Epic of Creation- Alteration of Marduk’s fate
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In the Mesopotamian times, there was a story called, “Enuma Elish” which in short terms is the beginning of the world, the creation of mankind (greater and lesser gods), most importantly the rise of Marduk as the patron God of Babylon, all written in 7 tablets (Mark J.J., 2018) According to Dalley (1991) it started off with Apsu the sweet water God and Tiamat the salt water goddess sought out by having/creating other gods like Lahmu, Lahamu which they then had Anshar and Kishar, and so on…... leading to the creation of Marduk himself. This was seen to be the upbringing of an almighty heroic God figure called, “Marduk”. Through Marduks ravishing actions, the people of Mesopotamia depict Marduk as the successful figure with power never seen before, unlike his opposers that are led to their downfall (i.e. Tiamat). The whole notion of killing and gaining status in ancient times were unjust in ways that were partially unexplainable. God Ea which is Marduks father, was the one who orchestrated all of this, by murdering Apsu in cold blood despite of his opinions on murdering children due to them being annoying, Ea decides it is better to kill the main creator (i.e. Apsu) instead of talking him down from wanting to kill the children.
Falsification of Figures
Instead of resorting to different measures, God Ea decides to determine the fate of those around him, leading to the downfall of Apsu and the upbringing of Marduk. As for his own selfish needs, they do what needs to be done in order to protect and preserve the ones they love despite of the outcomes. In the Epic of Creation, the actions of Marduk are ultimately rooted from the actions his father (i.e. Ea/Enki) by murdering Apsu in cold blood, altering the fate of those affected by him, it is more than just the succession of Marduk; through the totality of one's outcomes/actions it does not solidify their position for gaining power over others as it is seen through the falsification of figures, the unjust treatments between Gods, and the lack of usage in rules.
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As the main story of the Epic of Creation was to describe mankind and Marduk, there are holes and gaps in between actions of Gods. As the story only focusses on Marduk and his uprising as a God, there has been a misguided portrayal of characters/figures like Tiamat herself. Tiamat in this myth is seen as the antagonist, this foul dragon like creature wanting to reek havoc on the people of Mesopotamia, Babylon more in particular. The only reason why this came to be was due the actions of Ea, overhearing the conversation between Apsu and his vizier Mummu (Dalley, 1991), Ea decides to take matters into his own hands without even thinking of the possible outcomes that could occur. Tiamat would not be in the state, the state of her being angry and wanting to avenge Apsu if Ea had not killed her lover. This is an example of falsely portraying Tiamat as they forgot she with the help of Apsu were the original ones that made the Gods, initially making them the elderly figures as king and queen.
Tiamat is the personification of primordial water, the first to come to be along with Apsu (Helle, 2016). Following the death of Apsu, things remain suttle for awhile until Marduk was given four winds (i.e. toys) by his grandfather Anu (the great sky God) to play with. Thus, disturbing the elderly Gods and Tiamat herself in spite of vengeance she becomes the ‘antagonist’ of this story (Helle, 2016). Initially Tiamat was the personified primordial water, the goddess that gave life to all things. Then turned into a goddess that seeks vengeance for her lover’s death, as this is a prime example of the misguided actions of God Ea, acting irresponsibly towards protecting the children. Thus, creating a whole array of problems that led to a slaughter of Tiamat, Quingu, and her armies.
Although Tiamat was falsely portrayed, God Ea is not much better than Apsu was as one wanted to murder kids due to annoyance and the other due to irrational decision making. Tiamat and Ea were both factors in causing problems in Babylon, Ea killing Apsu endanger the people Babylon as Tiamat is very unforgiving, likewise Tiamat is also the one that fights Marduk because of Ea and Anu raising Marduk. Marduk was portrayed as the hero, was he the rightful hero when he demanded to have Babylon built in his image so that he could rule over it? According to Dalley (1991), on page 236 she states that “They plotted evil in their hearts, and….” This captures not only Tiamat and the other Gods being angered, it comes to show how Ea and Anu made them that way. Ea killing Apsu without hesitation, and then Anu creating four winds to give to Marduk thereby disrupting the elderly Gods making them infuriated causing them to lash out making them be seen as the villains of the story, which entirely the whole picture is not been captured.
Punishment to serve justice
Gods and goddesses did not follow much rules, rules were sort of non-existent in ancient times. An example is the killing of Apsu, if there were rules laid out there would not be bloodshed which initially lead up to Tiamat’s death, Marduk being praised by the people of Babylon and his kingship would have not been given as easily by killing Tiamat to protect the people of Babylon, if there were rules set. Rules would have changed the course of Marduks actions and Ea’s too. An example is today, there are rules to keep us in place, so we do not fall astray and if those that do they will serve time in prison of be punished so the same actions are not caused again. In the Epic of Creation, it fails to show rules (i.e. laws) as Gods do as they please and get away with it like how Ea has (i.e. after Ea killed Apsu, Tiamat did not revolt against him until Anu gave Marduk his four winds which sparked the anger and rage built up in her to lash out therefore fighting Marduk, making her to be the ‘antagonist’ of the myth). According to Rattini (2019), there was this ancient king called, “Hammurabi” that ruled places he was at, and at those places he made code of laws, laws that all must follow when under his land in which he ruled in. This in comparison to the Epic of Creation the creation myth did not include laws as most of its stories were based off one’s self emotions and actions (i.e. Ea putting Apsu to sleep then murdering him and his vizier Mummu).
According to Reid (2018), he states that early Mesopotamia has prisons unlike the modern world, their way of imprisonment is different to the early Mesopotamian times. In the Epic of Creation, there was no presence of care, meaning when someone murders another God there is no sense of remorse. If there was forms of punishment that did not result in killing, then Marduks fate would have been changed, changed in a way that he would have not been praised by the people of Babylon. Before anyone came to know who, he was he, he was just a regular God per say, until he showcased his power and what he could do people started to like it and by doing so they worshipped him almost (i.e. Festival Nisan). This comes to show there was a lack of punishment or any forms of punishment shown to those that should be punished for (i.e. Ea and Apsu), set in the duration of Epic of Creation and in correlation there was a not much rules/laws displayed in the creation myths.
Lack of Rules displayed
In further support of the findings above, rules were not as dominant in Mesopotamian times, there was not much action taken towards killing, as some where seen to get away with it while some do not bother. In the Epic of Creation, not much bloodshed was done as comparison to the Epic of Gilgamesh (Dalley, 1991). Actions should have consequences, (i.e. rules), and those that do not abide by it should be punished for. An example is the actions of Ea the one who started it all, although Apsu was the one that was annoyed and wanted to kill those children, Ea should be the one to take blame for. According to Rice and Stambaugh (2014), “…..let one rank them as he wishes in accordance with law”, this according to the Greeks the greatest Gods shall be worshipped over the lesser Gods. In the Epic of Creation, there was not a trace of status in terms of the first ones that came to be, like Apsu and Tiamat they were the supposed Gods, the Gods that were the oldest in fact not the strongest. Like Greek mythology itself, Zeus was the highest of Gods being the strongest and one of the oldest, unlike Marduk he was a demi-god part human and party godly. If rules were set in accordance to rankings, Marduk would have no place in becoming a potential ruler despite of his actions (i.e. even if he killed Tiamat).
As most of the creation myths in Mesopotamia begin with the formation of nothing, each one is different in its own way. The Epic of Creation was the origins of Gods, and how they came to be, more specifically Marduk and his upcoming as the ruler of Babylon. It was made into seven tablets that described the myth, although Marduks fate was destined for him to be a ruler a strong figure in Mesopotamia. The only reason why Marduk was so successful was from the actions of his father, Ea. It was sort of planned out in a way that Ea knew if he killed Apsu then his son would act upon protecting Babylon making it easy for him to rule and gain everyone’s attention. Some problems with myths is that it they are good and bad, in a way that myths tell us stories that we can use for our inspiration unlike inspiration it can cause us harm, by covering up the truth it tries to tell us only giving us one side of the story (Neufville, 1987). Many myths including the birth of man (i.e. Enki and his impregnation towards many women) and Atrahasis have their own meaningful way of telling a story either through dishonesty or bloodshed leading to a happy ending.
To fully understand myths, especially the Epic of Creation, we must observe through more than just one perspective the perspective of Marduk is too narrow. To fully understand each God/Goddess and their personality, the story that follows must not only be read through one view but many to question the possible probabilities the story has, potentially leading to flaws in certain characters. Through the unfolding of the story of creation, Tiamat was not portrayed fully as the antagonist of the story as others like Ea had part in the cause of killing innocent lives. The lack of rules displayed in the story had led Marduk to easily gain the trust of people in Babylon and made others that opposed him be the enemy of his enemies. And the need for rightful punishment that could have changed the whole course of Marduks fate and Tiamats would have been ethically correct instead of unjust murdering and assumptions led by Ea.
- Boswell, V. R., & Rattini, K. B. (2019, May 20). Who was Hammurabi? Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/people/reference/hammurabi/#close.
- Dalley, S. (1991). Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh and other. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Helle, S. (2016). Tiamat (goddess). Retrieved from http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/amgg/listofdeities/tiamat/index.html.
- Mark, J. J. (2018, May 4). Enuma Elish - The Babylonian Epic of Creation - Full Text. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/article/225/enuma-elish---the-babylonian-epic-of-creation---fu/3.
- Neufville, J. I. D. (1987, September 1). Myths and the Definition of Policy Problems: An Exploration of Home Ownership and Public-Private Partnerships. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/4532112?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents.
- Reid, J. N. (2018, February 20). Welcome to my.access -- please choose how you will connect. Retrieved November 15, 2019, from https://www-degruyter-com.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/view/j/janeh.2016.3.issue-2/janeh-2017-0008/janeh-2017-0008.xml.
- Rice, D. G., & Stambaugh, J. E. (2014). Sources for the Study of Greek Religion Corrected Edition. (B. O. Long, Ed.). Society of Biblical Literature.
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