Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others - Erra and Ishum 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.
This section contains 509 words
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Erra and Ishum Summary and Analysis

The author explains that this myth appears more as a series of speeches than a telling of a narrative. Erra, the unpredictable and violent god, threatens war, while Ishum, the placater of Erra, seems to wish to quell Erra's destructive wishes. Marduk plays a part, as Erra attempts to usurp him, as well. The author explains the myth is likely an account of the hardships of Babylon at the dawn of a "new king of Akkad", which is likely referring to Nabonassar.

The myth begins with the restlessness of Erra, the warrior of the Gods. He is clearly wishing to go to war, and attempts to convince Ishum to encourage a battle. The Sebitti, however, give Erra encouragement to rise for battle. The Sebitti, or the terrible seven, are the offspring of the Earth and Anu, and are vicious by nature. They convince Erra that everything is better when in battle, and that he should fight so that the Igigi, Anunnaki, kings, and countries revere him. They originally claim to want war because they are unable to sleep due to the noise of the people, but in the end, admit they feel out of shape and bored. Erra again asks Ishum to join him, but Ishum asks him to turn back. Erra tells him he wants the people to fear him, and will anger Marduk and overwhelm his population. He arrives in Esagila, and asks Marduk why his adornment has become dirty. Marduk discusses going to speak with the gods, but knows that by leaving his palace he will cause floods, darkness, winds, and war. Erra offers to keep watch over things until Marduk returns, and Marduk agrees. However, when Marduk leaves, the world begins to crumble.

Erra, at this point, is keeping everyone away from Marduk's temples, insuring Marduk's drop in power. Istar attempts to calm Erra, but Erra is furious. The gods have attempted to halt his attack, and he vows to show Ea and Marduk he is not to be reckoned with. He notes he will devastate the land, destroy mountains, stir up oceans, leave no life, and force the people to have evil in their hearts. Erra continues to glorify the horror of war for several lines. However, when Erra unleashes the terrible seven on the people, Ishum realizes the devastation. Erra continues to claim no one respects him, but Ishum points out he has taken over the universe, so he must be respected. Ishum recounts Erra's deeds one by one, and shows him he is powerful. He requests that Erra stop his rampage, and offers the gods' services as reward for the halt of violence. Ishum calls for the scattered people of the now destroyed Akkad to become numerous again and to repair the cities and the farms. He also demands that the people praise Erra and Ishum for their works. The final portion of the tablet appears to be a description of the author, one Kabti-ilani-Mardukm, who dreamed of the encounter.

This section contains 509 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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