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Enūma Eliš 

The Enūma Eliš is a Babylonian creation myth that dates back to the 18th century BCE. It tells the story of the creation of the world and the rise of the gods. The myth begins with the primordial gods Apsu and Tiamat, who give birth to the younger gods. However, the younger gods become too noisy and disturb Apsu, leading to his plan to destroy them. Ea, one of the younger gods, learns of this plan and kills Apsu. Tiamat, grief-stricken by her mate’s death, seeks revenge against the younger gods. She creates an army of monsters and appoints her son, Kingu, as their leader. The younger gods, led by Marduk, engage in a fierce battle against Tiamat and her forces. Marduk emerges victorious and becomes the supreme god. He divides Tiamat’s body to create the heavens and the earth, and he creates humanity to serve the gods. The myth concludes with a celebration of Marduk’s victory and his establishment as the ruler of the gods. The Enūma Eliš is considered one of the oldest known creation myths and provides insights into Babylonian religious beliefs and cosmology.

The full story of the Enūma Eliš is quite detailed and spans several tablets. Here is a more comprehensive summary of the myth:

Tablet I:

The Enūma Eliš begins with a description of the primordial chaos, represented by the two original gods, Apsu (fresh water) and Tiamat (salt water). From their union, various deities are born, including Lahmu and Lahamu (muddy gods) and Anshar and Kishar (sky and earth gods). Tiamat and Apsu become annoyed with the younger gods’ noise and conspire to destroy them.

Tablet II:

Ea, the god of wisdom and magic, learns of Apsu’s plan and decides to act. He uses a spell to put Apsu to sleep and then kills him. Tiamat is furious when she learns of Apsu’s death and vows revenge. She creates an army of monsters and appoints Kingu, her new consort, as their leader.

Tablets III and IV:

The younger gods are terrified of Tiamat’s army and seek a champion to lead them. Marduk, the god of Babylon, steps forward and offers to fight Tiamat in exchange for being named the king of the gods. The other gods agree, and Marduk equips himself with powerful weapons and prepares for battle.

Tablets V to VII:

Marduk faces Tiamat in a fierce battle. Using his divine powers and weapons, he defeats Tiamat and her army. Marduk then kills Tiamat by splitting her body in half. From her body, he creates the heavens and the earth, setting the sky with the stars and the moon. He establishes the gods in their respective roles and creates humanity out of Kingu’s blood to serve the gods.

Tablet VIII:

The gods celebrate Marduk’s victory and declare him the supreme ruler of the gods. They praise him for his strength and wisdom and build a temple in his honor. Marduk is given fifty names and is exalted above all other gods.

The Enūma Eliš concludes with a hymn praising Marduk and his power. The myth serves to legitimize the authority of the Babylonian king, who is seen as Marduk’s earthly representative. It also establishes the order of the universe and the roles of the gods within it.

The Enūma Eliš features several key characters who play significant roles in the Babylonian creation myth. Here are the main characters:

1. Apsu: The primordial god of fresh water and the father of the younger gods. Apsu is initially passive but later decides to destroy the younger gods due to their noise.

2. Tiamat: The primordial goddess of salt water and chaos. She is the mother of the younger gods and seeks revenge after Apsu’s death. Tiamat creates an army of monsters to battle against the younger gods.

3. Ea (Enki): The god of wisdom, magic, and freshwater. Ea is one of the younger gods and ultimately kills Apsu to prevent his plan to destroy the younger gods.

4. Marduk: The god of Babylon and the champion of the younger gods. Marduk volunteers to fight Tiamat and her army in exchange for becoming the king of the gods. He defeats Tiamat and establishes order in the universe.

5. Lahmu and Lahamu: The first generation of gods created by Apsu and Tiamat. They are described as “muddy gods.”

6. Anshar and Kishar: The children of Lahmu and Lahamu, representing the sky god and the earth goddess, respectively. Anshar and Kishar give birth to Anu, the god of the heavens.

7. Kingu: Tiamat’s new consort and the leader of her army of monsters. Kingu is ultimately defeated by Marduk, and his blood is used to create humanity.

These are the main characters in the Enūma Eliš, each playing a crucial role in the creation myth and the establishment of the Babylonian pantheon.

The Enūma Eliš, as a Babylonian creation myth, shares similarities with creation myths from other cultures around the world. Many creation myths explore common themes such as the origin of the world, the roles of gods and goddesses, the establishment of order from chaos, and the creation of humanity. Here are some comparisons between the Enūma Eliš and creation myths from other cultures:

1. **Enuma Elish (Babylonian) and Genesis (Judeo-Christian)**:

   – Both myths depict the creation of the world by a supreme deity (Marduk in Enuma Elish, God in Genesis).

   – In both myths, light is created to dispel the initial darkness and chaos.

   – Humanity is created in both stories, with specific roles and responsibilities outlined by the divine beings.

2. **Enuma Elish and Greek Creation Myths**:

   – Both myths feature primordial deities (Apsu and Tiamat in Enuma Elish, Chaos and Gaia in Greek mythology) that give birth to younger gods.

   – The battles between gods and monsters in Enuma Elish parallel the conflicts between gods and Titans in Greek mythology.

   – Creation myths in both cultures involve the separation of the heavens and the earth to establish order.

3. **Enuma Elish and Norse Creation Myths**:

   – Both myths involve the emergence of the world from a primordial state of chaos.

   – The concept of a cosmic battle resulting in the establishment of the universe is present in both Enuma Elish and Norse mythology.

   – Creation myths in both cultures often involve the sacrifice of a divine being to create the world or humanity.

4. **Enuma Elish and Egyptian Creation Myths**:

   – Both myths feature a pantheon of gods and goddesses who play specific roles in the creation and maintenance of the world.

   – The concept of a creator deity organizing the cosmos and establishing order is present in both Enuma Elish and Egyptian mythology.

   – Creation myths in both cultures emphasize the cyclical nature of creation, destruction, and rebirth.

These comparisons highlight the universal themes and motifs found in creation myths across different cultures. While each myth has unique elements that reflect the specific beliefs and cultural contexts of the societies that produced them, they also demonstrate shared human experiences and concerns about the origins of the world and humanity.

If you are interested in exploring further readings on creation myths, including the Enūma Eliš and other cultural creation stories, here are some books that you may find informative and engaging:

1. “Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others” translated by Stephanie Dalley – This book offers translations of various ancient Mesopotamian myths, including the Enūma Eliš and the Epic of Gilgamesh, providing insights into Babylonian religious beliefs and narratives.

2. “The Oxford Companion to World Mythology” by David Leeming – This comprehensive reference book covers creation myths from different cultures around the world, offering an overview of various mythological traditions and their significance.

3. “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell – While not specifically focused on creation myths, this classic work by Joseph Campbell explores the hero’s journey archetype found in myths and stories from diverse cultures, shedding light on universal themes and symbols.

4. “The World’s Religions” by Huston Smith – This book provides an overview of the major religious traditions of the world, including their creation myths and foundational beliefs, offering a comparative perspective on different mythological narratives.

5. “The Power of Myth” by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers – In this book, Joseph Campbell discusses the role of mythology in human culture and explores common themes and motifs found in myths from various traditions, including creation stories.

These books can provide you with a deeper understanding of creation myths and their cultural, religious, and symbolic significance across different civilizations. They offer valuable insights into the diverse narratives and mythological frameworks that have shaped human understanding of the origins of the world and humanity.