummu, vizier who pleases me! Come, let us go to Tiamat!’ They went and sat in front of Tiamat, And discussed affairs concerning the gods their sons. Apsu made his voice heard And spoke to Tiamat in a loud voice, ‘Their ways have become very grievous to me, By day I cannot rest, by night I cannot sleep. I shall abolish their ways and disperse them! Let peace prevail, so that we can sleep.’ When Tiamat heard this, She was furious and shouted at her lover; She shouted dreadfully and was beside herself with rage, But then suppressed the evil in her belly. ‘How could we allow what we ourselves created to perish? Even though their ways are so grievous, we should bear it patiently.’ (Vizier) Mummu replied and counselled Apsu; The vizier did not agree with the counsel of his earth mother. ‘O father, put an end to (their) troublesome ways, so that she may be allowed to rest by day and sleep at night.’ Apsu was pleased with him, his face lit up At the evil he was planning for the gods his sons. (Vizier) Mummu hugged him, Sat on his lap and kissed him rapturously. But everything they plotted between them Was relayed to the gods their sons. The gods listened and wandered about restlessly; They fell silent, they sat mute. Superior in understanding, wise and capable, Ea who knows everything found out their plot, Made for himself a design of everything, and laid it out correctly, Made it cleverly, his pure spell was superb. He recited it and it stilled the waters. He poured sleep upon him so that he was sleeping soundly, Put Apsu to sleep, drenched with sleep. Vizier Mummu the counsellor (was in ) a sleepless daze. He (Ea) unfastened his belt, took off his crown, Took away his mantle of radiance and put it on himself. He held Apsu down and slew him; Tied up Mummu and laid him across him. He set up his dwelling on top of Apsu, And grasped Mummu, held him by a nose-rope. When he had overcome and slain his enemies, Ea set up his triumphal cry over his foes. Then he rested very quietly inside his private quarters And named them Apsu and assigned chapels, Founded his own residence there, And Ea and Damkina his lover dwelt in splendour. In the chamber of destinies, the hall of designs, Bel, cleverest of the clever, sage of the gods, was begotten. And inside Apsu, Marduk was created; Inside pure Apsu, Marduk was born. Ea his father created him, Damkina his mother bore him. He suckled the teats of goddesses; The nurse who reared him filled him with awesomeness. Proud was his form, piercing his stare, Mature his emergence, he was powerful from the start. Anu his father’s begetter beheld him, And rejoiced, beamed; his heart was filled with joy. He made him so perfect that his godhead was doubled. Elevated far above them, he was superior in every way. His limbs were ingeniously made beyond comprehension, Impossible to understand, too difficult to perceive. Four were his eyes, four were his ears; When his lips moved, fire blazed forth. The four ears were enormous And likewise the eyes; they perceived everything. Highest among the gods, his form was outstanding. His limbs were very long, his height (?) outstanding. (Anu cried out) ‘Mariutu, Mariutu, Son, majesty, majesty of the gods!’ Clothed in the radiant mantle of ten gods, worn high above his head Five fearsome rays were clustered above him. Anu created the four winds and gave them birth, Put them in his (Marduk’s) hand, ‘My son, let them play!’ He fashioned dust and made the whirlwind carry it; He made the flood-wave and stirred up Tiamat. Tiamat was stirred up, and heaved restlessly day and night. The gods, unable to rest, had to suffer . . . They plotted evil in their hearts, and They addressed Tiamat their mother, saying, ‘Because they slew Apsu your lover and You did not go to his side but sat mute, He has created the four, fearful winds To stir up your belly on purpose, and we simply cannot sleep! Was your lover Apsu not in your heart? And (vizier) Mummu who was captured? No wonder you sit alone! Are you not a mother? You heave restlessly But what about us, who cannot rest? Don’t you love us? Our grip (?) [is slack], (and) our eyes are sunken. Remove the yoke of us restless ones, and let us sleep! Set up a [battle cry] and avenge them! Con[quer the enemy] and reduce them to nought!’ Tiamat listened, and the speech pleased her. ‘Let us act now, (?) as you were advising! The gods inside him (Apsu) will be disturbed, Because they adopted evil for the gods who begot them.’ They crowded round and rallied beside Tiamat. They were fierce, scheming restlessly night and day. They were working up to war, growling and raging. They convened a council and created conflict. Mother Hubur, who fashions all things, Contributed an unfaceable weapon: she bore giant snakes, Sharp of tooth and unsparing of fang(?). She filled their bodies with venom instead of blood. She cloaked ferocious dragons with fearsome rays And made them bear mantles of radiance, made them godlike, (chanting this imprecation) ‘Whoever looks upon them shall collapse in utter terror! Their bodies shall rear up continually and never turn away!’ She stationed a horned serpent, a mushussu-dragon, and a lahmu-hero, An ugallu-demon, a rabid dog, and a scorpion-man, Aggressive umu-demons, a fish-man, and a bull-man Bearing merciless weapons, fearless in battle. Her orders were so powerful, they could not be disobeyed. In addition she created eleven more likewise. Over the gods her offspring who had convened a council for her She promoted Qingu and made him greatest among them, Conferred upon him leadership of the army, command of the assembly, Raising the weapon to signal engagement, mustering combat-troops, Overall command of the whole battle force. And she set him upon a throne. ‘I have cast the spell for you and made you greatest in the gods’ assembly! I have put into your power rule over all the gods! You shall be the greatest, for you are my only lover! Your commands shall always prevail over all the Anukki!’ Then she gave him the Tablet of Destinies and made him clasp it to his breast. ‘Your utterance shall never be altered! Your word shall be law!’ When Qingu was promoted and had received the Anu-power And had decreed destinies for the gods his sons, (he said), ‘What issues forth from your mouths shall quench Fire! Your accumulated venom (?) shall paralyze the powerful!’