Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others - Epic of Creation Summary & Analysis

Stephanie Dalley
This Study Guide consists of approximately 33 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Myths from Mesopotamia.
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Epic of Creation Summary and Analysis

The author begins in noting the phrase epic applied to this story only due to the narration of the activities of the earliest generation of the gods. The myth was recited or enacted during the fourth day of the Festival of the New Year as a propaganda piece for the reigning king. The myth begins with the primeval goddess Tiamat and her husband Apsu. It is interesting to note that in this myth alone, the name Apsu is seen as a god, not as the underground domain of Ea as in other myths. These primeval gods create offspring, those of Lahmu and Lahamu. To them, Anshar and Kishar are born, and to them, Anu, and to him, Nudimmud, or Ea is born. The gods are loud in their merriment, and begin to annoy Tiamat and Apsu. Apsu threatens to kill the gods, but Tiamat refuses. Apsu's vizier Mummu, however, talks him into a plan to kill them. Ea discovers the plan, and kills them both. He creates a place he calls Apsu as his dwelling, and to him and his lover Damkina, Marduk, the most powerful god, is born. He is described as perfect in build, fire breathing, with four eyes and four ears. Anu creates the four winds, and gives them to Marduk, but his use of them again upsets Tiamat and the older gods, who request that she kill the younger gods and avenge her husband's death. Mother Hubur "who fashions all things" creates giant, poisonous snakes, a serpent, a dragon, a lamhu-hero, a ugallu-demon, a rabid dog, a scorpion-man, umu-demons, a fish man, and a bull man as warriors. Tiamat places Qingu, her lover, as the leader of the army, and gives him the Tablet of Destinies. Ea discovers the plan, and goes to Anshar, his father, who tells him that because he started the fight, he should attempt to appease Tiamat. Ea goes to face her, but turns back, frightened. Anshar tells him again to seek her, and again Ea returns, too frightened. The Igigi assemble, and Anshar asks for someone to face Tiamat. Ea secretly asks Marduk, the perfect one, to volunteer. Anshar accepts his offer, and Marduk requests a special fate from the council. Anshar sends his vizier Kakka to Lahmu and Lahamu to ask for a destiny to be decreed. Marduk is made a ruler of the gods, and is sent to kill Tiamat. Marduk makes a bow, carries a mace, places lightening in front of him, and creates a net of the four winds within which to ensnare Tiamat. Marduk scolds Tiamat for her actions, and she angrily responds. The two battle, and Marduk traps her within the four winds, shoots an arrow through her heart, and kills her. Her assembly of warriors is captured, her demons are killed, and Qingu is captured. Marduk creates shrines and stands for the gods from the remains of Tiamat, creates constellations for the gods, made the moon and dictates its rise and fall, as well as using parts of her to make clouds, fog, springs, mountains, the sky, and the earth. In other words, Marduk creates the world from Tiamat.

He returns the Tablet of Destinies to Anu, gives the warriors over as hostages, and uses images of the eleven creatures of Tiamat as warnings on the door to Apsu. Anu, Enlil, and Ea give Marduk gifts during a victory celebration, and the Anunnaki kiss his feet. Lahmu and Lahamu pronounce him King of the Gods. Marduk proclaims he will fashion for them a luxurious house in front of Esharra for them to use when they come up from the Apsu or come down from the sky. He names the area Babylon, and makes it the hub of religion. In addition, he tells Ea of a plan to make a primeval man to take the work of the gods. Ea tells him to make the man with the blood of a hostile god. The Igigi decide Qingu should be killed, and mixed with clay to form man. The Anunnaki, in return, make a shrine to Marduk known as Babylon from mud bricks. When construction is complete, there is an assembly of the gods, and a blessing of "the bow". It is important to note here that the blessing of the bow is understood to be the blessing of Anu's daughter, Ishtar. The gods then give Marduk a plethora of new names to identify him as the leader of the gods. Marduk is given seven names by the gods Anshar, Lahmu, and Lahamu in respect of his achievements, those of Marduk, Asarluhl, Marukka, Marutukku, Lugal-Dimmer-Anika, Nari-Lugal-Dimmer-Ankia, and Asarluhi. In the assembly of the gods, the other fifty gods and goddesses elevate his status even higher by each giving him another name. In some cases, the names are those of true gods whose powers are similar to an aspect of Marduk, and in some cases the names are created. Each god gives the name, and a listing of the qualities he or she attaches to Marduk and his name. The ending of the myth is a tribute to Marduk, relaying hopes that all mankind will worship Marduk as the savior of the gods and the king.

This section contains 881 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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