The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 1. (of 7): Chaldaea eBook

George Rawlinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 190 pages of information about The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 1. (of 7).


Nergal, the planet Mars, whose name was continued to a late date, under the form of Nerig in the astronomical system of the Mendaeans, is a god whose character and attributes are tolerably clear and definite.  His name is evidently compounded of the two Hamitic roots nir, “a man,” and gala, “great;” so that he is “the great man,” or “the great hero.”  He is the special god of war and of hunting, more particularly of the latter.  His titles are “the king of battle,” “the champion of the gods,” “the storm ruler,” “the strong begetter,” “the tutelar god of Babylonia,” and “the god of the chase.”  He is usually coupled with Nin, who likewise presides over battles and over hunting; but while Nin is at least his equal in the former sphere, Nergal has a decided pre-eminence in the latter.

We have no distinct evidence that Nergal was worshipped in the primitive times.  He is first mentioned by some of the early Assyrian kings, who regard him as their ancestor.  It has, however, been conjectured that, like Bil-Nipru, he represented the deified hero, Nimrod, who may have been worshipped in different parts of Chaldaea under different titles.

The city peculiarly dedicated to Nergal was Cutha or Tiggaba, which is constantly called his city in the inscriptions.  He was worshipped also at Tarbisa, near Nineveh, but in Tiggaba he was said to “live,” and his shrine there was one of great celebrity.  Hence “the men of Cuth,” when transported to Samaria by the Assyrians, naturally enough “made Nergal their god,” carrying his worship with them into their new country.

[Illustration:  PLATE 20]

It is probable that Nergal’s symbol was the Man Lion. [PLATE XX.] Nir is sometimes used in the inscriptions in the meaning of “lion;” and the Semitic name for the god himself is “Aria”—­the ordinary term for the king of beasts both in Hebrew and in Syriac.  Perhaps we have here the true derivation of the Greek name for the god of war, Ares, which has long puzzled classical scholars.  The lion would symbolize both the fighting and the hunting propensities of the god, for he not only engages in combats upon occasions, but often chases his prey and runs it down like a hunter.  Again, if Nergal is the Man-Lion, his association in the buildings with the Man-Bull would be exactly parallel with the conjunction, which we so constantly find, between him and Nin in the inscriptions.

Nergal had a wife, called Laz, of whom, however, nothing is known beyond her name.  It is uncertain which among the emblems of the gods appertains to him.


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The Seven Great Monarchies Of The Ancient Eastern World, Vol 1. (of 7): Chaldaea from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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