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46

BABYLONIA

AND

and spells, and a sorcerer-priesthood. From Eridu came, on the contrary, the elements of art and science, and a belief in divine beings who worked for the good of man. Ea was the culture-god of Babylonia, who communicated to his son “ Asari, the benefactor of mankind,” the various charms whereby diseases could be cured and the dead raised again to life. Asari, whose resemblance to the Egyptian Osiris is striking, was identified with the Semitic Merodach, the patron-god of Babylon, while El-lil of Nippur became “ the older Bel ” of Semitic faith. In the primitive Sumerian age of Babylonia, however, neither El-lil nor Ea was as yet a god in the Semitic sense of the term. According to Sumerian ideas every object and force in nature had its zi, or “ spirit,” which manifested itself in life and motion. The zi was sometimes beneficent, sometimes malignant, but it could be controlled by the incantations and spells which were known to the sorcerer-priests. Gradually real gods emerged from among the multitude of zis with which the universe was filled, perhaps as a result of contact with Semitic tribes. Among these gods Ea, the spirit of the water, El-lil, the spirit of the earth and air, and Ana of Erech, the spirit of heaven, occupied a foremost place. Under Semitic influence they finally became a trinity, while other spirits which had also become gods were ranged below them. A state religion grew up in which the Sumerian elements were modified and transformed in accordance with Semitic conceptions, the sorcerer passed into the priest, and an elaborate ritual was compiled. The female divinities fell into the background, with the exception of Istar, originally the evening-star, who managed to preserve her independence ; but the other goddesses became merely the pale reflexions of the god, in many cases owing their existence to the exigencies of Semitic grammar, which attached a feminine form to a masculine noun. Thus Anu, the Semitic equivalent of Ana, was provided with his feminine counterpart, Anatu. The systematizing of the state theology occupied many centuries, and included the formation of an astro-theology in which the planets and principal stars were identified with certain deities in the official pantheon. Between this state religion and the religion of the people there was a wide gulf, though a considerable part of the popular superstitions was incorporated by the priests into their theology, and there modified or explained away. Up to the last, however, a sort of organized popular faith, or “ black magic,” existed by the side of the official theology, tolerated, though hardly recognized, by it. In this the witch and wizard took the place of the priesthood, malevolent demons were adored B.C. Conquers Babylon . . 1290 Assur-nazir-pal I., his son, 6 years . . . 1280 Tiglath-Assur-Bel . . 1275 Assur-narara . . . 1260 Nebo-dan, his son . . 1250 . . . . . Bel-kudur-uzur . . 1230 Ninip-pileser . . . 1215 Assur-dan L, his son . 1185 Mutaggil-Nebo, his son . 1160 Assur-ris-isi, his son . 1140 Tiglath-pileser I., his son . 1120 Assur-bil-kala, his son . 1090 Samsi - Hadad I., his brother . . cir. 1070 Assur-nazir-pal II., his . . . cir. 1050 son Assur-irbi

.

Tiglath-pileser II. . Assur-dan II., his son Hadad-nirari II., his son Tiglath-Ninip II., his son

— cir. cir. . .

950 930 911 889

B.C. Assur - nazir - pal III., his son .... 883 Shalmaneser II., his son . 858 Assur-danin-pal (Sardanapallos), rebel king . . 825 Samsi - Hadad II., his brother .... 823 Hadad-nirari III., his son . 810 Shalmaneser III. . . 781 Assur-dan III. . . . 771 Assur-nirari . . . 753 Pulu, usurper, takes the name of Tiglath - pileser III 745 Ulula, usurper, takes the name of Shalmaneser IY. . 727 Sargon, usurper . . .722 Sennacherib, his son . . 705 Esar-haddon, his son . . 681 Assur-bani-pal, his son . 668 Assur-etil-ilani-yukin, his son .... ? Assur-sum-lisir . . . ? Sin-sarra-uzur (Sarakos) . ? Destruction of Nineveh . 606

ASSYRIA

instead of the gods of light, and the ritual consisted of spells and incantations addressed to them under the cover of night. The central object of worship was an Istar who differed essentially from the Istar of the official cult, and was little more than a mistress of witchcraft and evil. Closely connected with the religious cult were the poems and epics in which the ancient myths and stories of the gods were embodied, or attempts were made to „ , explain the origin of the universe. The most teg/nds* famous of these was the Epic of Gilgames, in twelve books, composed by a certain Sin-liqi-unninni, and arranged upon an astronomical principle. The eleventh book, corresponding to the zodiacal sign Aquarius, contains the episode of the Deluge. Gilgames is described as the friend and ally of the satyr Ea-bani, who had originally been created to destroy him. Together they overthrow the tyrant Khumbaba, who dwelt within the enchanted cedar forest of Elam, as well as the “ divine ” bull which Anu had made to avenge the slight put by Gilgames on the goddess Istar. But the destruction of the bull led to the death of Ea-bani and the infliction of a mortal sickness on Gilgames himself. To find a means of cure he determined to make his way to Xisuthros, the hero of the Deluge, who had been translated beyond the river of death. So he travelled through the desert of Mas, or Northern Arabia,, to the Twin Mountains behind which the sun sets, and which are guarded by “ scorpion-men.” Then he plunged into the darkness beyond, and finally emerged on the shore of the ocean which encircles the earth, where a tree grew whose fruit was precious stones. With the help of the boatman, Nis-Ea, Gilgames built a boat, and voyaged for forty-five days until at last the waters of death were reached. There on the islands of the blest he beheld Xisuthros “ afar off,” and heard from him the story of the Deluge. His disease, moreover, was cured, and a twig of the tree of life was allowed him to carry back to Babylonia. On the way, however, while he stopped to drink of a spring, a serpent came out of the water and stole the precious plant. Gilgames wept in vain. He had to return to his city of Erech without the divine herb and there make lamentation over the dead Ea-bani, whose spirit rose from the earth, like that of Samuel, to tell the hero of the fate that awaited him in the world beyond the grave. Another epic was that of the Creation, the object of which was to glorify Bel-Merodach by describing his contest with Tiamat, the dragon of chaos. In the first book an account is given of the creation of the world out of the primeval deep and the birth of the gods of light.. Then comes the story of the struggle between the gods of light and the powers of darkness, and the final victory of Merodach, who clove Tiamat asunder, forming the heaven out of one half of her body and the earth out of the other. Merodach next arranged the stars in order, along with the sun and moon, and gave them laws which they were never to transgress. After this the plants and animals were created, and finally man. Merodach here takes the place of Ea, who appears as the creator in the older legends, and is said to have fashioned man out of the clay. The legend of Adapa, the first man, a portion of which was found in the record-office of the Egyptian king Khun-Aten at Tel el-Amarna, explains the origin of death. Adapa while fishing had broken the wings of the south wind, and was accordingly summoned before the tribunal of Anu in heaven. Ea counselled him not to eat or drink there. He followed the advice, and thus refused the food which would have made him and his descendants immortal. Among the other legends of Babylonia may be mentioned those of Namtar, the plague-demon, of Urra, the pestilence.