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Title: Myths & Legends of Babylonia & Assyria
Author: Spence, Lewis, 1874-1955
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Author of "The Myths of Mexico and Peru" "The Civilization of Ancient
Mexico" "The Popol Vuh" "The Myths of the North American Indians"
"Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt" etc.

With Eight Plates in Colour by Evelyn Paul and Thirty-Two Other

George G. Harrap & Company, Ltd.
2 & 3 Portsmouth Street Kingsway W.C.

[Frontispiece: Sacrificing to Bel Evelyn Paul]


The purpose of this book is to provide not only a popular account of
the religion and mythology of ancient Babylonia and Assyria, but to
extract and present to the reader the treasures of romance latent in
the subject, the peculiar richness of which has been recognized since
the early days of archæological effort in Chaldea. Unfortunately, with
few exceptions, writers who have made the field a special study have
rarely been able to triumph over the limitations which so often obtrude
in works of scholarship and research. It is true that the pages of
Rawlinson, Smith, Layard, and Sayce are enlivened at intervals with
pictures of Assyrian splendour and Babylonian glory--gleams which
escape as the curtains which veil the wondrous past are partially
lifted--but such glimpses are only interludes in lengthy disquisitions
which too often must be tedious for the general reader.

It was such a consideration which prompted the preparation of this
volume. Might not a book be written which should contain the pure
gold of Babylonian romance freed from the darker ore of antiquarian
research? So far, so good. But gold in the pure state is notoriously
unserviceable, and an alloy which renders it of greater utility may
detract nothing from its brilliance. Romance or no romance, in these
days it will not do to furnish stories of the gods without attempting
some definition of their nature and origin. For more than ever before
romance and knowledge are a necessary blend in the making of a
satisfactory book on mythology.

Nevertheless, it is anticipated that it will be to the modern reader
who loves the romance of antiquity that this book will especially
appeal. It is claimed that the greater part of Chaldean romance
clusters around the wonderful mythology and religion of that land; it
is therefore of these departments of Chaldean lore that this volume
chiefly treats. But the history of Babylonia and Assyria has not been
neglected. The great names in its records will be found to recur
constantly in these pages, in most instances accompanied by a tale or
legend which will illuminate the circumstances of their careers and
serve to retain these in the mind of the reader. Nor has the Biblical
connexion with Chaldea been forgotten; the reader will find as he
proceeds frequent references to the pages of the most picturesque Book
in the world.

                                                              L. S.





Sacrificing to Bel _(Evelyn Paul) Frontispiece_
Assault on a City
Basalt Stele engraved with the Text of Khammurabi's Code of Laws
Sennacherib receiving Tribute
The Death of Sardanapalus (_L. Chalon_)
The Library of King Assur-bani-pal at Nineveh (_Fernand L. Quesne_)
Daniel interprets the Dream of Nebuchadrezzar (_Evelyn Paul_)
Grant of Privileges to Ritti-Marduk by Nebuchadrezzar I
Birs Nimrûd, the Tower of Babel
The Murder of Setapo (_Evelyn Paul_)
The Seven Tablets of Creation
"Mighty was he to look upon" (_Evelyn Paul_)
Conflict between Merodach and Tiawath
Types of En-lil, the Chief God of Nippur, and of his Consort Nin-lil
Ishtar, as (1) Mother-goddess, (2) Goddess of War, (3) Goddess of Love
The Mother-goddess Ishtar (_Evelyn Paul_)
Assyrian Rock Sculpture
Assyrian Type of Gilgamesh
Ut-Napishtim makes Offering to the Gods (_Allan Stewart_)
Hall in Assyrian Palace (_Sir Henry Layard_)
Tiglath-Pileser I directed by Ninib (_Evelyn Paul_)
Assur-nazir-pal attended by a Winged Mythological Being
Zikkurats of the Anu-Adad at Ashur
Stage-tower at Samarra
Excavated Ruins of the Temple of E-Sagila
Exorcising Demons of Disease
Clay Object resembling a Sheep's Liver
Eagle-headed Mythological Being
Capture of Sarrapanu by Tiglath-Pileser II (_Evelyn Paul_)
The Fatal Eclipse (_M. Dovaston, R.B.A._)
Shalmaneser I pouring out the Dust of a Conquered City (_Ambrose Dudley_)
The Marriage Market (_Edwin Long, R.A_.)
A Royal Hunt
Elijah prevailing over the Priests of Baal (_Evelyn Paul_)
The 'Black Obelisk' of Shalmaneser II
Outline of the Mounds at Nimrûd (_Sir Henry Layard_)
The Palaces of Nimrûd (_James Ferguson_)
Work of the Excavators in Babylon
Ruins of Babylon
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon (_M. Dovaston, R.B.A._)


To our fathers until well-nigh a century ago Babylon was no more than
a mighty name--a gigantic skeleton whose ribs protruded here and there
from the sands of Syria in colossal ruin of tower and temple. But now
the grey shroud which hid from view the remains of the glow and glitter
of her ancient splendour has to some extent been withdrawn, and through
the labours of a band of scholars and explorers whose lives and work
must be classed as among the most romantic passages in the history of
human effort we are now enabled to view the wondrous panorama of human
civilization as it evolved in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates.

The name 'Babylon' carries with it the sound of a deep, mysterious
spell, such a conjuration as might be uttered in the recesses of secret
temples. It awakens a thousand echoes in the imagination. It holds a
music richer than that of Egypt. Babylon, Babylon--the sonorous charm
of the word is as a line from some great epic. It falls on the ear of
the historian like distant thunder. Behind the grandeur of Rome and
the beauty of Greece it looms as a great and thick darkness over which
flash at intervals streams of uncertain light as half-forgotten kings
and priests, conquerors and tyrants, demi-gods and mighty builders pass
through the gloom from obscurity to obscurity--sometimes in the full
glare of historical recognition, but more often in the half-light and
partially relieved dusk of uncertainty. Other shapes, again, move like
ghosts in complete and utter darkness, and these are by far the most
numerous of all.

But the spirit of Babylon is no soft and alluring thing eloquent of
Oriental wonders or charged with the delicious fascination of the East.
Rather is it a thing stark and strong, informed with fate and epical
in its intense recognition of destiny. In Babylonian history there are
but two figures of moment--the soldier and the priest. We are dealing
with a race austere and stern, a race of rigorous religious devotees
and conquerors, the Romans of the East--but not an unimaginative race,
for the Babylonians and Assyrians came of that stock which gave to the
world its greatest religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism,
a race not without the sense of mystery and science, for Babylon was
the mother of astrology and magic, and established the beginnings of
the study of the stars; and, lastly, of commerce, for the first true
financial operations and the first houses of exchange were founded in
the shadows of her temples and palaces.

The boundaries of the land where the races of Babylonia and Assyria
evolved one of the most remarkable and original civilizations in the
world's history are the two mighty rivers of Western Asia, the Tigris
and Euphrates, Assyria being identical with the more northerly and
mountainous portion, and Babylonia with the southerly part, which
inclined to be flat and marshy. Both tracts of country were inhabited
by people of the same race, save that the Assyrians had acquired the
characteristics of a population dwelling in a hilly country and had
become to some extent intermingled with Hittite and Amorite elements.
But both were branches of an ancient Semitic stock, the epoch of
whose entrance into the land it is impossible to fix. In the oldest
inscriptions discovered we find those Semitic immigrants at strife with
the indigenous people of the country, the Akkadians, with whom they
were subsequently to mingle and whose beliefs and magical and occult
conceptions especially they were afterward to incorporate with their

The Akkadians

Who, then, were the Akkadians whom the Babylonian Semites came to
displace but with whom they finally mingled? Great and bitter has
been the controversy which has raged around the racial affinities
of this people. Some have held that they were themselves of Semitic
stock, others that they were of a race more nearly approaching the
Mongol, the Lapp, and the Basque. In such a book as this, the object
of which is to present an account of the Babylonian mythology, it is
unnecessary to follow the protagonists of either theory into the dark
recesses whither the conflict has led them. But the probability is that
the Akkadians, who are usually represented upon their monuments as a
beardless people with oblique eyes, were connected with that great
Mongolian family which has thrown out tentacles from its original
home in central Asia to the frozen regions of the Arctic, the north
of Europe, the Turkish Empire, aye, and perhaps to America itself!
Akkadian in its linguistic features and especially in its grammatical
structure shows a resemblance to the Ural-Altaic group of languages
which embraces Turkish and Finnish, and this is in itself good evidence
that the people who spoke it belonged to that ethnic division. But the
question is a thorny one, and pages, nay, volumes might be occupied in
presenting the arguments for and against such a belief.

It was from the Akkadians, however, that the Babylonian Semites
received the germs of their culture; indeed it may be avowed that this
aboriginal people carried them well on the way toward civilization. Not
only did they instruct the Semitic new-comers in the arts of writing
and reading, but they strongly biased their religious beliefs, and
so inspired them with the idea of the sanctity of their own faith
that the later Babylonian priesthood preserved the old Akkadian
tongue among them as a sacred language, just as the Roman priesthood
has retained the use of the dead Latin speech. Indeed, the proper
pronunciation of Akkadian was an absolute necessity to the successful
performance of religious ritual, and it is passing strange to observe
that the Babylonian priests composed new religious texts in a species
of dog-Akkadian, just as the monks of the Middle Ages composed their
writings in dog-Latin!--with such zeal have the religious in all ages
clung to the cult of the ancient, the mystic and half-forgotten thing
unknown to the vulgar.

When we first encounter Babylonian civilization we find it grouped
round about two nuclei, Nippur in the North and Eridu in the South.
The first had grown up around a sanctuary of the god En-lil, who held
sway over the ghostly animistic spirits which at his bidding might
pose as the friends or enemies of men. A more 'civilized' deity held
sway at Eridu, which was the home of Ea, or Oannes, the god of light
and wisdom, who exercised his knowledge of the healing art for the
benefit of his votaries. From the waters of the Persian Gulf, whence
he rose each morning, he brought knowledge of all manner of crafts and
trades, arts and industries, for the behoof of his infant city, even
the mystic and difficult art of impressing written characters on clay.
It is a beautiful picture which we have from the old legend of this
sea-born wisdom daily enlightening the life of the little white city
near the waters. The Semites possessed a deep and almost instinctive
love of wisdom. In the writings attributed to Solomon and in the rich
and wondrous Psalms of David--those deep mines of song and sagacity--we
find the glories of wisdom again and again extolled. Even yet there
are few peoples among whom the love of scholarship, erudition, and
religious wisdom is more cultivated for its own sake than with the Jews.

These rather different cultures of the North and South, working toward
a common centre, met and fused at a period prior to the commencement
of history, and we even find the city of Ur, whence Abram came, a near
neighbour of Eridu, colonized by Nippur! The culture of Eridu prevailed
nevertheless, and its mightiest offshoot was the ultimate centre of
Euphratean civilization--Babylon itself. The first founders of the
city were undoubtedly of Sumerian stock--the expression 'Sumerian'
being that in vogue among modern scholars for the older 'Akkadian,' and
therefore interchangeable with it.

The Semite Conquerors

It was probably about the time of the juncture of the civilizations
of Eridu and Nippur that the Semites entered the country. There are
indications which lead to the belief that, as in the case of the
Semitic immigrants in Egypt, they came originally from Arabia. The
Semite readily accepted the Sumerian civilization which he found
flourishing in the valley of the Euphrates, and adapted the Sumerian
system of writing to his own language, in what manner will be indicated
later. But the Sumerians themselves were not above borrowing from
the rich Semitic tongue, and many of the earliest Sumerian texts we
encounter are strongly Semitized. But although the Semites appear to
have filtered into Sumerian territory by way of Eridu and Ur, the
first definite notices we have of their presence within it are in the
monuments of the more northern portion of that territory, in what is
known as Akkad, in the neighbourhood of Bagdad, where they founded a
small kingdom in much the same manner as the Jutes founded the kingdom
of Kent. The earliest monuments, however, come from Lagash, the modern
Tel-lo, some thirty miles north of Ur, and recount the dealings of the
high-priest of that place with other neighbouring dignitaries. The
priests of Lagash became kings, and their conquests extended beyond the
confines of Babylonia to Elam on the east, and southward to the Persian

[Illustration: Assault on a City from a bas-relief representing the
Campaigns of Sennacherib Photo W.A. Mansell and Co.]

A Babylonian Conqueror

But the first great Semitic empire in Babylonia was that founded by the
famous Sargon of Akkad. As is the case with many popular heroes and
monarchs whose deeds are remembered in song and story--for example,
Perseus, Œdipus, Cyrus, Romulus, and our own King Arthur--the early
years of Sargon were passed in obscurity. Sargon is, in fact, one of
the 'fatal children.' He was, legend stated, born in concealment and
sent adrift, like Moses, in an ark of bulrushes on the waters of
the Euphrates, whence he was rescued and brought up by one Akki, a
husbandman. But the time of his recognition at length arrived, and he
received the crown of Babylonia. His foreign conquests were extensive.
On four successive occasions he invaded Syria and Palestine, which he
succeeded in welding into a single empire with Babylonia. Pressing
his victories to the margin of the Mediterranean, he erected upon its
shores statues of himself as an earnest of his conquests. He also
overcame Elam and northern Mesopotamia and quelled a rebellion of some
magnitude in his own dominions. His son, Naram-Sin, claimed for himself
the title of "King of the Four Zones," and enlarged the empire left him
by his father, penetrating even into Arabia. A monument unearthed by J.
de Morgan at Susa depicts him triumphing over the conquered Elamites.
He is seen passing his spear through the prostrate body of a warrior
whose hands are upraised as if pleading for quarter. His head-dress
is ornamented with the horns emblematic of divinity, for the early
Babylonian kings were the direct vicegerents of the gods on earth.

Even at this comparatively early time (_c_. 3800 B.C.) the resources
of the country had been well exploited by its Semitic conquerors,
and their absorption of the Sumerian civilization had permitted them
to make very considerable progress in the enlightened arts. Some of
their work in bas-relief, and even in the lesser if equally difficult
craft of gem-cutting, is among the finest efforts of Babylonian art.
Nor were they deficient in more utilitarian fields. They constructed
roads through the most important portions of the empire, along which
a service of posts carried messages at stated intervals, the letters
conveyed by these being stamped or franked by clay seals, bearing the
name of Sargon.

The First Library in Babylonia

Sargon is also famous as the first founder of a Babylonian library.
This library appears to have contained works of a most surprising
nature, having regard to the period at which it was instituted. One
of these was entitled _The Observations of Bel_, and consisted of
no less than seventy-two books dealing with astronomical matters of
considerable complexity; it registered and described the appearances of
comets, conjunctions of the sun and moon, and the phases of the planet
Venus, besides recording many eclipses. This wonderful book was long
afterward translated into Greek by the Babylonian historian Berossus,
and it demonstrates the great antiquity of Babylonian astronomical
science even at this very early epoch. Another famous work contained
in the library of Sargon dealt with omens, the manner of casting them,
and their interpretation--a very important side-issue of Babylonian
magico-religious practice.

Among the conquests of this great monarch, whose splendour shines
through the shadows of antiquity like the distant flash of arms on a
misty day, was the fair island of Cyprus. Even imagination reels at the
well-authenticated assertion that five thousand seven hundred years ago
the keels of a Babylonian conqueror cut the waves of the Mediterranean
and landed upon the shores of flowery Cyprus stern Semitic warriors,
who, loading themselves with loot, erected statues of their royal
leader and returned with their booty. In a Cyprian temple De Cesnola
discovered, down in the lowest vaults, a hæmatite cylinder which
described its owner as a servant of Naram-Sin, the son of Sargon, so
that a certain degree of communication must have been kept up between
Babylonia and the distant island, just as early Egypt and Crete were
bound to each other by ties of culture and commerce.


But the empire which Sargon had founded was doomed to precipitate
ruin. The seat of power was diverted southward to Ur. In the reign of
Dungi, one of the monarchs who ruled from this southern sphere, a great
vassal of the throne, Gudea, stands out as one of the most remarkable
characters in early Babylonian antiquity. This Gudea (_c_. 2700 B.C.)
was high-priest of Lagash, a city perhaps thirty miles north of Ur,
and was famous as a patron of the architectural and allied arts. He
ransacked western Asia for building materials. Arabia supplied him with
copper for ornamentation, the Amames mountains with cedar-wood, the
quarries of Lebanon with stone, while the deserts adjacent to Palestine
furnished him with rich stones of all kinds for use in decorative
work, and districts on the shores of the Persian Gulf with timber for
ordinary building purposes. His architectural ability is vouched for by
a plan of his palace, measured to scale, which is carved upon the lap
of one of his statues in the Louvre.

There is no intention in this sketch to follow minutely the events in
the history of Babylonia and Assyria. The purpose is to depict and
describe the circumstances, deeds, and times of its most outstanding
figures, its most typical and characteristic rulers. By following
this plan we hope to be better able to present the reader with a more
faithful and genuine picture of the civilization the myths of which
we are about to peruse, than if we squandered space and time in the
description of the reigns of kings during whose tenure of the throne no
event of importance is recorded.

[Illustration: Basalt Stele engraved with the Text of Khammurabi's Code
of Laws. The scene represents the King receiving the Laws from Shamash,
the Sun-god--Photo W. A. Mansell and Co.]

Khammurabi the Great

Like that which preceded it, the dynasty of Ur fell, and Arabian or
Canaanite invaders usurped the royal power in much the same manner
as the Shepherd Kings seized the sovereignty of Egypt. A subsequent
foreign yoke, that of Elam, was thrown off by Khammurabi, perhaps the
most celebrated and most popularly famous name in Babylonian history.
This brilliant, wise, and politic monarch did not content himself with
merely expelling the hated Elamites, but advanced to further conquest
with such success that in the thirty-second year of his reign (2338
B.C.) he had formed Babylonia into a single monarchy with the capital
at Babylon itself. Under the fostering care of Khammurabi, Babylonian
art and literature unfolded and blossomed with a luxuriance surprising
to contemplate at this distance of time. It is astonishing, too, to
note how completely he succeeded in welding into one homogeneous whole
the various elements of the empire he carved out for himself. So surely
did he unify his conquests that the Babylonian power as he left it
survived undivided for nearly fifteen hundred years. The welfare of
his subjects of all races was constantly his care. No one satisfied of
the justice of his cause feared to approach him. The legal code which
he formulated and which remains as his greatest claim to the applause
of posterity is a monument of wisdom and equity. If Sargon is to be
regarded as the Arthur of Babylonian history surely Khammurabi is its
Alfred. The circumstances of the lives of the two monarchs present a
decidedly similar picture. Both had in their early years to free their
country from a foreign yoke, both instituted a legal code, were patrons
of letters and assiduous in their attention to the wants of their

If a great people has frequently evolved a legal code of sterling
merit there are cases on record where such an institution has served
to make a people great, and it is probably no injustice to the Semites
of Babylonia to say of them that the code of Khammurabi made them what
they were. A copy of this world-famous code was found at Susa by J. de
Morgan, and is now in the Louvre.

What the Babylonian chronologists called 'the First Dynasty of Babylon'
fell in its turn, and it is claimed that a Sumerian line of eleven
kings took its place. Their sway lasted for 368 years--a statement
which is obviously open to question. These were themselves overthrown
and a Kassite dynasty from the mountains of Elam was founded by Kandis
(_c_. 1780 B.C.) which lasted for nearly six centuries. These alien
monarchs failed to retain their hold on much of the Asiatic and Syrian
territory which had paid tribute to Babylon and the suzerainty of
Palestine was likewise lost to them. It was at this epoch, too, that
the high-priests of Asshur in the north took the title of king, but
they appear to have been subservient to Babylon in some degree. Assyria
grew gradually in power. Its people were hardier and more warlike than
the art-loving and religious folk of Babylon, and little by little they
encroached upon the weakness of the southern kingdom until at length
an affair of tragic proportions entitled them to direct interference in
Babylonian politics.

A Court Murder

The circumstances which necessitated this intervention are not
unlike those of the assassination of King Alexander of Serbia and
Draga, his Queen, that happened 3000 years later. The Kassite king
of Babylonia had married the daughter of Assur-yuballidh of Assyria.
But the match did not meet with the approval of the Kassite faction
at court, which murdered the bridegroom-king. This atrocious act met
with swift vengeance at the hands of Assur-yuballidh of Assyria, the
bride's father, a monarch of active and statesmanlike qualities, the
author of the celebrated series of letters to Amen-hetep IV of Egypt,
unearthed at Tel-el-Amarna. He led a punitive army into Babylonia,
hurled from the throne the pretender placed there by the Kassite
faction, and replaced him with a scion of the legitimate royal stock.
This king, Burna-buryas, reigned for over twenty years, and upon his
decease the Assyrians, still nominally the vassals of the Babylonian
Crown, declared themselves independent of it. Not content with such a
revolutionary measure, under Shalmaneser I (1300 B.C.) they laid claim
to the suzerainty of the Tigris-Euphrates region, and extended their
conquests even to the boundaries of far Cappadocia, the Hittites and
numerous other confederacies submitting to their yoke. Shalmaneser's
son, Tukulti-in-Aristi, took the city of Babylon, slew its king,
Bitilyasu, and thus completely shattered the claim of the older state
to supremacy. He had reigned in Babylon for some seven years when he
was faced by a popular revolt, which seems to have been headed by his
own son, Assur-nazir-pal, who slew him and placed Hadad-nadin-akhi on
the throne. This king conquered and killed the Assyrian monarch of his
time, Bel-kudur-uzur, the last of the old Assyrian royal line, whose
death necessitated the institution of a new dynasty, the fifth monarch
of which was the famous Tiglath-pileser I.


Tiglath-pileser, or Tukulti-pal-E-sana, to confer on him his full
Assyrian title, came to the throne about 1120 B.C., and soon commenced
the career of active conquest which was to render his name one of
the most famous in the warlike annals of Assyria. Campaigns in the
Upper Euphrates against alien immigrants who had settled there were
followed by the conquest of the Hittites of Subarti, in Assyrian
territory. Pressing northward toward Lake Van in the Kurdish country he
subsequently turned his arms westward and overran Malatia. Cappadocia
and the Aramæans of Northern Syria next felt the force of his arms, and
he penetrated on this occasion even to the sources of the Tigris. He
left behind him the character of a great warrior, a great hunter, and a
great builder, restoring the semi-ruinous temples of Asshur and Hadad
or Rimmon in the city of Asshur.

It is not until the reign of Assur-nazir-pal III (_c_. 883 B.C.) that
we are once more enabled to take up the thread of Assyrian history with
any degree of certainty. In this reign artistic development appears to
have proceeded apace; but it cannot be said of Assur-nazir-pal that
in him culture went hand in hand with humanity, the records of his
cruelties being long and revolting. His successor, Shalmaneser II,
possessed an insatiable thirst for military glory, and during his reign
of thirty-five years overthrew a great confederacy of Syrian chiefs
which included Ahab, King of Israel. He was disturbed during the latter
part of his reign by the rebellion of his eldest son. But his second
son, Samsi-Rammon, came to his father's assistance, and his faithful
adherence secured him the succession to the throne in 824 B.C.

Semiramis the Great

It was probably in the reign of this monarch that the queen known in
legend as Semiramis lived. It would have been wonderful indeed had
the magic of her name not been connected with romance by the Oriental
imagination. Semiramis! The name sparkles and scintillates with gems
of legend and song. Myth, magic, and music encircle it and sweep round
it as fairy seas surround some island paradise. It is a central rose
in the chaplet of legend, it has been enshrined in music perhaps the
most divine and melodious which the songful soul of Italy has ever
conceived--yet not more beauteous than itself. Let us introduce into
the iron chain of Assyrian history the golden link of the legend of
this Helen of the East, and having heard the fictions of her greatness
let us attempt to remove the veils which hide her real personality
from view and look upon her as she was--Sammuramat the Babylonian,
queen and favourite of Samsi-Rammon, who crushed the assembled armies
of Media and Chaldea, and whose glories are engraved upon a column
which, setting forth the tale of her conquests, describes her in all
simplicity as "A woman of the palace of Samsi-Rammon, King of the

Legend says that Ninus, King of Assyria, having conquered the
Babylonians, proceeded toward Armenia with the object of reducing the
people of that country. But its politic king, Barsanes, unable to
meet him by armed force, made a voluntary submission, accompanied by
presents of such magnificence that Ninus was placated. But, insatiable
in his desire for conquest, he turned his eyes to Media, which he
speedily subdued. His next ambition was to bring under his rule the
territory between the Tanais and the Nile. This great task occupied
him for no less than seventeen years, by which time all Asia had
submitted to him, with the single exception of Bactria, which still
maintained its independence. Having laid the foundations of the city
of Nineveh, he resolved to proceed against the Bactrians. His army
was of dimensions truly mythical, for he was said to be accompanied
by 7,000,000 of infantrymen, 2,000,000 of horse-soldiers, with the
addition of 200,000 chariots equipped with scythes.

It was during this campaign, says Diodorus Siculus, that Ninus first
beheld Semiramis. Her precise legendary or mythical origin is obscure.
Some writers aver that she was the daughter of the fish-goddess
Ataryatis, or Derketo, and Oannes, the Babylonian god of wisdom, who
has already been alluded to. Ataryatis was a goddess of Ascalon in
Syria, and after birth her daughter Semiramis was miraculously fed
by doves until she was found by one Simmas, the royal shepherd, who
brought her up and married her to Onnes, or Menon, one of Ninus's
generals. He fell by his own hand, and Ninus thereupon took Semiramis
to wife, having profoundly admired her ever since her conduct at the
capture of Bactria, where she had greatly distinguished herself. Not
long afterward Ninus died, leaving a son called Ninyas. During her
son's minority Semiramis assumed the regency, and the first great work
she undertook was the interment of her husband, whom she buried with
great splendour, and raised over him a mound of earth no less than a
mile and a quarter high and proportionally wide, after which she built
Babylon. This city being finished, she made an expedition into Media;
and wherever she went left memorials of her power and munificence. She
erected vast structures, forming lakes and laying out gardens of great
extent, particularly in Chaonia and Ecbatana. In short, she levelled
hills, and raised mounds of an immense height, which retained her name
for ages. After this she invaded Egypt and conquered Ethiopia, with
the greater part of Libya; and having accomplished her wish, and there
being no enemy to cope with her, excepting the kingdom of India, she
resolved to direct her forces toward that quarter. She had an army of
3,000,000 foot, 500,000 horse, and 100,000 chariots. For the passing
of rivers and engaging the enemy by water she had procured 2000 ships,
to be so constructed as to be taken to pieces for the advantage of
carriage: which ships were built in Bactria by men from Ph[oe]nicia,
Syria, and Cyprus. With these she fought a naval engagement with
Strabrobates, King of India, and at the first encounter sunk a thousand
of his ships. After this she built a bridge over the river Indus, and
penetrated into the heart of the country. Here Strabrobates engaged
her. Being deceived by the numerous appearance of her elephants, he at
first gave way, for being deficient in those animals she had procured
the hides of 3000 black oxen, which, being properly sewn and stuffed
with straw, presented the appearance of so many elephants. All this was
done so naturally that even the real elephants of the Indian king were
deceived. But the stratagem was at last discovered, and Semiramis was
obliged to retreat, after having lost a great part of her army. Soon
after this she resigned the government to her son Ninyas, and died.
According to some writers, she was slain by his hand.

It was through the researches of Professor Lehmann-Haupt of Berlin
that the true personal significance of Semiramis was recovered. Until
the year 1910 the legends of Diodorus and others were held to have
been completely disproved and Semiramis was regarded as a purely
mythical figure. Old Bryant in his _Antient Mythology_, published
at the beginning of last century, proves the legendary status of
Semiramis to his own satisfaction. He says: "It must be confessed that
the generality of historians have represented Semiramis as a woman,
and they describe her as a great princess who reigned in Babylon;
but there are writers who from their situation had opportunities of
better intelligence, and by those she is mentioned as a deity. The
Syrians, says Athenagoras, worshipped Semiramis, and adds that she was
esteemed the daughter of Dercatus and the same as the Suria Dea....
Semiramis was said to have been born at Ascalon because Atargatus was
there worshipped under the name of Dagon, and the same memorials were
preserved there as at Hierapolis and Babylon. These memorials related
to a history of which the dove was the principal type. It was upon the
same account that she was said to have been changed to a dove because
they found her always depicted and worshipped under that form.... From
the above I think it is plain that Semiramis was an emblem and that
the name was a compound of Sama-ramas, or ramis, and it signified 'the
divine token,' a type of providence, and as a military ensign, (for
as such it was used) it may with some latitude be interpreted 'the
standard of the most High.' It consisted of the figure of a dove,
which was probably encircled with the iris, as those two emblems were
often represented together. All who went under that standard, or who
paid any deference to that emblem, were styled Semarim or Samorim. It
was a title conferred upon all who had this device for their national
insigne." There is much more of this sort of thing, typical of the
mythic science of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It
is easy to see how myth became busy with the name of the Assyrian
Queen, whose exploits undoubtedly aroused the enthusiasm not only of
the Assyrians themselves but of the peoples surrounding them. Just as
any great work in ancient Britain was ascribed to the agency of Merlin
or Arthur, so such monuments as could not otherwise be accounted for
were attributed to Semiramis. Western Asia is monumentally eloquent
of her name, and even the Behistun inscriptions of Darius have been
placed to her credit. Herodotus states that one of the gates of Babylon
was called after her, and that she raised the artificial banks that
confined the river Euphrates. Her fame lasted until well into the
Middle Ages, and the Armenians called the district round Lake Van,

There is very little doubt that her fame became mingled with that of
the goddess Ishtar: she possesses the same Venus-like attributes, the
dove is her emblem, and her story became so inextricably intertwined
with that of the Babylonian goddess that she ultimately became a
variant of her. The story of Semiramis is a triumphant vindication of
the manner in which by certain mythical processes a human being can
attain the rank of a god or goddess, for Semiramis was originally very
real indeed. A column discovered in 1909 describes her as "a woman of
the palace of Samsi-rammon, King of the World, King of Assyria, King
of the Four Quarters of the World." This dedication indicates that
Semiramis, or, to give her her Assyrian title, Sammuramat, evidently
possessed an immense influence over her husband, Samsi-rammon, and
that perhaps as queen-mother that influence lasted for more than one
reign, so that the legend that after a regency of forty-two years she
delivered up the kingdom to her son, Ninyas, may have some foundation
in fact. She seems to have made war against the Medes and Chaldeans.
The story that on relinquishing her power she turned into a dove and
disappeared may mean that her name, Sammuramat, was easily connected
with the Assyrian _summat_, the word for 'dove'; and for a person of
her subsequent legendary fame the mythical connexion with Ishtar is
easily accounted for.

The Second Assyrian Empire

What is known as the Second Assyrian Empire commenced with the reign
of Tiglath-pileser III, who organized a great scheme of provincial
government. This plan appears to have been the first forecast of the
feudal system, for each province paid a fixed tribute and provided a
military contingent.

Great efforts were made to render the army as irresistible as possible
with the object of imposing an Assyrian supremacy upon the entire known
world. Tiglath overran Armenia, defeated the Medes and Hittites, seized
the seaports of Ph[oe]nicia and the trade routes connecting them with
the centres of Assyrian commerce, and finally conquered Babylon, where
in 729 B.C. he was invested with the sovereignty of 'Asia.' Two years
later he died, but his successor, Shalmaneser IV, carried on the policy
he had initiated. He had, however, only five years of life in which
to do so, for at the end of that period the usurping general Sargon,
who laid claim to be a descendant of Sargon the Great of Akkad, seized
the royal power of Babylon. He was murdered in 705 B.C., and his son
Sennacherib, of Biblical fame, appears to have been unable to carry on
affairs with the prudence or ability of his father. He outraged the
religious feelings of the people by razing to the ground the city of
Babylon, because of the revolt of the citizens. The campaign he made
against Hezekiah, King of Judah, was marked by a complete failure.
Hezekiah had allied himself with the Philistine princes of Ascalon and
Ekron, but when he saw his Egyptian allies beaten at the battle of
Eltekeh he endeavoured to buy off the invaders by numerous presents,
though without success. The wonderful deliverance of Jerusalem from the
forces of Sennacherib, recorded in Scripture, and sung by Byron in his
_Hebrew Melodies_, appears to have a good foundation in fact. It seems
that the Assyrian army was attacked and almost decimated by plague,
which obliged Sennacherib to return to Nineveh, but it is not likely
that the phenomenon occurred in the watch of a night. Sennacherib was
eventually murdered by his two sons, who, the deed accomplished, fled
to Armenia. Of all the Assyrian monarchs he was perhaps the most
pompous and the least fitted to rule. The great palace at Nineveh and
the great wall of that city, eight miles in circumference, were built
at his command.

[Illustration: Sennacherib receiving Tribute From the Palace at Nineveh
--Photo W. A. Mansell and Co.]

His son and successor, Esar-haddon, initiated his reign by sending
back the sacred image of Merodach to its shrine at Babylon, which city
he restored. He was solemnly declared king in the restored temple of
Merodach, and during his reign both Babylonia and Assyria enjoyed
quiet and contentment. War with Egypt broke out in 670 B.C., and the
Egyptians were thrice defeated with heavy loss. The Assyrians entered
Memphis and instituted a protectorate over part of the country. Two
years later Egypt revolted, and while marching to quell the outbreak
Esar-haddon died on the road--his fate resembling that of Edward I,
who died while on his way to overcome the Scottish people, then in
rebellion against his usurpation.

Sardanapalus the Splendid

Esar-haddon was succeeded by Assur-bani-pal, known to Greek legend as
Sardanapalus. How far the legendary description of him squares with
the historical it is difficult to say. The former states that he was
the last king of Assyria, and the thirtieth in succession from Ninyas.
Effeminate and corrupt, he seems to have been a perfect example of the
_roi fainéant_. The populace of the conquered provinces, disgusted
with his extravagances, revolted, and an army led by Arbaces, satrap
of Medea, and Belesys, a Babylonian priest, surrounded him in Nineveh
and threatened his life. Sardanapalus, however, throwing off his
sloth, made such a vigorous defence that for two years the issue was
in doubt. The river Tigris at this juncture overflowed and undermined
part of the city wall, thus permitting ingress to the hostile army.
Sardanapalus, seeing that resistance was hopeless, collected his wives
and treasures in his palace and then set it on fire, so that all

[Illustration: The Death of Sardanapalus.--L. Chalon--Copyright, Braun and

It is a strange coincidence that the fate which legend ascribes to
Sardanapalus was probably that which really overtook the brother of
Assur-bani-pal, Samas-sum-yukin. It is likely that the self-immolation
of Sardanapalus is merely a legendary statement of a rite well known to
Semitic religion, which was practised at Tarsus down to the time of Dio
Chrysostom, and the memory of which survives in other Greek legends,
especially those of Heracles-Melcarth and Queen Dido. At Tarsus an
annual festival was held and a pyre erected upon which the local
Heracles or Baal was burned in effigy. This annual commemoration of
the death of the god in fire probably had its origin in the older rite
in which an actual man or sacred animal was burned as representing the
deity. _The Golden Bough_[1] contains an instructive passage concerning
the myth of Sardanapalus. Sir James Frazer writes: "There seems to
be no doubt that the name Sardanapalus is only the Greek way of
representing Ashurbanapal, the name of the greatest and nearly the last
King of Assyria. But the records of the real monarch which have come
to light within recent years give little support to the fables that
attached to his name in classical tradition. For they prove that, far
from being the effeminate weakling he seemed to the Greeks of a later
age, he was a warlike and enlightened monarch, who carried the arms
of Assyria to distant lands and fostered at home the growth of science
and letters. Still, though the historical reality of King Ashurbanapal
is as well attested as that of Alexander or Charlemagne, it would be
no wonder if myths gathered, like clouds, around the great figure
that loomed large in the stormy sunset of Assyrian glory. Now the two
features that stand out most prominently in the legends of Sardanapalus
are his extravagant debauchery and his violent death in the flames of
a great pyre, on which he burned himself and his concubines to save
them from falling into the hands of his victorious enemies. It is said
that the womanish king, with painted face and arrayed in female attire,
passed his days in the seclusion of the harem, spinning purple wool
among his concubines and wallowing in sensual delights; and that in
the epitaph which he caused to be carved on his tomb he recorded that
all the days of his life he ate and drank and toyed, remembering that
life is short and full of trouble, that fortune is uncertain, and that
others would soon enjoy the good things which he must leave behind.
These traits bear little resemblance to the portrait of Ashurbanapal
either in life or death; for after a brilliant career of conquest the
Assyrian king died in old age, at the height of human ambition, with
peace at home and triumph abroad, the admiration of his subjects and
the terror of his foes. But if the traditional characteristics of
Sardanapalus harmonize but ill with what we know of the real monarch of
that name, they fit well enough with all that we know or can conjecture
of the mock kings who led a short life and a merry during the revelry
of the Sacæa, the Asiatic equivalent of the Saturnalia. We can hardly
doubt that for the most part such men, with death staring them in the
face at the end of a few days, sought to drown care and deaden fear by
plunging madly into all the fleeting joys that still offered themselves
under the sun. When their brief pleasures and sharp sufferings were
over, and their bones or ashes mingled with the dust, what more natural
that on their tomb--those mounds in which the people saw, not untruly,
the graves of the lovers of Semiramis--there should be carved some
such lines as those which tradition placed in the mouth of the great
Assyrian king, to remind the heedless passer-by of the shortness and
vanity of life?"

According to Sir James Frazer, then, the real Sardanapalus may have
been one of those mock kings who led a short but merry existence before
a sacrifice ended their convivial career. We have analogous instances
in the sacrifice of Sandan at Tarsus and that of the representative of
the Mexican god, Tezcatlipoca. The legend of Sardanapalus is thus a
distorted reminiscence of the death of a magnificent king sacrificed in
name of a god.

When the real Assur-bani-pal succeeded Esar-haddon as King of Assyria,
his brother Samas-sum-yukin was created Viceroy of Babylonia, but
shortly after he claimed the kingship itself, revived the old Sumerian
language as the official tongue of the Babylonian court, and initiated
a revolt which shook the Assyrian empire from one end to the other.
A great struggle ensued between the northern and southern powers,
and at last Babylon was forced to surrender through starvation, and
Samas-sum-yukin was put to death.

Assur-bani-pal, like Sardanapalus, his legendary counterpart, found
himself surrounded by enemies. Having conquered Elam as well as
Babylonia, he had to face the inroads of hordes of Scythians, who
poured over his frontiers. He succeeded in defeating and slaying one
of their chiefs, Dugdamme, whom in an inscription he calls a "limb of
Satan," but shortly after this he died himself. His empire was already
in a state of decay, and had not long to stand.

The First Great Library

But if Assur-bani-pal was effeminate and lax in government, he was the
first great patron of literature. It is to his magnificent library
at Nineveh that we owe practically all that we have preserved of the
literature that was produced in Babylonia. He saw that the southern
part of his empire was far more intellectual and cultured than Assyria,
and he despatched numerous scribes to the temple schools of the south,
where they copied extensively from their archives every description
of literary curiosity--hymns, legends, medical prescriptions, myths
and rituals were all included in the great library at Nineveh. These
through the labours of Layard and Rassam have been restored to us. It
is a most extraordinary instance of antiquarian zeal in an epoch which
we regard as not far distant from the beginnings of verifiable history.
Nearly twenty thousand fragments of brick, bearing the results of
Assur-bani-pal's researches, are housed in the British Museum, and this
probably represents only a portion of his entire collection. Political
motives have been attributed to Assur-bani-pal in thus bringing
together such a great library. It has been argued that he desired to
make Assyria the centre of the religious influence of the empire. This
would derogate greatly from the view that sees in him a king solely
fired with the idea of preserving and retaining all that was best in
ancient Babylonian literature in the north as well as in the south,
and having beside him for his own personal use those records which
many circumstances prove he was extremely desirous of obtaining. Thus
we find him sending officials on special missions to obtain copies of
certain works. It is also significant that Assur-bani-pal placed his
collection in a library and not in a temple--a fact which discounts
the theory that his collection of literature had a religious-political

The Last Kings of Assyria

After the death of Assur-bani-pal the Scythians succeeded in
penetrating into Assyria, through which they pushed their way as far as
the borders of Egypt, and the remains of the Assyrian army took refuge
in Nineveh. The end was now near at hand. The last King of Assyria was
probably Sin-sar-iskin, the Sarakos of the Greeks, who reigned for some
years and who even tells us through the medium of inscriptions that
he intended to restore the ruined temples of his land. War broke out
with Babylonia, however, and Cyaxares, the Scythian King of Ecbatana,
came to the assistance of the Babylonians. Nineveh was captured by the
Scythians, sacked and destroyed, and the Assyrian empire was at an end.

[Illustration: The Library of King Assur-bani-pal at Nineveh.--Fernand Le
Quesne--By permission of Messrs Hutchinson and Co.]


But strangely enough the older seat of power, Babylon, still flourished
to some extent. By superhuman exertions, Nebuchadrezzar II (or
Nebuchadnezzar), who reigned for forty-three years, sent the standard
of Babylonia far and wide through the known world. In 567 B.C. he
invaded Egypt. In one of his campaigns he marched against Jerusalem and
put its king, Jehoiakim, to death, but the king whom the Babylonian
monarch set up in his place was deposed and the royal power vested in
Zedekiah. Zedekiah revolted in 558 B.C. and once more Jerusalem was
taken and destroyed, the principal inhabitants were carried captive to
Babylon, and the city was reduced to a condition of insignificance.
This, the first exile of the Jews, lasted for seventy years. The story
of this captivity and of Nebuchadrezzar's treatment of the Jewish
exiles is graphically told in the Book of Daniel, whom the Babylonians
called Belteshazzar. Daniel refused to eat the meat of the Babylonians,
probably because it was not prepared according to Jewish rite. He and
his companions ate pulse and drank water, and fared upon it better
than the Babylonians on strong meats and wines. The King, hearing of
this circumstance, sent for them and found them much better informed
than all his magicians and astrologers. Nebuchadrezzar dreamed dreams,
and informed the Babylonian astrologers that if they were unable to
interpret them they would be cut to pieces and their houses destroyed,
whereas did they interpret the visions they would be held in high
esteem. They answered that if the King would tell them his dream they
would show the interpretation thereof; but the King said that if they
were wise men in truth they would know the dream without requiring to
be told it, and upon some of the astrologers of the court replying
that the request was unreasonable, he was greatly incensed and ordered
all of them to be slain. But in a vision of the night the secret was
revealed to Daniel, who begged that the wise men of Babylon be not
destroyed, and going to a court official he offered to interpret the
dream. He told the King that in his dream he had beheld a great image,
whose brightness and form were terrible. The head of this image was of
fine gold, the breast and arms of silver, and the other parts of brass,
excepting the legs which were of iron, and the feet which were partly
of that metal and partly of clay. But a stone was cast at it which
smote the image upon its feet and it brake into pieces and the wind
swept away the remnants. The stone that had smitten it became a great
mountain and filled the whole earth.

Then Daniel proceeded to the interpretation. The King, he said,
represented the golden head of the image; the silver an inferior
kingdom which would rise after Nebuchadrezzar's death; and a third of
brass which should bear rule over all the earth. The fourth dynasty
from Nebuchadrezzar would be as strong as iron, but since the toes of
the image's feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so should
that kingdom be partly strong and partly broken. Nebuchadrezzar was so
awed with the interpretation that he fell upon his face and worshipped
Daniel, telling him how greatly he honoured the God who could have
revealed such secrets to him; and he set him as ruler over the whole
province of Babylon, and made him chief of the governors over all the
wise men of that kingdom.

But Daniel's three companions--Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego--refused
to worship a golden image which the King had set up, and he commanded
that they should be cast into a fiery furnace, through which they
passed unharmed.

[Illustration: Daniel interprets the Dream of Nebuchadrezzar.--Evelyn

This circumstance still more turned the heart of Nebuchadrezzar in
the direction of the God of Israel. A second dream which he had, he
begged Daniel to interpret. He said he had seen a tree in the midst
of the earth of more than natural height, which flourished and was
exceedingly strong, so that it reached to heaven. So abundant was the
fruit of this tree that it provided meat for the whole earth, and so
ample its foliage that the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and
the fowls of the air dwelt in its midst. A spirit descended from heaven
and called aloud, demanding that the tree should be cut down and its
leaves and fruit scattered, but that its roots should be left in the
earth surrounded by a band of iron and brass. Then, ordering that the
tree should be treated as if it were a man, the voice of the spirit
continued to ask that it should be wet with the dew of heaven, and that
its portion should be with the beasts in the grass of the earth. "Let
his heart be changed from a man's," said the voice, "and let a beast's
heart be given him; and let seven times pass over him."

Then was Daniel greatly troubled. He kept silence for a space until
the King begged him to take heart and speak. The tree, he announced,
represented Nebuchadrezzar himself, and what had happened to it in the
vision would come to pass regarding the great King of Babylon. He would
be driven from among men and his dwelling would be with the beasts of
the field. He would be made to eat grass as oxen and be wet with the
dew of heaven, and seven times would pass over him, till he knew and
recognized that the Most High ruled in the kingdom of man and gave it
to whomsoever he desired.

Twelve months after this Nebuchadrezzar was in the midst of his palace
at Babylon, boasting of what he had accomplished during his reign,
when a voice from heaven spake, saying: "O King Nebuchadrezzar, to
thee it is spoken, the kingdom is departed from thee," and straightway
was Nebuchadrezzar driven from man and he did eat grass as an ox and
his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hair was grown like
eagle's feathers and his nails like bird's claws.

At the termination of his time of trial Nebuchadrezzar lifted his eyes
to heaven, and praising the Most High admitted his domination over the
whole earth. Thus was the punishment of the boaster completed.

It has been stated with some show of probability that the judgment
upon Nebuchadrezzar was connected with that weird disease known as
lycanthropy, from the Greek words _lukos_, a wolf, and _anthropos_,
a man. It develops as a kind of hysteria and is characterized by a
belief on the part of the victim that he has become an animal. There
are, too, cravings for strange food, and the afflicted person runs
about on all fours. Among primitive peoples such a seizure is ascribed
to supernatural agency, and garlic or onion--the common scourge of
vampires--is held to the nostrils.

[Illustration: Grant of Privileges to Ritti-Marduk, a famous Babylonian
Captain, by Nebuchadrezzar I.--Photo W. A. Mansell and Co.]

The Last of the Babylonian Kings

Nabonidus (555-539 B.C.) was the last of the Babylonian kings--a man
of a very religious disposition and of antiquarian tastes. He desired
to restore the temple of the moon-god at Harran and to restore such
of the images of the gods as had been removed to the ancient shrines.
But first he desired to find out whether this procedure would meet
with the approval of the god Merodach. To this end he consulted the
augurs, who opened the liver of a sheep and drew thence favourable
omens. But on another occasion he aroused the hostility of the god
and incidentally of the priests of E-Sagila by preferring the sun-god
to the great Bel of Babylon. He tells us in an inscription that when
restoring the temple of Shamash at Sippar he had great difficulty
in unearthing the old foundation-stone, and that, when at last it
was unearthed, he trembled with awe as he read thereon the name of
Naram-sin, who, he says, ruled 3200 years before him. But destiny lay
in wait for him, for Cyrus the Persian invaded Babylonia in 538 B.C.,
and after defeating the native army at Opis he pressed on to Babylon,
which he entered without striking a blow. Nabonidus was in hiding, but
his place of concealment was discovered. Cyrus, pretending to be the
avenger of Bel-Merodach for the slights the unhappy Nabonidus had put
upon the god, had won over the people, who were exceedingly wroth with
their monarch for attempting to remove many images of the gods from
the provinces to the capital. Cyrus placed himself upon the throne of
Babylon and about a year before his death (529 B.C.) transferred the
regal power to his son, Cambyses. Assyrian-Babylonian history here
ceases and is merged into Persian. Babylonia recovered its independence
after the death of Darius. A king styling himself Nebuchadrezzar III
arose, who reigned for about a year (521-520 B.C.), at the end of which
time the Persians once more returned as conquerors. A second revolt in
514 B.C. caused the partial destruction of the walls, and finally the
great city of Babylon became little better than a quarry out of which
the newer city of Seleucia and other towns were built.

The History of Berossus

It will be of interest to examine at least one of the ancient
authorities upon Babylonian history. Berossus, a priest of Bel at
Babylon, who lived about 250 B.C., compiled from native documents a
history of his country, which he published in Greek. His writings have
perished, but extracts from them have been preserved by Josephus and
Eusebius. There is a good deal of myth in Berossus' work, especially
when he deals with the question of cosmology, the story of the deluge,
and so forth; also the 'facts' which he places before us as history
cannot be reconciled with those inscribed on the monuments. He seems
indeed to have arranged his history so that it should exactly fill the
assumed period of 36,000 years, beginning with the creation of man and
ending with the conquest of Babylon by Alexander the Great. Berossus
tells of a certain Sisuthrus,[2] whose history will be recounted in
full in another chapter. He then relates a legend of the advent of the
fish-man or fish-god, Oannes, from the waters of the Persian Gulf.
Indeed he alludes to three beings of this type, who, one after another,
appeared to instruct the Babylonians in arts and letters.

Berossus' Account of the Deluge

More important is his account of the deluge. There is more than one
Babylonian version of the deluge: that which is to be found in the
_Gilgamesh Epic_ is given in the chapter dealing with that poem. As
Berossus' account is quite as important, we shall give it in his own
words before commenting upon it: "After the death of Ardates, his son
(Sisuthrus) succeeded and reigned eighteen sari. In his time happened
the great deluge; the history of which is given in this manner. The
Deity, Cronus, appeared to him in a vision; and gave him notice, that
upon the fifteenth day of the month Dæsius there would be a flood,
by which mankind would be destroyed. He therefore enjoined him to
commit to writing a history of the beginning, procedure, and final
conclusion of all things, down to the present term; and to bury these
accounts securely in the City of the Sun at Sippara. He then ordered
Sisuthrus to build a vessel, and to take with him into it his friends
and relations; and trust himself to the deep. The latter implicitly
obeyed: and having conveyed on board every thing necessary to sustain
life, he took in also all species of animals, that either fly, or rove
upon the surface of the earth. Having asked the Deity whither he was
to go, he was answered, To the gods: upon which he offered up a prayer
for the good of mankind. Thus he obeyed the divine admonition: and the
vessel, which he built, was five stadia in length, and in breadth two.
Into this he put every thing which he had got ready; and last of all
conveyed into it his wife, children, and friends. After the flood had
been upon the earth, and was in time abated, Sisuthrus sent out some
birds from the vessel; which not finding any food, nor any place to
rest their feet, returned to him again. After an interval of some days;
he sent them forth a second time: and they now returned with their feet
tinged with mud. He made trial a third time with these birds: but they
returned to him no more: from whence he formed a judgment, that the
surface of the earth was now above the waters. Having therefore made an
opening in the vessel, and finding upon looking out, that the vessel
was driven to the side of a mountain, he immediately quitted it, being
attended with his wife, children, and the pilot. Sisuthrus immediately
paid his adoration to the earth: and having constructed an altar,
offered sacrifices to the gods. These things being duly performed, both
Sisuthrus, and those who came out of the vessel with him, disappeared.
They, who remained in the vessel, finding that the others did not
return, came out with many lamentations and called continually on the
name of Sisuthrus. Him they saw no more; but they could distinguish his
voice in the air, and could hear him admonish them to pay due regard
to the gods; and likewise inform them, that it was upon account of his
piety that he was translated to live with the gods; that his wife and
children, with the pilot, had obtained the same honour. To this he
added, that he would have them make the best of their way to Babylonia,
and search for the writings at Sippara, which were to be made known to
all mankind. The place where these things happened was in Armenia. The
remainder having heard these words, offered sacrifices to the gods;
and, taking a circuit, journeyed towards Babylonia." Berossus adds,
that the remains of the vessel were to be seen in his time upon one
of the Corcyrean mountains in Armenia; and that people used to scrape
off the bitumen, with which it had been outwardly coated, and made use
of it by way of an antidote for poison or amulet. In this manner they
returned to Babylon; and having found the writings at Sippara, they
set about building cities and erecting temples; and Babylon was thus
inhabited again.

Analogies with the Flood Myth

It is interesting to note that Sisuthrus, the hero of this deluge
story, was also the tenth Babylonian king, just as Noah was the tenth
patriarch. The birds sent out by Sisuthrus strongly recall the raven
and dove despatched by Noah; but there are several American myths which
introduce this conception.

Birds and beasts in many cosmologies provide the nucleus of the new
world which emerges from the waters which have engulfed the old.
Perhaps it is the beaver or the musk-rat which dives into the abyss
and brings up a piece of mud, which gradually grows into a spacious
continent; but sometimes birds carry this nucleus in their beaks. In
the myth under consideration they return with mud on their feet, which
is obviously expressive of the same idea. Attempts have been made to
show that a great difference exists between the Babylonian and Hebrew
story. Undoubtedly the two stories have a common origin.

The first Babylonian version of the myth dates from about 2000 B.C.
and its text is evidently derived from a still older tablet. It seems
likely that this was in turn indebted to a still more archaic version,
which probably recounted the earliest type of the myth. This perhaps
related how the earth and its inhabitants were not to the liking of
the Creator, and how he resolved to recreate the whole. The great
ocean-dragon was therefore called in to submerge the world, after which
the Creator re-moulded it and set the survivor and his family upon it
as the ancestors of a new human race. It is possible also that the
great sea-dragon, or serpent, which was slain by the Creator, may have
flooded the earth with his blood as he expired: there is an Algonquin
Indian myth to this effect. In an old cuneiform text, in fact, the
year of the deluge is alluded to as "the year of the raging serpent."
The wise man who takes refuge in the ship or ark is warned by a dream
of the forthcoming deluge. In some North American Indian myths he is
warned by friendly animals. The mountain, too, as a place of refuge for
the ark, is fairly common in myth.

We have dealt in Chapter II with the creation myth found in Berossus,
and with this ends the part of his history which is of any importance.

Babylonian Archæology

Until about the middle of the nineteenth century our knowledge of
the history and antiquities of Babylonia and Assyria was extremely
scanty. The deeply interesting series of excavations which unrolled
the circumstances of these ancient civilizations before the almost
incredulous eyes of learned Europe are described at length towards
the close of this volume. Here we may say shortly that the labours of
Layard and Botta at Nineveh convinced antiquaries that the remains
of a great civilization awaited discovery. Layard's excavation
of the library of Assur-bani-pal was the first great step toward
reconstructing the ancient life of the two kingdoms. He was followed
by Oppert and Loftus, but the systematic excavation of the country was
yet to be undertaken. This, as we shall see, was commenced by George
Smith of the British Museum, but unfortunately he died on his way
home from the East. His work at Nineveh was taken up by Mr Hormuzd
Rassam, who succeeded in unearthing inscribed tables and bronze gates
in bas-relief. A few years afterward Mr Rassam discovered the site of
the temple of the sun-god of Sippara at Abu-habba to the south-west of
Bagdad. An important find by de Sarzec was that of the diorite statues
of Gudea, the Patesi or Ruler of Lagash, about 2700 B.C., the stone of
which, according to the inscriptions upon them, had been brought from
the Sinaitic peninsula. The university of Pennsylvania sent Mr J.H.
Haynes in 1889 to excavate at Nippur, where he unearthed the remains of
the great temple of En-lil, in the heart of which is a mound of bricks
stamped with the names of Sargon of Akkad and his son, Naram-sin. The
German expedition of 1899 explored the ruins of Babylon, the palace of
Nebuchadrezzar, and the site of Asshur.

The Tower of Babel

Many attempts have been made to attach the legend of the confusion of
tongues to certain ruined towers in Babylonia, especially to that of
E-Sagila, the great temple of Merodach, and some remarks upon this most
interesting tale may not be out of place at this point. The myth is
not found in Babylonia itself, and in its best form may be discovered
in Scripture. In the Bible story we are told that every region was of
one tongue and mode of speech. As men journeyed westward from their
original home in the East, they encountered a plain in the land of
Shinar where they settled. In this region they commenced building
operations, constructed a city, and laid the foundations of a tower,
the summit of which they hoped would reach to heaven itself. It would
appear that this edifice was constructed with the object of serving as
a great landmark to the people so that they should not be scattered
over the face of the earth, and the Lord came down to view the city and
the tower, and he considered that as they were all of one language this
gave them undue power, and that what they imagined to themselves under
such conditions they would be able to achieve. So the Lord scattered
them abroad from thence over the face of every region, and the building
of the tower ceased and the name of it was called 'Babel,' because at
that place the single language of the people was confounded. Of course
it is merely the native name of Babylon, which translated means 'gate
of the god,' and has no such etymology as the Scriptures pretend,--the
Hebrews confusing their verb _balal_ 'to confuse or confound,' with the
word _babel_. The story was no doubt suggested by one of the temple
towers of Babylon. Over and over again we find in connexion with the
Jewish religion that anything which savours of presumption or unnatural
aspiration is strongly condemned. The ambitious effort of the Tower
of Babel would thus seem abhorrent to the Hebrews of old. The strange
thing is that these ancient towers or _zikkurats_, as the Babylonians
called them, were intended to serve as a link between heaven and earth,
just as does the minaret of the Mahommedan mosque.

[Illustration: Birs Nimrûd, the Tower of Babel From _Nippur, or
Exploration and Adventure on the Euphrates_, by J. P. Peters.--By
permission of Messrs G.P. Putnam's Sons]

The legend of the confusion of tongues is to be traced in other
folk-lores than that of Babylon. It is found in Central America, where
the story runs that Xelhua, one of the seven giants rescued from the
deluge, built the great pyramid of Cholula in order to besiege heaven.
The structure was, however, destroyed by the gods, who cast down fire
upon it and confounded the language of its builders. Livingstone found
some such myth among the African tribes around Lake Ngami, and certain
Australian and Mongolian peoples possess a similar tradition.

Nimrod, the Mighty Hunter

It is strange that the dispersion of tribes at Babel should be
connected with the name of Nimrod, who figures in Biblical as well as
Babylonian tradition as a mighty hunter. Epiphanius states that from
the very foundation of this city (Babylon) there commenced an immediate
scene of conspiracy, sedition, and tyranny, which was carried on by
Nimrod, the son of Chus the Æthiop. Around this dim legendary figure
a great deal of learned controversy has raged. Before we examine his
legendary and mythological significance, let us see what legend and
Scripture say of him. In the Book of Genesis (chap. x, 8, _ff_.) he is
mentioned as "a mighty hunter before Yahweh: wherefore it is said, Even
as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord." He was also the ruler of
a great kingdom. "The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech,
and Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went
forth Asshur" (that is, by compulsion of Nimrod) "and builded Nineveh,"
and other great cities. In the Scriptures Nimrod is mentioned as a
descendant of Ham, but this may arise from the reading of his father's
name as _Cush_, which in the Scriptures indicates a coloured race. The
name may possibly be _Cash_ and should relate to the Cassites.

It appears then that the sons of Cush or Chus, the Cassites, according
to legend, did not partake of the general division of the human race
after the fall of Babel, but under the leadership of Nimrod himself
remained where they were. After the dispersion, Nimrod built Babylon
and fortified the territory around it. It is also said that he built
Nineveh and trespassed upon the land of Asshur, so that at last he
forced Asshur to quit that territory.[3] The Greeks gave him the name
of Nebrod or Nebros, and preserved or invented many tales concerning
him and his apostasy, and concerning the tower which he is supposed to
have erected. He is described as a gigantic person of mighty bearing,
and a contemner of everything divine; his followers are represented as
being equally presumptuous and overbearing. In fact he seems to have
appeared to the Greeks very much like one of their own Titans.

Nimrod has been identified both with Merodach, the tutelar god of
Babylon, and with Gilgamesh, the hero of the epic of that name, with
Orion, and with others. The name, according to Petrie, has even been
found in Egyptian documents of the XXII Dynasty as 'Nemart.'

Nimrod seems to be one of those giants who rage against the gods, as do
the Titans of Greek myth and the Jotunn of Scandinavian story. All are
in fact earth-gods, the disorderly forces of nature, who were defeated
by the deities who stood for law and order. The derivation of the name
Nimrod may mean 'rebel.' In all his later legends, for instance, those
of them that are related by Philo in his _De Gigantibus_ (a title which
proves that Nimrod was connected with the giant race by tradition),
he appears as treacherous and untrustworthy. The theory that he is
Merodach has no real foundation either in scholarship or probability.
As a matter of fact the Nimrod legend seems to be very much more
archaic than any piece of tradition connected with Merodach, who indeed
is a god of no very great antiquity.

Abram and Nimrod

Many Jewish legends bring Abram into relationship with Nimrod, the
mythical King of Babylon. According to legend Abram was originally an
idolater, and many stories are preserved respecting his conversion.
Jewish legend states that the Father of the Faithful originally
followed his father Terah's occupation, which was that of making and
selling images of clay; and that, when very young, he advised his
father "to leave his pernicious trade of idolatry by which he imposed
on the world."

The Jewish Rabbins relate that on one occasion, his father Terah having
undertaken a considerable journey, the sale of the images devolved on
him, and it happened that a man who pretended to be a purchaser asked
him how old he was. "Fifty years," answered the Patriarch. "Wretch that
thou art," said the man, "for adoring at that age a thing which is only
one day old!" Abram was astonished; and the exclamation of the old man
had such an effect upon him, that when a woman soon after brought some
flour, as an offering to one of the idols, he took an axe and broke
them to pieces, preserving only the largest one, into the hand of which
he put the axe. Terah returned home and inquired what this havoc meant.
Abram replied that the deities had quarrelled about an offering which
a woman had brought, upon which the larger one had seized an axe and
destroyed the others. Terah replied that he must be in jest, as it was
impossible that inanimate statues could so act; and Abram immediately
retorted on his father his own words, showing him the absurdity of
worshipping false deities. But Terah, who does not appear to have been
convinced, delivered Abram to Nimrod, who then dwelt in the Plain of
Shinar, where Babylon was built. Nimrod, having in vain exhorted Abram
to worship fire, ordered him to be thrown into a burning furnace,
exclaiming--"Let your God come and take you out." As soon as Haran,
Abram's youngest brother, saw the fate of the Patriarch, he resolved to
conform to Nimrod's religion; but when he saw his brother come out of
the fire unhurt, he declared for the "God of Abram," which caused him
to be thrown in turn into the furnace, and he was consumed. A certain
writer, however, narrates a different version of Haran's death. He says
that he endeavoured to snatch Terah's idols from the flames, into which
they had been thrown by Abram, and was burnt to death in consequence.

A Persian Version

The Persian Mussulmans allege that the Patriarch, who was born in
Chaldea, after God had manifested himself to him, proceeded to Mecca,
and built the celebrated Kaaba or temple there. When he returned
home he publicly declared himself the Prophet of God, and specially
announced it to Nimrod, King of Chaldea, who was a worshipper of fire.
Abram met Nimrod at a town in Mesopotamia, called Urga, afterwards
Caramit, and now Diarbekr, in which was a large temple consecrated
to fire, and publicly entreated the King to renounce his idolatry and
worship the true God. Nimrod consulted his wise men and inquired what
punishment such a blasphemer deserved, and they advised that he should
be consigned to the flames. A pile of wood was ordered to be prepared
and Abram was placed upon it, but to their astonishment it would
not kindle. Nimrod asked the priests the cause of this phenomenon,
and they replied that an angel was constantly flying about the pile
and preventing the wood from burning. The King asked how the angel
could be driven away, and they replied that it could only be done by
some dreadful rite. Their advice was followed, but the angel still
persisted, and Nimrod at length banished Abram from his dominions.

The Mussulmans also relate that the King made war against the
Patriarch, and when he was marching against him, he sent a person to
him with this message--"O Abram! it is now time to fight; where is thy
army?" Abram answered, "It will come immediately;" and immediately
there appeared an immense sun-darkening cloud of gnats, which devoured
Nimrod's soldiers to the very bones.

Another tradition is preserved in the East, specially referring to
the casting of Abram into a fiery furnace at Babylon by order of
Nimrod, which seems to be a corrupted story of the deliverance of
the three Hebrews recorded by Daniel--Nimrod merely substituted for
Nebuchadrezzar, as no evidence exists that Abram ever was at Babylon.
"Nimrod," it is said, "in a dream saw a star rising above the horizon,
the light of which eclipsed that of the sun." The soothsayers who were
consulted foretold that a child was to be born in Babylon who shortly
would become a great prince, and that he (Nimrod) had reason to fear
him. Terrified at this answer, Nimrod gave orders to search for such
an infant. Notwithstanding this precaution, however, Adna, the wife of
Azar, one of Nimrod's guards, hid her child in a cave, the mouth of
which she diligently closed, and when she returned she told her husband
that it had perished.

Adna, in the meantime, proceeded regularly to the cave to nurse the
infant, but she always found him suckling the ends of his fingers, one
of which furnished him milk and the other honey. This miracle surprised
her, and as her anxiety for the child's welfare was thus greatly
relieved, and as she saw that Heaven had undertaken the care, she
merely satisfied herself with visiting him from time to time. She soon
perceived that he grew as much in three days as common children do in a
month, so that fifteen moons had scarcely passed before he appeared as
if he were fifteen years of age. Adna now told her husband, Azar, that
the son of whom she had been delivered, and whom she had reported dead,
was living, and that God had provided miraculously for his subsistence.
Azar went immediately to the cave, where he found his son, and desired
his mother to convey him to the city, as he was resolved to present him
to Nimrod and place him about the court.

In the evening Adna brought him forth out of his den, and conducted
him to a meadow where herds of cattle were feeding. This was a sight
entirely new to the young Abram, who was inquisitive to learn their
nature, and was informed by his mother of their names, uses, and
qualities. Abram continued his inquiries and desired to know who
produced the animals. Adna told him that all things had their Lord
and Creator. "Who, then," said he, "brought me into the world?" "I,"
replied Adna. "And who is your Lord?" asked Abram. She answered,
"Azar." "Who is Azar's Lord?" She told him, Nimrod. He showed an
inclination to carry his inquiries farther, but she checked him,
telling him that it was not convenient to search into other matters
because of danger. At last he came to the city, the inhabitants of
which he perceived deeply engaged in superstition and idolatry. After
this he returned to his grotto.

One evening, as he was going to Babylon, he saw the stars shining,
and among others Venus, which was adored by many. He said within
himself--"Perhaps this is the God and Creator of the world;" but
observing some time after that this star was set, he said--"This
certainly cannot be the Maker of the universe, for it is not possible
he should be subject to such a change." Soon after he noticed the moon
at full, and thought that this might possibly be the Author of all
things; but when he perceived this planet also sink beneath the horizon
his opinion of it was the same as in the case of Venus. At length, near
the city he saw a multitude adoring the rising sun, and he was tempted
to follow their example, but having seen this luminary decline like
the rest, he concluded that it was not his Creator, his Lord, and his
God. Azar presented his son Abram to Nimrod, who was seated on a lofty
throne, with a number of beautiful slaves of both sexes in attendance.
Abram asked his father who was the person so much exalted above the
rest. Azar answered--"The King Nimrod, whom these people acknowledge
as their God." "It is impossible," replied Abram, "that he should
be their God, since he is not so beautiful, and consequently not so
perfect, as the generality of those about him."

Abram now took an opportunity of conversing with his father about the
unity of God, which afterwards drew him into great contests with the
principal men of Nimrod's court, who would by no means acquiesce in the
truths he declared. Nimrod, informed of these disputes, commanded him,
as we have already mentioned, to be thrown into a burning furnace, out
of which he came without receiving the least hurt.

The 'Babylonica'

Fragments of Babylonian history, or rather historical romance, occur in
the writings of early authors other than Berossus. One of these is to
be found in the _Babylonica_ of Iamblichus, a work embracing no less
than sixteen books, by a native of Chalchis in C[oe]le-Syria, who was
much enamoured of the mysterious ancient life of Babylonia and Assyria,
and who died about A.D. 333. All that remains of what is palpably a
romance, which may have been founded upon historical probability, is an
epitome of the _Babylonica_ by Photius, which, still further condensed,
is as follows:

Attracted by her beauty and relying on his own great power, Garmus,
King of Babylon, decided to marry Sinonis, a maiden of surpassing
beauty. She, however, was already in love with another, Rhodanes,
and discouraged Garmus' every advance. Her attachment became known
to the King, but did not alter his determination, and to prevent the
possibility of any attempt at flight on the part of the lovers, he
appointed two eunuchs, Damas and Saca, to watch their movements. The
penalty for negligence was loss of ears and nose, and that penalty
the eunuchs suffered. In spite of their close vigilance the lovers
escaped. Damas and Saca were, however, placed at the head of troops and
despatched to recapture the fugitives. Their relentless search was not
the lovers' only anxiety, for in seeking refuge with some shepherds in
a meadow, they encountered a demon--a satyr, which in the shape of a
goat haunted that part of the country. This demon, to Sinonis' horror,
began to pay her all sorts of weird, fantastic attentions, and finally
compelled her and Rhodanes to abandon the protection of the shepherds
for the concealment offered by a cavern. Here they were discovered by
Damas and his forces, and must have been captured but for the opportune
arrival and attack of a swarm of poisonous bees which routed the
eunuchs. When the runaways were alone again they tasted and ate some of
the bees' honey, and almost immediately lost consciousness. Later Damas
again attacked the cavern, but finding the lovers still unconscious he
and his troops left them there for dead.

In time, however, they recovered and continued their flight into the
country. A man, who afterward poisoned his brother and accused them
of the crime, offered them sanctuary. Only the suicide of this man
saved them from serious trouble and probably recapture, and from
his house they wandered into the company of a robber. Here again
the troops of Damas came upon them and burned their dwelling to the
ground. In desperation the fugitives masqueraded as the ghosts of the
people the robber had murdered in his house. Their ruse succeeded
and once again their pursuers were thrown off the scent. They next
encountered the funeral of a young girl, and witnessed her apparent
return to life almost at the door of the sepulchre. In this sepulchre
Sinonis and Rhodanes slept that night, and once more were believed to
be dead by Damas and his soldiers. Later, however, Sinonis tried to
dispose of their grave clothes and was arrested in the act. Soracchus,
the magistrate of the district, decided to send her to Babylon. In
despair she and Rhodanes took some poison with which they had provided
themselves against such an emergency. This had been anticipated by
their guards, however, with the result that a sleeping draught had been
substituted for the poison, and some time later the lovers to their
amazement awoke to find themselves in the vicinity of Babylon. Overcome
by such a succession of misfortunes, Sinonis stabbed herself, though
not fatally. Soracchus, on learning this, was moved to compassion, and
consented to the escape of his prisoners.

[Illustration: The Murder of Setapo.--Evelyn Paul.]

After this the lovers embarked on a new series of adventures even
more thrilling than those which had gone before. The Temple of Venus
(Ishtar), situated on an island of the Euphrates, was their first
destination after escaping from the captivity of Soracchus. Here
Sinonis' wound was healed, and afterward they sought refuge with
a cottager, whose daughter consented to dispose of some trinkets
belonging to Sinonis. In doing so the girl was mistaken for Sinonis,
and news that Sinonis had been seen in the neighbourhood was sent at
once to Garmus. While selling the trinkets the cottage girl had become
so alarmed by the suspicious questions and manner of the purchasers
that she hurried home with all possible speed. On her way back her
curiosity was excited by sounds of a great disturbance issuing from
a house hard by, and on entering she was appalled to discover a man
in the very act of taking his life after murdering his mistress.
Terrified and sprinkled with blood she sped back to her father's
house. On hearing the girl's story, Sinonis realised that the safety
of herself and Rhodanes lay only in flight. They prepared at once to
go, but before starting Rhodanes kissed the peasant girl. Sinonis,
discovering what he had done by the blood on his lips, became furious
with jealousy. In a transport of rage she tried to stab the girl, and
on being prevented rushed to the house of Setapo, a wealthy Babylonian
of evil repute. Setapo welcomed her only too cordially. At first
Sinonis pretended to meet his mood, but as time went by she relented
of her treatment of Rhodanes and began to cast about for some means of
escape. As the evening wore on she plied Setapo with wine until he was
intoxicated, then during the night she murdered him, and in the first
early dawn left the house. The slaves of Setapo pursued and overtook
her, however, and committed her to custody to answer for her crime.

All Babylon rejoiced with its king over the news of Sinonis' discovery.
So great was Garmus' delight that he commanded that all the prisoners
throughout his dominions should be released, and in this general boon
Sinonis shared. Meanwhile the dog of Rhodanes had scented out the
house in which the peasant girl had witnessed the suicide of the lover
who had murdered his mistress, and while the animal was devouring the
remains of the woman the father of Sinonis arrived at the same house.
Thinking the mutilated body was that of his daughter he buried it,
and on the tomb he placed the inscription: "Here lies the beautiful
Sinonis." Some days later Rhodanes passed that way, and on reading the
inscription added to it, "And also the beautiful Rhodanes." In his
grief he would have stabbed himself had not the peasant girl who had
been the cause of Sinonis' jealousy prevented him by telling him who in
reality was buried there.

During these adventures Soracchus had been imprisoned for allowing the
lovers to escape, and this, added to the threat of further punishment,
induced him to help the Babylonian officers to trace Rhodanes. So in
a short time Rhodanes was prisoner once again, and by the command of
Garmus was nailed to a cross. In sight of him the King danced delirious
with revengeful joy, and while he was so engaged a messenger arrived
with the news that Sinonis was about to be espoused by the King of
Syria, into whose dominions she had escaped. Rhodanes was taken down
from the cross and put in command of the Babylonian army. This seeming
change of fortune was really dictated by the treachery of Garmus, as
certain inferior officers were commanded by Garmus to slay Rhodanes
should he defeat the Syrians, and to bring Sinonis alive to Babylon.
Rhodanes won a sweeping victory and also regained the affection and
trust of Sinonis. The officers of Garmus, instead of obeying his
command, proclaimed the victor king, and all ended auspiciously for the

Cuneiform Writing

The manner in which the ancient cuneiform writing of Babylonia and
Assyria was deciphered and restored to the world of science and
letters may be regarded as a great triumph of human reason. The name
'cuneiform' is most appropriate, for each character or sign is composed
of a wedge or combination of wedges. It is written, as most Oriental
languages, from left to right. The cuneiform script was first noticed
by a European at such a relatively early period as the year A.D. 1470,
when Josaphat Barbaro, a Venetian traveller, observed it cut on the
platform of Rachmet in Persia. Another Italian, Pietro della Valle,
passing that way in 1621, copied a few of the signs, which he sent back
to Italy, and Sir John Chardin accurately reproduced an inscription
found at Persepolis in 1711. It was obvious that three separate
languages were written in this script, and these have since been
found to be Persian, Babylonian, and Susian. In 1765 Niebuhr visited
Persepolis, and in less than a month copied all the texts there, which
were then ready for decipherment. Returning to Denmark he occupied
himself with studying what he had set down at Persepolis, and divided
the smaller inscriptions into three classes, which he described as
Classes I, II, and III instead of into three languages. Discovering
that Class I embraced only forty-two signs, he set these in order, and
but little subsequent addition has had to be made to them. Deciding
that the language of the signs was written in alphabetic characters, he
found himself obliged to call a halt. But two other scholars were more
fortunate than he. Tychsen hit upon a certain diagonal sign as that
employed to separate words, and correctly identified the alphabetic
signs for 'a,' 'd,' 'u,' and 's.' Hunter of Copenhagen was more careful
to verify his historical data than Tychsen had been, and was able to
identify distinctly the authors of the inscriptions before him. He,
too, independently identified the oblique wedge as a separative of
words, and hit upon the significance of the sign for the letter 'b.'
But after these achievements it seemed as if little more could be done.
It must be remembered that up to this time no such assistance was
vouchsafed the searchers as in the case of the Egyptian hieroglyphs,
where a Greek inscription had been found side by side with an Egyptian


But a man of the greatest natural ingenuity was resolved to combat
the difficulty presented by the cuneiform script. Georg Grotefend
took up the task in the early years of the nineteenth century.
Beginning with the assumption that the inscriptions represented three
languages, and that one of these was ancient Persian, he took two of
the inscriptions which he understood to be Persian, and placing them
side by side found that certain signs were of frequent recurrence. This
indicated to him the possibility that their contents were similar.
A certain word appeared very frequently in the inscriptions, but it
seemed to have two forms, a longer and a shorter, and this Grotefend,
adopting a suggestion of Hunter's, took to mean 'king' in the short
form and 'kings' in the longer, the juxtaposition of the two signs
thus being taken to signify 'king of kings.' In both the inscriptions
studied by Grotefend he found that this expression 'king of kings'
was followed by the same word, which he took to mean 'great.' But
there were no definite facts to support these hypotheses. Turning to
certain Sassanian inscriptions which had recently been deciphered,
he found that the expression 'great king, king of kings' inevitably
occurred, and this strengthened his opinion that it was present in the
inscriptions he studied. If this was so, thought he, the two texts
under his observation must have been set up by two different kings,
for the names were not the same at the beginning. Moreover the name
with which text No. I began appears in the third line of text No. II,
following the word supposed to be 'king,' and another which might mean
'son.' Grotefend thus concluded that in the two inscriptions he had the
names of a triad of rulers, son, father, and grandfather. Applying to
the list of the Achænenian dynasty in the attempt to find three names
which would suit the conditions, he selected those of Xerxes, Darius,
and Hystaspes. Supposing the name at the beginning of inscription I to
be Darius, he thus considered himself to be justified in translating
text I as "Darius, great king, king of kings, son of Hystaspes,"
and text II as "Xerxes, great king, king of kings, son of Darius."
Considering that the Persian spelling of Darius would be Darheush,
he applied the letters of that name to the letters of the cuneiform
script. Subsequent investigation has shown that the name should have
been read Daryavush, but Grotefend at least succeeded in discovering
the letters for 'd,' 'a,' 'r,' and 'sh.'

But this was practically the end of Grotefend's discoveries. Burnouf,
by a careful study of Persian geographical names, managed to decipher a
large number of the characters of the Persian alphabet, and Professor
Lassen of Bonn, by similar means, achieved a like end. These two
independent achievements raised a fierce controversy as to priority of
discovery, but Lassen's system was the more perfect, as he found out
that the ancient Persian signs were not entirely alphabetic but were
partially syllabic--that is, that certain signs represented syllables
instead of letters. This meant that Grotefend's system, which had
been almost vowelless, was now to a great extent filled in with the
necessary vowels.


At this juncture a certain Major Henry Rawlinson, a servant of the
East India Company, with a good knowledge of Persian, went to Persia
for the purpose of assisting to organize the native army there. He
was far away from books, and when he began to copy certain cuneiform
texts it was because of deep personal interest. He was quite unaware
of the strenuous toil which had been lavished upon them in Europe and
worked quite independently of all assistance. The strange thing is
that he laboured almost on the same lines as Grotefend had done. He
saw almost at once that he had three languages to deal with, and being
a man of great natural gifts he soon grouped the signs in a correct
manner. Strangely enough he applied the very same names--those of
Hystaspes, Darius, and Xerxes--to the texts as Grotefend had done, and
found them answer in the same manner. Turning his attention to the
inscription of Darius at Behistun, high up in the face of the living
wall of rock there, Rawlinson succeeded in copying part of it at great
personal risk. In 1838 he forwarded his translation of the first two
paragraphs of the Persian text, containing the genealogy of Darius,
to the Royal Asiatic Society of London. The feat made a tremendous
sensation, and he was supplied with all the principal works on the
subject and much correspondence from European scholars. He was,
however, patience personified, and would not publish a work he had
written on the subject because he thought it better to wait until he
had verified his conclusions and perhaps made fresh discoveries. But in
1840 he was despatched to Afghanistan on a political mission and did
not return to Bagdad for three years, and it was not until 1846 that
he published a series of memoirs in the _Journal_ of the Royal Asiatic
Society, in which he gave to the world a translation of the Persian
text at Behistun. It was a marvellous achievement, for, unlike those
who had been labouring on the subject in Europe, he was ignorant of the
languages allied to Persian, yet he had surpassed all other scholars in
his results.

But the deciphering of the second and third languages had yet to be
attacked. In 1844 Westergaard, working on the lines of Grotefend,
attacked the second language. He selected the names of Darius,
Hystaspes, and Xerxes, and compared them with their equivalents in
the Persian texts. By this means he discovered a number of signs and
by their aid attempted to spell out the syllables or words. Judging
the writing to be partly alphabetic and partly syllabic, he gave the
name Median to the language. Morris, who had Rawlinson's copy of the
second transcription of the Behistun text to work upon, deciphered
nearly all of it. Shortly after this the language was named Susian. The
deciphering of the third of the three languages found at Persepolis
was attacked by Löwenstern, and by the Rev. Edward Hinks, an Irish
clergyman. This language was Assyrian purely. Hinks was fearful of
making blunders, and whilst he was engaged in assuring himself that
every step he took was not a false one, Longpérier, published in
1847 a translation of the entire text. He was only able to read it
by analogy with the other texts; he could not provide the forms of
the Assyrian words themselves. But Rawlinson once more came to the
aid of the study, and it was shown that a large number of signs were
ideographic. This paved the way for a band of others who by their
united efforts succeeded in unravelling the complicated script.

Origin of Cuneiform

This peculiar system of writing originated in Babylonia, its inventors
being the Sumerian or non-Semitic people who inhabited that country
before its settlement by the Babylonians. It was developed from
picture-writing, and indeed some of the more highly significant of
the pictorial signs can still be faintly traced in their cuneiform
equivalents. This early picture-writing was inscribed on stone, but
eventually soft clay was adopted as a medium for the script, and it
was found that straight lines impressed upon this medium tended to the
shape of a wedge. The pictures therefore lost their original character
and came to be mere conventional groups of wedges. The plural was
represented by doubling the sign, and a term might be intensified
by the addition of a certain stroke: thus the sign for 'house,' if
four small strokes were added to it, would mean 'great house,' and so
forth. The script was badly suited to the Assyrian language, as it
had not been originally designed for a Semitic tongue. It consists
of simple syllables made up of a vowel by itself or a vowel and a
consonant, ideograms or signs which express an entire word, and closed
syllables such as _bit_ or _bal_. Again, many of the signs have more
than one syllabic value, and they may be used as ideograms as well as
phonetically. As in the Egyptian script, determinatives are employed to
indicate the class to which the word belongs: thus, a certain sign is
placed before the names of persons, another before territorial names,
and a third before the names of gods and sacred beings. The date of the
epoch in which this writing first began to be used was probably about
4500 B.C. and it persisted until the first century B.C. The Assyrians
employed it from about 1500 B.C. until about the beginning of the sixth
century B.C. This ancient form of writing was thus used first by the
Sumerians, then by their Babylonian and Assyrian conquerors, then by
those Persians who finally overthrew the Babylonian and Assyrian empire.

The Sacred Literature of Babylonia

The literature which this peculiar and individual script has brought
down to us is chiefly religious, magical, epical, and legendary. The
last three categories are dealt with elsewhere, so that it only falls
here to consider the first class, the religious writings. These are
usually composed in Semitic Babylonian without any trace of Akkadian
influence, and it cannot be said that they display any especial natural
eloquence or literary distinction. In an address to the sun-god, which
begins nobly enough with a high apostrophe to the golden luminary of
day, we find ourselves descending gradually into an atmosphere of
almost ludicrous dullness. The person praying desires the sun-god to
free him from the commonplace cares of family and domestic annoyances,
enumerating spells against all of his relatives in order that they
may not place their 'ban' upon him. In another, written in Akkadian,
the penitent addresses Gubarra, Merodach, and other gods, desiring
that they direct their eyes kindly upon him and that his supplication
may reach them. Strangely enough the prayer fervently pleads that its
utterance may _do good to the gods!_ that it may let their hearts rest,
their livers be quieted, and gladden them like a father and a mother
who have begotten children. This is not so strange when we come to
consider the nature of these hymns, many of which come perilously near
the border-line of pure magic--that is, they closely resemble spells.
We find, too, that those which invoke the older deities such as Gibi
the fire-god, are more magical in their trend than those addressed to
the later gods when a higher sense of religious feeling had probably
been evolved. Indeed, it does not seem too much to say that some of
these early hymns may have served the purpose of later incantations.
Most of those 'magical' hymns appear to have emanated from that
extremely ancient seat of religion, Eridu, and are probably relics of
the time when as yet magic and religion were scarcely differentiated in
the priestly or the popular mind.

Hymn to Adar

A fine hymn to Adar describes the rumbling of the storm in the abyss,
the 'voice' of the god:

     The terror of the splendour of Anu in the midst of heaven.

The gods, it is said, urge Adar on, he descends like the deluge, the
champion of the gods swoops down upon the hostile land. Nusku, the
messenger of Mul-lil, receives Adar in the temple and addresses words
of praise to him:

     Thy chariot is as a voice of thunder.
     To the lifting of thy hands is the shadow turned.
     The spirits of the earth, the great gods, return to the winds.

Many of the hymns assist us to a better understanding of the precise
nature of the gods, defining as they do their duties and offices and
even occasionally describing their appearance. Thus in a hymn to Nebo
we note that he is alluded to as "the supreme messenger who binds all
things together," "the scribe of all that has a name," "the lifter up
of the stylus supreme," "director of the world," "possessor of the
reed of augury," "traverser of strange lands," "opener of wells,"
"fructifier of the corn," and "the god without whom the irrigated
land and the canal are unwatered." It is from such texts that the
mythologist is enabled to piece together the true significance of many
of the deities of ancient peoples.

A hymn to Nusku in his character of fire-god is also descriptive and
picturesque. He is alluded to as "wise prince, the flame of heaven,"
"he who hurls down terror, whose clothing is splendour," "the forceful
fire-god," "the exalter of the mountain peaks," and "the uplifter of
the torch, the enlightener of darkness."

Such descriptive hymns are the most valuable assets possible in the
hands of the judicious student of myth or comparative religion.

[1] Vol. iii, p. 167. Second Edition. (By kind permission of Messrs
Macmillan and Co.)

[2] Ut-Napishtim.

[3] This passage has, however, been interpreted by some Biblical
scholars to mean that "Nimrod went out of this land into Asshur" (or
Assyria) "and built Nineveh." See Bryant, _Antient Mythology_, vol. vi,
pp. 191-2-3.


The Babylonian Myth of Creation

Few creation myths are more replete with interest than those which
have literary sanction. These are few in number, as, for example, the
creation story in Genesis, those to be found in Egyptian papyri, and
that contained in the _Popol Vuh_ of the Maya of Central America. In
such an account we can trace the creation story from the first dim
conception of world-shaping to the polished and final effort of a
priestly caste to give a theological interpretation to the intentions
of the creative deity; and this is perhaps more the case with the
creation myth which had its rise among the old Akkadian population of
Babylonia than with any other known to mythic science. In the account
in Genesis of the framing of the world it has been discovered that
two different versions have been fused to form a single story; the
creation tale of the _Popol Vuh_ is certainly a composite myth; and
similar suspicions may rest upon the analogous myths of Scandinavia and
Japan. But in the case of Babylonia we may be convinced that no other
influences except those of the races who inhabited Babylonian territory
could have been brought to bear upon this ancient story, and that
although critical examination has proved it to consist of materials
which have been drawn from more than one source, yet these sources are
not foreign, and they have not undergone sophistication at the hands of
any alien mythographer or interpolator.

[Illustration: The Seven Tablets of Creation.--Photo W. A. Mansell and

It would seem that this Babylonian cosmogony was drawn from various
sources, but it appears to be contained in its final form in what
are known as the Seven Tablets of Creation, brought from the library
of Assur-bani-pal at Nineveh and now in the British Museum. These
have from time to time been supplemented by later finds, but we may
take it that in this record we have the final official development of
Babylonian belief, due to the priests of Babylon, after that city had
become the metropolis of the empire. The primary object of the Seven
Tablets was to record a terrific fight between Bel and the Dragon,
and the account of the creation is inserted by way of introduction.
It is undoubtedly the most important find dealing with Babylonian
religion that has as yet come to light. Before we advance any critical
speculations respecting it, let us set forth the story which it has to

As in so many creation myths we find chaotic darkness brooding over a
waste of waters; heaven and earth were not as yet. Naught existed save
the primeval ocean, Mommu Tiawath,[1] from whose fertile depths came
every living thing. Nor were the waters distributed, as in the days of
man, into sea, river, or lake, but all were confined together in one
vast and bottomless abyss. Neither did god or man exist: their names
were unknown and their destinies undetermined. The future was as dark
as the gloom which lay over the mighty gulf of chaos. Nothing had been
designed or debated concerning it.

The Birth of the Gods

But there came a stirring in the darkness and the great gods arose.
First came Lahmu and Lahame; and many epochs later, Ansar and Kisar,
component parts of whose names signify 'Host of Heaven' and 'Host of
Earth.' These latter names we may perhaps accept as symbolical of the
spirits of heaven and of earth respectively. Many days afterward came
forth their son Anu, god of the heavens.

At this point it should be explained that the name Tiawath affords a
parallel to the expression _T'hom_ or 'deep' of the Old Testament.
Practically the same word is used in Assyrian in the form _Tamtu_, to
signify the 'deep sea.'[2] The reader will recall that it was upon
the face of the deep that the spirit of God brooded, according to the
first chapter of Genesis. The word and the idea which it contains are
equally Semitic, but strangely enough it has an Akkadian origin. For
the conception that the watery abyss was the source of all things
originated with the worshippers of the sea-god Ea at Eridu. They termed
the deep _apsu_, or a 'house of knowledge' wherein their tutelar god
was supposed to have his dwelling, and this word was of Akkadian
descent. This _apsu_, or 'abyss,' in virtue of the animistic ideas
prevailing in early Akkadian times, had become personalized as a
female who was regarded as the mother of Ea. She was known by another
name as well as that of Apsu, for she was also entitled Zigarun, the
'heaven,' or the 'mother that has begotten heaven and earth'; and
indeed she seems to have had a form or variant in which she was an
earth-goddess as well. But it was not the existing earth or heaven that
she represented in either of her forms, but the primeval abyss, out of
which both of these were fashioned.

At this point the narrative exhibits numerous defects, and for a
continuation of it we must apply to Damascius, the last of the
Neoplatonists, who was born in Damascus about A.D. 480, and who is
regarded by most Assyriologists as having had access to valuable
written or traditional material. He was the author of a work entitled
_Doubts and Solutions of the First Principles_, in which he states
that Anu was followed by Bel (we retain the Babylonian form of the
names rather than Damascius' Greek titles), and Ea the god of Eridu.
"From Ea and Dawkina," he writes, "was born a son called Belos or
Bel-Merodach, whom the Babylonians regarded as the creator of the
world." From Damascius we can learn nothing further, and the defective
character of the tablet does not permit us to proceed with any degree
of certainty until we arrive at the name of Nudimmud, which appears to
be simply a variant of the name of Ea. From obscure passages it may be
generally gleaned that Tiawath and Apsu, once one, or rather originally
representing the Babylonian and Akkadian forms of the deep, are now
regarded as mates--Tiawath being the female and Apsu, once female, in
this case the male. These have a son, Moumis or Mummu, a name which at
one time seems to have been given to Tiawath, so that in these changes
we may be able to trace the hand of the later mythographer, who, with
less skill and greater levity than is to be found in most myths, has
taken upon himself the responsibility of manufacturing three deities
out of one. It may be that the scribe in question was well aware that
his literary effort must square with and placate popular belief or
popular prejudice, and in no era and at no time has priestly ingenuity
been unequal to such a task, as is well evidenced by many myths which
exhibit traces of late alteration. But in dwelling for a moment on
this question, it is only just to the priesthood to admit that such
changes did not always emanate from them, but were the work of poets
and philosophers who, for æsthetic or rational reasons, took it upon
themselves to recast the myths of their race according to the dictates
of a nicer taste, or in the interests of 'reason.'

A Darksome Trinity

These three, then, Tiawath, Apsu, and Mummu, appear to have formed
a trinity, which bore no good-will to the 'higher gods.'[3] They
themselves, as deities of a primeval epoch, were doubtless regarded
by the theological opinion of a later day as dark, dubious, and
unsatisfactory. It is notorious that in many lands the early, elemental
gods came into bad odour in later times; and it may be that the
Akkadian descent of this trio did not conduce to their popularity with
the Babylonian people. Be that as it may, alien and aboriginal gods
have in all times been looked upon by an invading and conquering race
with distrust as the workers of magic and the sowers of evil, and even
although a Babylonian name had been accorded one of them, it may not
have been employed in a complimentary sense. Whereas the high gods
regarded those of the abyss with distrust, the darker deities of chaos
took up an attitude towards the divinities of light which can only be
compared to the sarcastic tone which Milton's Satan adopts against
the Power which thrust him into outer darkness. Apsu was the most
ironical of all. There was no peace for him, he declared, so long as
the new-comers dwelt on high: their way was not his way, neither was it
that of Tiawath, who, if Apsu represented sarcasm deified, exhibited a
fierce truculence much more overpowering than the irony of her mate.
The trio discussed how they might rid themselves of those beings who
desired a reign of light and happiness, and in these deliberations
Mummu, the son, was the prime mover. Here again the Tablets fails us
somewhat, but we learn sufficient further on to assure us that Mummu's
project was one of open war against the gods of heaven.

In connexion with this campaign, Tiawath made the most elaborate
preparations along with her companions. She laboured without ceasing.
From the waters of the great abyss over which she presided she called
forth the most fearful monsters, who remind us strongly of those
against which Horus, the Egyptian god of light, had to strive in his
wars with Set. From the deep came gigantic serpents armed with stings,
dripping with the most deadly poison; dragons of vast shape reared
their heads above the flood, their huge jaws armed with row upon row of
formidable teeth; giant dogs of indescribable savagery; men fashioned
partly like scorpions; fish-men, and countless other horrible beings,
were created and formed into battalions under the command of a god
named Kingu, to whom Tiawath referred as her 'only husband' and to whom
she promised the rule of heaven and of fate when once the detested gods
of light are removed by his mighty arm.

The introduction of this being as the husband of Tiawath seems to point
either to a fusion of legends or to the interpolation of some passage
popular in Babylonian lore. At this juncture Apsu disappears, as does
Mummu. Can it be that at this point a scribe or mythographer took up
the tale who did not agree with his predecessor in describing Tiawath,
Apsu, and Mummu, originally one, as three separate deities? This would
explain the divergence, but the point is an obscure one, and hasty
conclusions on slight evidence are usually doomed to failure. To resume
our narrative, Tiawath, whoever her coadjutors, was resolved to retain
in her own hands the source of all living things, that great deep over
which she presided.

But the gods of heaven were by no means lulled into peaceful security,
for they were aware of the ill-will which Tiawath bore them. They
learned of her plot, and great was their wrath. Ea, the god of water,
was the first to hear of it, and related it to Ansar, his father,
who filled heaven with his cries of anger. Ansar betook himself to
his other son, Anu, god of the sky. "Speak to the great dragon," he
urged him; "speak to her, my son, and her anger will be assuaged and
her wrath vanish." Duly obedient, Anu betook himself to the realm of
Tiawath to reason with her, but the monster snarled at him so fiercely
that in dread he turned his back upon her and departed. Next came
Nudimmud to her, but with no better success. At length the gods decided
that one of their number, called Merodach, should undertake the task
of combating Tiawath the terrible. Merodach asked that it might be
written that he should be victorious, and this was granted him. He
was then given rule over the entire universe, and to test whether or
not the greatest power had passed to him a garment was placed in the
midst of the gods and Merodach spoke words commanding that it should
disappear. Straightway it vanished and was not. Once more spake the
god, and the garment re-appeared before the eyes of the dwellers in
heaven. The portion of the epic which describes the newly acquired
glories of Merodach is exceedingly eloquent. We are told that none
among the gods can now surpass him in power, that the place of their
gathering has become his home, that they have given him the supreme
sovereignty, and they even beg that to them who put their trust in him
he will be gracious. They pray[4] that he may pour out the soul of
the keeper of evil, and finally they place in his hands a marvellous
weapon with which to cut off the life of Tiawath. "Let the winds carry
her blood to secret places," they exclaimed in their desire that the
waters of this fountain of wickedness should be scattered far and wide.
Mighty was he to look upon when he set forth for the combat. His great
bow he bore upon his back; he swung his massive club triumphantly. He
set the lightning before him; he filled his body with swiftness; and
he framed a great net to enclose the dragon of the sea. Then with a
word he created terrible winds and tempests, whirlwinds, storms, seven
in all, for the confounding of Tiawath. The hurricane was his weapon,
and he rode in the chariot of destiny. His helm blazed with terror and
awful was his aspect. The steeds which were yoked to his chariot rushed
rapidly towards the abyss, their mouths frothing with venomous foam.
Followed by all the good wishes of the gods, Merodach fared forth that

[Illustration: "Mighty was he to look upon."--Evelyn Paul.]

Soon he came to Tiawath's retreat, but at sight of the monster he
halted, and with reason, for there crouched the great dragon, her scaly
body still gleaming with the waters of the abyss, flame darting from
her eyes and nostrils, and such terrific sounds issuing from her widely
open mouth as would have terrified any but the bravest of the gods.
Merodach reproached Tiawath for her rebellion and ended by challenging
her to combat. Like the dragons of all time, Tiawath appears to have
been versed in magic and hurled the most potent incantations against
her adversary. She cast many a spell. But Merodach, unawed by this,
threw over her his great net, and caused an evil wind which he had sent
on before him to blow on her, so that she might not close her mouth.
The tempest rushed between her jaws and held them open; it entered her
body and racked her frame. Merodach swung his club on high, and with
a mighty blow shattered her great flank and slew her. Down he cast
her corpse and stood upon it; then he cut out her evil heart. Finally
he overthrew the host of monsters which had followed her, so that at
length they trembled, turned, and fled in headlong rout. These also he
caught in his net and "kept them in bondage." Kingu he bound and took
from him the tablets of destiny which had been granted to him by the
slain Tiawath, which obviously means that the god of a later generation
wrenches the power of fate from an earlier hierarchy, just as one
earthly dynasty may overthrow and replace another. The north wind bore
Tiawath's blood away to secret places, and at the sight Ea, sitting
high in the heavens, rejoiced exceedingly. Then Merodach took rest and
nourishment, and as he rested a plan arose in his mind. Rising, he
flayed Tiawath of her scaly skin and cut her asunder. We have already
seen that the north wind bore her blood away, which probably symbolises
the distribution of rivers over the earth.[5] Then did Merodach
take the two parts of her vast body, and with one of them he framed
a covering for the heavens. Merodach next divided the upper from the
lower waters, made dwellings for the gods, set lights in the heaven,
and ordained their regular courses.

As the tablet poetically puts it, "he lit up the sky establishing
the upper firmament, and caused Anu, Bel, and Ea to inhabit it." He
then founded the constellations as stations for the great gods, and
instituted the year, setting three constellations for each month, and
placing his own star, Nibiru, as the chief light in the firmament.
Then he caused the new moon, Nannaru, to shine forth and gave him the
rulership of the night, granting him a day of rest in the middle of
the month. There is another mutilation at this point, and we gather
that the net of Merodach, with which he had snared Tiawath, was placed
in the heavens as a constellation along with his bow. The winds also
appear to have been bound or tamed and placed in the several points
of the compass; but the whole passage is very obscure, and doubtless
information of surpassing interest has been lost through the mutilation
of the tablet.

We shall probably not be far in error if we regard the myth of the
combat between Merodach and Tiawath as an explanation of the primal
strife between light and darkness. Among the most primitive peoples,
the solar hero has at one stage of his career to encounter a grisly
dragon or serpent, who threatens his very existence. In many cases
this monster guards a treasure which mythologists of a generation ago
almost invariably explained as that gold which is spread over the sky
at the hour of sunset. The assigning of solar characteristics to all
slayers of dragons and their kind was a weakness of the older school of
mythology, akin to its deductions based on philological grounds; but
such criticism as has been directed against the solar theory--and it
has been extensive--has not always been pertinent, and in many cases
has been merely futile. In fact the solar theory suffered because of
the philological arguments with which it was bound up, and neither
critics nor readers appeared to discriminate between these. But we
should constantly bear in mind that to attempt to elucidate or explain
myths by any one system, or by one hard and fast hypothesis, is futile.
On the other hand nearly all systems which have yet attempted to
elucidate or disentangle the terms of myth are capable of application
to certain types of myth. The dragon story is all but universal: in
China it is the monster which temporarily swallows the sun during
eclipse; in Egypt it was the great serpent Apep, which battled with
Ra and Horus, both solar heroes; in India it is the serpent Vritra,
or Ahi, who is vanquished by Indra; in Australia and in some parts of
North America a great frog takes the place of the dragon. In the story
of Beowulf the last exploit of the hero is the slaying of a terrible
fire-breathing dragon which guards a hidden treasure-hoard; and
Beowulf receives a mortal wound in the encounter. In the Volsung Saga
the covetous Faffnir is turned into a dragon and is slain by Sigurd.
These must not be confounded with the monsters which cause drought and
pestilence. It is a sun-swallowing monster with which we have here to

[Illustration: Conflict between Merodach and Tiawath.--Photo W. A.
Mansell and Co.]

The tablets here allude to the creation of man; the gods, it is
stated, so admired the handiwork of Merodach, that they desired to
see him execute still further marvels. Now the gods had none to
worship them or pay them homage, and Merodach suggested to his father,
Ea, the creation of man out of his divine blood. Here once more the
tablets fail us, and we must turn to the narrative of the Chaldean
writer Berossus, as preserved by no less than three authors of the
classical age. Berossus states that a certain woman Thalatth (that is,
Tiawath) had many strange creatures at her bidding. Belus (that is,
Bel-Merodach) attacked and cut her in twain, forming the earth out
of one half and the heavens out of the other, and destroying all the
creatures over which she ruled. Then did Merodach decapitate himself,
and as his blood flowed forth the other gods mingled it with the earth
and formed man from it. From this circumstance mankind is rational, and
has a spark of the divine in it. Then did Merodach divide the darkness,
separate the heavens from the earth, and order the details of the
entire universe. But those animals which he had created were not able
to bear the light, and died. A passage then occurs which states that
the stars, the sun and moon, and the five planets were created, and it
would seem from the repetition that there were two creations, that the
first was a failure, in which Merodach had, as it were, essayed a first
attempt, perfecting the process in the second creation. Of course it
may be conjectured that Berossus may have drawn from two conflicting
accounts, or that those who quote him have inserted the second passage.

The Sumerian incantation, which is provided with a Semitic translation,
adds somewhat to our knowledge of this cosmogony. It states that in the
beginning nothing as yet existed, none of the great cities of Babylonia
had yet been built, indeed there was no land, nothing but sea. It
was not until the veins of Tiawath had been cut through that paradise
and the abyss appear to have been separated and the gods created by
Merodach. Also did he create _annunaki_ or gods of the earth, and
established a wondrous city as a place in which they might dwell.
Then men were formed with the aid of the goddess Aruru, and finally
vegetation, trees, and animals. Then did Merodach raise the great
temples of Erech and Nippur. From this account we see that instead of
Merodach being alluded to as the son of the gods, he is regarded as
their creator. In the library of Nineveh was also discovered a copy
of a tablet written for the great temple of Nergal at Cuthah. Nergal
himself is supposed to make the statement which it contains. He tells
us how the hosts of chaos and confusion came into being. At first,
as in the other accounts, nothingness reigned supreme, then did the
great gods create warriors with the bodies of birds, and men with the
faces of ravens. They founded them a city in the ground, and Tiawath,
the great dragon, did suckle them. They were fostered in the midst of
the mountains, and under the care of the 'mistress of the gods' they
greatly increased and became heroes of might. Seven kings had they,
who ruled over six thousand people. Their father was the god Benani,
and their mother the queen, Melili. These beings, who might almost be
called tame gods of evil, Nergal states that he destroyed.[6] Thus
all accounts agree concerning the original chaotic condition of the
universe. They also agree that the powers of chaos and darkness were
destroyed by a god of light.

The creation tablets are written in Semitic and allude to the great
circle of the gods as already fully developed and having its full
complement. Even the later deities are mentioned in them. This means
that it must be assigned to a comparatively late date, but it possesses
elements which go to show that it is a late edition of a much earlier
composition--indeed the fundamental elements in it appear, as has been
said, to be purely Akkadian in origin, and that would throw back the
date of its original form to a very primitive period indeed. It has, as
will readily be seen, a very involved cosmogony. Its characteristics
show it to have been originally local, and of course Babylonian,
in its secondary origin, but from time to time it was added to, so
that such gods as were at a later date adopted into the Babylonian
pantheon might be explained and accounted for by it; but the legend
of the creation arising in the city of Babylon, the local folk-tale
known and understood by the people, was never entirely shelved by the
more consequential and polished epic, which was perhaps only known
and appreciated in literary and æsthetic circles, and bore the same
relation to the humbler folk-story that Milton's _Paradise Lost_ bears
to the medieval legends of the casting out of Satan from heaven.

Although it is quite easy to distinguish influences of extreme
antiquity in the Babylonian creation myth, it is clear that in the
shape in which it has come down to us it has been altered in such a
manner as to make Merodach reap the entire credit of Tiawath's defeat
instead of En-lil, or the deity who was his predecessor as monarch of
the gods. Jastrow holds that the entire cosmological tale has been
constructed from an account of a conflict with a primeval monster and
a story of a rebellion against Ea; that these two tales have become
fused, and that the first is again divisible into three versions,
originating one at Uruk and the other two at Nippur at different
epochs. The first celebrates the conquest of Anu over Tiawath, the
second exalts Ninib as the conqueror, and the third replaces him by
En-lil. We thus see how it was possible for the god of a conquering or
popular dynasty to have a complete myth made over to him, and how at
last it was competent for the mighty Merodach of Babylon to replace an
entire line of deities as the central figure of a myth which must have
been popular with untold generations of Akkadian and Babylonian people.

Type of Babylonian Cosmology

We must now consider the precise nature of the Babylonian cosmology and
its place among other creation myths. Like the cosmological efforts
of most primitive or barbarian peoples it does not partake of the
character of a creation myth so much as an account of an evolution
from chaos and the establishment of physical laws. The primitive mind
cannot grasp the idea of the creation of something out of nothing, and
the Babylonians and Akkadians did not differ in this respect from other
races in the same stage of development. In whatever direction we look
when examining the cosmologies of barbarian or semi-civilized peoples,
we find a total inability to get behind and beyond the idea that the
matter of creation lay already to the hand of the creative agency, and
that in order to shape a world it had but to draw the material therefor
from the teeming deep or the slain body of a hostile monster. Not only
does the idea of creating land and water out of nothingness seem absurd
to the primitive mind, but man as well must be framed from dust, mud,
clay, or the blood of the creative god himself. Yet Merodach was able
to bring a garment out of nothingness and to return it thither by
merely speaking a word! Why, then, did not the theology which admitted
the possibility of such a phenomenon carry out its own conception to
a logical conclusion and own the likelihood of the god's ability to
create an entire universe in the self-same manner? Perhaps the step was
too bold for an individual to take in the face of an entire theological
college, and in any case what would seem a perfectly feasible act of
magic to the theologians of Babylon when applied to a garment might
not serve for application to the making of the earth and all that is
therein. The cosmology of Babylon is therefore on a par with those of
Scandinavia, China, and many North American Indian tribes, nor does it
reach so high an imaginative level as those of ancient Egypt, India,
or the Maya of Central America, in some of which the vocal command of
a god is sufficient to bring about the creation of the earth and the
waters surrounding it.

The making of the sun, the moon, and the other heavenly bodies is, as
will be more fully shown later, of great importance in Babylonian myth.
The stars appear to have been attached to the firmament of heaven as
to a cloth. Across this the sun passed daily, his function being to
inspect the movements of the other heavenly bodies. The moon, likewise,
had her fixed course, and certain stars were also supposed to move
across the picture of the night with greater or less regularity. The
heavens were guarded at either end by a great gateway, and through one
of these the sun passed after rising from the ocean, whilst in setting
he quitted the heavens by the opposite portal.

The terrestrial world was imagined as a great hollow structure resting
on the 'deep.' Indeed, it would seem to have been regarded as an island
floating on an abyss of waters. This conception of the world of earth
was by no means peculiar to the Babylonians, but was shared by them
with many of the nations of antiquity.

As emanating from the blood of Merodach himself, man was looked upon
as directly of heavenly origin. An older tradition existed to the
effect that Merodach had been assisted in the creation of mankind
by the goddess Aruru, who figures in the Gilgamesh epic as the
creatress of Eabani out of a piece of clay. We also find an ancient
belief current that humanity owed its origin to the god Ea, but when
Merodach displaced this god politically, he would, of course, 'take
over' his entire record and creative deeds as well as his powers and
sovereignties. At Nippur Bel was looked up to as the originator of man.
But these beliefs probably obtained in remoter times, and would finally
be quenched by the advance to full and unquestioned power of the great
god Merodach.

Connexion with the Jonah Legend

Some mythologists see in the story of Jonah a hidden allusion to the
circumstances of Babylonian cosmology. Jonah, as we remember, was
summoned to Nineveh to prophesy against it, but proceeding instead
to Joppa (the scene of the later myth of Perseus and Andromeda) the
ship in which he set sail was storm-tossed, and he himself advised
the sailors to cast him overboard. They did so, and "a great fish"
swallowed him. This 'fish,' it has been claimed, is merely a marine
form of Tiawath, the dragon of chaos, and the three days and nights
which Jonah remains inside it are "the winter months."[7] This does
not seem very clear. Hercules in like manner descended into the
belly of a fish and emerged again after three days, according to the
Ph[oe]nicians. The name of Jonah may be compared with that of Oannes
or Ea. The love-god, in the Hindu _Vishnu Purana_, thrown into the
sea, is swallowed by a fish, like the ring of Gyges. Was there a local
sea-monster at Joppa, a variant of Tiawath, and is it the same in the
Jonah myth as that in the tale of Perseus? A tawny fountain at Joppa
was thought to derive its colour from the blood of the sea-monster
slain by Perseus, says Pausanias. Was then the monster who lay in wait
off Joppa, Tiawath the goddess of darkness, and was Jonah none other
than Ea or Oannes, her mortal foe, the god of light, whom she would
mythologically swallow during the sere months of winter?

[1] Another spelling is Tiamat.

[2] Sayce, _Hibbert Lectures_, p. 374.

[3] Of whom we now hear for the first time.

[4] In many mythologies we find the gods praying and sacrificing to
one another, and even to deities presumably higher than themselves
and unknown to man or only guessed at by him. Thus the Vedic gods are
constantly sacrificing one to the other, and there are many American
instances of this worship of god by god.

[5] See Pinches, _The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_, p. 39.

[6] This account has been claimed as a weak version of that part of the
creation story which deals with the creation of the host of the abyss.
The fact that Nergal states that he destroyed these monsters might
justify us in believing that the myth was on this occasion so edited as
to provide the monarch with an opportunity for boasting.

[7] _Bible Folk Lore_, London, 1884. Anonymous.


The Beginnings of Babylonian Religion

The true beginning of a religion is that epoch in its history when it
succeeds, by reason of local or national circumstances and environment
and by racial genius, in raising itself from those purely animistic
influences which are characteristic of early faith and from which all
great religions have emerged, if they have not been able entirely to
free themselves from associations which by reason of their antiquity
and the hold they achieve on the mind of humanity are particularly
difficult to cast off. Thus a sense of nationality and the attainment
of a high standard of righteousness assisted in shaping Jewish
religion. The necessity for military efficiency and therefore of
sacrifice to the gods was moulding a real if terrible religion in
ancient Mexico when the invading Spaniards ended the hideous masque of
tragedy. Insight and meditation lent an air of ethical exaltation to
the Vedic religion of India. Thus in a manner peculiarly its own, and
according to the trend of its particular genius, did each race evolve a
suitable religion from an original animistic basis.

If we are to discover the foundations of any system or cult, however,
if we are to excavate the soil religious as we would the soil
archæological in the hope of coming upon the basis of any particular
faith, we must undertake the work in a manner as thorough as that
of the antiquary who, pick in hand, delves his way to the lowest
foundations of palace or temple. The earliest Babylonian religious
ideas--that is, subsequent to the entrance of that people into the
country watered by the Tigris and Euphrates--were undoubtedly coloured
by those of the non-Semitic Sumerians whom they found in the country.
They adopted the alphabet of that race, and this affords strong
presumptive evidence that the immigrant Semites, as an unlettered
people, would naturally accept much if not all of the religion of the
more cultured folk whom they found in possession of the soil.

There is no necessity in this place to outline the nature of animistic
belief at any length. This has been done in so many other volumes of
this series and in such detail that it is sufficient to state here
succinctly that animism is a condition of thought or belief in which
man considers everything in the universe along with himself to be the
possessor of 'soul,' 'spirit,' or at least volition. Thus, the wind,
water, animals, the heavenly bodies, all live, move, and have their
being, and because of his fear of or admiration for them, man placates
or adores them until at length he almost unconsciously exalts them into
a condition of godhead. Have we any reason to think that the ancient
Semites of Babylonia regarded the universe as peopled by gods or
godlings of such a type? The proofs that they did so are not a few.

Spirits and Gods

Spirits swarmed in ancient Babylonia, as the reader will observe when
he comes to peruse the chapter dealing with the magical ideas of the
race. And here it is important to note that the determinative or
symbolic written sign for 'spirit' is the same as that for 'god.' Thus
the god and the spirit must in Babylonia have had a common descent.
The manner in which we can distinguish between a god and a spirit,
however, is simple. Lists of the 'official' gods are provided in the
historical texts, whereas spirits and demons are not included therein.
But this is not to say that no attempt had been made to systematize
the belief in spirits in Babylonia, for just as the great gods of the
universe were apportioned their several offices, so were the spirits
allotted almost exactly similar powers. Thus the _Annunaki_ were
perhaps regarded as the spirits of earth and the _Igigi_ as spirits
of heaven. So, at least, are they designated in an inscription of
Rammannirari I. The grouping evidently survived from animistic times,
when perhaps the spirits which are embraced in these two classes were
the only 'gods' of the Babylonians or Sumerians, and from whose ranks
some of the great gods of future times may have been evolved. In any
case they belong to a very early period in the Babylonian religion and
play no unimportant part in it almost to the end. The god Anu, the
most ancient of the Babylonian deities, was regarded as the father of
both companies, but other gods make use of their services. They do
not appear to be well disposed to humanity. The Assyrian kings were
wont to invoke them when they desired to inculcate a fear of their
majesty in the people, and from this it may be inferred that they were
objects of peculiar fear to the lower orders of the population--for
the people often cling to the elder cults and the elder pantheons
despite the innovations of ecclesiastical politicians, or the religious
eccentricities of kings. There can, however, be no doubt as to the
truly animistic character of early Babylonian religion. Thus in the
early inscriptions one reads of the spirits of various kinds of
diseases, the spirit of the south wind, the spirits of the mist, and
so forth. The _bit-ili_ or sacred stones marking the residence of a god
were probably a link between the fetish and the idol, remaining even
after the fully developed idol had been evolved.

Was Babylonian Religion Semitic in Type?

It has already been stated that the religion of ancient Babylon was
probably greatly influenced by those non-Semitic people whom the
Semitic Babylonians found occupying the country when they entered
it. The question then arises (and it is one of high importance), how
far did the religion of ancient Babylonia and Assyria partake of the
character of that group of religions which has been called 'Semitic.'
The classical pronouncement upon this phase of the subject is probably
that of the late Professor Robertson Smith, who in his _Religion of the
Semites_ (p. 13) says[1]: "The preponderating opinion of Assyriologists
is to the effect that the civilization of Assyria and Babylonia was
not purely Semitic, and that the ancient population of these parts
contained a large pre-Semitic element, whose influence is especially to
be recognized in religion and in the sacred literature of the cuneiform
records. If this be so, it is plain that the cuneiform material must
be used with caution in our enquiry into the type of traditional
religion characteristic of the ancient Semites. That Babylonia is the
best starting-point for a comparative study of the sacred beliefs and
practices of the Semitic peoples, is an idea which has lately had some
vogue, and which at first sight appears plausible on account of the
great antiquity of the monumental evidence. But, in matters of this
sort, ancient and primitive are not synonymous terms; and we must not
look for the most primitive form of Semitic faith in a region where
society was not primitive. In Babylonia, it would seem, society and
religion alike were based on a fusion of two races, and so were not
primitive but complex. Moreover, the official system of Babylonian and
Assyrian religion, as it is known to us from priestly texts and public
inscriptions, bears clear marks of being something more than a popular
traditional faith; it has been artificially moulded by priestcraft and
statecraft in much the same way as the official religion of Egypt;
that is to say, it is in great measure an artificial combination, for
imperial purposes, of elements drawn from a number of local worships.
In all probability the actual religion of the masses was always much
simpler than the official system; and in later times it would seem
that, both in religion and in race, Assyria was little different from
the adjacent Aramæan countries. These remarks are not meant to throw
doubt on the great importance of cuneiform studies for the history
of Semitic religion; the monumental data are valuable for comparison
with what we know of the faith and worship of other Semitic peoples,
and peculiarly valuable because, in religion as in other matters,
the civilization of the Euphrates-Tigris valley exercised a great
historical influence on a large part of the Semitic field."

Totemism in Babylonian Religion

Signs of totemism are not wanting in the Babylonian as in other
religious systems. Many of the gods are pictured as riding upon the
backs of certain animals, an almost certain indication that at one time
they had themselves possessed the form of the animal they bestrode.
Religious conservatism would probably not tolerate the immediate
abolition of the totem-shape, so this means was taken of gradually
'shelving' it. But some gods retained animal form until comparatively
late times. Thus the sun-god of Kis had the form of an eagle, and we
find that Ishtar took as lovers a horse, an eagle, and a lion--surely
gods who were represented in equine, aquiline, and leonine forms.
The fish-form of Oannes, the god of wisdom, is certainly a relic of
totemism. Some of the old ideographic representations of the names of
the gods are eloquent of a totemic connexion. Thus the name of Ea,
the god of the deep, is expressed by an ideograph which signifies
'antelope.' Ea is spoken of as 'the antelope of the deep,' 'the lusty
antelope,' and so forth. He was also, as a water-god, connected with
the serpent, a universal symbol of the flowing stream. The strange god
Uz, probably an Akkadian survival, was worshipped under the form of a
goat. The sun-god of Nippur, Adar, was connected with the pig, and was
called 'lord of the swine.' Merodach may have been a bull-god. In early
astronomical literature we find him alluded to as 'the bull of light.'
The storm-god Zu, as is seen by his myth, retained his bird-like form.
Another name of the storm-bird was Lugalbanda, patron god of the city
of Marad, near Sippara. Like Prometheus--also once a bird-god, as is
proved by many analogous myths--he stole the sacred fire from heaven
for the service and mental illumination of man.

The Great Gods

In the phase in which it becomes first known to us, Babylonian religion
is neither Semitic nor Akkadian, but Semitic-Akkadian: that is, the
elements of both religious forms are so intermingled in it that they
cannot be distinguished one from another; but very little that is
trustworthy can be advanced concerning this shadowy time. Each petty
state (and these were numerous in early Babylonia) possessed its own
tutelar deity, and he again had command over a number of lesser gods.
When all those pantheons were added together, as was the case in later
days, they afforded the spectacle of perhaps the largest assembly
of gods known to any religion. The most outstanding of these tribal
divinities, as they might justly be called, were Merodach, who was
worshipped at Babylon; Shamash, who was adored at Sippar; Sin, the
moon-god, who ruled at Ur; Anu, who held sway over Erech and Der; Ea,
the Oannes of legend, whose city was Eridu; Bel, who ruled at Nippur,
or Niffur; Nergal of Cuthah; and Ishtar, who was goddess of Nineveh.
The peoples of the several provinces identified their prominent
gods one with another, and indeed when Assyria rose to rivalry with
Babylonia, its chief divinity, Asshur, was naturally identified with

[Illustration: Types of En-lil, the Chief God of Nippur, and of his
Consort, Nin-lil from _Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and
Assyria_, by Professor Morris Jastrow.--By permission of Messrs G. P.
Putnam's Sons]

In the chapter on cosmology we have seen how Merodach gained the
lordship of heaven. It has been shown that the rise of this god to
power was comparatively recent. Prior to the days of Khammurabi a
rather different pantheon from that described in later inscriptions
held sway. In those more primitive days the principal gods appear
to have been Bel or En-lil, Belit or Nin-lil his queen, Nin-girsu,
Ea, Nergal, Shamash, Sin, Anu, and other lesser divinities. There
is indeed a sharp distinction between the pre- and post-Khammurabic
types of religion. Attempts had been made to form a pantheon before
Khammurabi's day, but his exaltation of Merodach, the patron of
Babylon, to the head of the Babylonian pantheon was destined to destroy
these. A glance at the condition of the great gods before the days of
Khammurabi will assist us to understand their later developments.


Bel, or, to give him his earlier name, En-lil, is spoken of in very
early inscriptions, especially in those of Nippur; of which city he was
the tutelar deity. He was described as the 'lord of the lower world,'
and much effort seems to have been made to reach a definite conception
of his position and attributes. His name had also been translated 'lord
of mist.' The title 'Bel' had been given to Merodach by Tiglath-pileser
I about 1200 B.C., after which he was referred to as 'the older Bel.'
The chief seat of his worship was at Nippur, where the name of his
temple, E-Kur or 'mountain-house,' came to be applied to a sanctuary
all over Babylonia. He was also addressed as the 'lord of the storm'
and as the 'great mountain,' and his consort Nin-lil is also alluded
to as 'lady of the mountain.' Jastrow rightly concludes that "there
are substantial reasons for assuming that his original city was on the
top of some mountain, as is so generally the case of storm-deities....
There being no mountains in the Euphrates valley, however, the
conclusion is warranted that En-lil was the god of a people whose home
was in a mountainous region and who brought their god with them when
they came to the Euphrates valley."[2]

En-lil is undoubtedly of the class of tempest-deities who dwell on
mountain peaks. No text appears to have been found which alludes to him
as of a red colour. The flashing of the lightning through the clouds
which veil the mountain summits usually generates a belief in the mind
of primitive man that the god who is concealed by the screen of vapour
is red in hue and quick in movement. The second tablet of a text known
as the 'crying storm' alludes to En-lil as a storm-god. Addressing
him it says: "Spirit that overcomes no evildoing, spirit that has no
mother, spirit that has no wife, spirit that has no sister, spirit that
has no brother, that knows no abiding place, the evil-slaying spirit
that devastates the fold, that wrecks the stall, that sweeps away son
and mother like a reed. As a huge deluge it tears away dwellings,
consumes the provisions of the home, smites mankind everywhere,
and wickedly drowns the harvests of the land. Devoted temples it
devastates, devoted men it afflicts, him that clothes himself in a
robe of majesty the spirit lays low with cold, him of wide pasture
lands with hunger it lays low. When En-lil, the lord of lands, cries
out at sunset the dreadful word goes forth unto the spacious shrine,

Nippur, the city of En-lil, was of Sumerian origin, so we must connect
the earliest cult of En-lil with the Sumerian aborigines. Many of his
lesser names point to such a conclusion. But he greatly outgrew all
local circumstances, and among other things he appears to have been a
god who fostered vegetation. Some authorities appear to be of opinion
that because En-lil was regarded as a god of vegetation the change
was owing to his removal from a mountainous region to a more level
neighbourhood. The truth is, it would be difficult to discover a god
who wielded the powers of the wind and rain who was not a patron of
agriculture, but as he sends beneficent rains, so also may he destroy
and devastate, as we have seen from the foregoing text. The noise of
the storm was spoken of as his 'word.' Probably, too, because he was
a very old god he was regarded in some localities as a creator of the
world. The great winged bull of Assyrian art may well often represent
En-lil: no symbol could better typify the tempest which the Babylonians
regarded as rushing and rioting unrestrained over country and city,
overturning even tower and temple with its violence, and tumbling the
wretched reed huts of the lower caste into the dust.

The word _lil_ which occurs in the name En-lil, signifies a 'demon,'
and En-lil may therefore mean the 'chief-demon.' This shows the very
early, animistic nature of the god. There appear to be other traditions
of him as a war-god, but these are so obscure as scarcely to be worth
notice. In the trinity which consisted of Bel, Ea, and Anu, he is
regarded as the 'god of the earth,' that is, the earth is his sphere,
and he is at times addressed as 'Bel, the lord of the lands.'

We find the 'word' of the wind or storm-god alluded to in the _Popol
Vuh_ of the Kiches of Central America, where Hurakan (the deity from
whose name we probably get our word 'hurricane') sweeps over the face
of the primeval deep, voicing his commands.

Bel and the Dragon

The picturesque legend of Bel and the Dragon which appears in the
Apocrypha, and which was at one time appended to the Book of Daniel,
shows us the manner in which Bel was worshipped at Babylon, and how
he was supposed to take human shape, devour food, and behave very
much as a man might. The legend states that the Babylonians lavished
every day upon the idol of Bel twelve great measures of fine flour,
and forty sheep, and six vessels of wine. King Cyrus of Persia, who
had overthrown the Babylonian kingdom, went daily to worship Bel, and
asked Daniel why he did not do likewise. The prophet replied that his
religion did not permit him to worship idols, but rather the living God
who had created the heavens and the earth.

"Then said Cyrus: 'Thinkest thou not that Bel is the living God? Seest
thou not how much he eateth and drinketh every day?'

"Then Daniel smiled and said, 'O King, be not deceived, for he is but
clay within and brass without, and can never eat or drink anything.'

"Cyrus was exceeding wroth, and calling for his priests said to them,
'If ye tell me not who this is that devoureth these expenses ye shall
die, but if ye can show me that Bel devours them Daniel shall die, for
he hath spoken blasphemy against Bel;'" and to this Daniel cheerfully

It would have been surprising had not the provisions vanished, because
we are told that the priests of Bel were threescore and ten in number
and had numerous wives and children. So Cyrus and Daniel betook
themselves to the temple of Bel, and the priests asked them to bless
the meat and wine before Bel, and to shut the door fast and seal it
with the King's own signet, stating that if they came on the morrow
they would find that Bel had eaten up all of the provisions.

But they had taken good care to protect themselves, for they had made
a secret entrance underneath the great table in the temple which they
used constantly, so that they might consume the good things that were
set before the idol.

And Cyrus did as the priests asked, setting the meat and wine before
the statue of Bel, but Daniel commanded his servants to bring ashes,
which they strewed throughout the temple in the presence of the King;
then they went out and shut the door and sealed it with the King's

And in the night time the priests with their wives and families entered
the temple by the secret way and speedily consumed the provisions.

In the morning Cyrus and Daniel betook themselves to the temple, and
the King broke the seals and opened the door, and when he perceived
that all the provisions had vanished he called out with a loud voice,
"Great art thou, O Bel, and with thee is no deceit at all."

But Daniel laughed, and barring the King's way into the temple
requested him to look at the pavement and mark well whose footsteps he
saw there.

And Cyrus replied, "I see the footsteps of men, women, and children."

He at once called the priests, who when they saw that their stratagem
had been discovered showed him the secret way into the temple; and in
his rage Cyrus slew them and delivered Bel into Daniel's power. The
prophet speedily destroyed the idol and the temple which sheltered it.

Now in that temple was a great dragon worshipped by the people of
Babylon, and the King said to Daniel: "Wilt thou also say that this is
of brass, for behold! he liveth, he eateth and drinketh, therefore
shouldest thou worship him!"

But Daniel shook his head and said to Cyrus: "Give me leave, O King,
and I will slay this dragon without sword or staff."

Then Daniel took pitch and fat and hair and boiled them all together,
and shaped them into great pieces. These he placed in the dragon's
mouth, and shortly the dragon burst asunder.

Now the people of Babylon became greatly incensed at these doings
and clamoured to Cyrus, asking him to deliver Daniel up to them, or
else they would destroy him and all belonging to him. And, continues
the legend, Cyrus being afraid for his crown delivered Daniel to the
people, who cast him into a lions' den where he remained for six days.
Seven lions were in the den and their food was removed from them so
that they might be the fiercer, and the Apocrypha story, which differs
considerably from that given in the sixth chapter of the Book of
Daniel, states that the angel of the Lord took up a certain prophet
called Habbacuc, who was about to carry a mess of pottage to certain
reapers, and taking him by the hair of the head, conveyed him all the
way from Palestine to Babylon along with the food, which he set at
Daniel's feet. Daniel partook of the meal, and Habbacuc was conveyed
back to Palestine in the same manner as that in which he had come.

And on the seventh day Cyrus came to the den to mourn for Daniel, and
when he looked in Daniel was there. So impressed was Cyrus with the
power of Daniel's God that he resolved to worship Him in future, and
seizing those who had been instrumental in casting the Hebrew prophet
into the den, he thrust them before the lions, and they were devoured
in a moment.


Beltis, or Nin-lil, the wife of En-lil, shared his authority over
Nippur, where she had a temple which went back in antiquity to the
First Dynasty of Ur. As has been said, she was also called the 'lady of
the mountain,' and as such she had a sanctuary at Girsu, a quarter of
Lagash. In certain inscriptions she is described as 'the mother of the
gods.' The name Beltis meant 'lady,' and as such was accorded to her as
being 'the' lady, but it was afterwards given to many other goddesses.

The Temple of Bel

In 1876 Mr George Smith discovered a Babylonian text giving a
remarkable account of the temple of Bel at Babylon. This temple, the
wonder of Babylon, was founded while that city was still a place of
no very great importance, but its fabric lasted until the days of
Herodotus and Strabo, who have furnished us with accounts of it. The
former states that it consisted of eight stages or towers one above
another, forming a pyramid, the holy of holies being placed upon the
highest stage of all, the height of the entire building being about 600
feet--a very questionable dimension.

In the cuneiform tablet the measurements of the outer court are given
as 1156 feet in length and 900 feet in breadth. An adjoining court,
that of Ishtar and Zamama, was 1056 feet by 450 feet, and had six gates
which admitted worshippers to the temple--the grand gate, the gate
of the rising sun looking eastward, the great gate, the gate of the
Colossi, flanked by enormous figures, the canal gate, and the gate of
the tower-view.

A walled space, platform or _birut_, orientated so as to face the four
cardinal points, is next described. Inside this stood a building the
name of which is indecipherable. It was connected in some manner with
the Ziggurat or great tower, around the base of which were ranged the
temples of the principal gods, all of which faced one or other of the
four chief points of the compass.

On the eastern side of the group stood a large temple 117 feet by 67
feet broad, containing no less than sixteen shrines, the principal of
which were sacred to Nebo, the son of Bel, and his wife Tashmit. To the
north were temples to Ea and Nusku, the first 142 feet long by 50 feet
broad and the second a square 58 feet either way. To the south was a
shrine to Bel and Anu 117 feet by 50 feet.

The purpose of the buildings on the western side of the great tower is
only to be conjectured. It is known, however, that the couch of Bel and
his throne of gold alluded to by Herodotus were housed in one or other
of the buildings on this side. The couch is said to have measured 15
feet by 6 feet 8 inches.

In the centre towered the great Ziggurat, rising stage upon stage, its
sides facing the cardinal points. The first stage was 300 feet square
and 110 feet high and was ornamented with buttresses. The second was
260 feet square and 60 feet high, the third 200 feet square and 20 feet
high up to the seventh stage, which was 80 feet long, 70 feet broad,
and 50 feet high. The entire height of the Ziggurat was thus 300 feet,
exactly equal to the breadth of the base, or only half the height
attributed to it by Herodotus.

Regarding the possible site of this temple Mr Smith says: "The only
ruin now existing at or near Babylon which can be supposed to represent
the temple of Belus is the mound and enclosure of Bâbil, the ruins
corresponding fairly with the account of these structures in the Greek
authors and in the inscription. The sides of the building face the
cardinal points, like those in the inscription; the remains of the two
sides of the enclosure now existing indicate a circumference about
equal to the Greek measurement, and slightly in excess of that in the
inscription; but it must be remembered that the exact length of the
Babylonian measures is not known, and there are different opinions even
as to the length of the Greek stade, while the present remains of the
wall require careful measurement to determine more exactly their length
and the dimensions they indicate. On the other side of the Euphrates
stands a ruin, Birs Nimrûd, also consisting of an enclosure, various
temples, and a temple-tower; but this represents the site of the temple
of Nebo at Borsippa, and its angles, instead of its sides, face the
cardinal points, while not a single one of its known dimensions agrees
with the corresponding point in the inscription. The mound of Bâbil,
which is already identified by the best authorities with the temple of
Belus, consists now of the lower stage of the tower and the ruins of
the buildings round it."[3]

Yet Herodotus' account of the temple of Bel was not wholly false. He
says: "It had gates of brass, and was two stadia every way, being
quadrangular; in the middle of the temple a solid tower was built, a
stadium in height and breadth, and on this tower was placed another,
and another still on this, to the number of eight towers in all. The
ascent was on the outside, and was made by a winding passage round all
the towers; and about half up the ascent there is a landing and seats
for rest, where those ascending may repose; and in the highest tower
there is a large temple, and in the temple a large bed well furnished,
and beside it a golden table; but there is no statue erected in it; and
by night no one lodges in it, except a single woman of the country,
whom the god has selected from the rest, as say the Chaldæans, who are
the priests of this god."

An inscription was discovered and translated by Sir H.C. Rawlinson, in
which King Nebuchadrezzar boasts of having repaired and completed this
tower in honour of his god Merodach. "Behold now the building named
'The Stages of the Seven Spheres,' which was the wonder of Borsippa,
had been built by a former king. He had completed forty-two ammas (of
the height), but he did not finish its head. From the lapse of time it
had become ruined; they had not taken care of the exits of the waters,
so the rain and wet had penetrated into the brickwork; the casing
of burnt brick had bulged out, and the terraces of crude brick lay
scattered in heaps. Then Merodach, my great lord, inclined my heart to
repair the building. I did not change its site, nor did I destroy the
foundation platform; but in a fortunate month, and on an auspicious
day, I undertook the rebuilding of the crude brick terraces and the
burnt brick casing (of the temple). I strengthened its foundations,
and I placed a titular record in the parts that I had rebuilt. I set
my hand to build it up, and to finish its summit. As it had been in
former days, thus I exalted its head."


Nergal was the patron god of Cuthah, eastward from Babylon. He was
a god of extremely ancient origin, and indeed the first inscription
which alludes to him is dated about 2700 B.C. He is mentioned in the
Old Testament (2 Kings xvii 30) as an idol whom the Babylonians who
re-peopled Israel brought with them. He seems to have had a close
connexion with the nether world, indeed he is practically the head
of its pantheon. He appears to have been a god of gloom and death,
and his name may signify 'the lord of the great dwelling place,' that
is, the grave. His city, Cuthah, may possibly have been renowned as a
burial-place. We find him associated with pestilence and famine, but he
has also a solar significance. He is indeed the sun in its malevolent
form, fierce and destroying, for in myth the sun can be evil as well as
good. We thus find the solar power depicted as a fierce warrior slaying
his thousands and tens of thousands. Again it is quite possible for a
solar deity to have an underworld connexion, seeing that the sun is
supposed to travel through that gloomy region during the night. We thus
see how Nergal could combine so many seemingly conflicting attributes.
As god of the dead he has a host of demons at his command, and it may
be these who do his behests in spreading pestilence and war. Where he
goes violent death follows in his wake. At times he is called the 'god
of fire,' the 'raging king,' 'he who burns,' and the 'violent one,' and
he is identified with the fierceness of flame. In this respect he is
not at all unlike the Scandinavian Loki who typifies the malevolence
of fire.


Dibarra was probably a variant of Nergal, in his guise as solar
destroyer. Concerning him a strange myth is recounted as follows:

"The sons of Babylon were as birds and thou their falconer. In a net
thou didst catch them, enclose them, and destroy them, O warrior
Dibarra. Leaving the city, thou didst pass to the outside, taking on
the form of a lion, thou didst enter the palace. The people saw thee
and drew their weapons."

So spoke Ishum, the faithful attendant of Dibarra, by way of beginning
an account of the havoc wrought in the valley of Euphrates by the
war- and plague-god. "Spare no one," is the gist of his commands to his
satellites. "Have neither fear nor pity. Kill the young as well as the
old and rob Babylon of all its treasures."

Accordingly against the first city a large army was dispatched to carry
out these instructions, and the battle with bow and sword was begun,
a strife which ended so disastrously for the soldiers and inhabitants
that their blood flowed "like torrents of water through the city's
highways." This defeat the great lord Merodach was compelled to
witness, powerless to help or avert it. Enraged at his helplessness and
overcome with fury, he cursed his enemies until he is said to have lost
consciousness because of his grief.

From this scene of devastation Dibarra turned his attention to Erech,
appointing others of his host to mete out to this city the fate of
Babylon. Ishtar, goddess of Erech, saw her devoted city exposed
to plunder, pillage, and bloodshed, and had to endure the agony of
inactivity experienced by Merodach. Nothing she could do or say would
stay the violence of Dibarra's vengeance.

"O warrior Dibarra, thou dost dispatch the just, thou dost dispatch the
unjust; who sins against thee thou dost dispatch, and the one who does
not sin against thee thou dost dispatch."

These words were used by Ishum, Dibarra's servant, in a subsequent
address to the god of war. He knew his lord's craving for battle and
bloodshed was still unappeased, and he himself was planning a war more
terrible than any he had yet conducted, a conflict not only world-wide
but which was to embrace heaven itself. So in order to gain Dibarra's
consent to the hideous destruction he anticipated, he continued to
pander to his war-like tendencies.

Said he: "The brightness of Shul-panddu I will destroy, the root of the
tree I will tear out that it no longer blossom. Against the dwelling of
the king of gods I will proceed."

To all of which the warrior-god listened with growing pleasure,
until fired by his myrmidon's words he cried out in sudden fierce
resolve--"Sea-coast against sea-coast, Subartu against Subartu,
Assyrian against Assyrian, Elamite against Elamite, Cassite against
Cassite, Sutaean against Sutaean, Kuthean against Kuthean, Lullubite
against Lullubite, country against country, house against house, man
against man. Brother is to show no mercy towards brother; they shall
kill one another."

"Go, Ishum," he added later, "carry out the word thou hast spoken in
accordance with thy desire."

And with alacrity Ishum obeyed, "directing his countenance to the
mountain of Khi-khi. This, with the help of the god Sibi, a warrior
unequalled, he attacked and destroyed all the vineyards in the forest
of Khashur, and finally the city of Inmarmaon. These last atrocious
acts roused Ea, the god of humanity, and filled him with wrath," though
what attitude he adopted towards Dibarra is not known.

"Listen all of you to my words, because of sin did I formerly plan
evil, my heart was enraged and I swept peoples away."

This was Dibarra's defence when eventually he was propitiated and all
the gods were gathered together in council with him. Ishum at this
point changing his tactics urged on Dibarra the necessity for pacifying
the gods he had incensed.

"Appease," said he, "the gods of the land who are angry. May fruits and
corn flourish, may mountains and seas bring their produce."

As he had listened to Ishum before, Dibarra listened again, and
the council of the gods was closed by his promising prosperity and
protection to those who would fittingly honour him.

"He who glorifies my name will rule the world. Who proclaims the glory
of my power will be without rival. The singer who sings of my deeds
will not die through pestilence, to kings and nobles his words will
be pleasing. The writer who preserves them will escape from the grasp
of the enemy, in the temple where the people proclaim my name, I will
open his ear. In the house where this tablet is set up, though war may
rage and the god Sibi work havoc, sword and pestilence will not touch
him--he will dwell in safety. Let this song resound for ever and endure
for eternity. Let all lands hear it and proclaim my power. Let the
inhabitants of all places learn to glorify my name."


Shamash, god of the sun, was one of the most popular deities of the
Babylonian and Assyrian pantheon. We find him mentioned first in
the reign of E-Anna-Tum, or about 4200 B.C. He is called the son of
Sin, the moon-god, which perhaps has reference to the fact that the
solar calendar succeeded the lunar in Babylonia as in practically all
civilizations of any advancement. The inscriptions give due prominence
to his status as a great lord of light, and in them he is called the
'illuminator of the regions,' 'lord of living creatures,' 'gracious one
of the lands,' and so forth. He is supposed to throw open the gates
of the morning and raise his head over the horizon, lighting up the
heaven and earth with his beams. The knowledge of justice and injustice
and the virtue of righteousness were attributed to him, and he was
regarded as a judge between good and evil, for as the light of the
sun penetrates everywhere, and nothing can be hidden from its beams,
it is not strange that it should stand as the symbol for justice.
Shamash appears at the head of the inscription which bears the laws of
Khammurabi, and here he stands as the symbol for justice. The towns at
which he was principally worshipped were Sippar and Larsa, where his
sanctuary was known as E-Babbara, or the 'shining house.' Larsa was
probably the older of the two centres, but from the times of Sargon,
Sippar became the more important, and in the days of Khammurabi ranked
immediately after Babylon. In fact it appears to have threatened the
supremacy of the capital to some extent, and Nabonidus, the last
King of Babylon, as we shall remember, offended Merodach and his
priests by his too eager notice of Shamash. During the whole course of
Babylonian history, however, Shamash retained his popularity, and was
perhaps the only sun-god who was not absorbed by Merodach. One finds
the same phenomenon in ancient Mexico, where various solar deities did
not succeed in displacing or absorbing Totec, the ancient god of the
sun _par excellence_. But Shamash succeeded in absorbing many small
local sun-gods, and indeed we find his name used as that of the sun
throughout Semitic lands. There were several solar deities, such as
Nergal, and Ninib, whom Shamash did not absorb, probably for the reason
that they typify various phases of the sun. There is reason to believe
that in ancient times even Shamash was not an entirely beneficent solar
deity, but, like Nergal, could figure as a warrior on occasion. But in
later times he was regarded as the god who brings light and life upon
all created things, and upon whom depends everything in nature from
man to vegetable. His consort was Aa, who was worshipped at Sippar
along with him. Her cult seems to have been one of great antiquity,
but she does not appear to have any distinctive character of her own.
She was supposed to receive the sun upon his setting, and from this
circumstance it has been argued she perhaps represents the 'double
sun,' from the magnified disk which he presents at sunset; but this
explanation is perhaps rather too much on allegorical lines. Jastrow
thinks that she may have been evolved from the sun-god of a city on
the other side of the Euphrates from Sippar. "Such an amalgamation of
two originally male deities into a combination of male and female,
strange as it may seem to us," he says, "is in keeping with the lack
of sharp distinction between male and female in the oldest forms of
Semitic religions. In the old cuneiform writing the same sign is used
to indicate 'lord' or 'lady' when attached to deities. Ishtar appears
amongst the Semites both as male and female. Sex was primarily a
question of strength; the stronger god was viewed as masculine, the
weaker as feminine."


Ea was the third of the great Babylonian triad of gods, which consisted
of Anu, En-lil, and himself. He was a god of the waters, and like Anu
is called the 'father of the gods.' As a god of the abyss he appears to
have been also a deity of wisdom and occult power, thus allegorically
associated with the idea of depth or profundity. He was the father of
Merodach, who consulted him on the most important matters connected
with his kingship of the gods. Indeed he was consulted by individuals
of all classes who desired light to be thrown upon their crafts or
businesses. Thus he was the god of artisans in general--blacksmiths,
stone-cutters, sailors, and artificers of every kind. He was also the
patron of prophets and seers. As the abyss is the place where the seeds
of everything were supposed to fructify, so he appears to have fostered
reproduction of every description. He was supposed to dwell beside Anu,
who inhabited the pole of the ecliptic. The site of his chief temple
was at Eridu, which at one time stood, before the waters receded, upon
the shore of the Persian Gulf. We have seen already that Ea, under his
Greek name of Oannes, was supposed to bring knowledge and culture to
the people of Eridu. There are many confusing myths connected with
him, and he seems in some measure to enter into the Babylonian myth of
the deluge. Alexander Polyhistor, Apollodorus, and Eusebius, copying
from Berossus, state that he rose from the sea upon his civilizing
mission, and Abydenus says that in the time of Daon, the shepherd
king of the city of Pantibiblon (meaning the 'city where books were
gathered together'), "Annedatus appeared again from the Eruthrean sea,
in the same form as those who had showed themselves before, having the
shape of a fish blended with that of a man. Then reigned Aedorachus of
Pantibiblon for the term of eighteen sari. In his days there appeared
another personage from the sea of Eruthra, like those above, having
the same complicated form between fish and man: his name was Odacon."
From remarks by Apollodorus it would seem that these beings were
messengers from Oannes, but the whole passages are very obscure. The
chief extract from the fragments of Berossus concerning Oannes states
that: "In the first year there made its appearance from a part of the
Eruthrean sea, which bordered upon Babylonia, an animal endowed with
reason, who was called Oannes. According to the accounts of Apollodorus
the whole body of the animal was like that of a fish; and had under a
fish's head another head, and also feet below, similar to those of a
man, subjoined to the fish's tail. His speech, too, was articulate and
human; and there was a representation of him to be seen in the time of
Berossus. This Being in the daytime used to converse with men; but took
no food at that season; and he gave them an insight into letters and
science, and every kind of art. He taught them to construct houses, to
found temples, to compile laws, and explained to them the principles
of geometrical knowledge. He made them distinguish the seeds of the
earth, and showed them how to collect fruits; in short, he instructed
them in everything which could tend to soften manners and humanize
mankind. From that time, so universal were his instructions, nothing
material has been added by way of improvement. When the sun set, it was
the custom of this Being to plunge again into the sea, and abide all
the night in the deep." After this there appeared other creatures like
Oannes, of which Berossus promises to give an account when he comes to
the history of the kings.

The Writings of Oannes

"Moreover," says Polyhistor, "Oannes wrote concerning the generation
of mankind; of their different ways of life, and of civil polity; and
the following is the purport of what he said: 'There was nothing but
darkness, and an abyss of water, wherein resided most hideous beings,
which were produced of a twofold principle. Men appeared with two
wings, some with four, and with two faces. They had one body, but two
heads; the one of a man, the other of a woman. They were likewise in
their several organs both male and female. Other human figures were
to be seen with the legs and horns of goats. Some had horses' feet:
others had the limbs of a horse behind; but before were fashioned like
men, resembling hippocentaurs. Bulls likewise bred there with the heads
of men; and dogs with fourfold bodies, and the tails of fishes. Also
horses with the heads of dogs: men too, and other animals, with the
heads and bodies of horses, and the tails of fishes. In short, there
were creatures with the limbs of every species of animals. Add to
these, fishes, reptiles, serpents, with other wonderful animals; which
assumed each other's shape and countenance. Of all these were preserved
delineations in the temple of Belus at Babylon. The person, who was
supposed to have presided over them, had the name of Omorca. This in
the Chaldaic language is Thalath; which the Greeks express _thalassa_,
the sea: but according to the most probable theory, it is equivalent to
_selene_, the moon. All things being in this situation, Belus came, and
cut the woman-creature asunder: and out of one half of her he formed
the earth, and of the other half the heavens. At the same time he
destroyed the animals in the abyss. All this, Berossus said,[4] was an
allegorical description of nature. For the whole universe consisting of
moisture, and, animals being continually generated therein, the Deity
(Belus) above-mentioned cut off his own head, upon which the other
gods mixed the blood, as it gushed out, with the earth, and from this
men were formed. On this account it is, that they are rational, and
partake of divine knowledge. This Belus, whom men call Dis, divided the
darkness, and separated the heavens from the earth; and reduced the
universe to order. But the animals so lately created, not being able
to bear the prevalence of light, died. Belus upon this, seeing a vast
space quite uninhabited, though by nature very fruitful, ordered one of
the gods to take off his head; and when it was taken off, they were to
mix the blood with the soil of the earth; and from thence to form other
men and animals, which should be capable of bearing the light. Belus
also formed the stars, and the sun, and moon, together with the five

This myth, related by Ea or Oannes regarding the creation of the world,
bears a very close relation to that of Merodach and Tiawath, told in
Chapter II. It is not often that one finds a fish-god acting as a
culture hero, although we find in Mexican myth a certain deity alluded
to as the "old fish-god of our flesh." Allegorical mythology would have
seen in Ea a hero arriving from another clime in a wave-tossed vessel,
who had landed on the shores of the Persian Gulf, and had instructed
the rude inhabitants thereof in the culture of a higher civilization.
There is very little doubt that Ea has a close connexion in some manner
with the Noah legend of the deluge. For example, a Sumerian text
exists in which it would seem as if the ship of Ea was described, as
the timbers of which its various parts were constructed are mentioned,
and the refugees it saved consisted of Ea himself, Dawkina his wife,
Merodach, and Inesh, the pilot of Eridu, along with Nin-igi-nagir-sir.

Of course it would seem natural to the Babylonians to regard the
Persian Gulf as the great abyss whence all things emanated. As
Jastrow very justly remarks: "In the word of Ea, of a character more
spiritual than that of En-lil, he commands, and what he plans comes
into existence--a wholly beneficent power he blesses the fields and
heals mankind. His most striking trait is his love of humanity. In
conflicts between the gods and mankind, he is invariably on the side
of the latter. When the gods, at the instance of En-lil as the 'god
of storms,' decide to bring on a deluge to sweep away mankind, it
is Ea who reveals the secret to his favourite, Ut-Napishtim (Noah),
who saves himself, his family, and his belongings on a ship that he
is instructed to build."[5] The waters personified by him are not
those of the turbulent and treacherous ocean, but those of irrigating
streams and commerce-carrying canals. He is thus very different from
the god En-lil, the 'lord of heaven' who possesses so many attributes
of destruction. Ea in his benevolent way thwarts the purpose of the
riotous god of tempest, which greatly enrages En-lil, and it has been
thought that this myth suggests the rivalry which perhaps at one time
existed between the two religious centres of Eridu and Nippur, cities
of Ea and En-lil respectively. In an eloquent manner Ea implores
En-lil not to precipitate another deluge, and begs that instead of
such wholesale destruction man may be punished by sending lions and
jackals, or by famines or pestilences. En-lil hearkens to his speech,
his heart is touched, and he blesses Utnapishtim and his wife. If this
myth is a piece of priestcraft, it argues better relations between
the ecclesiastical authorities at Eridu and Nippur. Ea had many other
names, the chief of which, Nin-a-gal, meaning 'god of great strength,'
alluded to his patronage of the smith's art. He was also called En-ki,
which describes him as 'lord of the earth' through which his waters
meandered. In such a country as Babylonia earth and water are closely
associated, as under that soil water is always to be found at a
distance of a few feet: thus the interior of the earth is the domain of

The Story of Adapa and the South Wind

Here is the story of Adapa, the son of Ea, who, but for his obedience
to his father's command, might have attained deification and

One day when Adapa was out in his boat fishing the South Wind blew with
sudden and malicious violence, upsetting the boat and flinging the
fisherman into the sea. When he succeeded in reaching the shore Adapa
vowed vengeance against the South Wind, which had used him so cruelly.

"Shutu, thou demon," he cried, "I will stretch forth my hand and break
thy wings. Thou shalt not go unpunished for this outrage!"

The hideous monster laughed as she soared in the air above him,
flapping her huge wings about her ungainly body. Adapa in his fury
leapt at her, seized her wings, and broke them, so that she was no
longer able to fly over the broad earth. Then he went his way, and
related to his father what he had done.

Seven days passed by, and Anu, the lord of heaven, waited for the
coming of the South Wind. But Shutu came not; the rains and the floods
were delayed, and Anu grew impatient. He summoned to him his minister

"Wherefore doth Shutu neglect her duty?" he asked. "What hath chanced
that she travels not afield?"

Ilabrat bowed low as he made answer: "Listen, O Anu, and I will tell
thee why Shutu flieth not abroad. Ea, lord of the deep and creator of
all things, hath a son named Adapa, who hath crushed and broken the
wings of thy servant Shutu, so that she is no more able to fly."

"If this be true," said Anu, "summon the youth before me, and let him
answer for his crime."

"Be it so, O Anu!"

When Adapa received the summons to appear in heaven he trembled
greatly. It was no light thing to answer to the great gods for the
ill-usage of their servant, the demon Shutu. Nevertheless he began to
make preparations for his journey, and ere he set out his father Ea
instructed him as to how he should comport himself in the assembly of
the gods.

"Wrap thyself not in a vesture of gold, O my son, but clothe thee in
the garments of the dead. At the gates of heaven thou wilt find Tammuz
and Gishzida guarding the way. Salute the twain with due respect, I
charge thee, baring thy head and showing all deference to them. If thou
dost find favour in their eyes they will speak well of thee before Anu.
And when thou standest within the precincts of heaven, don the garment
that is given thee to wear, and anoint thy head with the oil that
is brought thee. But when the gods offer thee food and drink, touch
them not; for the food will be the 'Meat of Death,' and the drink the
'Water of Death'; let neither pass within thy lips. Go now, my son, and
remember these my instructions. Bear thyself with humility, and all
will be well."

Adapa bade his father farewell and set out on his journey to heaven.
He found all as his father had predicted; Tammuz and Gishzida received
him at the portals of the divine dwelling, and so humble was Adapa's
attitude that they were moved with compassion towards him. They led him
into the presence of Anu, and he bowed low before the great god.

"I am come in answer to thy summons," said he. "Have mercy upon me, O
thou Most High!"

Anu frowned upon him.

"It is said of thee," he made answer, "that thou hast broken the wings
of Shutu, the South Wind. What manner of man art thou, who darest
destroy Shutu in thy wrath? Knowest thou not that the people suffer for
lack of nourishment; that the herb droopeth, and the cattle lie parched
on the scorching ground? Tell me why hast thou done this thing?"

"I was out on the sea fishing," said Adapa, "and the South Wind blew
violently, upsetting my boat and casting me into the water. Therefore I
seized her wings and broke them. And lo! I am come to seek thy pardon."

Then Tammuz and Gishzida, the deities whose favour Adapa had won at the
gates of heaven, stepped forth and knelt at the feet of their king.

"Be merciful, O Anu! Adapa hath been sorely tried, and now is he truly
humble and repentant. Let his treatment of Shutu be forgotten."

Anu listened to the words of Tammuz and Gishzida, and his wrath was
turned away.

"Rise, Adapa," he said kindly; "thy looks please me well. Thou hast
seen the interior of this our kingdom, and now must thou remain in
heaven for ever, and we will make thee a god like unto us. What sayest
thou, son of Ea?"

Adapa bowed low before the king of the gods and thanked him for his
pardon and for his promise of godhead.

Anu therefore commanded that a feast be made, and that the 'Meat of
Life' and the 'Water of Life' be placed before Adapa, for only by
eating and drinking of these could he attain immortality.

But when the feast was spread Adapa refused to partake of the repast,
for he remembered his father's injunctions on this point. So he sat in
silence at the table of the gods, whereupon Anu exclaimed:

"What now, Adapa? Why dost thou not eat or drink? Except thou taste
of the food and water set before thee thou canst not hope to live for

Adapa perceived that he had offended his divine host, so he hastened to
explain. "Be not wroth, most mighty Anu. It is because my lord Ea hath
so commanded that I break not bread nor drink water at thy table. Turn
not thy countenance from me, I beseech thee."

Anu frowned. "Is it that Ea feared I should seek thy life by offering
thee deadly food? Truly he that knoweth so much, and hath schooled thee
in so many different arts, is for once put to shame!"

Adapa would have spoken, but the lord of heaven silenced him.

"Peace!" he said; then to his attendants--"Bring forth a garment that
he may clothe himself, and oil bring also to anoint his head."

When the King's command had been carried out Adapa robed himself in the
heavenly garment and anointed his head with the oil. Then he addressed
Anu thus:

"O Anu, I salute thee! The privilege of godhead must I indeed forego,
but never shall I forget the honour that thou wouldst have conferred
upon me. Ever in my heart shall I keep the words thou hast spoken,
and the memory of thy kindness shall I ever retain. Blame me not
exceedingly, I pray thee. My lord Ea awaiteth my return."

"Truly," said Anu, "I censure not thy decision. Be it even as thou
wilt. Go, my son, and peace go with thee!"

And thus Adapa returned to the abode of Ea, lord of the dead, and
there for many years he lived in peace and happiness.


Along with En-lil and Ea, Anu makes up the universal triad. He is
called the 'father of the gods,' but appears to be descended from still
older deities. His name is seldom discovered in the inscriptions prior
to the time of Khammurabi, but such notices as occur of him seem to
have already fixed his position as a ruler of the sky. His cult was
specially associated with the city of Erech. It is probable that in
the earliest days he had been the original Sumerian sky-father, as his
name is merely a form of the Sumerian word for 'heaven.' This idea is
assisted by the manner in which his name is originally written in the
inscriptions, as the symbol signifying it is usually that employed for
'heaven.' It is plain, therefore, that Anu was once regarded as the
expanse of heaven itself, just as are the 'sky-fathers' of numerous
primitive peoples. Several writers who deal with Anu appear to be of
the opinion that a god of the heavens is an 'abstraction.' "Popular
fancy," says Jastrow, "deals with realities and with personified powers
whose workings are seen and felt. It would as little, therefore, have
evolved the idea that there was a power to be identified with the
heavens as a whole, of which the azure sky is a symbol, as it would
personify the earth as a whole, or the bodies of waters as a whole. It
is only necessary to state the implications involved to recognize that
the conception of a triad of gods corresponding to three theoretical
divisions of the universe is a bit of learned speculation. It smacks
of the school. The conception of a god of heaven fits in moreover
with the comparatively advanced period when the seats of the gods
were placed in the skies and the gods identified with the stars."[6]
A merely superficial acquaintance with the nature of animism and the
sky-myths of primitive and barbarian peoples would lead us to the
conclusion that the opposite is the case. In Egyptian, Polynesian, and
North American Indian myth the sky itself is directly personalized.
Egyptian mythological illustration depicts the sky in female form,
for in Egyptian myth the sky is the mother and the earth the father
of everything. Lang has shown that the sky-father is frequently
personalized as a "magnified non-natural man" among races which possess
no theological schools. We do not say that the arrangement of Anu, Ea,
and En-lil into a triad is not "a bit of learned speculation," but to
state that early animism did not first personalize the sky and the
earth and the sea is rash in the extreme. When Deucalion and Pyrrha in
the Greek myth asked the gods how they might best replenish the earth
with the human race, they were instructed to cast "the bones of their
mother" behind them, and these bones they interpreted as the stones
and rocks and acted accordingly. So would primitive man all the world
over have interpreted this advice, for universally he believes the very
soil upon which he walks to be the great mother which produced his
ancestors, out of whose dust or clay they were formed, and who still
nourishes and preserves him.

Jastrow proceeds to state that "Anu was originally the personification
of some definite power of nature, and everything points to this power
having been the sun in the heavens. Starting from this point of view
we quite understand how the great illuminer of heaven should have been
identified with the heavens in an artificially devised theological
system, just as En-lil became in this system the designation of the
earth and of the region above the earth viewed as a whole."[7] The very
fact that in the earliest times Anu was identified with the expanse of
the sky itself, and that the symbol used to denote him meant 'heaven,'
is against this supposition. Again, the theory suffers from lack of
analogy. In what other mythology is there to be found a sky-god who
at one time possessed a solar significance? The converse might be the
case. Some sky-gods have attained the solar connexion because of their
rule over the entire expanse of the heavens, just as they have attained
the power of wielding lightning and the wind. But we are at a loss to
recall any deity originally of distinctive solar attributes who later
took the position of a sky-god.

Anu was regarded as head of the triad and the father of En-lil. We are
told that the goddess Aruru first shaped man in the image of Anu, who
must thus have attained an anthropomorphic condition. He appears also
to have been regarded as the conqueror of primeval chaos. His consort
was Anatu, probably a later feminine form of himself.


Ishtar was undoubtedly a goddess of Semitic origin and symbolized the
fertility of the earth. She was the 'great mother' who fostered all
vegetation and agriculture. It is probable that her cult originated at
Erech, and in the course of centuries and under many nominal changes
dispersed itself throughout the length and breadth of western Asia
and even into Greece and Egypt. It is probable that a number of lesser
goddesses, such as Nanâ and Anunit, may have become merged in the
conception of this divinity, and that lesser local deities of the
same character as herself may have taken her name and assisted to
swell her reputation. She is frequently addressed as 'mother of the
gods,' and indeed the name 'Ishtar' became a generic designation for
'goddess.' But these were later honours. When her cult centred at
Erech, it appears to have speedily blossomed out in many directions,
and, as has been said, lesser cults probably eagerly identified
themselves with that of the great earth-mother, so that in time her
worship became more than a Babylonian cult. Indeed, wherever people
of Semitic speech were to be found, there was the worship of Ishtar.
As Ashteroth, or Astarte, she was known to Canaanites, Ph[oe]nicians,
and Greeks, and there is some likelihood that the cult of Aphrodite
had also its beginnings in that of Ishtar. We shall enquire later
whether she can be the Esther of the Scriptures. Astrologically she was
identified with the planet Venus, but so numerous were the attributes
surrounding her taken from other goddesses with which she had become
identified that they threatened to overshadow her real character,
which was that of the great and fertile mother. More especially did
her identification with Nin-lil, the consort of En-lil, the storm-god,
threaten to alter her real nature, as in this guise she was regarded
as a goddess of war. It is seldom that a goddess of fertility or
love achieves such a distinction. Gods possessing an agricultural
significance are nearly always war-gods, but that is because they bring
the fertilizing thunder-clouds and therefore possess the lightning
arrow or spear. But Ishtar is specifically a goddess of the class of
Persephone or Isis, and her identification with battle must be regarded
as purely accidental. In later times in Assyria she was conceived as
the consort of Asshur, head of the Assyrian pantheon, in days when a
god or goddess who did not breathe war was of little use to a people
like the Assyrians, who were constantly employed in hostilities, and
this circumstance naturally heightened her reputation as a warlike
divinity. But it is at present her original character with which we are
occupied, indeed in some texts we find that, so far from being able
to protect herself, Ishtar and her property are made the prey of the
savage En-lil, the storm-god. "His word sent me forth," she complains;
"as often as it comes to me it casts me prostrate upon my face. The
unconsecrated foe entered my courts, placed his unwashed hands upon me,
and caused me to tremble. Putting forth his hand he smote me with fear.
He tore away my robe and clothed his wife therein: he stripped off my
jewels and placed them upon his daughter. Like a quivering dove upon a
beam I sat. Like a fleeing bird from my cranny swiftly I passed. From
my temple like a bird they caused me to fly." Such is the plaint of
Ishtar, who in this case appears to be quite helpless before the enemy.

The myth which best illustrates her character is that which speaks of
her journey to Aralu, the underworld.

[Illustration: 1. Ishtar, the Mother-goddess.--2. Ishtar as the Goddess
of War.--3. Ishtar, the Goddess of Love.--From _Religious Belief and
Practice in Babylonia and Assyria_, by Professor Morris Jastrow.
--By permission of Messrs G. P. Putnam's Sons.]

The Descent of Ishtar into Hades

The poem, which in its existing form consists of 137 lines in cuneiform
characters, appears to be incomplete. We are not told therein what was
the purpose of the goddess in journeying to the 'House of No-return,'
but we gather from various legends and from the concluding portion
of the poem itself that she went thither in search of her bridegroom
Tammuz, the sun-god of Eridu. The importance of the myth of Ishtar and
Tammuz lies partly in the fact that, travelling westwards to Greece by
way of Ph[oe]nicia, it furnished a groundwork for classic myths of the
Adonis-Attis type, which still provide mythologists with matter for
endless speculation. The mythological significance of the poem and the
persons it mentions will be dealt with later; the theories concerning
the primitive status of Tammuz and Ishtar are numerous and distinct,
more than one of them being sufficiently plausible to call for a
careful scrutiny. Consideration of the myth may therefore be deferred
till we have glanced at the Babylonian story itself and some of its
principal variants and analogues.

Tammuz and Ishtar

The myth of Tammuz is one of high antiquity, dating possibly from
4000 B.C. or even earlier. Both Tammuz and Ishtar were originally
non-Semitic, the name of the former deity being derived from the
Akkadian Dumu-zi, 'son of life,' or 'the only son,' perhaps a
contraction of Dumu-zi-apsu, 'offspring of the spirit of the deep,'
as Professor Sayce indicates. The 'spirit of the deep' is, of course,
the water-god Ea, and Tammuz apparently typifies the sun, though he is
not, as will presently be seen, a simple solar deity, but a god who
unites in himself the attributes of various departmental divinities. An
ancient Akkadian hymn addresses Tammuz as "Shepherd and lord, husband
of Ishtar the lady of heaven, lord of the underworld, lord of the
shepherd's seat;" as grain which lies unwatered in the meadow, which
beareth no green blade; as a sapling planted in a waterless place; as
a sapling torn out by the root. Professor Sayce identifies him with
that Daonus, or Daos, whom Berossus states to have been the sixth king
of Babylonia during the mythical period. Tammuz is the shepherd of
the sky, and his flocks and herds, like those of St Ilya in Slavonic
folk-lore, are the cloud-cattle and the fleecy vapours of the heavens.

Ishtar has from an early period been associated with Tammuz as his
consort, as she has, indeed, with Merodach and Assur and other deities.
Yet she is by no means a mere reflection of the male divinity, but
has a distinct individuality of her own, differing in this from all
other Babylonian goddesses and betraying her non-Semitic origin. The
widespread character of the worship of Ishtar is remarkable. None of
the Babylonian or Assyrian deities were adopted into the pantheons
of so many alien races. From the Persian Gulf to the pillars of
Hercules she was adored as the great mother of all living. She has
been identified with Dawkina, wife of Ea, and is therefore mother of
Tammuz as well as his consort. This dual relationship may account for
that which appears in later myths among the Greeks, where Smyrna,
mother of Adonis, is also his sister. Ishtar was regarded sometimes
as the daughter of the sky-god Anu, and sometimes as the child of
Sin, the lunar deity. Her worship in Babylonia was universal, and in
time displaced that of Tammuz himself. The love of Ishtar for Tammuz
represents the wooing of the sun-god of spring-time by the goddess
of fertility; the god is slain by the relentless heat of summer,
and there is little doubt that Ishtar enters Aralu in search of her
youthful husband. The poem we are about to consider briefly deals with
a part only of the myth--the story of Ishtar's descent into Aralu. It
opens thus: "To the land of No-return, the region of darkness, Ishtar,
the daughter of Sin, turned her ear, even Ishtar, the daughter of Sin,
turned her ear, to the abode of darkness, the dwelling of Irkalla,
to the house whose enterer goes not forth, to the road whence the
wayfarer never returns, to the house whose inhabitants see no light,
to the region where dust is their bread and their food mud; they see
no light, they dwell in darkness, they are clothed, like the birds, in
a garment of feathers. On the door and the bolt hath the dust fallen."
The moral contained in this passage is a gloomy one for mortal man;
he who enters the dread precincts of Aralu goes not forth, he is
doomed to remain for ever in the enveloping darkness, his sustenance
mud and dust. The mention of the dust which lies "on door and bolt"
strikes a peculiarly bleak and dreary note; like other primitive races
the ancient Babylonians painted the other world not definitely as a
place of reward or punishment, but rather as a weak reflection of the
earth-world, a region of darkness and passive misery which must have
offered a singularly uninviting prospect to a vigorous human being. The
garment of feathers is somewhat puzzling. Why should the dead wear a
garment of feathers? Unless it be that the sun-god, identified in some
of his aspects with the eagle, descends into the underworld in a dress
of feathers, and that therefore mortals who follow him must appear in
the nether regions in similar guise. The description above quoted of
the Babylonian Hades tallies with that given in dream to Eabani by the
temple-maiden Ukhut (Gilgamesh epic, tablet VII).

At the Gates of Aralu

Coming to the gate of Aralu, Ishtar assumes a menacing aspect, and
threatens to break down the door and shatter its bolts and bars if
she be not admitted straightway. The keeper of the gate endeavours
to soothe the irate deity, and goes to announce her presence to
Eresh-ki-gal (Allatu), the mistress of Hades. From his words it would
appear that Ishtar has journeyed thither in search of the waters of
life, wherewith to restore her husband Tammuz to life. Allatu receives
the news of her sister's advent with a bitter tirade, but nevertheless
instructs the keeper to admit her, which he proceeds to do.

Ishtar on entering the sombre domains is obliged to pass through seven
gates, at each of which she is relieved of some article of dress or
adornment (evidently in accordance with the ancient custom of Aralu),
till at last she stands entirely unclad. At the first gate the keeper
takes from her "the mighty crown of her head"; at the second her
earrings are taken; at the third her necklace; at the fourth the
ornaments of her breast; at the fifth her jewelled girdle; at the sixth
her bracelets; and at the seventh the cincture of her body. The goddess
does not part with these save under protest, but the keeper of the
gate answers all her queries with the words: "Enter, O lady, it is the
command of Allatu." The divine wayfarer at length appears before the
goddess of the underworld, who shows her scant courtesy, bidding the
plague-demon, Namtar, smite her from head to foot with disease--in her
eyes, side, feet, heart, and head.

During the time that Ishtar is confined within the bounds of Aralu all
fertility on the earth is suspended, both in the animal and vegetable
kingdoms. Knowledge of this disastrous state of affairs is conveyed to
the gods by their messenger, Pap-sukal, who first tells the story to
Shamash, the sun-god. Shamash weeps as he bears the matter before Ea
and Sin, gods of the earth and the moon respectively; but Ea, to remedy
the sterility of the earth, creates a being called Ashushu-namir, whom
he dispatches to the underworld to demand the release of Ishtar. Allatu
is greatly enraged when the demand is made "in the name of the great
gods," and curses Ashushu-namir with a terrible curse, condemning him
to dwell in the darkness of a dungeon, with the garbage of the city for
his food. Nevertheless she cannot resist the power of the conjuration,
wherefore she bids Namtar, the plague-demon, release the Annunaki, or
earth-spirits, and place them on a golden throne, and pour the waters
of life over Ishtar. Namtar obeys; in the words of the poem he "smote
the firmly-built palace, he shattered the threshold which bore up the
stones of light, he bade the spirits of earth come forth, on a throne
of gold did he seat them, over Ishtar he poured the waters of life
and brought her along." Ishtar is then led through the seven gates of
Arula, receiving at each the article of attire whereof she had there
been deprived. Finally she emerges into the earth-world, which resumes
its normal course. Then follow a few lines addressed to Ishtar, perhaps
by the plague-demon or by the keeper of the gates. "If she (Allatu)
hath not given thee that for which the ransom is paid her, return to
her for Tammuz, the bridegroom of thy youth. Pour over him pure waters
and precious oil. Put on him a purple robe, and a ring of crystal
on his hand. Let Samkhat (the goddess of joy) enter the liver...."
These lines indicate with sufficient clearness that Ishtar descended
into Hades in order to obtain the waters of life and thus revive her
bridegroom Tammuz. The poem does not relate whether or not her errand
was successful, but we are left to conjecture that it was. There still
remain a few lines of the poem, not, however, continuing the narrative,
but forming a sort of epilogue, addressed, it may be, to the hearers of
the tale. Mention is made in this portion of mourners, "wailing men and
wailing women," of a funeral pyre and the burning of incense, evidently
in honour of the god Tammuz.

Ishtar and Persephone

As has been indicated already, the myth of Tammuz and Ishtar furnished
the groundwork for certain myths of classic Greece and Rome. The
Ph[oe]nician Astarte (Ashtoreth), a development of Ishtar, became in
time the Aphrodite of the Greeks, a deity who plays a part in the
Adonis legend analogous to that of Ishtar in the Tammuz story. The
name Adonis itself is derived from _Adoni_ ('my lord'), the word with
which the Ph[oe]nician worshippers of Tammuz hailed the setting sun.
The myth of Adonis is perhaps the most nearly related of any to that
of Tammuz, since its chief characters are acknowledged counterparts
of those in the Babylonian legend, while the tale of Ishtar's descent
into Hades may be regarded as a sequel to the Greek story, or rather
to an early Babylonian variant thereof. Briefly outlined, the story
runs as follows: Adonis was the fruit of an unnatural union between
the Syrian king Theias and his daughter Smyrna (Myrrha). Theias
pursued the princess, intending to take her life for the crime, but
the pity of the gods turned her into a tree from which, at the end
of ten months, Adonis was born. It is said that a boar rent open the
tree-trunk with its tusk, and thus enabled the divine infant to see the
light. Aphrodite, charmed with the beauty of the child, gave him into
the care of Persephone, who was so enamoured of her charge that she
afterwards refused to give him up. The goddesses appealed to Zeus, who
decreed that Adonis should spend six months of each year with Aphrodite
and six with Persephone in the underworld; or, according to another
version, four months were to be passed with Aphrodite and four with
Persephone, while the remaining four were to be at his own disposal. He
was afterwards slain by a boar sent against him by Artemis (herself, by
the way, a development of Ishtar). It may be remarked that Aphrodite,
who figures, like Ishtar, as the goddess of love and beauty, is also
closely associated with the nether regions, perhaps because she was
identified with the Babylonian goddess in her journey to Hades in
search of her spouse.

Akin to Adonis is the god Attis, who likewise, according to one
version of his myth, is slain by a boar. After his death he becomes a
pine-tree, and from his blood violets spring. He is beloved of Cybele,
the mother-goddess, who laments his untimely end.

In the Adonis legend there is evidence of some overlapping. Persephone,
or Proserpine, who here corresponds to the Allatu of the Babylonian
variant, figures in another well-known myth as the prototype of Tammuz.
When she is carried off to the netherworld by Pluto, her mother,
Ceres, will not suffer the corn to grow while her daughter remains
a prisoner. Like Ishtar in search of her spouse, the mother-goddess
seeks her child with weeping and lamentation. Through the eating of a
pomegranate seed, Proserpine is finally obliged to pass four (or six)
months of every year with her dark captor, as his consort.

Another myth which has affinities with the tale of Tammuz and Ishtar
is the Egyptian one which deals with the quest of Isis. The god Osiris
is slain through the machinations of his brother Set (who, being
identified elsewhere with a black hog, recalls the boar which slew
Adonis and Attis), and his body, enclosed in a chest, is cast into
the Nile. Afterwards the chest is thrown up by the waves, and round
it springs miraculously a tamarisk tree. Meanwhile Isis, wife and
sister to Osiris, travels hither and thither in search of his remains,
which in due time she finds. However, the chest is stolen from her by
Set, who, taking therefrom the body of Osiris, tears the corpse into
fourteen pieces, which he scatters broadcast through the land. Isis
still pursues her quest, till she has found all the portions and buried

These tales were the mythical correlates of certain ritualistic
practices designed to bring about the change of seasons, and other
natural phenomena, by means of sympathetic magic. The burden of a great
duty falls upon the shoulders of primitive man; with his rites and
spells and magic arts he must assist the universe in its course. His
esoteric plays, typifying the mysterious fact of growth, are necessary
to ensure the sprouting of the corn; his charms and incantations are
essential even for the rising of the sun; lacking the guarantee of
science that one season shall follow another in its proper order,
he goes through an elaborate performance symbolizing the decay and
revival of vegetation, believing that only thus can the natural order
be maintained. Through the force of sympathetic magic he sees his puny
efforts related to the mighty results which follow them.

This, then, is the origin of the ritual of the Tammuz festival, which
may conceivably have had an existence prior to that of the myth itself.
The representation of the death and resurrection of the god, whether in
myth or ritual, had undoubtedly a seasonal significance, wherefore the
date of his festival varied in the different localities. In Babylonia
it was celebrated in June, thus showing that the deity was slain by
the fierce heat of the sun, burning up all the springtide vegetation.
Ishtar's sojourn in Hades would thus occupy the arid months of summer.
In other and more temperate climes winter would be regarded as the
enemy of Tammuz. An interesting account of the Tammuz festival is that
given by an Arabic author writing in the tenth century, and quoted by
Sir James Frazer in his _Golden Bough_. "Tammuz (July). In the middle
of this month is the festival of el-Bûgât, that is, of the weeping
women, and this is the Ta-uz festival, which is celebrated in honour
of the god Ta-uz. The women bewail him, because his lord slew him so
cruelly, ground his bones in a mill, and then scattered them to the
wind. The women (during this festival) eat nothing which has been
ground in a mill, but limit their diet to steeped wheat, sweet vetches,
dates, raisins, and the like." The material for this description was
furnished by the Syrians of Harran. Of the curious legend attaching to
the mourning rites more will be said later.

Lamentations for Tammuz

Characteristic of the Tammuz ritual are the lamentations, of which
several series are still extant. In later times it appears that a
different cause was assigned for the weeping of the "wailing men and
wailing women." They no longer mourned the death of Tammuz, but the
departure of Ishtar into the netherworld, and so the legend of her
journey to Aralu came to be recited in the temples. Sir James Frazer
suggests that the ritualistic counterpart of the Tammuz-Ishtar myth
may have included the pouring of water over an effigy of the god, the
practice corresponding to the pouring of the water of life over him in
order to bring him back to life. If this indeed formed a part of the
Tammuz ritual we may take it that it was intended as a rain-charm.

Likewise the Adonia festival of the Greeks symbolized the death and
resurrection of Adonis. This feast occupied two days; on the first day,
images of Adonis and Aphrodite were made and laid each on a silver
couch; on the second day, these images were cast by the women into the
sea, together with 'Adonis gardens,' as they were called--pots filled
with earth in which cut flowers were stuck. It is believed that this
rite was meant to signify the revival of vegetation under the influence
of rain. The persons engaged in it indulged in such lamentations as
were uttered by the worshippers of Tammuz in Babylonia, tore their
hair, and beat their breasts. The festival of Adonis fell in the
summer-time at Alexandria and Athens, in the spring at Byblus, while
in Ph[oe]nicia it occurred in the season when the river Nahr Ibrahim
(formerly called Adonis) bore down from the mountains of Lebanon the
red earth in which the devout saw the blood of the slain Adonis.
Golden boxes of myrrh were employed at the Adonia festival, incense
was burned, and pigs were sacrificed. Pigs were sacrificed also to
Osiris, whose cult, as has been shown, had much in common with that of
Tammuz and Adonis. The Egyptian god was cast by his enemies into the
waters of the Nile; and it may be that this myth too had a ritualistic
counterpart, designed as a charm to produce rain.

It has been indicated already that the elucidations of the myth of
Ishtar's journey to Aralu are many and divergent. The variants above
enumerated serve each to cast light on the other, and from a comparison
of these we may succeed in arriving at a satisfactory conclusion. To
begin with, however, it must be remembered that when the cult of any
deity has reached a fairly advanced stage it is impossible to assign
to him any one department of nature, to say that he is a sun-god, a
rain-god, a corn-god, for he may possess the attributes of all of
these. In giving any god a departmental designation we are striving to
express his primitive or predominant characteristics merely.

[Illustration: The Mother-goddess Ishtar.--Evelyn Paul.]

An Allegorical Interpretation of the Myth

A truly allegorical elucidation of the myth of Ishtar's descent into
Hades would depict Ishtar, as the goddess of fertility, seeking in the
underworld for her husband, the sun-god, slain by the icy breath of
winter. During her sojourn in the nether regions all fertility ceases
on the earth, to be resumed only when she returns as the joyful bride
of the springtide sun. The surrender of her clothing and jewels at
the seven gates of Aralu represents the gradual decay of vegetation on
the earth, and the resumption of her garments the growing beauty and
verdure which mark her return. Another hypothesis identifies Ishtar
with Dawkina, goddess of the earth, wife of Ea and therefore mother as
well as consort of Tammuz. According to this view Ishtar represents
not the fertility of the earth, but the earth itself, deprived of
its adornments of flowers and leafage by the approach of winter, or
variously, by the burning heat of summer. The waters of life, with
which she sprinkles and restores her husband,[8] are the revivifying
rains which give to the sun-god his youthful vigour and glory. Against
this view it has been urged (_e.g._ by Sir James Frazer) that "there is
nothing in the sun's annual course within the temperate and tropical
zones to suggest that he is dead for half or a third of the year, and
alive for the other half or two-thirds."

Alternatively it is suggested that Tammuz is a god of vegetation, and
that Ishtar doubles the rôle. The slaying of Tammuz and the journey
of Ishtar would thus represent two distinct myths, each typifying
the decay and subsequent revival of vegetation. Other instances may
be recalled in which two myths of the same class have become fused
into one. This view, then, presents some elements of probability; not
only Tammuz but most of his variants appear to possess a vegetable
significance, while the Ishtar type is open to interpretation on
the same lines. Thus Adonis is associated with the myrrh-tree, from
whose trunk he was born, and Osiris with the tamarisk, used in the
ritual connected with his cult, while Attis after his death became a
pine-tree. Tammuz himself was conceived of as dwelling in the midst of
a great world-tree, whose roots extended down to the underworld, while
its branches reached to the heavens. This tree appears to have been the
cedar, for which the ancient Babylonians had an especial reverence.
One feature which leads us to identify the deities of this class, both
male and female, with gods of vegetation is their association with the
moon. Osiris is regarded, and with much reason, as a moon-god; in one
of her aspects Aphrodite is a lunar deity, while a like significance
belongs to Proserpine and to the Ph[oe]nician Ashtoreth. Ishtar
herself, it is true, was never identified with the moon, which in
Babylonia was a male divinity; yet she was associated with him as his
daughter. Among primitive peoples the moon is believed to exercise a
powerful influence on vegetation, and indeed on all manner of growth
and productivity. The association of a god with the moon therefore
argues for him also a connexion with vegetation and fertility. It may
be remarked, in passing, that a lunar significance has been attached
by some authorities to the story of Ishtar's descent into Hades, and
to kindred myths. It is held that the sojourn of the goddess in Aralu
typifies a lunar eclipse, or perhaps the period between the waning of
the old moon and the appearance of the new. But, as has been said, the
ancient Babylonians saw in the luminary of night a male deity, so that
any lunar characteristics pertaining to Ishtar must be regarded as of
merely secondary importance.

Ishtar, Tammuz, and Vegetation

If it be granted, then, that Ishtar and Tammuz are deities of
vegetation, it is possible still further to narrow their sphere by
associating them particularly with the corn. Adonis and Aphrodite
are connected with the growth of the crops. Ceres, who forbids the
corn to spring while her daughter is in the realm of Pluto, is
undoubtedly a corn-mother, and Proserpine evidently partakes of
the same nature. Osiris was the culture-deity who introduced corn
into Egypt. A representation of him in the temple of Isis at Philæ
depicts corn-stalks growing out of his dead body--the body of Osiris
(the grain) is torn to pieces, scattered through the land, and the
pieces buried (or planted) in the earth, when the corn sprouts from
it. Moreover, Tammuz himself was cruelly disposed of by his lord,
who "ground his bones in a mill, and then scattered them to the
wind"--plainly a type of the treatment meted out to the corn. An Arabic
writer relates that Tammuz was cruelly killed several times, but that
he always came to life again, a story which recalls Robert Burns' _John
Barleycorn_, itself perhaps based on mythical matter.

May not these examples suggest an elucidation on animistic lines?
Deities of the Tammuz type appear to symbolize the corn-grain and
nothing more--cut down, bruised and beaten, buried in the earth, and
finally springing to renewed life. Who, then, are the goddesses,
likewise identified with the corn, who seek in the underworld for
lover or child, endeavouring with tears to ransom the corn from the
dark earth? Are they not the primitive corn-spirits, the indwelling
animistic spirits of the standing grain, doomed at the harvest to
wander disconsolately through the earth till the sprouting of the corn
once more gives them an opportunity to materialize?

The stories of the mutilation and dispersion of the bodies of Tammuz
and Osiris, and of the many deaths of the former god, furnish a basis
for yet another explanation of the Tammuz myth. Sir James Frazer brings
forward the theory that the 'Lamentations' of the ancient Babylonians
were intended not for mourning for the decay of vegetation, but to
bewail the cruel treatment of the grain at harvest-time, and cites in
this connexion the ballad of _John Barleycorn_, which, we are told, was
based on an early English poem, probably itself of mythological origin.

It is, however, most likely that the myth of Tammuz and Ishtar is of
a composite nature, as has already been indicated. Possibly a myth
of the sun-god and earth-goddess has been superimposed on the early
groundwork of the corn-spirit seeking the corn. It would certainly seem
that Ishtar in her descent into Aralu typified the earth, shorn of
her covering of vegetation. Then in time she might come to symbolize
the vegetation itself, or the fertility which produced it, and so
would gain new attributes, and new elements would enter into the myths
concerning her. Only by regarding her as a composite deity is it
possible to reach an understanding of the principles underlying these

Ishtar and Esther

We have already questioned whether the Scripture story of Esther is in
some manner connected with the goddess Ishtar. Writing of the Jewish
feast of Purim, Sir James Frazer says (_Golden Bough_, vol. iii, p.
153): "From the absence of all notice of Purim in the older books of
the Bible, we may fairly conclude that the festival was instituted
or imported at a comparatively late date among the Jews. The same
conclusion is supported by the Book of Esther itself, which was
manifestly written to explain the origin of the feast and to suggest
motives for its observance. For, according to the author of the book,
the festival was established to commemorate the deliverance of the Jews
from a great danger which threatened them in Persia under the reign
of King Xerxes. Thus the opinion of modern scholars that the feast of
Purim, as celebrated by the Jews, was of late date and Oriental origin,
is borne out by the tradition of the Jews themselves. An examination
of that tradition and of the mode of celebrating the feast renders
it probable that Purim is nothing but a more or less disguised form
of the Babylonian festival of the Sacæa or Zakmuk.... But further,
when we examine the narrative which professes to account for the
institution of Purim, we discover in it not only the strongest traces
of Babylonian origin, but also certain singular analogies to those very
features of the Sacæan festival with which we are here more immediately
concerned. The Book of Esther turns upon the fortunes of two men, the
vizier Haman and the despised Jew Mordecai, at the court of a Persian
king. Mordecai, we are told, had given mortal offence to the vizier,
who accordingly prepares a tall gallows on which he hopes to see his
enemy hanged, while he himself expects to receive the highest mark
of the King's favour by being allowed to wear the royal crown and
the royal robes, and thus attired to parade the streets, mounted on
the King's own horse and attended by one of the noblest princes, who
should proclaim to the multitude his temporary exaltation and glory.
But the artful intrigues of the wicked vizier miscarried and resulted
in precisely the opposite of what he had hoped and expected; for the
royal honours which he had looked for fell to his rival Mordecai, and
he himself was hanged on the gallows which he had made ready for his
foe. In this story we seem to detect a reminiscence, more or less
confused, of the Zoganes of the Sacæa, in other words, of the custom of
investing a private man with the insignia of royalty for a few days,
and then putting him to death on the gallows or the cross....

"A strong confirmation of this view is furnished by a philological
analysis of the names of the four personages. It seems to be now
generally recognised by Biblical scholars that the name Mordecai, which
has no meaning in Hebrew, is nothing but a slightly altered form of
Marduk or Merodach, the name of the chief god of Babylon, whose great
festival was the Zakmuk; and further, it is generally admitted that
Esther in like manner is equivalent to Ishtar, the great Babylonian
goddess whom the Greeks called Astarte, and who is more familiar to
English readers as Ashtaroth. The derivation of the names of Haman
and Vashti is less certain, but some high authorities are disposed
to accept the view of Jensen that Haman is identical with Humman or
Homman, the national god of the Elamites, and that Vashti is in like
manner an Elamite deity, probably a goddess whose name appears in

Lang on the Esther Story

Commenting on this theory, Lang in his _Magic and Religion_ (p. 161)
says: "The name Mordecai resembles Marduk, Esther is like Ishtar, Haman
is like Humman, the Elamite god, and there is a divine name in the
inscriptions, read as resembling 'Vashti,' and probably the name of an
Elamite goddess. Thus the human characters in Esther are in peril of
merging in Babylonian and Elamite gods. But, lest that should occur,
we ought also to remember that Mordecai was the real name of a real
historical Jew of the Captivity, one of the companions of Nehemiah in
the return from exile to Jerusalem. Again, Esther appears to me to be
the crown-name of the Jewish wife of Xerxes, in the Book of Esther:
'Hadassah, that is Esther.' In the Biblical story she conceals her
Jewish descent. Hadassah, says Nöldeke, 'is no mere invention of the
writer of Esther.' Hadassah is said to mean 'myrtle bough,' and girls
are still called Myrtle. Esther appears to have been an assumed name,
after a royal mixed marriage. Now if a real historical Jew might be
named Mordecai, which we know to be the case, a Jewess, whether in
fact, or in this Book of Esther, which, says Dr. Jastrow, 'has of
course some historical basis,' might be styled Esther.... But, if
Mordecai be, as it is, an historical name of a real Jew of the period,
while Esther may be, and probably is, a name which a Jewess might bear,
it is not ascertained that Vashti really is the name of an Elamite
goddess. Yet Vashti is quite essential as a goddess to Mr. Frazer's
argument. 'The derivation,' he says, 'of the names of Haman and Vashti
is less certain, but some high authorities are disposed to accept the
view of Jensen that Haman is identical with Humman or Homman, the
national god of the Elamites, and that Vashti is in like manner an
Elamite deity, probably a goddess whose name appears in inscriptions.'"

It is thus seen that the facts regarding these names make such an
explanation as is advanced by Sir James Frazer rather a hazardous one.
Haman, according to his theory, would represent the dying god, whilst
Mordecai would play the part of the re-risen god of vegetation. Lang
puts forward a counter-theory, and that is that Haman or Humman was
a conquering god of the Elamites, which accounts for him having been
whipped and hanged in derision. This Humman was, he thinks, possibly an
Elamite god of vegetation.


Girsu was a part of the city of Lagash, and the name Nin-Girsu means
'Lord of Girsu.' Gods frequently had lordship over a city quarter, one
of the best-known instances of this being that of Huitzilopochtli, who
ruled over that part of the city of Tenochtitlan, called Mexico, which
afterwards gave its name to the entire community. Girsu had originally
been a city itself and had become merged into Lagash, so its god was
probably of ancient origin. Nin-Girsu is frequently alluded to as 'the
warrior of Bel'--he who broke through the hostile ranks to aid the
worshippers of the great god of the netherworld. Like many combatant
deities, however, he presided over local agriculture, and in this
connexion he was known as Shul-gur, 'Lord of the corn heaps.' He is
even identified with Tammuz.


In ancient inscriptions, especially those of Gudea, Urbau, and
Uru-kagina, the goddess Bau is alluded to as the great mother of
mankind, who restores the sick to health. She is called 'chief daughter
of Anu,' and seems to play the part of a fate to some extent. She
has also an agricultural side to her character. Gudea was especially
devoted to her, and has left it on record that she "filled him with
eloquence." Her temple was at Uru-Azagga, a quarter of Lagash, and as
the goddess of that neighbourhood she would, of course, have come into
close contact with Nin-Girsu. Indeed she is spoken of as his consort,
and when Uru-Azagga became part of Lagash, Bau was promoted as tutelar
goddess of that city and designated 'Mother of Lagash.' She has been
identified with the primeval watery depths, the primitive chaos, and
this identification has been founded on the similarity between the name
Bau and the Hebrew _bohu_, the word for 'chaos,' but proof is wanting
to support the conjecture. A closely allied form of her seems to be
Ga-tum-dug, a goddess who has probably a common origin with Bau, and
who certainly is in some manner connected with water--perhaps with the


Nannar was the moon-god of Ur, the city whence came Abram, and with
that place he was connected much as was Shamash with Sippar--that is
to say, Ur was his chief but not his only centre of adoration. Why he
came to have his principal seat at Ur it would be difficult to say.
The name Ur signifies 'light,' so it may be that a shrine dedicated to
Nannar existed upon the site of this city and constituted its nucleus.
In Babylonian mythology the sun was regarded as the offspring of the
moon, and it is easy to see how this conception arose in the minds of
a race prone to astronomical study. In all civilizations the lunar
method of computing time precedes the solar. The phases of the moon are
regarded as more trustworthy and more easily followed than the more
obscure changes of the brighter luminary, therefore a greater degree of
importance was attached to the moon in very early times than to the
sun. The moon is usually represented on Babylonian cylinders as bearing
a crescent upon his head and wearing a long, flowing beard described as
of the colour of lapis-lazuli--much the same shade as his beams possess
in warmer latitudes. Nannar was frequently alluded to as 'the heifer of
Anu,' because of the horn which the moon displays at a certain phase.
Many monarchs appear to have delighted in the upkeep and restoration of
his temple, among them Nur-Ramman and Sin-iddina.

Nannar in Decay

But, as happens to many gods, Nannar became confounded with some
earthly hero--was even alluded to as a satrap of Babylonia under the
Median monarch Artaios--a personage unknown to history. Ctesias hands
down to us a very circumstantial tale concerning him as follows:[9]

"There was a Persian of the name of Parsondes, in the service of the
king of the Medes, an eager huntsman, and an active warrior on foot
and in the chariot, distinguished in council and in the field, and of
influence with the king. Parsondes often urged the king to make him
satrap of Babylon in the place of Nannaros, who wore women's clothes
and ornaments, but the king always put the petition aside, for it
could not be granted without breaking the promise which his ancestor
had made to Belesys. Nannaros discovered the intentions of Parsondes,
and sought to secure himself against them, and to take vengeance. He
promised great rewards to the cooks who were in the train of the king,
if they succeeded in seizing Parsondes and giving him up. One day,
Parsondes in the heat of the chase strayed far from the king. He had
already killed many boars and deer, when the pursuit of a wild ass
carried him to a great distance. At last he came upon the cooks, who
were occupied in preparations for the king's table. Being thirsty,
Parsondes asked for wine; they gave it, took care of his horse, and
invited him to take food--an invitation agreeable to Parsondes, who
had been hunting the whole day. He bade them send the ass which he had
captured to the king, and tell his own servants where he was. Then he
ate of the various kinds of food set before him, and drank abundantly
of the excellent wine, and at last asked for his horse in order to
return to the king. But they brought beautiful women to him, and urged
him to remain for the night. He agreed, and as soon as, overcome by
hunting, wine, and love, he had fallen into a deep sleep, the cooks
bound him and brought him to Nannaros. Nannaros reproached Parsondes
with calling him an effeminate man, and seeking to obtain his satrapy;
he had the king to thank that the satrapy granted to his ancestors had
not been taken from him. Parsondes replied that he considered himself
more worthy of the office, because he was more manly and more useful to
the king. But Nannaros swore by Bel and Mylitta that Parsondes should
be softer and whiter than a woman, called for the eunuch who was over
the female players, and bade him shave the body of Parsondes and bathe
and anoint him every day, put women's clothes on him, plait his hair
after the manner of women, paint his face, and place him among the
women who played the guitar and sang, that he might learn their arts.
This was done, and soon Parsondes played and sang better at the table
of Nannaros than any of the women. Meanwhile the king of the Medes
had caused search to be made everywhere for Parsondes; and since he
could nowhere be found, and nothing could be heard of him, he believed
that a lion or some other wild animal had killed him when out hunting,
and lamented for his loss. Parsondes had lived for seven years as a
woman in Babylon, when Nannaros caused a eunuch to be scourged and
grievously maltreated. This eunuch Parsondes induced by large presents
to retire to Media and tell the king the misfortune which had come
upon him. Then the king sent a message commanding Nannaros to give up
Parsondes. Nannaros declared that he had never seen him. But the king
sent a second messenger, with orders to put Nannaros to death if he
did not surrender Parsondes. Nannaros entertained the messenger of the
king; and when the meal was brought, 150 women entered, of whom some
played the guitar, while others blew the flute. At the end of the meal,
Nannaros asked the king's envoy which of all the women was the most
beautiful and had played best. The envoy pointed to Parsondes. Nannaros
laughed long and said, 'That is the person whom you seek,' and released
Parsondes, who on the next day returned home with the envoy to the king
in a chariot. The king was astonished at the sight of him, and asked
why he had not avoided such disgrace by death. Parsondes answered,
'In order that I might see you again and by you execute vengeance on
Nannaros, which could never have been mine had I taken my life.' The
king promised him that his hope should be realized, as soon as he came
to Babylon. But when he came there, Nannaros defended himself on the
ground that Parsondes, though in no way injured by him, had maligned
him, and sought to obtain the satrapy over Babylonia. The king pointed
out that he had made himself judge in his own cause, and had imposed
a punishment of a degrading character; in ten days he would pronounce
judgment upon him for his conduct. In terror, Nannaros hastened to
Mitraphernes, the eunuch of greatest influence with the king, and
promised him the most liberal rewards, 10 talents of gold and 100
talents of silver, 10 golden and 200 silver bowls, if he could induce
the king to spare his life and retain him in the satrapy of Babylonia.
He was prepared to give the king 100 talents of gold, 1000 talents of
silver, 100 golden and 300 silver bowls, and costly robes, with other
gifts; Parsondes also should receive 100 talents of silver and costly
robes. After many entreaties, Mitraphernes persuaded the king not to
order the execution of Nannaros, as he had not killed Parsondes, but to
exact from him the compensation which he was prepared to pay Parsondes
and the king. Nannaros in gratitude threw himself at the feet of the
king; but Parsondes said, 'Cursed be the man who first brought gold
among men; for the sake of gold I have been made a mockery to the

[Illustration: Assyrian Rock Sculpture from _The Monuments of Nineveh_,
by Sir Henry Layard.]

It is impossible to say what the mythological meaning hidden in
this tale may portend. We have the moon-god attempting to feminize
an unfortunate enemy. Does this mean that Parsondes came under the
influence of the moon-god--that is, that he became a lunatic?

Aralu, or Eres-ki-Gal

The deities of the underworld, of the region of the dead, are usually
of later origin than those of the heavens.[10] They are frequently
the gods of an older and discredited religion, and are relegated to
the 'cold shades of opposition,' dwelling there just as the dead are
supposed to 'dwell' in the grave. A legend exists regarding Aralu which
was discovered among other texts at Tel-el-Amarna. The story goes that
the gods once gave a feast to which they invited Aralu, apologizing at
the same time that they were unable to go down to her and regretting
that she could not ascend to them. In their dilemma they requested
her to send a messenger to bring to her the viands which fell to her
share. She complied with the request, and when the messenger arrived
all the gods stood up to do him honour for his mistress's sake--all
save Nergal. The messenger acquainted Aralu with this slight, and
greatly enraged she sent him back to the dwelling of the gods to ask
that the delinquent might be delivered into her hands so that she
might slay him. The gods after some discussion requested the messenger
to take back him who had offended the dark goddess, and in order
that the envoy might the more easily discover him, all the gods were
gathered together. But Nergal remained in the background. His absence
was discovered, however, and he was despatched to the gloomy realm
of Aralu. But he had no mind to taste death. Indeed Aralu found the
tables turned, for Nergal, seizing her by the hair, dragged her from
her throne and prepared to cut off her head. She begged to be allowed
to speak, and upon her request being granted, she offered herself as a
wife to her conqueror, along with the dominions over which she held
sway. Nergal assented to her proposals and they were wed.

Nergal is the sun which passes through the gloomy underworld at night
just as does Osiris, and in this character he has to conquer the powers
of death and the grave. It is rare, however, to find the sun-hero
allying himself by marriage to one of the infernal powers, although in
the Central American _Popol Vuh_ one of the explorers to the underworld
weds the daughter of one of its overlords, and Persephone, the
corn-goddess, is forced to become the spouse of the lord of Hades.


Dagon, alluded to in the Scriptures, was, like Oannes, a fish-god.
Besides being worshipped in Erech and its neighbourhood, he was adored
in Palestine and on occasion among the Hebrews themselves. But it was
in the extreme south of Palestine that his worship attained its chief
importance. He had temples at Ashdod and Gaza, and perhaps his worship
travelled westward along with that of Ishtar. Both were worshipped at
Erech, and where the cult of the one penetrated it is likely that there
would be found the rites of the other.

    Dagon his name; sea-monster, upward man
    And downward fish,

as Milton expresses it, affords one of the most dramatic instances in
the Old Testament of the downfall of a usurping idol.

"And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Eben-ezer
unto Ashdod.

"When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the
house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.

"And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was
fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. And they
took Dagon, and set him in his place again.

"And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was
fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the
head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the
threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.

"Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon's
house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.

"But the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he
destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts

"And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of
the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us
and upon Dagon our god."

Thus in the Bible story only the 'stump' or fish's tail of Dagon was
left to him. In some of the Ninevite sculptures of this deity, the
head of the fish forms a kind of mitre on the head of the man, while
the body of the fish appears as a cloak or cape over his shoulders and
back. This is a sure sign to the mythological student that a god so
adorned is in process of quitting the animal for the human form.[11]

Nirig, or Enu-Restu

This deity is alluded to in an inscription as "the eldest of the gods."
He was especially favoured by the Kings of Assyria, and we find his
name entering into the composition of several of their texts. In a
certain poem he is called the "son of Bel," and is described as being
made "in the likeness of Anu." He rides, it is said, against the gods
of his enemies in a chariot of lapis-lazuli, and his onset is full
of the fury of the tempest. Bel, his father, commands him to set
forth for the temple of Bel at Nippur. Here Nusku, the messenger of
Bel, meets him, bestows a gift upon him, and humbly requests that he
will not disturb the god Bel, his father, in his dwelling-place, nor
terrify the earth-gods. It would appear from this passage that Nirig
was on the point of taking the place of Bel, his father, but that he
ever did so is improbable. As a deity of storm he is also a god of
war, but he was the seed-scatterer upon the mountains, therefore he
had also an agricultural significance. It is strange that in Babylonia
tempest-gods possess the same functions and attributes--those of war
and agriculture--as do rain or thunder, or rain-thunder, or wind and
rain deities elsewhere-a circumstance which is eloquent of the power
of climatic conditions in the manufacture of myth. In Mesopotamia
fierce sand-storms must have given the people the idea of a savage and
intractable deity, destructive rather than beneficent, as many hymns
and kindred texts witness.

We have now briefly examined the elder gods of the Babylonian pantheon.
Other, and in some cases more imposing, gods were yet to be adopted by
the Babylonians, as we shall see in the following chapters.

[1] The passage is quoted by kind permission of Messrs A. & C. Black.

[2] _Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria_, p. 69.

[3] _Athenæum_, Feb. 12, 1876.

[4] Polyhistor is still speaking. The passage is somewhat obscure, and
of course relates to the myth of Merodach and Tiawath--Bel representing
Merodach, and "the woman-creature" Tiawath.

[5] _Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria_, p. 88.

[6] _Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria_, p. 81.

[7] _Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria_, p. 82.

[8] Elsewhere Ishtar herself is sprinkled. See p. 130.

[9] Translation from Prof. Sayce's _Hibbert Lectures_, p. 157.

[10] These deities of the underworld must not be confounded with the
gods of the abyss referred to at great length in Chapter II. The first
group are gods of the dead, the second gods of the primeval waters.

[11] In sacrifice, too, the totemic or symbolic animal of the god
is often flayed and the skin worn by the priest, who in this manner
personates the god. In ancient Mexico the priests of Centeotl wore the
skin of a woman sacrificed annually to that goddess.


As it is probable that the materials of the Gilgamesh epic, the great
mythological poem of Babylonia, originally belong to the older epoch
of Babylonian mythology, it is fitting that it should be described
and considered before passing to the later developments of Chaldean

The Gilgamesh epic ranks with the Babylonian myth of creation as one
of the greatest literary productions of ancient Babylonia. The main
element in its composition is a conglomeration of mythic matter, drawn
from various sources, with perhaps a substratum of historic fact,
the whole being woven into a continuous narrative around the central
figure of Gilgamesh, prince of Erech. It is not possible at present
to fix the date when the epic was first written. Our knowledge of it
is gleaned chiefly from mutilated fragments belonging to the library
of Assur-bani-pal, but from internal and other evidence we gather
that some at least of the traditions embodied in the epic are of
much greater antiquity than his reign. Thus a tablet dated 2100 B.C.
contains a variant of the deluge story inserted in the XIth tablet
of the Gilgamesh epic. Probably this and other portions of the epic
existed in oral tradition before they were committed to writing--that
is, in the remote Sumerian period.

Assur-bani-pal was an enthusiastic and practical patron of literature.
In his great library at Nineveh (the nucleus of which had been taken
from Calah by Sennacherib) he had gathered a vast collection of
volumes, clay tablets, and papyri, most of which had been carried as
spoil from conquered lands. He also employed scribes to copy older
texts, and this is evidently how the existing edition of the Gilgamesh
epic came to be written. From the fragments now in the British Museum
it would seem that at least four copies of the poem were made in
the time of Assur-bani-pal. They were not long permitted to remain
undisturbed. The great Assyrian empire was already declining; ere long
Nineveh was captured and its library scattered, while plundering hordes
burnt the precious rolls of papyrus, and buried the clay tablets in the
debris of the palace which had sheltered them.

There they were destined to lie for over 2000 years, till the
excavations of Sir A. H. Layard, George Smith, and others brought them
to light. It is true that the twelve tablets of the Gilgamesh epic (or
rather, the fragments of them which have so far been discovered) are
much defaced; frequently the entire sense of a passage is obscured by a
gap in the text, and this, when nice mythological elucidations are in
question, is no light matter. Yet to such an extent has the science of
comparative religion progressed in recent years that we are probably
better able to read the true mythological significance of the epic
than were the ancient Babylonians themselves, who saw in it merely an
account of the wanderings and exploits of a national hero.

The epic, which centres round the ancient city of Erech, relates the
adventures of a half-human, half-divine hero, Gilgamesh by name,
who is king over Erech. Two other characters figure prominently in
the narrative--Eabani, who evidently typifies primitive man, and
Ut-Napishtim, the hero of the Babylonian deluge myth. Each of the three
would seem to have been originally the hero of a separate group of
traditions which in time became incorporated, more or less naturally,
with the other two.

The first and most important of the trio, the hero Gilgamesh, may
have been at one time a real personage, though nothing is known of
him historically.[1] Possibly the exploits of some ancient king of
Erech have furnished a basis for the narrative. His name (for a time
provisionally read _Gisdhubar_, or _Izdubar_, but now known to have
been pronounced _Gilgamesh_[2]) suggests that he was not Babylonian but
Elamite or Kassite in origin, and from indications furnished by the
poem itself we learn that he conquered Erech (or relieved the city from
a besieging force) at the outset of his adventurous career. It has been
suggested also that he was identical with the Biblical Nimrod, like
him a hero of ancient Babylon; but there are no other grounds for the

So much for the historical aspect of Gilgamesh. His mythological
character is more easily established. In this regard he is the
personification of the sun. He represents, in fact, the fusion of a
great national hero with a mythical being. Throughout the epic there
are indications that Gilgamesh is partly divine by nature, though
nothing specific is said on that head. His identity with the solar god
is veiled in the popular narrative, but it is evident that he has some
connexion with the god Shamash, to whom he pays his devotions and who
acts as his patron and protector.

The Birth of Gilgamesh

Among the traditions concerning his birth is one related by Ælian
(_Historia Animalium_, XII, 21) of Gilgamos (Gilgamesh), the grandson
of Sokkaros. Sokkaros, who, according to Berossus, was the first
king to reign in Babylonia after the deluge, was warned by means of
divination that his daughter should bear a son who would deprive him of
his throne. Thinking to frustrate the designs of fate he shut her up
in a tower, where she was closely watched. But in time she bore a son,
and her attendants, knowing how wroth the King would be to learn of the
event, flung the child from the tower. But before he reached the ground
an eagle seized him up and bore him off to a certain garden, where he
was duly found and cared for by a peasant. And when he grew to manhood
he became King of the Babylonians, having, presumably, usurped the
throne of his grandfather.

Here we have a myth obviously of solar significance, conforming in
every particular to a definite type of sun-legend. It cannot have
been by chance that it became attached to the person of Gilgamesh.
Everything in the epic, too, is consonant with the belief that
Gilgamesh is a sun-god--his connexion with Shamash (who may have been
his father in the tradition given by Ælian, as well as the eagle which
saved him from death), the fact that no mention is made of his father
in the poem, though his mother is brought in more than once, and the
assumption throughout the epic that he is more than human.

Given the key to his mythical character it is not hard to perceive
in his adventures the daily (or annual) course of the sun, rising to
its full strength at noonday (or mid-summer), and sinking at length
to the western horizon, to return in due time to the abode of men.
Like all solar deities--like the sun itself--his birth and origin are
wrapped in mystery. He is, indeed, one of the 'fatal children,' like
Sargon, Perseus, or Arthur. When he first appears in the narrative he
is already a full-grown hero, the ruler and (it would seem) oppressor
of Erech. His mother, Rimat-belit, is a priestess in the temple of
Ishtar, and through her he is descended from Ut-Napishtim, a native
of Shurippak, and the hero of the Babylonian flood-legend. Early in
the narrative he is brought into contact with the wild man Eabani,
originally designed for his destruction by the gods, but with whom
he eventually concludes a firm friendship. The pair proceed to do
battle with the monster Khumbaba, whom they overcome, as they do also
the sacred bull sent against them by Anu. Up to the end of the VIth
tablet their conquering and triumphant career is without interruption;
Gilgamesh increases in strength as does the sun approaching the zenith.
At the VIIth tablet, however, his good fortune begins to wane. Eabani
dies, slain doubtless by the wrath of Ishtar, whose love Gilgamesh has
rejected with scorn; and the hero, mourning the death of his friend,
and smitten with fear that he himself will perish in like manner,
decides to go in search of his ancestor, Ut-Napishtim (who, as sole
survivor of the deluge, has received from the gods deification and
immortality), and learn of him the secret of eternal life. His further
adventures have not the triumphal character of his earlier exploits.
Sunwise he journeys to the Mountain of the Sunset, encounters the
scorpion-men, and crosses the Waters of Death. Ut-Napishtim teaches
him the lesson that all men must die (he himself being an exception in
exceptional circumstances), and though he afterwards gives Gilgamesh
an opportunity of eating the plant of life, the opportunity is lost.
However, Ut-Napishtim cures Gilgamesh of a disease which he has
contracted, apparently while crossing the Waters of Death, and he is
finally restored to Erech. In these happenings we see the gradual
sinking of the sun into the underworld by way of the Mountain of the
Sunset. It is impossible for the sun to attain immortality, to remain
for ever in the land of the living; he must traverse the Waters of
Death and sojourn in the underworld. Yet the return of Gilgamesh
to Erech signifies the fresh dawning of the day. It is the eternal
struggle of day and night, summer and winter; darkness may conquer
light, but light will emerge again victorious. The contest is unending.

Some authorities have seen in the division of the epic into twelve
tablets a connexion with the months of the year or the signs of the
zodiac. Such a connexion probably exists, but when we consider that the
artificial division of the epic into tablets scarcely tallies with the
natural divisions of the poem, it seems likely that the astrological
significance of the former was given to the epic by the scribes of
Nineveh, who were evidently at some pains to compress the matter into
twelve tablets. Of the astro-theological significance of the narrative
itself (one of its most important aspects), we shall perhaps be better
able to judge when we have considered it in detail.


The most important of the various mythological strata underlying the
Gilgamesh myth is probably that concerning Eabani, who, as has been
said, is a type of primitive man, living among the beasts of the field
as one of themselves. But he is also, according to certain authorities,
a form of the sun-god, even as Gilgamesh himself. Like the hero of
Erech, he rises to the zenith of his powers in a triumphal progress,
then descends into the underworld. He is not lost sight of, however,
but lives in the memory of his friend Gilgamesh; and in the XIIth
tablet he is temporarily brought forth from the underworld (that is,
his ghost, or _utukku_), which in a dim and shadowy fashion may typify
the daily restoration of the sun.

Another important stratum of myth is that which concerns Ut-Napishtim,
the Babylonian Noah; but whereas the myths of Eabani and Gilgamesh,
though still distinguishable, have become thoroughly fused, the deluge
story of which Ut-Napishtim is the hero has been inserted bodily into
the XIth tablet of the epic, being related to Gilgamesh by Ut-Napishtim
himself. When he first appears in the narrative he has the attributes
and powers of a god, having received these for his fidelity to the gods
during the flood, from whose waters he alone of all mankind escaped.
The object of his narrative in the Gilgamesh epic seems to be to point
out to the hero that only the most exceptional circumstances--unique
circumstances, indeed--can save man from his doom.

Other distinct portions of the epic are the battle with the monster
Khumbaba, the episode of Ishtar's love for Gilgamesh, the fight with
the sacred bull of Anu, and the search for the plant of life. These,
whatever their origin, have become naturally incorporated with the
story of Gilgamesh. But besides the various historical and mythical
elements herein presented, there is also a certain amount of Babylonian
religious doctrine, evident to some extent in the XIth tablet (which
points the moral that all men must die), but doubly so in the XIIth
tablet, wherein the shade of Eabani appears to Gilgamesh, relates the
misfortunes of the unburied dead or of those uncared for after death,
and inculcates care for the deceased as the only means whereby they may
evade the grievous woes which threaten them in the underworld.

Let us examine in detail the Gilgamesh epic as we have it in the
broken fragments which remain to us. The Ist and IInd tablets are much
mutilated. A number of fragments are extant which belong to one or
other of these two, but it is not easy to say where the Ist ends and
the IInd begins. One fragment would seem to contain the very beginning
of the Ist tablet--a sort of general preface to the epic, comprising
a list of the advantages to be derived from reading it. After this
comes a fragment whose title to inclusion in the epic is doubtful.
It describes a siege of the city of Erech, but makes no mention of
Gilgamesh. The woeful condition of Erech under the siege is thus
picturesquely detailed: "She asses (tread down) their young, cows (turn
upon) their calves. Men cry aloud like beasts, and maidens mourn like
doves. The gods of strong-walled Erech are changed to flies, and buzz
about the streets. The spirits of strong-walled Erech are changed to
serpents, and glide into holes. For three years the enemy besieged
Erech, and the doors were barred, and the bolts were shot, and Ishtar
did not raise her head against the foe." If this fragment be indeed a
portion of the Gilgamesh epic, we have no means of ascertaining whether
Gilgamesh was the besieger, or the raiser of the siege, or whether he
was concerned in the affair at all.

Gilgamesh as Tyrant

Now we come to the real commencement of the poem, inscribed on a
fragment which some authorities assign to the beginning of the
IInd tablet, but which more probably forms a part of the Ist. In
this portion we find Gilgamesh filling the double rôle of ruler and
oppressor of Erech--the latter evidently not inconsistent with the
character of a hero. There is no mention here of a siege, nor is there
any record of the coming of Gilgamesh, though, as has been indicated,
he probably came as a conqueror. His intolerable tyranny towards the
people of Erech lends colour to this view. He presses the young men
into his service in the building of a great wall, and carries off the
fairest maidens to his court; he "hath not left the son to his father,
nor the maid to the hero, nor the wife to her husband." Finally his
harshness constrained the people to appeal to the gods, and they prayed
the goddess Aruru to create a mighty hero who would champion their
cause, and through fear of whom Gilgamesh should be forced to temper
his severity. The gods themselves added their prayers to those of the
oppressed people, and Aruru at length agreed to create a champion
against Gilgamesh. "Upon hearing these words (so runs the narrative),
Aruru conceived a man (in the image) of Anu in her mind. Aruru washed
her hands, she broke off a piece of clay, she cast it on the ground.
Thus she created Eabani, the hero." When the creation of this champion
was finished his appearance was that of a wild man of the mountains.
"The whole of his body was (covered) with hair, he was clothed with
long hair like a woman. His hair was luxuriant, like that of the
corn-god. He knew (not) the land and the inhabitants thereof, he was
clothed with garments as the god of the field. With the gazelles he
ate herbs, with the beasts he slaked his thirst, with the creatures
of the water his heart rejoiced." In pictorial representations on
cylinder-seals and elsewhere Eabani is depicted as a sort of satyr,
with the head, arms, and body of a man, and the horns, ears, and legs
of a beast. As we have seen, he is a type of beast-man, a sort of
Caliban, ranging with the beasts of the field, utterly ignorant of the
things of civilization.

[Illustration: Assyrian Type of Gilgamesh Found at Khorsabad from
_Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria_, by Professor
Morris Jastrow.--By permission of Messrs G.P. Putnam's Sons.]

The Beguiling of Eabani

The poem goes on to introduce a new character, Tsaidu, the hunter,
apparently designed by the gods to bring about the meeting of Gilgamesh
and Eabani. How he first encounters Eabani is not quite clear from the
mutilated text. One reading has it that the King of Erech, learning
the plan of the gods for his overthrow, sent Tsaidu into the mountains
in search of Eabani, with instructions to entrap him by whatever means
and bring him to Erech. Another reading describes the encounter as
purely accidental. However this may be, Tsaidu returned to Erech and
related to Gilgamesh the story of his encounter, telling him of the
strength and fleetness of the wild man, and his exceeding shyness at
the sight of a human being. By this time it is evident that Gilgamesh
knows or conjectures the purpose for which Eabani is designed, and
intends to frustrate the divine plans by anticipating the meeting
between himself and the wild man. Accordingly he bids Tsaidu return to
the mountains, taking with him Ukhut, one of the sacred women of the
temple of Ishtar. His plan is that Ukhut with her wiles shall persuade
Eabani to return with her to Erech. Thus the hunter and the girl set
out. "They took the straight road, and on the third day they reached
the usual drinking-place of Eabani. Then Tsaidu and the woman placed
themselves in hiding. For one day, for two days, they lurked by the
drinking-place. With the beasts (Eabani) slaked his thirst, with the
creatures of the waters his heart rejoiced. Then Eabani (approached)
..." The scene which follows is described at some length. Ukhut had
no difficulty in enthralling Eabani with the snares of her beauty.
For six days and seven nights he remembered nothing because of his
love for her. When at length he bethought him of his gazelles, his
flocks and herds, he found that they would no longer follow him as
before. So he sat at the feet of Ukhut while she told him of Erech
and its king. "Thou art handsome, O Eabani, thou art like a god. Why
dost thou traverse the plain with the beasts? Come, I will take thee
to strong-walled Erech, to the bright palace, the dwelling of Anu and
Ishtar, to the palace of Gilgamesh, the perfect in strength, who, like
a mountain-bull, wieldeth power over man." Eabani found the prospect
delightful. He longed for the friendship of Gilgamesh, and declared
himself willing to follow the woman to the city of Erech. And so Ukhut,
Eabani, and Tsaidu set out on their journey.

Gilgamesh meets Eabani

The feast of Ishtar was in progress when they reached Erech. Eabani
had conceived the idea that he must do battle with Gilgamesh before
he could claim that hero as a friend, but being warned (whether in a
dream, or by Ukhut, is not clear) that Gilgamesh was stronger than he,
and withal a favourite of the gods, he wisely refrained from combat.
Meanwhile Gilgamesh also had dreamed a dream, which, interpreted by
his mother, Rimat-belit, foretold the coming of Eabani. That part of
the poem which deals with the meeting of Gilgamesh and Eabani is
unfortunately no longer extant, but from the fragments which take up
the broken narrative we gather that they met and became friends.

The portions of the epic next in order appear to belong to the IInd
tablet. In these we find Eabani lamenting the loss of his former
freedom and showering maledictions on the temple-maiden who has lured
him thither. However, Shamash, the sun-god, intervenes (perhaps in
another dream or vision; these play a prominent part in the narrative),
and showing him the benefits he has derived from his sojourn in
the haunts of civilization, endeavours with various promises and
inducements to make him stay in Erech--"Now Gilgamesh, thy friend and
brother, shall give thee a great couch to sleep on, shall give thee a
couch carefully prepared, shall give thee a seat at his left hand, and
the kings of the earth shall kiss thy feet." With this, apparently,
Eabani is satisfied. He ceases to bewail his position at Erech and
accepts his destiny with calmness. In the remaining fragments of the
tablet we find him concerned about another dream or vision; and before
this portion of the epic closes the heroes have planned an expedition
against the monster Khumbaba, guardian of the abode of the goddess
Irnina (a form of Ishtar), in the Forest of Cedars.

In the very mutilated IIIrd tablet the two heroes go to consult the
priestess Rimat-belit, the mother of Gilgamesh, and through her they
ask protection from Shamash in the forthcoming expedition. The old
priestess advises her son and his friend how to proceed, and after
they have gone we see her alone in the temple, her hands raised to the
sun-god, invoking his blessing on Gilgamesh: "Why hast thou troubled
the heart of my son Gilgamesh? Thou hast laid thy hand upon him, and he
goeth away, on a far journey to the dwelling of Khumbaba; he entereth
into a combat (whose issue) he knoweth not; he followeth a road unknown
to him. Till he arrive and till he return, till he reach the Forest of
Cedars, till he hath slain the terrible Khumbaba and rid the land of
all the evil that thou hatest, till the day of his return--let Aya, thy
betrothed, thy splendour, recall him to thee." With this dignified and
beautiful appeal the tablet comes to an end.

The Monster Khumbaba

The IVth tablet is concerned with a description of the monster with
whom the heroes are about to do battle. Khumbaba, whom Bel had
appointed to guard the cedar (_i.e._, one particular cedar which
appears to be of greater height and sanctity than the others), is
a creature of most terrifying aspect, the very presence of whom in
the forest makes those who enter it grow weak and impotent. As the
heroes draw near Eabani complains that his hands are feeble and his
arms without strength, but Gilgamesh speaks words of encouragement
to him. It may be noted, in passing, that the word Khumbaba is of
Elamite origin, a fact which has led certain authorities to identify
the monster with an Elamite dynasty which anciently dominated Erech,
and which came to grief about 2250 B.C. It is difficult, if not
impossible, to establish the connexion between the mythical encounter
and a definite historical event; but it may at least be presumed that
the bestowal of an Elamite designation on the monster argues a certain
enmity between Elam and Babylon.

The next fragments bring us into the Vth tablet. The heroes, having
reached "a verdant mountain," paused to survey the Forest of Cedars.
When they entered the forest the death of Khumbaba was foretold to
one or other, or both of them, in a dream, and they hastened forward
to the combat. Unfortunately the text of the actual encounter has not
been preserved, but we learn from the context that the heroes were
successful in slaying Khumbaba.

Ishtar's Love for Gilgamesh

In the VIth tablet, which relates the story of Ishtar's love for
Gilgamesh, and the slaying of the sacred bull, victory again waits on
the arms of the heroes, but here nevertheless we have the key to the
misfortunes which later befall them. On his return to Erech after the
destruction of Khumbaba, Gilgamesh was loudly acclaimed. Doffing the
soiled and bloodstained garments he had worn during the battle, he
robed himself as befitted a monarch and a conqueror. Ishtar beheld the
King in his regal splendour, the flowers of victory still fresh on his
brow, and her heart went out to him in love. In moving and seductive
terms she besought him to be her bridegroom, promising that if he would
enter her house "in the gloom of the cedar" all manner of good gifts
should be his--his flocks and herds would increase, his horses and oxen
would be without rival, the river Euphrates would kiss his feet, and
kings and princes would bring tribute to him. But Gilgamesh, knowing
something of the past history of this capricious goddess, rejected her
advances with scorn, and began to revile her. He taunted her, too, with
her treatment of former lovers--of Tammuz, the bridegroom of her youth,
to whom she clung weepingly year after year; of Alalu the eagle; of a
lion perfect in might and a horse glorious in battle; of the shepherd
Tabulu and of Isullanu, the gardener of her father. All these she had
mocked and ill-treated in cruel fashion, and Gilgamesh perceived that
like treatment would be meted out to him should he accept the proffered
love of the goddess. The deity was greatly enraged at the repulse, and
mounted up to heaven: "Moreover Ishtar went before Anu (her father),
before Anu she went and she (said): 'O my father, Gilgamesh has kept
watch on me; Gilgamesh has counted my garlands, my garlands and my
girdles.'" Underlying the story of Ishtar's love for Gilgamesh there
is evidently a nature-myth of some sort, perhaps a spring-tide myth;
Gilgamesh, the sun-god, or a hero who has taken over his attributes,
is wooed by Ishtar, the goddess of fertility, the great mother-goddess
who presides over spring vegetation. In the recital of her former
love-affairs we find mention of the Tammuz myth, in which Ishtar slew
her consort Tammuz, and other mythological fragments. It is possible
also that there is an astrological significance in this part of the

The Bull of Anu

To resume the tale: In her wrath and humiliation Ishtar appealed to
her father and mother, Anu and Anatu, and begged the former to create
a mighty bull and send it against Gilgamesh. Anu at first demurred,
declaring that if he did so it would result in seven years' sterility
on the earth; but finally he consented, and a great bull, Alu, was
sent to do battle with Gilgamesh. The portion of the text which deals
with the combat is much mutilated, but it appears that the conflict
was hot and sustained, the celestial animal finally succumbing to a
sword-thrust from Gilgamesh. Ishtar looks on in impotent anger. "Then
Ishtar went up on to the wall of strong-walled Erech; she mounted to
the top and she uttered a curse, (saying), 'Cursed be Gilgamesh, who
has provoked me to anger, and has slain the bull from heaven.'" Then
Eabani incurs the anger of the deity--"When Eabani heard these words of
Ishtar, he tore out the entrails of the bull, and he cast them before
her, saying, 'As for thee, I will conquer thee, and I will do to thee
even as I have done to him.'" Ishtar was beside herself with rage.
Gilgamesh and his companion dedicated the great horns of the bull to
the sun-god, and having washed their hands in the river Euphrates,
returned once more to Erech. As the triumphal procession passed through
the city the people came out of their houses to do honour to the
heroes. The remainder of the tablet is concerned with a great banquet
given by Gilgamesh to celebrate his victory over the bull Alu, and with
further visions of Eabani.

The VIIth and VIIIth tablets are extremely fragmentary, and so much of
the text as is preserved is open to various readings. It is possible
that to the VIIth tablet belongs a description of the underworld given
to Eabani in a dream by the temple-maiden Ukhut, whom he had cursed
in a previous tablet, and who had since died. The description answers
to that given in another ancient text--the myth of Ishtar's descent
into Hades--and evidently embodies the popular belief concerning the
underworld. "Come, descend with me to the house of darkness, the abode
of Irkalla, to the house whence the enterer goes not forth, to the path
whose way has no return, to the house whose dwellers are deprived of
light, where dust is their nourishment and earth their good. They are
clothed, like the birds, in a garment of feathers; they see not the
light, they dwell in darkness."

The Death of Eabani

This sinister vision appears to have been a presage of Eabani's death.
Shortly afterwards he fell ill and died at the end of twelve days. The
manner of his death is uncertain. One reading of the mutilated text
represents Eabani as being wounded, perhaps in battle, and succumbing
to the effects of the wound. But another makes him say to his friend
Gilgamesh, "I have been cursed, my friend, I shall not die as one who
has been slain in battle." The breaks in the text are responsible for
the divergence. The latter reading is probably the correct one; Eabani
has grievously offended Ishtar, the all-powerful, and the curse which
has smitten him to the earth is probably hers. In modern folk-lore
phraseology he died of ju-ju. The death of the hero brings the VIIIth
tablet to a close.

In the IXth tablet we find Gilgamesh mourning the loss of his friend.

The Quest of Gilgamesh

On the heart of Gilgamesh, likewise, the fear of death had taken hold,
and he determined to go in search of his ancestor, Ut-Napishtim,
who might be able to show him a way of escape. Straightway putting
his determination into effect, Gilgamesh set out for the abode of
Ut-Napishtim. On the way he had to pass through mountain gorges, made
terrible by the presence of wild beasts. From the power of these he
was delivered by Sin, the moon-god, who enabled him to traverse the
mountain passes in safety.

At length he came to a mountain higher than the rest, the entrance to
which was guarded by scorpion-men. This was Mashu, the Mountain of
the Sunset, which lies on the western horizon, between the earth and
the underworld. "Then he came to the mountain of Mashu, the portals
of which are guarded every day by monsters; their backs mount up to
the ramparts of heaven, and their foreparts reach down beneath Aralu.
Scorpion-men guard the gate (of Mashu); they strike terror into men,
and it is death to behold them. Their splendour is great, for it
overwhelms the mountains; from sunrise to sunset they guard the sun.
Gilgamesh beheld them, and his face grew dark with fear and terror, and
the wildness of their aspect robbed him of his senses." On approaching
the entrance to the mountain Gilgamesh found his way barred by these
scorpion-men, who, perceiving the strain of divinity in him, did not
blast him with their glance, but questioned him regarding his purpose
in drawing near the mountain of Mashu. When Gilgamesh had replied to
their queries, telling them how he wished to reach the abode of his
ancestor, Ut-Napishtim, and there learn the secret of perpetual life
and youthfulness, the scorpion-men advised him to turn back. Before
him, they said, lay the region of thick darkness; for twelve _kasbu_
(twenty-four hours) he would have to journey through the thick darkness
ere he again emerged into the light of day. And so they refused to let
him pass. But Gilgamesh implored, "with tears," says the narrative, and
at length the monsters consented to admit him. Having passed the gate
of the Mountain of the Sunset (by virtue of his character as a solar
deity) Gilgamesh traversed the region of thick darkness during the
space of twelve _kasbu_. Toward the end of that period the darkness
became ever less pronounced; finally it was broad day, and Gilgamesh
found himself in a beautiful garden or park studded with trees, among
which was the tree of the gods, thus charmingly depicted in the
text--"Precious stones it bore as fruit, branches hung from it which
were beautiful to behold. The top of the tree was lapis-lazuli, and it
was laden with fruit which dazzled the eye of him that beheld." Having
paused to admire the beauty of the scene, Gilgamesh bent his steps

The Xth tablet describes the hero's encounter with the sea-goddess
Sabitu, who, on the approach of one "who had the appearance of a god,
in whose body was grief, and who looked as though he had made a long
journey," retired into her palace and fastened the door. But Gilgamesh,
knowing that her help was necessary to bring him to the dwelling of
Ut-Napishtim, told her of his quest, and in despair threatened to
break down the door unless she opened to him. At last Sabitu consented
to listen to him whilst he asked the way to Ut-Napishtim. Like the
scorpion-men, the sea-goddess perceived that Gilgamesh was not to be
turned aside from his quest, so at last she bade him go to Adad-Ea,
Ut-Napishtim's ferryman, without whose aid, she said, it would be
futile to persist further in his mission. Adad-Ea, likewise, being
consulted by Gilgamesh, advised him to desist, but the hero, pursuing
his plan of intimidation, began to smash the ferryman's boat with his
axe, whereupon Adad-Ea was obliged to yield. He sent his would-be
passenger into the forest for a new rudder, and after that the two
sailed away.

Gilgamesh and Ut-Napishtim

Ut-Napishtim was indeed surprised when he beheld Gilgamesh approaching
the strand. The hero had meanwhile contracted a grievous illness, so
that he was unable to leave the boat; but he addressed his queries
concerning perpetual life to the deified Ut-Napishtim, who stood on the
shore. The hero of the flood was exceeding sorrowful, and explained
that death is the common lot of mankind, "nor is it given to man to
know the hour when the hand of death will fall upon him--the Annunaki,
the great gods, decree fate, and with them Mammetum, the maker of
destiny, and they determine death and life, but the days of death are
not known."

The narrative is continued without interruption into the XIth tablet.
Gilgamesh listened with pardonable scepticism to the platitudes of his
ancestor. "'I behold thee, Ut-Napishtim, thy appearance differs not
from mine, thou art like unto me, thou art not otherwise than I am;
thou art like unto me, thy heart is stout for the battle ... how hast
thou entered the assembly of the gods; how hast thou found life?'"

The Deluge Myth

In reply Ut-Napishtim introduces the story of the Babylonian deluge,
which, told as it is without interruption, forms a separate and
complete narrative, and is in itself a myth of exceptional interest.
Presumably the warning of the deluge came to Ut-Napishtim in a vision.
The voice of the god said: 'Thou man of Shurippak, son of Ubara-Tutu,
pull down thy house, build a ship, forsake thy possessions, take heed
for thy life! Abandon thy goods, save thy life, and bring up living
seed of every kind into the ship.' The ship itself was to be carefully
planned and built according to Ea's instructions. When the god had
spoken Ut-Napishtim promised obedience to the divine command. But he
was still perplexed as to how he should answer the people when they
asked the reason for his preparations. Ea therefore instructed him
how he should make reply, 'Bel hath cast me forth, for he hateth me.'
The purpose of this reply seems clear, though the remaining few lines
of it are rather broken. Ea intends that Ut-Napishtim shall disarm
the suspicions of the people by declaring that the object of his
shipbuilding and his subsequent departure is to escape the wrath of
Bel, which he is to depict as falling on him alone. He must prophesy
the coming of the rain, but must represent it, not as a devastating
flood, but rather as a mark of the prosperity which Bel will grant to
the people of Shurippak, perhaps by reason of his (Ut-Napishtim's)
departure therefrom.

The Babylonian Ark

Ut-Napishtim employed many people in the construction of the ship.
During four days he gathered the material and built the ship; on the
fifth he laid it down; on the sixth he loaded it; and by the seventh
day it was finished. On a hull 120 cubits wide was constructed a great
deck-house 120 cubits high, divided into six stories, each of which
was divided in turn into nine rooms. The outside of the ship was made
water-tight with bitumen, and the inside with pitch. To signalise the
completion of his vessel, Ut-Napishtim gave a great feast, like that
which was wont to be held on New Year's Day; oxen were slaughtered and
great quantities of wine and oil provided. According to the command
of Ea, Ut-Napishtim brought into the ship all his possessions, his
silver and his gold,[3] living seed of every kind, all his family and
household, the cattle and beasts of the field, the handicraftsmen, all
that was his.

A heavy rain at eventide was the sign for Ut-Napishtim to enter the
ship and fasten the door. All night long it rained, and with the early
dawn "there came up from the horizon a black cloud. Ramman in the midst
thereof thundered, and Nabu and Marduk went before, they passed like
messengers over mountain and plain. Uragal parted the anchor-cable.
There went Ninib, and he made the storm to burst. The Annunaki carried
flaming torches, and with the brightness thereof they lit up the earth.
The whirlwind of Ramman mounted up into the heavens, and all light was
turned into darkness." During a whole day darkness and chaos appear to
have reigned on the earth. Men could no longer behold each other. The
very gods in heaven were afraid and crouched "like hounds," weeping,
and lamenting their share in the destruction of mankind. For six days
and nights the tempest raged, but on the seventh day the rain ceased
and the floods began to abate. Then, says Ut-Napishtim--"I looked upon
the sea and cried aloud, for all mankind was turned back into clay. In
place of the fields a swamp lay before me. I opened the window and the
light fell upon my cheek, I bowed myself down, I sat down, I wept; over
my cheek flowed my tears. I looked upon the world, and behold all was

The Bird Messengers

At length the ship came to rest on the summit of Mount Nitsir. There
are various readings of this portion of the text, thus: "After twelve
(days) the land appeared;" or "At the distance of twelve (kasbu) the
land appeared;" or "Twelve (cubits) above the water the land appeared."
However this may be, the ship remained for six days on the mountain,
and on the seventh Ut-Napishtim sent out a dove. But the dove found no
resting-place, and so she returned. Then he sent out a swallow, which
also returned, having found no spot whereon to rest. Finally a raven
was sent forth, and as by this time the waters had begun to abate, the
bird drew near to the ship "wading and croaking," but did not enter the
vessel. Then Ut-Napishtim brought his household and all his possessions
into the open air, and made an offering to the gods of reed, and
cedar-wood, and incense. The fragrant odour of the incense came up to
the gods, and they gathered, "like flies," says the narrative, around
the sacrifice. Among the company was Ishtar, the Lady of the Gods, who
lifted up the necklace which Anu had given her, saying: "What gods
these are! By the jewels of lapis-lazuli which are upon my neck I will
not forget! These days I have set in my memory, never will I forget
them! Let the gods come to the offering, but Bel shall not come to
the offering since he refused to ask counsel and sent the deluge, and
handed over my people unto destruction."

[Illustration: Ut-Napishtim makes Offering to the Gods Alan Stewart.--By
permission of Messrs. Hutchinson and Co.]

The god Bel was very wroth when he discovered that a mortal man had
survived the deluge, and vowed that Ut-Napishtim should perish. But Ea
defended his action in having saved his favourite from destruction,
pointing out that Bel had refused to take counsel when he planned a
universal disaster, and advising him in future to visit the sin on
the sinner and not to punish the entire human race. Finally Bel was
mollified. He approached the ship (into which it would appear that the
remnants of the human race had retired during the altercation) and led
Ut-Napishtim and his wife into the open, where he bestowed on them his
blessing. "Then they took me," says Ut-Napishtim, "and afar off, at the
mouth of the rivers, they made me to dwell."

Such is the story of the deluge which Ut-Napishtim told to Gilgamesh.
No cause is assigned for the destruction of the human race other
than the enmity which seems to have existed between man and the
gods--particularly the warrior-god Bel. But it appears from the latter
part of the narrative that in the assembly of the gods the majority
contemplated only the destruction of the city of Shurippak, and not
that of the entire human family. It has been suggested, indeed, that
the story as it is here given is compounded of two separate myths, one
relating to a universal catastrophe, perhaps a mythological type of a
periodic inundation, and the other dealing with a local disaster such
as might have been occasioned by a phenomenal overflow of the Euphrates.

The antiquity of the legend and its original character are clearly
shown by comparison with another version of the myth, inscribed on a
tablet found at Abu-Habbah (the ancient site of Sippar) and dated in
the twenty-first century before our era. Notwithstanding the imperfect
preservation of this text it is possible to perceive in it many
points of resemblance to the Gilgamesh variant. Berossus also quotes
a version of the deluge myth in his history, substituting Chronos
for Ea, King Xisuthros for Ut-Napishtim, and the city of Sippar for
that of Shurippak. In this version immortality is bestowed not only
on the hero and his wife, but also on his daughter and his pilot. One
writer ingeniously identifies these latter with Sabitu and Adad-Ea

To return to the epic: The recital of Ut-Napishtim served its primary
purpose in the narrative by proving to Gilgamesh that his case was
not that of his deified ancestor. Meanwhile the hero had remained in
the boat, too ill to come ashore; now Ut-Napishtim took pity on him
and promised to restore him to health, first of all bidding him sleep
during six days and seven nights. Gilgamesh listened to his ancestor's
advice, and by and by "sleep, like a tempest, breathed upon him."
Ut-Napishtim's wife, beholding the sleeping hero, was likewise moved
with compassion, and asked her husband to send the traveller safely
home. He in turn bade his wife compound a magic preparation, containing
seven ingredients, and administer it to Gilgamesh while he slept. This
was done, and an enchantment thus put upon the hero. When he awoke (on
the seventh day) he renewed his importunate request for the secret
of perpetual life. His host sent him to a spring of water where he
might bathe his sores and be healed; and having tested the efficacy
of the magic waters Gilgamesh returned once more to his ancestor's
dwelling, doubtless to persist in his quest for life. Notwithstanding
that Ut-Napishtim had already declared it impossible for Gilgamesh to
attain immortality, he now directed him (apparently at the instance
of his wife) to the place where he would find the plant of life, and
instructed Adad-Ea to conduct him thither. The magic plant, which
bestowed immortality and eternal youth on him who ate of it, appears
to have been a weed, a creeping plant, with thorns which pricked the
hands of the gatherer; and, curiously enough, Gilgamesh seems to have
sought it at the bottom of the sea. At length the plant was found,
and the hero declared his intention of carrying it with him to Erech.
And so he set out on the return journey, accompanied by the faithful
ferryman not only on the first, and watery, stage of his travels, but
also overland to the city of Erech itself. When they had journeyed
twenty _kasbu_ they left an offering (presumably for the dead), and
when they had journeyed thirty _kasbu_, they repeated a funeral chant.
The narrative goes on: "Gilgamesh saw a well of fresh water, he went
down to it and offered a libation. A serpent smelled the odour of the
plant, advanced ... and carried off the plant. Gilgamesh sat down and
wept, the tears ran down his cheeks." He lamented bitterly the loss
of the precious plant, seemingly predicted to him when he made his
offering at the end of twenty _kasbu_. At length they reached Erech,
when Gilgamesh sent Adad-Ea to enquire concerning the building of
the city walls, a proceeding which has possibly some mythological

The XIIth tablet opens with the lament of Gilgamesh for his friend
Eabani, whose loss he has not ceased to deplore. "Thou canst no longer
stretch thy bow upon the earth; and those who were slain with the bow
are round about thee. Thou canst no longer bear a sceptre in thy hand;
and the spirits of the dead have taken thee captive. Thou canst no
longer wear shoes upon thy feet; thou canst no longer raise thy war-cry
on the earth. No more dost thou kiss thy wife whom thou didst love;
no more dost thou smite thy wife whom thou didst hate. No more dost
thou kiss thy daughter whom thou didst love; no more dost thou smite
thy daughter whom thou didst hate. The sorrow of the underworld hath
taken hold upon thee."[4] Gilgamesh went from temple to temple, making
offerings and desiring the gods to restore Eabani to him; to Ninsum he
went, to Bel, and to Sin, the moon-god, but they heeded him not. At
length he cried to Ea, who took compassion on him and persuaded Nergal
to bring the shade of Eabani from the underworld. A hole was opened in
the earth and the spirit of the dead man issued therefrom like a breath
of wind. Gilgamesh addressed Eabani thus: "Tell me, my friend, tell me,
my friend; the law of the earth which thou hast seen, tell me." Eabani
answered him: "I cannot tell thee, my friend, I cannot tell thee." But
afterwards, having bidden Gilgamesh "sit down and weep," he proceeded
to tell him of the conditions which prevailed in the underworld,
contrasting the lot of the warrior duly buried with that of a person
whose corpse is cast uncared for into the fields. "On a couch he lieth,
and drinketh pure water, the man who was slain in battle--thou and I
have oft seen such an one--his father and his mother (support) his
head, and his wife (kneeleth) at his side. But the man whose corpse is
cast upon the field--thou and I have oft seen such an one--his spirit
resteth not in the earth. The man whose spirit has none to care for
it--thou and I have oft seen such an one--the dregs of the vessel, the
leavings of the feast, and that which is cast out upon the streets, are
his food." Upon this solemn note the epic closes.

The doctrine of the necessity for ministering to the dead is here
enunciated in no uncertain fashion. Unless their bodies are decently
buried and offerings of food and drink made at their graves, their
lives in the otherworld must be abjectly miserable. The manner in
which they meet their end is likewise taken into account, and warriors
who have fallen on the field of battle are pre-eminently fortunate.
Eabani is evidently one of the 'happy' spirits; his ghost is designated
_utukku_, a name applied not only to the fortunate dead, but likewise
to a class of beneficent supernatural beings. The term _edimmu_, on
the other hand, designates a species of malevolent being as well
as the errant and even vampirish spirits of the unhappy dead. The
due observance of funeral and commemorative rites is thus a matter
which touches the interests not only of the deceased but also of his
relatives and friends.

We have seen from the foregoing that the epic of Gilgamesh is partly
historical, partly mythological. Around the figure of a great national
hero myths have grown and twined with the passing of the generations,
and these have in time become woven into a connected narrative,
setting forth a myth which corresponds to the daily or annual course
of the sun. Within this may be discerned other myths and fragments of
myths--solar, seasonal, and diluvian.

But there is in the epic another important element which has already
been referred to--the astro-theological. The zodiacal significance
of the division of the epic into twelve tablets may be set aside,
since, as has been indicated, the significance is in all probability
a superficial one merely, added to the poem by the scribes of
Assur-bani-pal, and not forming an integral part of it. At the same
time it is not hard to divide the epic naturally into twelve episodes,
thus: (1) Gilgamesh's oppression of Erech; (2) the seduction of
Eabani; (3) the slaying of the monster Khumbaba; (4) the wooing of
Ishtar; (5) the fight with the sacred bull; (6) Eabani's death; (7)
Gilgamesh's journey to the Mountain of the Sunset; (8) his wanderings
in the region of thick darkness; (9) the crossing of the waters of
death; (10) the deluge-story; (11) the plant of life; (12) the return
of Eabani's spirit. Throughout the epic there are indications of a
correspondence between the exploits of the hero and the movements of
heavenly bodies. It is possible, for instance, that Gilgamesh and his
friend Eabani had some relation to the sign Gemini, also associated
in ancient Chaldean mythology with two forms of the solar deity, even
as were the hero and his friend. The sign Leo recalls the slaying of
Khumbaba, the allegorical victory of light over darkness, represented
on monuments by the figure of a lion (symbol of fire) fighting with a
bull. Following the sign of Leo, the wooing of the hero by the goddess
Ishtar falls naturally into the sign of Virgo, the virgin. The sign of
Taurus is represented by the slaying of the celestial bull, Alu, by
Gilgamesh. The journey of the hero to Mashu and his encounter with the
scorpion-men at the gate of the sunset are, of course, mythological
representations of the sign of Scorpio, as are also his wanderings
in the region of thick darkness. It is noticeable in this respect
that Babylonian astrology often doubled the eighth sign (Scorpio) to
provide a seventh; it is therefore not unlikely that this sign should
correspond with two distinct episodes in the poem. The first of these
episodes is associated with Scorpio by virtue of the introduction of
scorpion-men; and the second, on the assumption that the scorpion is
symbolical of darkness. Perhaps the sea-goddess Sabitu is associated
astrologically with the fish-tailed goat which is the conventional
representation of Capricornus. Then the placing of the deluge-story
in the XIth tablet, corresponding with the eleventh sign of the
zodiac, Aquarius, the water-bearer, is evidently in keeping with the
astrological aspect of the epic. Chaldean mythology connected the rainy
eleventh month with the deluge, just as the first month of spring was
associated mythologically with the creation. The healing of Gilgamesh's
sickness by Ut-Napishtim may possibly symbolise the revival of the
sun after leaving the winter solstice. Lastly, the sign of Pisces,
the twelfth sign of the zodiac, corresponding to the return of Eabani
from the underworld, and perhaps also to the restoration of Gilgamesh
to Erech, is emblematic of life after death, and of the resumption of
ordinary conditions after the deluge. It has been suggested, though
without any very definite basis, that the epic was first put together
before the zodiac was divided into twelve--that is, more than two
thousand years before the Christian era. Its antiquity, however, rests
on other grounds than these. In later times the Babylonian astrological
system became very complicated and important, and so lent its colour to
the epic that, whatever the original plan of that work may have been,
its astral significance became at length its most popular aspect.

[1] That is, we have no definite historical notices concerning him, but
we may infer from internal evidence in his saga that he possesses a
certain amount of historicity.

[2] By the discovery by Mr T. Pinches in a lexicographical tablet that

[3] The inconsistency in details is caused by the composite nature of
the tale, which is drawn from two different tablets.

[4] These remarks are perhaps not to be taken literally of Eabani. They
represent the entirely formal manner in which any deceased Babylonian
was addressed.


The reign of Khammurabi is a convenient point at which to observe
general changes in and later introductions to the pantheon of the
Babylonian gods. The political alterations in the kingdom were
reflected in the divine circle. Certain gods were relegated to the
cold shades of obscurity, whilst new deities were adopted and others,
hitherto regarded as negligible quantities, were exalted to the heights
of heavenly omnipotence. The worship of Merodach first came into
prominence in the days of Khammurabi. But his cult is so outstanding
and important that it has been deemed better to deal with it in a
separate and later chapter. Meanwhile we shall examine the nature of
some of the gods who sprang into importance at or about the era of
the great law-maker, and note changes which took place with regard to

[Illustration: Nebo Son of Merodach, God of Wisdom, and the inventor of
writing.--Photo W. A. Mansell and Co.]


The popularity of Nebo was brought about through his association with
Merodach. His chief seat of worship was at Borsippa, opposite to
Babylon, and when the latter city became the seat of the imperial power
the proximity of Borsippa greatly assisted the cult of Nebo. So close
did the association between the deities of the two cities become that
at length Nebo was regarded as the son of Merodach--a relationship
that often implies that the so-called descendant of the elder god is a
serious rival, or that his cult is nearly allied to the elder worship.
Nebo had acquired something of a reputation as a god of wisdom, and
probably this it was which permitted him to stand separately from
Merodach without becoming absorbed in the cult of the great deity of
Babylon. He was credited, like Ea, with the invention of writing, the
province of all 'wise' gods, and he presided over that department of
knowledge which interpreted the movements of the heavenly bodies. The
priests of Nebo were famous as astrologers, and with the bookish king
Assur-bani-pal, Nebo and his consort Tashmit were especial favourites
as the patrons of writing. By the time that the worship of Merodach
had become recognised at Babylon, the cult of Nebo at Borsippa was so
securely rooted that even the proximity of the greatest god in the land
failed to shake it.

Even after the Persian conquest the temple-school at Borsippa continued
to flourish. But although Nebo thus 'outlived' many of the greater
gods it is now almost impossible to trace his original significance
as a deity. Whether solar or aqueous in his nature--and the latter
appears more likely--he was during the period of Merodach's ascendancy
regarded as scribe of the gods, much as Thoth was the amanuensis of
the Egyptian otherworld--that is to say, he wrote at the dictation of
the higher deities. When the gods were assembled in the Chamber of
Fates in Merodach's temple at Babylon, he chronicled their speeches and
deliberations and put them on record. Indeed he himself had a shrine
in this temple of E-Sagila, or 'the lofty house,' which was known as
E-Zila, or 'the firm house.' Once during the New Year festival Nebo
was carried from Borsippa to Babylon to his father's temple, and in
compliment was escorted by Merodach part of the way back to his own
shrine in the lesser city. It is strange to see how closely the cults
of the two gods were interwoven. The Kings of Babylonia constantly
invoke them together, their names and those of their temples are found
in close proximity at every turn, and the symbols of the bow and the
stylus or pen, respectively typical of the father and the son, are
usually discovered in one and the same inscription. Even Merodach's
dragon, the symbol of his victory over the dark forces of chaos, is
assigned to Nebo!

Nebo as Grain-God

But Nebo seems to have had also an agricultural side to his character.
In many texts he is praised as the god "who opens up the subterranean
sources in order to irrigate the fields," and the withdrawal of his
favour is followed by famine and distress. This seems to favour the
idea of his watery nature. His name, 'the proclaimer,' does not assist
us much in fixing his mythological significance, unless it was assigned
to him in the _rôle_ of herald of the gods.


Nebo's consort was Tashmit. It is believed that Khammurabi,
unsuccessful in suppressing the cult of Nebo, succeeded with that of
his spouse. She seems to have been the same as a goddess Ealur who
became amalgamated with Zarpanitum, the wife of Merodach. The name may
mean, according to some, 'the hearer,' and to others a 'revelation,'
and in view of the character of her wise husband, was perhaps one of
the original designations of Merodach himself. Tashmit had therefore
but little individuality. None the less she possessed considerable
popularity. On a seal-impression dating somewhere between 3500-4500
B.C. there are outlined two figures, male and female, supposed to
represent Nebo and Tashmit. The former has a wide-open mouth and the
latter ears of extraordinary size. Both are holding wild animals by the
horns, and the representation is thought to be typical of the strength
or power of speech and silence.

Shamash and Khammurabi

We find that Khammurabi was very devoted to Shamash, the early type
of sun-god. His improvements and restorations at Sippar and Larsa
were extensive. The later Babylonian monarchs followed his example,
and one of them, Mili-Shikhu (_c._ 1450 B.C.) even placed Shamash
before Merodach in the pantheon! The early connexion between Merodach
and Shamash had probably much to do with the great popularity of the
latter. That this was the case, so far at least as Khammurabi was
concerned, is obvious from certain of his inscriptions, in which he
alludes in the same sentence to Merodach and Shamash and to their close
relationship. Khammurabi appears also to have been greatly attached
to the cult of a goddess Innana or Ninni ('lady' or 'great lady'),
who was evidently the consort of some male deity. He improved her
temple at Hallabi and speaks of her as placing the reins of power in
his hands. There was another goddess of the same name at Lagash whom
Gudea worshipped as 'mistress of the world,' but she does not seem to
have been the same as the Innana of Hallabi, near Sippar, as she was
a goddess of fertility and generation, of the 'mother goddess' type,
and there do not appear to be any grounds for the assertion that the
goddess of Hallabi can be equated with her.


Ramman or Rimmon, identified with Hadad or Adad, is a deity of later
type and introduction. Indeed Ramman may be merely a variant or
subsidiary name, meaning as it does 'the thunderer,' quite a common
title for several types of deities. The worship of Hadad was widespread
in Syria and Palestine, and he was a god of storms or rains, whose
symbol was the thunderbolt or the lightning which he holds in his
grasp like a fiery sword. But he bears solar emblems upon his apparel,
and seems to wear a solar crown. He does not, however, appear to have
had any centre of worship in Babylonia, and was probably a god of the
Amorites, and becoming popular with the Babylonians, was later admitted
into their pantheon. At Asshur in Assyria he was worshipped along with
Anu, with whom he had a temple in common. This building, which was
excavated in 1908, contains two shrines having but the one entrance,
and the date of its foundation is referred so far back as B.C. 2400.
There can be little doubt that the partnership of Hadad with Anu was a
late one. Perhaps it was on Assyrian and not Babylonian soil that Hadad
first entered from the alien world.

[Illustration in text: HADAD OR RIMMON from _Religious Belief and
Practices in Babylonia and Assyria_, by Prof. Jastrow. (G. P. Putnam's

In many of his characteristics Hadad closely resembled En-lil.
Like him he was designated 'the great mountain,' and seems to have
been conceived of as almost a counterpart of the older god. It is
peculiar that while in Assyria and Babylonia Hadad has many of the
characteristics of a sun-god, in his old home in Syria he possessed
those of a thunder-god who dwelt among the mountains of northern
Palestine and Syria and spoke in thunder and wielded the lightning. But
even in Assyria the stormy characteristics of Hadad are not altogether
obscured. Hadad's cult in Babylonia is probably not much older than the
days of Khammurabi, in whose time the first inscriptional mention of
him is made. His worship obtained a stronger hold in the times of the
Kassite dynasty, for we find many of its monarchs incorporating his
name with their own and altogether affording him a prominent place.

Hadad, Dáda, David, and Dido

In a curious and interesting passage in his _Hibbert Lectures_,[1]
Professor Sayce indicates resemblances between the name Hadad,
Dáda, the abbreviated form of the name of Abd-Hadad, who reigned at
Hierapolis in the fourth century, Queen Dido of Carthage, and that of
the Biblical David. Speaking of Hadad he says: "He was, as I have said,
the supreme Baal or Sun-god; whose worship extended southward from
Carchemish to Edom and Palestine. At Damascus he was adored under the
Assyrian name of Rimmon, and Zechariah (xii 11) alludes to the cult
of the compound Hadad-Rimmon in the close neighbourhood of the great
Canaanitish fortress of Megiddo. Coins bear the name of Abd-Hadad, 'the
servant of Hadad,' who reigned in the fourth century at Hierapolis,
the later successor of Carchemish, and, under the abbreviated form
of Dáda, Shalmaneser speaks of 'the god Dáda of Aleppo' (Khalman).
The abbreviated form was that current among the nations of the north;
in the south it was confounded with the Semite word which appears in
Assyrian as _dadu_, 'dear little child.' This is the word which we
have in Be-Dad or Ben-Dad, 'the son of Dad,' the father of the Edomite
Hadad; we have it also in the David of the Old Testament. David, or
Dod, as the word ought to be read, which is sometimes written Dodo with
the vocalic suffix of the nominative, is the masculine corresponding
to a Ph[oe]nician goddess whose name means 'the beloved one,' and who
was called Dido by the writers of Rome. Dido, in fact, was the consort
of the Sun-god, conceived as Tammuz, 'the beloved son,' and was the
presiding deity of Carthage, whom legend confounded with Elissa, the
foundress of the city. In the article I have alluded to above, I
expressed my conviction that the names of Dodo and David pointed to
a worship of the Sun-god, under the title of 'the beloved one,' in
southern Canaan as well as in Ph[oe]nicia. I had little idea at the
time how soon my belief would be verified. Within the last year, the
squeeze of the Moabite stone, now in the Louvre, has been subjected
to a thorough examination by the German Professors Socin and Smend,
with the result of correcting some of the received readings and of
filling up some of the lacunæ. One of the most important discoveries
that have been thus made is that the Israelites of the northern kingdom
worshipped a Dodo or Dod by the side of Yahveh, or rather that they
adored the supreme God under the name of Dodo as well as under that of
Yahveh. Mesha, the Moabite king, in describing the victories which his
god Chemosh had enabled him to gain over his Israelitish foes, tells us
that he had carried away from Atarath 'the _arel_ (or altar) of Dodo
and dragged it before Chemosh,' and from Nebo 'the _arels_ (or altars)
of Yahveh,' which he likewise 'dragged before Chemosh.' Here the
_arel_ or 'altar' of Dodo is placed in parallelism with the _arels_ of
Yahveh; and it is quite clear, therefore, that Dodo, like Yahveh, was
a name under which the deity was worshipped by the people of the land.
I have suggested that Dod or Dodo was an old title of the supreme God
in the Jebusite Jerusalem, and that hence Isaiah (v 1), when describing
Jerusalem as the tower of the vineyard the Lord had planted in Israel,
calls him Dôd-i, 'my beloved.' We can easily understand how a name of
the kind, with such a signification, should have been transferred by
popular affection from the Deity to the king of whom it is said that
'all Israel and Judah loved him' (I Sam. xviii 16)."

Ea in Later Times

Ea developed with the centuries, and about the epoch of Khammurabi
appears to have achieved a high standard of godhead, probably because
of the very considerable amount of theological moulding which he had
received. In the later Babylonian period we find him described as the
protagonist of mankind, the father of Merodach, and, along with Anu
and Bel, a member of a great triad. The priests of Babylon were the
sole mythographers of these days. This is in sharp contradistinction
to the mythographers of Greece, who were nearly always philosophers
and never priests. But they were mythographers in a secondary sense
only, for they merely rearranged, re-edited, or otherwise altered
already existing tales relating to the gods, usually with a view to the
exaltation of a certain deity or to enable his story to fit in with
those of other gods. It is only after a religion or mythological system
has enjoyed a vogue more or less extended that the relationship of the
gods towards one another becomes fixed.

The appointment of Merodach to the supreme position in the Babylonian
pantheon naturally necessitated a rearrangement so far as the
relationship of the other deities to him was concerned. This meant a
re-shaping of myth and tradition generally for the purpose of ensuring
consistency. The men fitted to accomplish such a task were to hand, for
the age of Khammurabi was fertile in writers, scholastic and legal,
who would be well equipped to carry out a change of the description
indicated. Ea had not in the past enjoyed any very exalted sphere. But
as the chief god of the important country in the neighbourhood of the
Persian Gulf, the most ancient home of Babylonian culture, Ea would
probably have exercised a great influence upon the antiquarian and
historic sense of a man like Khammurabi. As the god of wisdom he would
strongly appeal to a monarch whose whole career was marked by a love
of justice and by sagacity and insight. From a local god of Eridu, Ea
became a universal deity of wisdom and beneficence, the strong shield
of man, and his benefactor by the gifts of harvest and water. Civilized
and softer emotions must have begun to cluster around the cult of
this kindly god who, when the angered deities resolved to destroy
mankind, interceded for poor humanity and succeeded in preserving it
from the divine wrath. As a god of medicine, too, Ea is humane and
protective in character, and all the arts fall under his patronage. He
is the culture-god of Babylon _par excellence._ He might not transcend
Merodach, so he became his father. Thus did pagan theology succeed in
merging the cults of deities which might otherwise have been serious
rivals and mutually destructive.


Zu was a storm-god symbolized in the form of a bird. He may typify the
advancing storm-cloud, which would have seemed to those of old as if
hovering like a great bird above the land which it was about to strike.
The North-American Indians possess such a mythological conception
in the Thunder-bird, and it is probable that the great bird called
roc, so well known to readers of the _Arabian Nights_, was a similar
monster--perhaps the descendant of the Zu-bird. We remember how this
enormous creature descended upon the ship in which Sindbad sailed and
carried him off. Certain it is that we can trace the roc or rukh to the
Persian simurgh, which is again referable to a more ancient Persian
form, the amru or sinamru, the bird of immortality, and we may feel
sure that what is found in ancient Persian lore has some foundation in
Babylonian belief. The Zu-bird was evidently under the control of the
sun, and his attempt to break away from the solar authority is related
in the following legend.

The Legend of Zu

It is told of the god Zu that on one occasion ambition awaking in his
breast caused him to cast envious eyes on the power and sovereignty of
Bel, so that he determined to purloin the Tablets of Destiny, which
were the tangible symbols of Bel's greatness.

At this time, it may be recalled, the Tablets of Destiny had already an
interesting history behind them. We are told in the creation legend how
Apsu, the primeval, and Tiawath, chaos, the first parents of the gods,
afterward conceived a hatred for their offspring, and how Tiawath, with
her monster-brood of snakes and vipers, dragons and scorpion-men and
raging hounds, made war on the hosts of heaven. Her son Kingu she made
captain of her hideous army--

    To march before the forces, to lead the host,
    To give the battle-signal, to advance to the attack,
    To direct the battle, to control the fight.

To him she gave the Tablets of Destiny, laying them on his breast with
the words: "Thy command shall not be without avail, and the word of
thy mouth shall be established." Through his possession of the divine
tablets Kingu received the power of Anu, and was able to decree the
fate of the gods. After several deities had refused the honour of
becoming champion of heaven, Merodach was chosen. He succeeded at
length in slaying Tiawath and destroying her evil host; and having
vanquished Kingu, her captain, he took from him the Tablets of Destiny,
which he sealed and laid on his own breast. It was this Merodach, or
Marduk, who afterward became identified with Bel.

Now Zu, in his greed for power and dominion, was eager to obtain the
potent symbols. He beheld the honour and majesty of Bel, and from
contemplation of these he turned to look upon the Tablets of Destiny,
saying within himself:

"Lo, I will possess the tablets of the gods, and all things shall be
subject unto me. The spirits of heaven shall bow before me, the oracles
of the gods shall be in my hands. I shall wear the crown, symbol of
sovereignty, and the robe, symbol of godhead, and then shall I rule
over all the hosts of heaven."

Thus inflamed, he sought the entrance to Bel's hall, where he awaited
the dawn of day. The text goes on:

   Now when Bel was pouring out the clear water, (_i.e._ the
       light of day?)
   And his diadem was taken off and lay upon the throne,
   (Zu) seized the Tablets of Destiny,
   He took Bel's dominion, the power of giving commands.
   Then Zu fled away and hid himself in his mountain.

Bel was greatly enraged at the theft, and all the gods with him. Anu,
lord of heaven, summoned about him his divine sons, and asked for a
champion to recover the tablets. But though the god Ramman was chosen,
and after him several other deities, they all refused to advance
against Zu.

The end of the legend is unfortunately missing, but from a passage in
another tale, the legend of Etana, we gather that it was the sun-god,
Shamash, who eventually stormed the mountain-stronghold of Zu, and with
his net succeeded in capturing the presumptuous deity.

This legend is of the Prometheus type, but whereas Prometheus (once a
bird-god) steals fire from heaven for the behoof of mankind, Zu steals
the Tablets of Destiny for his own. These must, of course, be regained
if the sovereignty of heaven is duly to continue, and to make the tale
circumstantial the sun-god is provided with a fowler's net with which
to capture the recalcitrant Zu-bird. Jastrow believes the myth to have
been manufactured for the purpose of showing how the tablets of power
were originally lost by the older Bel and gained by Merodach, but he
has discounted the reference in the Etana legend relating to their


We find a good deal of confusion in later Babylonian religion as to
whether the name 'Bel' is intended to designate the old god of that
name or is merely a title for Merodach. Khammurabi certainly uses the
name occasionally when speaking of Merodach, but at other times he
quite as surely employs it for the older divinity, as for example when
he couples the name with Anu. One of the Kassite kings, too, speaks of
"Bel, the lord of lands," meaning the old Bel, to whom they often gave
preference over Merodach. They also preferred the old city of Nippur
and its temple to Babylon, and perhaps made an attempt at one time to
make Nippur the capital of their Empire.

[Illustration: Hall in Assyrian Palace (Restored). From a drawing made
on the spot by Sir Henry Layard.]

Some authorities appear to think it strange that Bel should have
existed at all as a deity after the elevation of Merodach to the
highest rank in the pantheon. It was his association with Anu and
Ea as one of a triad presiding over the heavens, the earth, and the
deep which kept him in power. Moreover, the very fact that he was a
member of such a triad proves that he was regarded as theologically
essential to the well-being of the Babylonian religion as a whole. The
manufacture or slow evolution of a trinity of this description is by
no means brought about through popular processes. It is, indeed, the
work of a school, of a college of priests. Strangely enough Khammurabi
seems to have associated Anu and Bel together, but to have entirely
omitted Ea from their companionship, and it has been thought that the
conception of a trinity was subsequent to his epoch. The god of earth
and the god of heaven typify respectively that which is above and that
which is below, and are reminiscent of the Father-sky and Mother-earth
of many primitive mythologies, and there is much to say for the theory
that Ea, god of the deep, although he had existed long prior to any
such grouping, was a later inclusion.

The Triad of Earth, Air, and Sea

The habit of invoking the great triad became almost a commonplace
in later Babylonia. They nearly always take precedence in religious
inscriptions, and we even find some monarchs stating that they hold
their regal authority by favour of the trinity. Whenever a powerful
curse has to be launched, one may be certain that the names of the gods
of the elements will figure in it.


Dawkina was the consort of Ea, and was occasionally invoked along with
him. She was a goddess of some antiquity, and, strangely enough for
the mate of a water-god, she appears to have originally been connected
in some manner with the earth. Therefore she was an elemental deity.
In later times her attributes appear to have been inherited by Ishtar.
According to some authorities Bel was the son of Ea and Dawkina, Bel
in this case meaning Merodach. We find her name frequently alluded to
in the Magical Texts, but her cult does not seem to have been very


We have already alluded to Anu's position in the triad with Ea and Bel
in later Babylonian times. When he stands alone we find him taking
a more human guise than as the mere elemental god of earlier days.
He is frequently mentioned in the texts apart from Ea and Bel, and
is occasionally alluded to along with Ramman, the god of thunder and
storms, who of course would naturally stand in close relationship with
the sky. We also find him connected with Dagan of Biblical celebrity.
But in this case Dagan appears to be the equivalent of Bel.

There is also a host of lesser deities, the majority of whom are
no more than mere names. They do not seem to have achieved much
popularity, or if they did it was an evanescent one. The names of
some are indeed only mentioned once or twice, and so little is known
concerning them as almost to leave us entirely in the dark regarding
their natures or characteristics.

[1] Pp. 56 ff.


The entire religious system of Babylonia is overshadowed by Merodach,
its great patron deity. We remember how he usurped the place of Ea,
and in what manner even the legends of that god were made over to him,
so that at last he came to be regarded as not only the national god of
Babylonia but the creator of the world and of mankind. He it was who,
at the pleading of the other gods, confronted the grisly Tiawath, and
having defeated and slain her, formed the earth out of her body and
its inhabitants out of his own blood. It is almost certain that this
cosmological myth was at one time recounted of Ea, and perhaps even
at an earlier date of Bel. The transfer of power from Ea to Merodach,
however, was skilfully arranged by the priesthood, for they made
Merodach the son of Ea, so that he would naturally inherit his father's
attributes. In this transfer we observe the passing of the supremacy of
the city of Eridu to that of Babylon. Ea, or Oannes, the fish-tailed
god of Eridu, stood for the older and more southerly civilization of
the Babylonian race, whilst Merodach, patron god of Babylon, a very
different type of deity, represented the newer political power.

Originally Merodach appears to have been a sun-god personifying more
especially the sun of the springtime. Thus he was a fitting deity to
defeat the chaotic Tiawath, who personified darkness and destruction.
But there is another side to him--the agricultural side. Says Jastrow
(_Religion in Babylonia and Assyria_, p. 38): "At Nippur, as we shall
see, there developed an elaborate lamentation ritual for the occasions
when national catastrophes, defeat, failure of crops, destructive
storms, and pestilence revealed the displeasure and anger of the
gods." At such times earnest endeavours were made, through petitions
accompanied by fasting and other symbols of contrition, to bring
about a reconciliation with the angered power. This ritual, owing to
the religious pre-eminence of Nippur, became the norm and standard
throughout the Euphrates Valley, so that when Marduk (Merodach) and
Babylonia came practically to replace En-lil and Nippur, the formulas
and appeals were transferred to the solar deity of Babylon, who,
representing more particularly the sun-god of spring, was well adapted
to be viewed as the one to bring blessings and favours after the
sorrows and tribulations of the stormy season.

Strange as it will appear, although he was patron god of Babylon he
did not originate in that city, but in Eridu, the city of Ea, and
probably this is the reason why he was first regarded as the son of
Ea. He is also directly associated with Shamash, the chief sun-god
of the later pantheon, and is often addressed as the 'god of canals'
and 'opener of subterranean fountains.' In appearance he is usually
drawn with tongues of fire proceeding from his person, thus indicating
his solar character. At other times he is represented as standing
above the watery deep, with a horned creature at his feet, which also
occasionally serves to symbolize Ea. It is noteworthy, too, that his
temple at Babylon bore the same name--E-Sagila, 'the lofty house,'--as
did Ea's sanctuary at Eridu.

We find among the cuneiform texts--a copy of an older Babylonian
text--an interesting little poem which shows how Merodach attracted the
attributes of the other gods to himself.

    Ea is the Marduk (or Merodach) of canals;
    Ninib is the Marduk of strength;
    Nergal is the Marduk of war;
    Zamama is the Marduk of battle;
    Enlil is the Marduk of sovereignty and control;
    Nebo is the Marduk of possession;
    Sin is the Marduk of illumination of the night;
    Shamash is the Marduk of judgments;
    Adad is the Marduk of rain;
    Tishpak is the Marduk of the host;
    Gal is the Marduk of strength;
    Shukamunu is the Marduk of the harvest.

This would seem as if Merodach had absorbed the characteristics of all
the other gods of any importance so successfully that he had almost
established his position as the sole deity in Babylonia, and that
therefore some degree of monotheism had been arrived at.

A New-Year's Ceremony

On the first day of the Babylonian New Year an assembly of the gods
was held at Babylon, when all the principal gods were grouped round
Merodach in precisely the same manner in which the King was surrounded
by the nobility and his officials, for many ancient faiths imagined
that the polity of earth merely mirrored that of heaven, that, as
Paracelsus would have said, the earth was the microcosm of the heavenly
macrocosm--"as above, so below." The ceremony in question consisted in
the lesser deities paying homage to Merodach as their liege lord. In
this council, too, they decided the political action of Babylonia for
the coming year.

It is thought that the Babylonian priests at stated intervals enacted
the myth of the slaughter of Tiawath. This is highly probable, as in
Greece and Egypt the myths of Persephone and Osiris were represented
dramatically before a select audience of initiates. We see that these
representations are nearly always made in the case of divinities who
represent corn or vegetation as a whole, or the fructifying power of
springtime. The name of Merodach's consort Zarpanitum was rendered by
the priesthood as 'seed producing,' to mark her connexion with the god
who was responsible for the spring revival.

Merodach's ideograph is the sun, and there is abundant evidence that he
was first and last a solar god. The name, originally Amaruduk, probably
signifies 'the young steer of day,' which seems to be a figure for the
morning sun. He was also called Asari, which may be compared with Asar,
the Egyptian name of Osiris. Other names given him are Sar-agagam, 'the
glorious incantation,' and Meragaga, 'the glorious charm,' both of
which refer to the circumstance that he obtained from Ea, his father,
certain charms and incantations which restored the sick to health and
exercised a beneficial influence upon mankind.

Merodach was supposed to have a court of his own above the sky, where
he was attended to by a host of ministering deities. Some superintended
his food and drink supply, while others saw to it that water for his
hands was always ready. He had also door-keepers and even attendant
hounds, and it is thought that the satellites of Jupiter, the planet
which represented him, may have been dimly visible to those among
the Chaldean star-gazers who were gifted with good sight. These dogs
were called Ukkumu, 'Seizer,' Akkulu, 'Eater,' Iksuda, 'Grasper,' and
Iltehu, 'Holder.' It is not known whether these were supposed to assist
him in shepherding his flock or in the chase, and their names seem
appropriate either for sheep-dogs or hunting hounds.


The Pantheon of Assyria, as befitted the religious system of a nation
of soldiers, was more highly organized than that of the kindred people
of Babylonia, the ranks and relationships of the gods who comprised
it were more definitely fixed, it was considerably more compact than
that of the southern kingdom, and its lesser luminaries were fewer. It
has been assumed that the deities of the Assyrians were practically
identical in every respect with those of the Babylonians, with the
single exception of Asshur, who equated with Merodach. With all
due respect to practical Assyriologists the student of Comparative
Religion may perhaps be granted leave to take exception to such a
statement. Ethnological differences (and these certainly existed
between the peoples of the northern and southern culture-groups),
climatic conditions, a different political environment--all these as
well as other considerations, as important if less obvious, must have
effected almost radical changes in the ideas of the gods as conceived
by the Assyrians. Exactly what these changes were we shall probably
never know. They are scarcely likely to be revealed by inscriptions
or sacred writings which undoubtedly conserve for us little more
than the purely ecclesiastical view-point, always anxious to embalm
with scrupulous care the cherished theological beliefs of an older
day. But little of the religious beliefs of a people can survive in
priestly inscriptions and the labours of priestly copyists, nor is it
safe or scientific to endorse the character of the faith of a race by
comparison or analogy with that of a neighbouring folk. If a striking
example were required of the danger of such a proceeding it might be
found in the vain attempt to discover an exact parallel between the
religious systems of ancient Mexico and those of Guatemala and Yucatan.
The city-states of the more northerly group of people had evolved a
separate system of worship for each pueblo or town, the deities of
which, with minor differences, were substantially identical. But when
the pantheons of the more southerly region come to be examined it will
be found that, although the gods which figure in them spring apparently
from the same stock as those of the Mexican people, and even possess
names which are mere translations of those of the gods of Mexico, their
attributes and characteristics differ profoundly from those of their
Mexican congeners. The reason for this dissimilarity is to be found
in variations of climate, culture, and politics, three sure factors
in the modification of religion. If, then, we are satisfied that such
differences existed in the religious systems of two race-groups almost
as closely connected as were the peoples of Babylonia and Assyria, may
we not be pardoned for the supposition that similar divergences existed
between the faiths of the two great races of Chaldea?

We find in the Assyrian pantheon numerous foreign deities whom the
Assyrian kings included among the national gods by right of conquest.
These we shall deal with later. It will suffice for the present to
mention Assur-bani-pal, who speaks of the capture of twenty gods of the
Elamites. It was, of course, only upon the rise of a distinct Assyrian
empire that the religion of the northern kingdom acquired traits that
distinguished it from that of Babylonia.

Having outlined the reasons for the differences which we believe to
have existed between the Babylonian and Assyrian faiths, let us
briefly consider the variation of type between the two peoples which
must have caused this divergence. The languages of the two races
were not more distinct than the dialects of northern and southern
England--indeed among scholars they are designated by the common name
of Assyrian. But the Assyrians had a pure strain of that Semitic blood
which has done so much to systematize religions ancient and modern.
The Semite cannot content himself with half-truths. It is essential to
his very life, that he must feel himself upon sure religious ground.
He hates doubt and despises the doubter. At an early time in his
ancient career he had so securely systematized religion as to supply
the earliest instances of pure dogma. There followed the relentless
abjuration of all the troublous circumstances of mistrust. A code
founded upon the rock of unquestioning faith was instituted. And in the
religious systems of Babylonia and especially of Assyria we observe a
portion of the process of evolution which assisted in the upbuilding of
a narrow yet highly spiritualized system.

The great gods in Assyria were even more omnipotent than in Babylonia.
One cause contributing to this was the absorption of the minor local
cults by deities associated with the great centres of Assyrian life.
Early religion is extremely sensitive to political change, and as a
race evolves from the tribal or local state and bands itself into a
nation, so the local gods become national and centralized, probably in
the great deity of the most politically active city in the state. Nor
is it essential to this process that the deities absorbed should be of
a like nature with the absorbing god. Quite often a divinity assumes
the name and attributes of one with whom he had little in common.


The state religion of Assyria centres in Asshur, nor was any deity ever
so closely identified with an empire as he. On the fall of the Assyrian
state, Asshur fell with it. Moreover all the gods of Assyria may be
said to have been combined in his person. In Babylonia, Merodach was a
leader of hosts. In Assyria, Asshur personified these hosts, that is,
the other Assyrian gods had become attributes of Asshur, and we can
only understand the remaining Assyrian gods if we regard them as lesser
Asshurs, so to speak, as broken lights of the great god of battle and

[Illustration: Symbols of the God Asshur.--From _Religious Belief and
Practice in Babylonia and Assyria_, by Prof. Jastrow (G.P. Putnam's

Asshur originated in the city of his name situated on the west bank
of the Tigris, not far from the point where the lower Zab flows
into that river. It was not of course until the rise of this city to
political pre-eminence that its god figured as all-powerful. There are
conflicting estimates as regards his original nature, some authorities
holding that he was lunar, others that he symbolized fire or water. The
facts, however, point to the conclusion that he was solar in character.

Merodach had chiefly been worshipped in Babylon. As other Babylonian
territories became subject to that city we do not find them placing
the god of Babylon above their own local god. But it was different
with Asshur. We find temples to him broadcast over Assyria. Indeed
as Assyrian history advances, we see different cities alluded to as
the chief centre of his worship, and he resides now at Asshur, now at
Calah, now at Nineveh, now at Khorsabad. Wherever the Kings of Assyria
took up their official residence there Asshur was adored, and there
he was supposed to dwell. He was not symbolized by an idol or any
man-like statue which would serve to give the populace an idea of his
physical likeness, but was represented by a standard consisting of
a pole surrounded by a disc enclosed with two wings. Above the disc
was the figure of a warrior with bent bow and arrow on string. This
well symbolized the military nature of the Assyrian nation and of its
tutelar deity. At the same time indications are not wanting that this
pole and its accompanying symbols are the remains of a totem-standard
upon which has been superimposed the anthropomorphic figure of a
lightning- or tempest-god. The pole is a favourite vehicle for carrying
the totem symbols into battle, and it looks here as if the sun had at
one time been regarded as a tribal totem. The figure of the archer at
the top seems representative of a lightning- or storm-god--a mythic
character frequently associated with the sun, that 'strong warrior.' By
virtue of his possession of the lightning arrow the storm-god is often
accepted as a god of war.

The etymology of the name of Asshur throws little light upon his
character as a divinity. The city which took his name was in all
probability originally called 'The city of the god Asshur.' To call
it by the name of the god alone would not be unnatural. The name is
derived from a root meaning 'to be gracious,' and therefore means
'the gracious god,' 'the good god.' But there are indications that an
older form of the name had existed, and it has been asserted that the
form Anshar has priority. With Kishar, a god Anshar was created as the
second pair of deities to see the light, and according to one version
it is Anshar who dispatches Anu, Ea, and finally Merodach to destroy
the monster Tiawath. This Anshar, then, appears as possessed with
authority among the gods. But we find no mention of him in the ancient
texts and inscriptions of Babylonia. The version in which Anshar is
alluded to may of course have been tampered with, and his inclusion
in the creation myth may be regarded as a concession to Assyrian
greatness. Indeed in one creation tablet we find Merodach displaced by
Asshur as framer of the earth!

The Secret of Assyrian Greatness

Asshur is mentioned in the oldest Assyrian inscription known to us,
that of Samsi-Ramman (_c._ 1850 B.C.), the priest-chief of Asshur, who
ruled in the days when as yet the offices of king and high priest were
undivided. Indeed, when the title of 'king' had come into use some
350 years later, the monarchs of Assyria still retained the right to
call themselves 'priests of the god Asshur.' The entire faith in and
dependence on their beloved deity on the part of these early Assyrian
rulers is touching. They are his children and rely wholly upon him
first for protection against their cruel enemies the Kassites and
afterwards for the extension of their growing empire. No wonder that
with such a faith to stimulate her Assyria became great. Faith in her
tutelar god was, indeed, the secret of her greatness. The enemies of
Assyria are 'the enemies of Asshur,' her soldiers are 'the warriors
of Asshur,' and their weapons are 'the weapons of Asshur.' Before his
face the enemies of Assyria tremble and are routed, he is consulted
oracularly as to the making and conduct of war, and he is present on
the battle-field. But the solitary nature of Asshur was remarkable.
Originally he possessed 'neither kith nor kin,' neither wife nor child,
and the unnaturalness of his splendid isolation appears to have struck
the Assyrian scribes, who in an interesting prayer attempted to connect
their divinity with the greater gods of Babylonia, to find him a wife,
ministers, a court and messengers.

  A prayer to Asshur, the king of the gods, ruler over
     heaven and earth,
  the father who has created the gods, the supreme first-born
     of heaven and earth,
  the supreme muttallu who inclines to counsel,
  the giver of the sceptre and the throne.
  To Nin-lil, the wife of Asshur, the begetter, the creatress
     of heaven and earth,
  who by command of her mouth ...
  To Sin, the lord of command, the uplifter of horns, the
     spectacle of heaven,
  To the Sun-god, the great judge of the gods, who causes
     the lightning to issue forth,
  To Anu, the lord and prince, possessing the life of Asshur,
     the father of the great gods.
  To Rammon, the minister of heaven and earth, the lord of
     the wind and the lightning of heaven.
  To Ishtar, the queen of heaven and the stars, whose seat
     is exalted.
  To Merodach, the prince of the gods, the interpreter of
     the spirits of heaven and earth.
  To Adar, the son of Mul-lil the giant, the first-born ...
  To Nebo, the messenger of Asshur (Ansar) ...
  To Nergal, the lord of might and strength ...
  To the god who marches in front, the first-born ...
  To the seven gods, the warrior deities ...
  the great gods, the lords of heaven and earth.

Asshur as Conqueror

An incident which well illustrated the popularity of the Assyrian
belief in the conquering power of the national god is described in an
account of the expedition of Sargon against Ashdod stamped on a clay
cylinder of that monarch's reign. Sargon states that in his ninth
expedition to the land beside the sea, to Philistia and Ashdod, to
punish King Azuri of that city for his refusal to send tribute and
for his evil deeds against Assyrian subjects, Sargon placed Ahimiti,
nephew of Azuri, in his place and fixed the taxes. But the people of
Ashdod revolted against the puppet Sargon had placed over them, and
by acclamation raised one Yaran to the throne, and fortified their
dominions. They and the surrounding peoples sought the aid of Egypt,
which could not help them. For the honour of Asshur, Sargon then
engaged in an expedition against the Hittites, and turned his attention
to the state of affairs in Philistia (_c._ 711 B.C.), hearing which
Yaran, for fear of Asshur, fled to Meroc on the borders of Egypt, where
he hid ignominiously. Sargon besieged and captured the city of Ashdod,
with the gods, wives, children, and treasures of Yaran.

It is plain that this punitive expedition was undertaken for the
personal honour of Asshur, that he was believed to accompany the
troops in their campaign against the rebellious folk of Ashdod, and
that victory was to be ascribed to him and to him alone. All tribute
from conquered peoples became the property of Asshur, to whom it was
offered by the Kings of Assyria. Even the great and proud monarchs of
this warlike kingdom do not hesitate to affirm themselves the creatures
of Asshur, by whom they live and breathe and by whose will they hold
the royal authority, symbolized by the mighty bow conferred upon them
by their divine master. That these haughty rulers were not without an
element of affection as well as fear for the god they worshipped is
seen from the circumstance that they frequently allude to themselves
as the sons of Asshur, whose viceroys on earth they were. Asshur was,
indeed, in later times the spirit of conquering Assyria personalized.
We do not find him regarded as anything else than a war-god. We do not
find him surrounded by any of the gentler attributes which distinguish
non-militant deities, nor is it likely that his cult would have
developed, had it lasted, into one distinguished for its humanizing
influence or its ethical subtlety. It was the cult of a war-god pure
and simple, and when Asshur was beaten at his own business of war he
disappeared into the limbo of forgotten gods as rapidly as he had

Ishtar in Assyria

Next to Asshur in the affections of the Assyrian people stood Ishtar.
As a goddess in Assyria she was absolutely identical with the
Babylonian Ishtar, her favourite shrines in the northern kingdom being
Nineveh, Arbela, and the temple of Kidmuru, also in Nineveh. The
Assyrians appear to have admitted her Babylonian origin, or at least
to have confessed that theirs was originally a Babylonian Ishtar, for
Tiglath-pileser I lays emphasis upon the circumstance that a shrine he
raised to Ishtar in his capital is dedicated to 'the Assyrian Ishtar.'
The date of this monarch is 1010 B.C., or near it, so that the above
is a comparatively early allusion to Ishtar in Assyrian history. The
Ishtars of Arbela and Kidmuru do not appear in Assyrian texts until the
time of Esar-haddon (681 B.C.), thus the Ishtar of Nineveh was much the
most venerable of the three. Arbela was evidently a religious centre of
importance, and the theory has been advanced that it became the seat
of a school of prophets connected with the worship of Ishtar. Jastrow
in his _Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_ (1898, p. 203), writing on
this point, says, "It is quite possible, if not probable, that the
three Ishtars are each of independent origin. The 'queen of Kidmuru,'
indeed, I venture to think, is the indigenous Ishtar of Nineveh, who is
obliged to yield her place to the so-called 'Assyrian Ishtar,' upon the
transfer of the capital of Assyria to Nineveh, and henceforth is known
by one of her epithets to distinguish her from her more formidable
rival. The cult of Ishtar at Arbela is probably, too, of ancient
date; but special circumstances that escape us appear to have led to
a revival of interest in their cults during the period when Assyria
reached the zenith of her power. The important point for us to bear in
mind is that no essential distinctions between these three Ishtars were
made by the Assyrians. Their traits and epithets are similar, and for
all practical purposes we have only one Ishtar in the northern empire."

Ishtar as a War-Goddess

Ishtar was frequently placed by the side of Asshur as a war-goddess.
Ere she left the plains of Babylonia for the uplands of Assyria she
had evinced certain bellicose propensities. In the Gilgamesh epic
she appears as a deity of destructive and spiteful character, if not
actually of warlike nature. But if the Babylonians regarded her first
and foremost as the great mother-goddess, the Assyrians took but little
notice of this side of her character. To them she was a veritable
Valkyrie, and as the Assyrians grew more and more military so she
became more the war-goddess and less the nature-mother of love and
agriculture. She appeared in dreams to the war-loving Kings of Assyria,
encouraging and heartening them with words of cheer to further military
exploits. Fire was her raiment, and, as became a goddess of battle, her
appearance was terrific. She consumed the enemies of Assur-bani-pal
with flames. Still, strangely enough, in the religious texts,
influenced probably by Babylonian sources, she was still to a great
extent the mild and bountiful mother of nature. It is in the historical
texts which ring with tales of conquest and the grandiloquent boastings
of conquering monarchs that she appears as the leader of armies and the
martial goddess who has slain her thousands and her tens of thousands.
So has it ever been impossible for the priest and the soldier to
possess the selfsame idea of godhead, and this is so in the modern no
less than in the ancient world. Yet occasionally the stern Assyrian
kings unbent, and it was probably in a brief interval of peace that
Assur-nazir-pal alluded to Ishtar as the lady who "loves him and his
priesthood." Sennacherib also spoke of the goddess in similar terms. It
is necessary to state that the name or title of Belit given to Ishtar
does not signify that she is the wife or consort of Bel, but merely
that she is a 'great lady,' for which the title 'Belit' is a generic
term. If she is at times brought into close association with Asshur
she is never regarded as his wife. She is not the consort of any god,
but an independent goddess in her own right, standing alone, equal
with Asshur and the dependant of no other divinity. But it was later
only that she ranked with Asshur, and purely because of her military

Ninib as an Assyrian War-God

Such a deity as Ninib (another name for Nin-girsu, the god of Lagash)
was certain to find favour among the Assyrians by virtue of those
characteristics which would render him a valuable ally in war. We
find several kings extolling his prowess as a warrior, notably
Tiglath-pileser I, and Assur-rishishi, who allude to him as "the
courageous one," and "the mighty one of the gods." His old status
as a sun-and-wind god, in which he was regarded as overthrowing and
levelling with the ground everything which stood in his path, would
supply him with the reputation necessary to a god of battles. He is
associated with Asshur in this capacity, and Tiglath-pileser brackets
them as those "who fulfil his desire." But Ninib's chief votary was
Assur-nazir-pal (858-60 B.C.), who commenced his annals with a pæan of
praise in honour of Ninib, which so abounds in fulsome eulogy that we
feel that either he must have felt much beholden to the god, or else
have suffered from religious mania. The epithets he employs in praise
of Ninib are those usually lavished upon the greatest of gods only.
This proceeding secured immense popularity for Ninib and gave him a
social and political vogue which nothing else could have given, and
we find Shamsi-ramman, the grandson of Assur-nazir-pal, employing the
selfsame titles in honouring him.

The great temple of Ninib was situated in Calah, the official residence
of Assur-nazir-pal, and within its walls that monarch placed a tablet
recording his deeds, and a great statue of the god. He further endowed
his cult so that it might enjoy continuance.

We can readily understand how the especial favour shown to such a god
as Ninib by an Assyrian monarch originated. Asshur would be regarded by
them as much too popular and national a deity to choose as a personal
patron. But more difficult to comprehend are the precise reasons which
actuated the Assyrian kings, or indeed the kings of any similar ancient
state, in choosing their patrons. Does a polytheistic condition of
religion permit of the fine selection of patron deities, or is it
not much more probable that the artful offices of ecclesiastical and
political wire-pullers had much to do with moulding the preferences
of the King before and after he reached the throne? The education of
the monarch while yet a prince would almost certainly be entrusted
to a high ecclesiastical dignitary, and although many examples to
the contrary exist, we are pretty safe in assuming that whatever the
complexion of the tutor's mind, that of the pupil would to some extent
reflect it. On the other hand there is no resisting the conclusion that
the Assyrian kings were very often vulgar parvenus, ostentatious and
'impossible,' as such people usually are, and that, after the manner
of their kind, they 'doted' upon everything ancient, and, possibly,
everything Babylonian, just as the later Romans praised everything

Ninib as Hunter-God

But Ninib ministered to the amusement of his royal devotees as well as
to their warlike desires. We find Assur-nazir-pal invoking him before
commencing a long journey in search of sport, and Tiglath-pileser I,
who was a doughty hunter of lions and elephants, ascribes his success
to Ninib, who has placed the mighty bow in his hands.

Jensen in his _Kosmologie_ points out that Ninib represents the
eastern sun and the morning sun. If this is so, it is strange to find
a god representing the sun of morning in the status of a war-god. It
is usually when the sun-god reaches the zenith of the heavens that
he slays his thousands and his tens of thousands. As a variant of
Nin-girsu he would of course be identified with Tammuz. His consort was
Gula, to whom Assur-nazir-pal erected a sanctuary.

[Illustration: Tiglath-Pileser I directed by Ninib.--Evelyn Paul.]


Dagan the fish-god, who, we saw, was the same as Oannes or Ea,
strangely enough rose to high rank in Assyria. Some authorities
consider him of Philistian or Aramæan origin, and do not compare him
with Ea, who rose from the waters of the Persian Gulf to enlighten his
people, and it is evident that the Mesopotamian-Palestinian region
contained several versions of the origin of this god, ascribing it to
various places. In the Assyrian pantheon he is associated with Anu,
who rules the heavens, Dagan supervising the earth. It is strange
to observe a deity, whose sphere must originally have been the
sea, presiding over the terrestrial plane, and this transference it
was which cost Dagan his popularity in Assyria, for later he became
identified with Bel and disappeared almost entirely from the Assyrian


Anu in Assyria did not differ materially from Anu in Babylon, but
he suffered, as did other southern deities, from the all-pervading
worship of Asshur. He had a temple in Asshur's own city, which was
rebuilt by Tiglath-pileser I 641 years after its original foundation.
He was regarded in Assyria as lord of the Igigi and Anunnaki, or
spirits of heaven and earth, probably the old animistic spirits, and
to this circumstance, as well as to the fact that he belonged to the
old triad along with Bel and Ea, he probably owed the prolongation of
his cult. As an elemental and fundamental god opposition could not
possibly displace him, and as ruler of the spirits of air and earth he
would have a very strong hold upon the popular imagination. Gods who
possess such powers often exist in folk-memory long after the other
members of the pantheon which contained them are totally forgotten,
and one would scarcely be surprised to find Anu lingering in the
shadows of post-Assyrian folk-lore, if any record of such lore could be
discovered. Anu was frequently associated with Ramman, but more usually
with Bel and Eausas in Babylonia.


Ramman enjoyed much greater popularity in Assyria than in Babylonia,
for there he exercised the functions of a second Asshur, and was
regarded as destruction personified. Says an old Assyrian hymn
concerning Ramman:

    The mighty mountain, thou hast overwhelmed it.
    At his anger, at his strength,
    At his roaring, at his thundering,
    The gods of heaven ascend to the sky,
    The gods of the earth ascend to the earth,
    Into the horizon of heaven they enter,
    Into the zenith of heaven they make their way.

What a picture have we here in these few simple lines of a pantheon
in dread and terror of the wrath and violence of one of its number.
We can almost behold the divine fugitives crowding in flight, some
into the upper regions of air to outsoar the anger of the destroyer,
others seeking the recesses of the earth to hide themselves from the
fierceness of his countenance, the roar of his thunderbolts, and the
arrows of his lightning. Simple, almost bald, as the lines are they
possess marvellous pictorial quality, bringing before us as they do the
rout of a whole heaven in a few simple words.

The weapons of Ramman are lightning, deluge, hunger, and death, and
woe to the nation upon whom he visits his wrath, for upon it he visits
flood and famine. Thus his attributes as a storm-god are brought into
play when he figures as a war deity, for just as a weather-god of the
lightning wields it as a spear or dart in the fight, so Ramman as
storm-god brings to bear the horrors of tempest upon the devoted head
of the enemy.

So highly did the Assyrian kings value the assistance of Ramman that
they sacrificed to him during the stress and bustle of a campaign in
the field. They liken an attack of their troops to his onslaught,
and if they wish to depict the stamping out of an adversary, his
'eating up,' as Chaka's Zulus were wont to term the process, they
declare that their men swept over the enemy as Ramman might have
done. Assur-nazir-pal alludes to Ramman as 'the mightiest of the
gods,' but as in reality that phrase was employed in connexion with
all the principal deities at one time or another by kings or priests
who favoured them, there is no reason to suppose that anything more
is intended than that Ramman occupied a place of importance in the
Assyrian pantheon.

The worship of Ramman in later times came very much into prominence. It
was only in the days of Khammurabi that he came into his kingdom, as
it were, and even then his worship was not very firmly established in
Babylonia. With the rise of the Kassite dynasty, however, we find him
coming more into favour, and his name bestowed upon Babylonian kings.
He seems to have formed a triad with Sin and Shamash, and in the Hymn
of Khammurabi we find him appealed to along with Shamash as 'Divine
Lords of Justice.' Nebuchadrezzar I appears to have held him in high
esteem, although he was unfriendly to the dynasty which first brought
him into prominence, and this monarch couples him with Ishtar as the
divinity who has chiefly assisted him in all his great undertakings.
Indeed, Nebuchadrezzar evinced much partiality for Ramman, perhaps
feeling that he must placate the especial god of those he had cast from
power. He speaks of him as the 'lord of the waters beneath the earth,'
and of the rains from heaven.

The place of Ramman's origin seems obscure. We have already dealt with
his manifestations in more primitive days, but opinions appear to
differ regarding the original seat of his worship, some authorities
holding that it was Muru in Southern Babylonia, others that it is
necessary to turn to Assyria for traces of his first worship. His cult
is found in Damascus and extended as far south as the Plain of Jezreel.
As Milton says:

  "... Rimmon, whose delightful seat
   Was fair Damascus, on the fertile banks
   Of Abbana and Pharphar, lucid streams.
   He also 'gainst the house of God was bold
   A leper once he lost, and gained a king,
   Ahaz his sottish conqu'ror, whom he drew
   God's altar to disparage and displace
   For one of Syrian mode, whereon to burn
   His odious offerings, and adore the gods
   Whom he had vanquish'd."

This later theory would make him of Aramaic origin, but his cult
appears to have been of very considerable antiquity in Assyria, and it
might have been indigenous there. Moreover, the earliest mention of
his worship is in the city of Asshur. As has been indicated, he was
probably a storm-god or a thunder-and-lightning god, but he was also
associated with the sun-god Shamash. But whatever he may have been in
Babylonia, in Assyria he was certainly the thunder-deity first and

A Babylonian text of some antiquity contains a really fine hymn to
Ramman, which might be paraphrased as follows, omitting redundancies:--

"O lord Ramman, thy name is the great and glorious Bull, child of
heaven, lord of Karkar, lord of plenty, companion of the lord Ea.
He that rideth the great lion is thy name. Thy name doth charm the
land, and covers it like a garment. Thy thunder shakes even the great
mountain, En-lil, and when thou dost rumble the mother Nin-lil
trembles. Said the lord En-lil, addressing his son Ramman: 'O son,
spirit of wisdom, with all-seeing eyes and high vision, full of
knowledge as the Pleiades, may thy sonorous voice give forth its
utterance. Go forth, go up, who can strive with thee? The father is
with thee against the cunning foe. Thou art cunning in wielding the
hail-stones great and small. Oh, with thy right hand destroy the enemy
and root him up!' Ramman hearkened to the words of his father and took
his way from the dwelling, the youthful lion, the spirit of counsel."

In later times in Babylonia Ramman seems to have typified the rain
of heaven in its beneficent as well as its fertilizing aspect. Not
only did he irrigate the fields and fill the wells with water, but
he was also accountable for the dreadful tempests which sweep over
Mesopotamia. Sometimes he was malevolent, causing thorns to grow
instead of herbs. The people, if they regarded him in some measure as a
fertilizing agent, also seem to have looked upon him as a destructive
and lion-like deity quite capable of desolating the country-side and
'eating up the land.' His roar is typical of him, filling all hearts
with affright as it does, and signifying famine and destruction. It is
not strange that Mesopotamian regions should have had so many deities
of a destructive tendency when we think of the furious whirlwinds
which frequently rush across the face of the land, raising sand-storms
and devastating everything in their track. Ramman was well likened to
the roaring lion, seeking what he may devour, and this seems to have
symbolized him in the eyes of the peasant population of the land.
Indeed, the Assyrians, impressed by his destructive tendencies, made a
war-god of him, and considered his presence as essential to victory.
No wonder that the great god of storm made a good war-god!

[Illustration: Assur-nazir-pal attended by a Winged Mythological Being.
--Bas-relief from the north-western palace at Nimrûd.--Photo W. A. Mansell
and Co.]


The cult of Shamash in Assyria dates from at least 1340 B.C., when
Pudilu built a temple to this god in the city of Asshur. He entitled
Shamash 'The Protecting Deity,' which name is to be understood as that
of the god of justice, whose fiat is unchangeable, and in this manner
Shamash differed somewhat from the Babylonian idea concerning him. In
the southern kingdom he was certainly regarded as a just god, but not
as _the_ god of justice--a very different thing. It is interesting
as well as edifying to watch the process of evolution of a god of
justice. Thus in Ancient Mexico Tezcatlipoca evolved from a tribal
deity into a god who was beginning to bear all the marks and signs
of a god of justice when the conquering Spaniards put an end to his
career. We observe, too, that although the Greeks had a special deity
whose department was justice, other divinities, such as Pallas Athene,
displayed signs that they in time might possibly become wielders of
the balances between man and man. In the Egyptian heavenly hierarchy
Maat and Thoth both partook of the attributes of a god of justice,
but perhaps Maat was the more directly symbolical of the two. Now in
the case of Shamash no favours can be obtained from him by prayer or
sacrifice unless those who supplicate him, monarchs though they be, can
lay claim to righteousness. Even Tiglath-pileser I, mighty conqueror
as he was, recognized Shamash as his judge, and, naturally, as the
judge of his enemies, whom he destroys, not because they are fighting
against Tiglath, but because of their wickedness. When he set captives
free Tiglath took care to perform the gracious act before the face of
Shamash, that the god might behold that justice dwelt in the breast of
his royal servant. Tiglath, in fact, is the viceroy of Shamash upon
earth, and it would seem as if he referred many cases regarding whose
procedure he was in doubt to the god before he finally pronounced upon

Both Assur-nazir-pal and Shalmaneser II exalted the sun-cult of
Shamash, and it has been suggested that the popularity of the worship
of Ra in Egypt had reflected upon that of Shamash in Assyria. It
must always be extremely difficult to trace such resemblances at an
epoch so distant as that of the ninth century B.C. But certainly it
looks as if the Ra cult had in some manner influenced that of the old
Babylonian sun-god. Sargon pushed the worship of Shamash far to the
northern boundaries of Assyria, for he built a sanctuary to the deity
beyond the limits of the Assyrian Empire--where, precisely, we do not
know. Amongst a nation of warriors a god such as Shamash must have been
valued highly, for without his sanction they would hardly be justified
in commencing hostilities against any other race.

Sin in the Northern Land

We do not find Sin, the Babylonian moon-god, extensively worshipped
in Assyria. Assur-nazir-pal founded a temple to him in Calah, and
Sargon raised several sanctuaries to him beyond the Assyrian frontier.
It is as a war-god chiefly that we find him depicted in the northern
kingdom--why, it would be difficult to say, unless, indeed, it was
that the Assyrians turned practically all the deities they borrowed
from other peoples into war-gods. So far as is known, no lunar deity
in any other pantheon possesses a military significance. Several are
not without fear-inspiring attributes, but these are caused chiefly by
the manner in which the moon is regarded among primitive peoples as a
bringer of plague and blight. But we find Sin in Assyria freed from
all the astrological significances which he had for the Babylonians.
At the same time he is regarded as a god of wisdom and a framer of
decisions, in these respects equating very fully with the Egyptian
Thoth. Assur-bani-pal alludes to Sin as 'the first-born son of Bel,'
just as he is alluded to in Babylonian texts, thus affording us a clue
to the direct Babylonian origin of Sin.

Nusku of the Brilliant Sceptre

It is strange that although we know that Nusku had been a Babylonian
god from early times, and had figured in the pantheon of Khammurabi, it
is not until Assyrian times that we gain any very definite information
regarding him. The symbols used in his name are a sceptre and a
stylus, and he is called by Shalmaneser I 'The Bearer of the Brilliant
Sceptre.' This circumstance associates him closely with Nabu, to
designate whom the same symbols are employed. It is difficult, however,
to believe that the two are one, as some writers appear to think, for
Nusku is certainly a solar deity, while Nabu appears to have originally
been a water-god. There are, however, not wanting cases where the
same deity has evinced both solar and aqueous characteristics, and
these are to be found notably among the gods of American races. Thus
among the Maya of Central America the god Kukulcan is depicted with
both solar and aqueous attributes, and similar instances could be
drawn from lesser-known mythologies. Nusku and Nabu are, however,
probably connected in some way, but exactly in what manner is obscure.
In Babylonian times Nusku had become amalgamated with Gibil, the god
of fire, which perhaps accounts for his virtual effacement in the
southern kingdom. In Assyria we find him alluded to as the messenger of
Bel-Merodach, and Assur-bani-pal addresses him as 'the highly honoured
messenger of the gods.' The Assyrians do not seem to have identified
him in any way with Gibil, the fire-god.


Even Bel-Merodach was absorbed into the Assyrian pantheon. To the
Assyrians, Babylonia was the country of Bel, and they referred to their
southern neighbours as the 'subjects of Bel.' This, of course, must be
taken not to mean the older Bel, but Bel-Merodach. They even alluded to
the governor whom they placed over conquered Babylonia as the governor
of Bel, so closely did they identify the god with the country. It is
only in the time of Shalmaneser II--the ninth century B.C.--that we
find the name Merodach employed for Bel, so general did the use of
the latter become. Of course it was impossible that Merodach could
take first place in Assyria as he had done in Babylonia, but it was a
tribute to the Assyrian belief in his greatness that they ranked him
immediately after Asshur in the pantheon.


The Assyrian rulers were sufficiently politic to award this place to
Merodach, for they could not but see that Babylonia, from which they
drew their arts and sciences, as well as their religious beliefs,
and from which they benefited in many directions, must be worthily
represented in the national religion. And just as the Romans in
conquering Greece and Egypt adopted many of the deities of these more
cultured and less powerful lands, thus seeking to bind the inhabitants
of the conquered provinces more closely to themselves, so did the
Assyrian rulers believe that, did they incorporate Merodach into their
hierarchy, he would become so Assyrian in his outlook as to cease to be
wholly Babylonian, and would doubtless work in favour of the stronger
kingdom. In no other of the religions of antiquity as in the Assyrian
was the idea so powerful that the god of the conquered or subject
people should become a virtual prisoner in the land of the conquerors,
or should at least be absorbed into their national worship. Some of the
Assyrian monarchs went so far as to drag almost every petty idol they
encountered on their conquests back to the great temple of Asshur, and
it is obvious that they did not do this with any intention of uprooting
the worship of these gods in the regions they conquered, but because
they desired to make political prisoners of them, and to place them in
a temple-prison, where they would be unable to wreak vengeance upon
them, or assist their beaten worshippers to war against them in the

It may be fitting at this point to emphasize how greatly the Assyrian
people, as apart from their rulers, cherished the older beliefs of
Babylonia. Both peoples were substantially of the same stock, and any
movement which had as its object the destruction of the Babylonian
religion would have met with the strongest hostility from the populace
of Assyria. Just as the conquering Aztecs seem to have had immense
reverence for the worship of the Toltecs, whose land they subdued, so
did the less cultivated Assyrians regard everything connected, with
Babylonia as peculiarly sacred. The Kings of Assyria, in fact, were not
a little proud of being the rulers of Babylonia, and were extremely
mild in their treatment of their southern subjects--very much more so,
in fact, than they were in their behaviour toward the people of Elam
or other conquered territories. We even find the kings alluding to
themselves as being nominated by the gods to rule over the land of Bel.

The Assyrian monarchs strove hard not to disturb the ancient Babylonian
cult, and Shalmaneser II, when he had conquered Babylonia, actually
entered Merodach's temple and sacrificed to him.

The Assyrian Bel and Belit

As for Bel, whose place Merodach usurped in the Babylonian pantheon,
he was also recognized in Assyria, and Tiglath-pileser I built him a
temple in his city of Asshur. Tiglath prefixes the adjective 'old'
to the god's name to show that he means Bel, not Bel-Merodach.
Sargon, too, who had antiquarian tastes, also reverts to Bel, to whom
he alludes as the 'Great Mountain,' the name of the god following
immediately after that of Asshur. Bel is also invoked in connexion
with Anu as a granter of victory. His consort Belit, although
occasionally she is coupled with him, more usually figures as the
wife of Asshur, and almost as commonly as a variant of Ishtar. In a
temple in the city of Asshur, Tiglath-pileser I made presents to Belit
consisting of the images of the gods vanquished by him in his various
campaigns. Assur-bani-pal, too, regarded Belit as the wife of Asshur,
and himself as their son, alluding to Belit as 'Mother of the Great
Gods,' a circumstance which would go to show that, like most of the
Assyrian kings, his egoism rather overshadowed his sense of humour. In
Assur-bani-pal's pantheon Belit is placed close by her consort Asshur.
But there seems to have been a good deal of confusion between Belit and
Ishtar because of the general meaning of the word Belit.

Nabu and Merodach

As in Babylonia so in Assyria, Nabu and Merodach were paired together,
often as Bel and Nabu. Especially were they invoked when the affairs
of Babylonia were being dealt with. In the seventh century B.C. we
find the cult of Nabu in high popularity in Assyria, and indeed
Ramman-Nirari III appears to have made an attempt to advance Nabu
considerably. He erected a temple to the god at Calah, and granted
him many resounding titles. But even so, it does not seem that
Ramman-Nirari intended to exalt Nabu at the expense of Asshur. Indeed
it would have been impossible for him to have done so if he had
desired to. Asshur was as much the national god of the Assyrian people
as Osiris was of the Egyptians. Nabu was the patron of wisdom, and
protector of the arts; he guided the stylus of the scribe; and in
these attributes he is very close to the Egyptian Thoth, and almost
identical with another Babylonian god, Nusku, alluded to on pages 224,
225. Sargon calls Nabu 'the Seer who guides the gods,' and it would
seem from some notices of him that he was also regarded as a leader of
heavenly or spiritual forces. Those kings who were fond of erudition
paid great devotion to Nabu, and many of the tablets in their literary
collections close with thanksgiving to him for having opened their ears
to receive wisdom.


Ea was of course accepted into the Assyrian pantheon because of his
membership in the old Assyrian triad, but he was also regarded as a
god of wisdom, possibly because of his venerable reputation; and we
find him also as patron of the arts, and especially of building and
architecture. Threefold was his power of direction in this respect.
The great Colossi, the enormous winged bulls and mythological figures
which flanked the avenues leading to the royal places, the images of
the gods, and, lastly, the greater buildings, were all examples of the
architectural art of which he was the patron.


Another Babylonian deity who was placed in the ranks of the Assyrian
pantheon was Dibbarra, the plague-god, who can only be called a god
through a species of courtesy, as he partook much more of a demoniac
character, and was at one time almost certainly an evil spirit. We have
already alluded to the poem in which he lays low people and armies by
his violence, and it was probably from one of the texts of this that
Assur-bani-pal conceived the idea that those civilians who had perished
in his campaigns against Babylonia had been slaughtered by Dibbarra.

Lesser Gods

Some of the lesser Babylonian gods, like Damku and Sharru-Ilu, seem to
have attracted a passing interest to themselves, but as little can be
found concerning them in Babylonian texts, it is scarcely necessary
to take much notice of them in such a chapter as this. Most probably
the Assyrians accepted the Babylonian gods on the basis not only of
their native reputation, but also of the occurrence of their names in
the ancient religious texts, with which their priests were thoroughly
acquainted, and though, broadly speaking, they accepted practically the
whole of the Babylonian religion and its gods in entirety, there is no
doubt that some of these by their very natures and attributes appealed
more to them than others, and therefore possessed a somewhat different
value in their eyes from that assigned to them by the more peace-loving
people of the southern kingdom.


Ancient Chaldea was undoubtedly the birthplace of that mysterious
science of astrology which was destined to exert such influence upon
the European mind during the Middle Ages, and which indeed has not yet
ceased to amuse the curious and flatter the hopes of the credulous.
Whether any people more primitive than the Akkadians had studied the
movements of the stars it would indeed be extremely difficult to say.
This the Akkadians or Babylonians were probably the first to attempt.
The plain of Mesopotamia is peculiarly suited to the study of the
movements of the stars. It is level for the most part, and there are
few mountains around which moisture can collect to obscure the sky.
Moreover the climate greatly assists such observations.

[Illustration: Procession of Gods Rock-relief at Malatia (Anti-Taurus
range). Order from right to left: Asshur, Ishtar, Sin, En-lil, Shamash,
Adad and Ishtar of Arbela. From _Religious Belief and Practice in
Babylonia and Assyria_, by Prof. Jastrow (G.P. Putnam's Sons.).]

Like most primitive people the Babylonians originally believed the
stars to be pictures drawn on the heavens. At a later epoch they were
described as the 'writing of heaven'; the sky was supposed to be a
great vault, and the movements observed by these ancient astronomers
were thought to be on the part of the stars alone. Of course it would
be noticed at an early stage that some of the stars seemed fixed while
others moved about. Lines were drawn between the various stars and
planets, and the figures which resulted from these were regarded as
omens. Again, certain groups or constellations were connected with
such lines which led them to be identified with various animals, and
in this we may observe the influence of animism. The Babylonian zodiac
was, with the exception of the sign of Merodach, identified with the
eleven monsters forming the host of Tiawath. Thus it would seem that
the zodiacal system as a whole originated in Babylonia. The knowledge
of the Chaldean astronomers appears to have been considerable, and it
is likely that they were familiar with most of the constellations known
to the later Greeks.

Legend of the Origin of Star-Worship and Idolatry

The following legend is told regarding the origin of astrology by
Maimonides, the famous Jewish rabbi and friend of Averroes, in his
commentary on the _Mischnah_:

"In the days of Enos, the son of Seth, the sons of Adam erred with
great error: and the council of the wise men of that age became
brutish; and Enos himself was of them that erred. And their error
was this: they said,--Forasmuch as God hath _created these stars and
spheres to govern the world_, and hath set them on high, and hath
imparted honour unto them, and they are ministers that minister before
Him, it is meet that men should laud and glorify and give them honour.
For this is the will of God that we laud and magnify whomsoever He
magnifieth and honoureth, even as a king would honour them that stand
before him. And this is the honour of the king himself. When this
thing was come up into their hearts they began to build temples unto
the stars, and to offer sacrifice unto them, and to laud and magnify
them with words, and to worship before them, that they might, in their
evil opinion, obtain favour of their Creator. And this was the root of
idolatry; for in process of time there stood up false prophets among
the sons of Adam, which said, that God had commanded them and said
unto them,--Worship such a star, or all the stars, and do sacrifice
unto them thus and thus; and build a temple for it, and make an image
of it, that all the people, women and children, may worship it. And
the false prophet _showed them the image_ which he had feigned out of
his own heart, and said that _it was the image_ of that star which was
made known to him by prophecy. And they began after this manner to make
images in temples, and under trees, and on the tops of mountains and
hills, and assembled together and worshipped them; _and this thing was
spread through all the world_ to serve images, with services different
one from another, and to sacrifice unto and worship them. So, in
process of time, the glorious and fearful Name was forgotten out of the
mouth of all living, and out of their knowledge, and they acknowledged
Him not. And there was found on earth no people that knew aught, save
images of wood and stone, and temples of stone which they had been
trained up from their childhood to worship and serve, and to swear by
their names; and the wise men that were among them, the priests and
such like, thought that there was no God save the stars and spheres,
for whose sake, and _in whose likeness_, they had made these images;
but as for the Rock Everlasting, there was no man that did acknowledge
Him or know Him save a few persons in the world, as Enoch, Methusaleh,
Noah, Shem, and Heber. And in this way did the world work and converse,
till that pillar of the world, Abram our father, was born."

Speculations of the Chaldeans

To arrive at a proper comprehension of Babylonian religious doctrines
it is necessary to understand the nature of the astrological
speculations of the ancient Chaldeans. They recognized at an early
period that eternal and unchangeable laws underlay planetary motion,
and seem to have been able to forecast eclipses. Soon also did they
begin to identify the several heavenly bodies with the gods. Thus the
path of the sun was known as the 'way of Anu,' and the course of the
moon and planets they determined with reference to the sun's ecliptic
or pathway. It is strange, too, that they should have employed the same
ideograph for the word 'star' and the word 'god,' the only difference
being that in the case of a god they repeated the sign three times. If
the sun and moon under animistic law are regarded as gods, it stands to
reason that the stars and planets must also be looked upon as lesser
deities. Indeed, poets still use such an expression regarding them as
'the host of heaven,' and we frequently encounter in classical authors
the statement that the stars in their courses fought for such and such
a person. This is tantamount to saying that the stars possess volition,
and even although omens were looked for out of their movements, it
may have been believed that these were the outcome of volition on the
part of the stars themselves as deities or deific individuals. Again
we can see how the idea that the gods reside in 'heaven'--that is,
the sky--arose from early astrological conceptions. The gods were
identified in many cases with the stars, therefore it is only natural
to suppose that they resided in the sky-region. It is, indeed, one of
the most difficult matters for even an intelligent and enlightened man
in our enlightened age to dissociate the idea of God from a residence
in the sky or 'somewhere up there.'

The idea of space, too, must have assisted in such a conception as the
residence of the gods in the upper regions of air. The earth would not
be large enough for them, but the boundless vault above would afford
them plenty of space in which to dwell. Again, the sun and moon being
gods, it would be only natural for the other deities to dwell beside
them, that is, in the 'heaven of Anu,' as the Babylonians called the
sky. It has been suggested that the conception of a pantheon dwelling
in the sky originated in theological processes forwarded by a school or
priesthood, but there is no reason to suppose that this was so, and the
possibilities are easily covered by the circumstances of the animistic

Planets identified with Gods

Jupiter, the largest of the planets, was identified with Merodach,
head of the Babylonian pantheon. We find him exercising control over
the other stars in the creation story under the name Nibir. Ishtar was
identified with Venus, Saturn with Ninib, Mars with Nergal, Mercury
with Nabu. It is more than strange that gods with certain attributes
should have become attached to certain planets in more countries than
one, and this illustrates the deep and lasting influence which Semitic
religious thought exercised over the Hellenic and Roman theological
systems. The connexion is too obvious and too exact not to be the
result of close association. There are, indeed, hundreds of proofs to
support such a theory. Who can suppose, for example, that Aphrodite is
any other than Ishtar? The Romans identified their goddess Diana with
the patroness of Ephesus. There are, indeed, traces of direct relations
of the Greek goddess with the moon, and she was also, like Ishtar,
connected with the lower world and the sea. The Greeks had numerous and
flourishing colonies in Asia Minor in remote times, and these probably
assisted in the dissemination of Asiatic and especially Babylonian lore.

The sun was regarded as the shepherd of the stars, and Nergal, the
god of destruction and the underworld, as the 'chief sheep,' probably
because the ruddy nature of his light rendered him a most conspicuous
object. Anu is the Pole Star of the ecliptic, Bel the Pole Star of
the equator, while Ea, in the southern heavens, was identified with
a star in the constellation Argo. Fixed stars were probably selected
for them because of their permanent and elemental nature. The sun
they represented as riding in a chariot drawn by horses, and we
frequently notice that the figure representing the luminary on Greek
vases and other remains wears the Phrygian cap, a typically Asiatic
and non-Hellenic head-dress, thus assisting proof that the idea of the
sun as a charioteer possibly originated in Babylonia. Lunar worship,
or at least computation of time by the phases of the moon, frequently
precedes the solar cult, and we find traces in Babylonian religion
of the former high rank of the moon-god. The moon, for example, is
not one of the flock of sheep under guidance of the sun. The very
fact that the calendar was regulated by her movements was sufficient
to prevent this. Like the Red Indians and other primitive folk, the
Babylonians possessed agricultural titles for each month, but these
periods were also under the direct patronage of some god or gods. Thus
the first month, Nizan, is sacred to Anu and Bel; and the second, Iyar,
to Ea. Siwan is devoted to Sin, and as we approach the summer season
the solar gods are apportioned to various months. The sixth month is
sacred to Ishtar, and the seventh to Shamash, great god of the sun.
Merodach rules over the eighth, and Nergal over the ninth month. The
tenth, curiously enough, is sacred to a variant of Nabu, to Anu, and
to Ishtar. The eleventh month, very suitably, to Ramman, the god of
storms, and the last month, Adar, falling within the rainy season, is
presided over by the seven evil spirits.

None of the goddesses received stellar honours. The names of the months
were probably quite popular in origin. Thus we find that the first
month was known as the 'month of the Sanctuary,' the third as the
'period of brick-making,' the fifth as the 'fiery month,' the sixth as
the 'month of the mission of Ishtar,' referring to her descent into the
realms of Allatu. The fourth month was designated 'scattering seed,'
the eighth that of the opening of dams, and the ninth was entitled
'copious fertility,' while the eleventh was known as 'destructive rain.'

We find in this early star-worship of the ancient Babylonians the
common origin of religion and science. Just as magic partakes in some
measure of the nature of real science (for some authorities hold that
it is pseudo-scientific in origin) so does religion, or perhaps more
correctly speaking, early science is very closely identified with
religion. Thus we may believe that the religious interest in their
early astronomy spurred the ancient star-gazers of Babylonia to acquire
more knowledge concerning the motions of those stars and planets which
they believed to be deities. We find the gods so closely connected with
ancient Chaldean astronomy as to be absolutely identified with it in
every way. A number was assigned to each of the chief gods, which would
seem to show that they were connected in some way with mathematical
science. Thus Ishtar's number is fifteen; that of Sin, her father, is
exactly double that. Anu takes sixty, and Bel and Ea represent fifty
and forty. Ramman is identified with ten.

It would be idle in this place to attempt further to outline
astrological science in Babylonia, concerning which our knowledge is
vague and scanty. Much remains to be done in the way of research before
anything more definite can be written about it, and many years may pass
before the workers in this sphere are rewarded by the discovery of
texts bearing on Chaldean star-lore.


At an early period in Babylonian history the priesthood and kingship
were blended in one office, and it is not until after several centuries
from the beginnings of Babylonian history as we know it that the
two offices were separated. Indeed, long afterward the monarchs of
Babylonia and Assyria appear to have taken especial pleasure in styling
themselves the priests of such and such a deity, and in all likelihood
they personally officiated at the altars of the gods on occasions of
high religious sanctity. The priesthood in general was called _shangu_,
which may mean 'sacrificer,' and there is little doubt that at first,
as among other peoples, the Babylonian priest was practically a
medicine-man. It was his business to secure people from the attacks of
the evil demons who caused disease and the wiles of witches, and to
forecast the future and discover the will and intentions of the gods.
It is quite clear how such an official as this came to be known as
the 'sacrificer,' for it would seem that the best way to find favour
with the gods was to make offerings to them through an accredited
intermediary. Indeed the early priesthood of Babylonia appears to have
been as much magical as religious, and we read of the _makhkhu_, or
soothsayer, the _mushelu_, or necromancer, the _asipu_, or sorcerer,
and the _mashmashu_, or charmer, whose especial functions are probably
outlined in their several titles.

But as civilization proceeded and theological opinion took shape,
religious ceremonial began to take the place of what was little better
than sorcery. It has been said that magic is an attempt to force the
hands of the gods, to overawe them, whereas religion is an appeal
to their protective instincts. Now when the feeling began to obtain
that there was such a quality as justice in the universe, and when
the idea of just gods had an acceptance among the people through the
instruction of thinking theologians, the more vulgar practices of
the sorcerer-priests fell out of favour with the upper classes, if
not with the populace, and a more imposing ceremonial took the place
of mere incantation. Besides, being founded on the idea of mercy as
opposed to mere power, religion has invariably recommended itself,
politically speaking, to the class of mind which makes for immediate
and practical progress as apart from that which seeks to encourage mere
speculation. As the ritual grew the necessity for new branches of the
priesthood was discovered. At the head of the priestly organization was
the _shangan-makhu_, and each class of priests had its chief as well.
The priests were a caste,--that is, it is probable that the right to
enter the priesthood was vested in certain families, but many young men
were educated by the priests who did not in after life exercise their
functions, but who became scribes or lawyers.

As in the case of most primitive religions, the day of the priest was
carefully subdivided. It was made up of three watches, and the night
was divided into a similar number of watches. Three relays of priests
thus officiated through the day and three through the night.

Priestesses were also known in Babylonia, and many references are made
in the texts to the 'sacred women.' Some of these were exorcisers, and
others, like the Greek pythonesses, presided at oracular shrines. The
cult of Ishtar in especial had many attendant priestesses, and these
were of several classes.


Like the other Semitic peoples the Babylonians attached great
importance to the question of sacrifices. Professor Robertson Smith has
put it on record in his _Religion of the Semites_, that sacrifice among
that race was regarded as a meal shared between the worshipper and the
deity. This view of sacrifice is almost world-wide among peoples in the
higher stages of barbarism if not in those of savagery.

There is no source from which we can definitely discover the exact
manner of Babylonian and Assyrian sacrifices. As civilization advanced
what was intended for the god almost invariably went for the use of
the temple. Certain parts of the animal which were not fit to eat
were burned to the glory of the deity. The blood of the animal may,
however, have been regarded as more directly pleasing to the gods, and
was probably poured out upon the altar. This practice is distinctly
of magical origin. The wizard believes that the dead, demons, and
supernatural beings in general have a special desire for blood, and
we remember Homer's vivid description of how, when the trench was cut
and the blood of the victims poured therein, the shadowy presentments
of the dead flocked about it and devoured the steam arising from the
sacrifice. In some cults blood alone is offered to the gods, and
perhaps the most striking instance of this is afforded by the religion
of ancient Mexico, in which blood was regarded as the pabulum or food
of the gods, and the body of the victim as the ceremonial corpse of
the deity to be eaten by his worshippers.

[Illustration: 1. Zikkurats of the Anu-Adad at Ashur. 2. Stage-tower at
Samarra.--From _Religions Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria_,
by Professor Morris Jastrow By permission of Messrs G.P. Putnam's Sons.]

The Temples of Babylonia and Assyria

The temple-building phase is characteristic of Babylonian religion
from an early stage. More than 3000 years before the final extinction
of the cult we find places of worship being raised in the Euphrates
Valley. Even in later times these Babylonian structures would appear
to have been built for practical rather than æsthetic purposes, and in
the early part of the temple-building epoch they were of the crudest
description, mere rude structures of brick, without an attempt at
architectural elaboration. An early ideal was to reproduce in miniature
the 'mountain of all lands'--Khursag-kurkura, the birthplace of the
gods--and to this end the temple was erected on a mountain-like heap
of earth. To the primitive one-storied building other stories came
to be added, till in pursuit of a general ideal of height they came
to be veritable Towers of Babel, aspiring to reach to heaven. These
_zikkurats_, or staged towers, as they have been called, were built
of brick, and were quadrangular in form, their four sides facing
north, south, east, and west respectively. Their sombre and unlovely
appearance was relieved to some extent by the use of brilliant
colourings, but in neither form nor colour need we look for any
particular artistic interest, nor any especial religious or other
symbolism, though attempts have been made both in later Babylonian and
in our own times to find astrological interpretations of these. By and
by the zikkurat came to be more of a 'high-place' than a temple, the
altars and sanctuary proper being disposed about its base.

With this development of the temple area a new phase was inaugurated.
Huge courts were built, supported by brick columns, and enclosing all
the various buildings connected with the cult of the deity to whom the
temple was dedicated. These courts, which were for the most part open
to the sky, covered a large area--as much, perhaps, as ten or twelve
acres in some cases. Brick was still the material employed in their
structure, though wood was used for gateways and for roofs for the
smaller temples. As time went on they became more richly decorated,
precious metals and woods were imported for their adornment, and
draperies and coloured bricks were employed with more or less æsthetic
intent. In some Assyrian temples stone columns were employed. The
interior of the temple proper consisted of a central hall, a 'holy
of holies,' wherein was set the statue of the god in whose honour
the sanctuary was built, and an assembly-room where the gods of the
pantheon met.

The temples of Babylonia resemble very closely those of ancient Mexico
and Central America, for just as the Chaldean temple was evolved from
the idea of the 'holy hill,' so was the Mexican _teocalli_, or 'house
of God.' Originating probably in a rude mound of earth, the temple
in both countries came through the march of civilization under the
influence of architecture proper. In America there are still extant
many links in the chain of evolution between the rude earth-mound
and the carven teocalli, but in the case of Babylonia we have only
inference to support the theory of such a development. This inference
is, however, of a very powerful character. Commencing probably with
a one-story structure, we find both the Mexican and Babylonian 'high
places' developing a second, then a third, fourth, fifth, and even
sixth stage in the case of Babylonia, and sometimes a fourth in the
case of Mexico.

A sharp distinction must be drawn between the Egyptian pyramid and
the temples of Babylonia and Assyria. The pyramid of the Nile country
was undoubtedly developed from the grave-mound, the cairn. It is
the burial-place of a monarch, and has nothing whatever to do with
religious worship. The zikkurats of Babylonia and the teocallis of
Mexico, as their names imply, were unquestionably religious in origin,
and had nothing whatsoever to do with burial.

But one essential difference there was between them, and that is, that
whereas in Mexico the teocallis seldom possessed interiors, this was
very frequently the case with the temples of Babylonia. It is true that
the Mexican temples had attached to them buildings called _teopan_,
but these appear to have been dwelling-places for the various grades
of priests. In Babylonia, on the other hand, another description of
residence arose. This was the temple proper, apart from the zikkurat
or tower. Most Babylonian cities had a definite religious quarter,
and excavations have made us familiar to some extent with the plan
and appearance of these. Perhaps the best known example is that at
Nippur, the extent of which appears to have been about sixteen acres.
A large court was lined with brick columns, and when excavated was
found to have supported a wooden roof. Close to this was the building
in which the temple records were kept. The people gathered for worship
in a second court of sixty wooden columns with supports and capitals
of metal, and there, in a basin specially built for the purpose, they
made their ablutions before offering up sacrifice. At the eastern end
of this courtyard was placed a tent containing the ark. This kind of
courtyard may be said to be characteristic of the Semitic worship,
as there was undoubtedly such a structure in most Hebrew temples.
This court of columns was surrounded by chambers which probably
served the purpose of administrative offices and perhaps dwellings
for the priests and attendants, or booths for the sale of sacrificial
offerings. The training college for the younger priests was also within
the temple area, as were the astronomical observatories, and around
these gathered the learned of the district, just as they did in the
temple at Jerusalem to dispute concerning religious matters and to
split theological hairs. The Babylonian priests were also the lawyers
of their period, and the courts of justice were probably hard by the

Many of these religious areas, as, for example, those at Babylon,
Nippur, Sippar, and Ur, must have been so extensive as to have
constituted what were in reality sacred cities. The whole was enclosed
by a containing wall, and even the several divisions of the temple
buildings were also surrounded by lesser walls. The material of which
these edifices were built was the universal one of brick. In early
days sun-dried brick was employed, but as its use resulted in the
crumbling and speedy destruction of most of the edifices composed
of it, kiln-dried bricks were substituted for it, and as these were
often glazed their durability was much enhanced. The cement used to
hold these together was common bitumen, found in great quantities in
Babylonia, and the roof was usually built of wood, cedars from Lebanon
being a favourite material for carpentering.

From the restoration plans with which several explorers have furnished
us we can judge how stately and striking the interior of many of
the Babylonian temples must have been. The enamelled bricks, the
highly-polished woodwork, the brilliant precious stones, the gold and
silver inlaid on the walls and ceilings must indeed have dazzled the
beholder. The Semites were prone to the use of bright colours, and as
it was the aim of the architects to outshine the sun itself in their
interiors, we can judge of the effect. Draperies and rugs were probably
also lavishly used. The wooden gates were overlaid with bronze in high
relief. Passing through them the worshipper must have been deeply
affected by the wonderful play of colour and shadow combined in the
interior. The vastness of length and height would inspire him with deep
awe, and the curtain screening the holy of holies would be for him the
boundary betwixt the human and the divine. Behind this curtain was
probably the statue of the god, and the chamber which contained this
was known as the _papakhu_, which means 'shut off.' In all probability
no one had access to it but the king and high religious officials.
It was indeed the holy of holies. A stone tablet found at Sippar
represents the god Shamash seated in such a chamber. He is sitting on
a low throne, and before him is an altar containing a symbol of the
sun-god. A monarch and priest stand before him. The decoration of such
a chamber was lavish in the extreme, the floors, walls, and ceiling
being inlaid with precious stones, and in some cases, as that of
Merodach in the temple of Babylon, the statue and the altar in front of
it were of solid gold.

The Great Temple-Builders

The history of temple-building in Babylonia begins at an early date.
We find Sargon and Naram-sin calling themselves 'Builder of the
Temple of En-lil in Nippur.' Gudea was probably the first potentate to
achieve great results in temple-building. Khammurabi was also active
as a builder of sanctuaries. But besides planning the erection of new
temples, the kings of Babylonia and Assyria appear to have been zealous
in the restoration and improvement of the older temples in the land.
Restoration was frequently necessary because of the fact that many of
the older shrines had been built of sun-dried brick, which had not the
same lasting power as the glazed brick dried in kilns used in later

The Assyrian conquerors of Babylonia considered it their policy as
well as their pleasure to restore many of the ancient shrines of the
land they had subdued, and in doing so they frequently allude in their
records to the age of the temple on which they are at work, sometimes
providing us with a clue to the date of its foundation. In this way we
can trace the history of some of these ancient buildings over a space
of more than 3000 years. Such a sanctuary must have appeared to the
Assyrian monarch who rebuilt it, as an edifice erected in the days of
Solomon would seem to us. Thus in the times of the later Assyrian kings
some of the older temples would have behind them a record as ancient as
that of the temple at Jerusalem to-day!

The Assyrian restorers of these ancient fanes refer piously to their
original builders. They carefully unearthed the old foundation-stones,
which they preserved, and clung tenaciously to the ritual which had
been celebrated in the temples of Babylonia from very early times.

There are many long lists of temples in existence, and, assuming that
each god possessed his own shrine, hundreds of temples must have been
scattered over the length and breadth of the northern and southern
lands. These were probably much more numerous in Babylonia, which was
older, and whose people exhibited a greater religious feeling.

The Temple of E-Kur

The oldest known temple in Babylonia was that of E-Kur at Nippur,
sacred to En-lil. It was probably founded somewhere about 4000 B.C., or
even at an earlier date. Before the time of Sargon we find the rulers
of Nippur embellishing the temple there. The climate of the place
necessitated frequent repairs, and by reason of occasional popular
revolutions the fabric received considerable damage. We find Urbau
about 2700 B.C. building a zikkurat in the temple area at Nippur, and
a few centuries afterward Bur-sin repairing this zikkurat and adding
a new shrine. E-Kur saw numerous political changes, and when foreign
dynasties ruled the land its importance waned somewhat. But later alien
rulers shrewdly saw the advantage of restoring its rather tarnished
splendour, and we find several kings of the Kassite dynasty (_c._ 1400
B.C.) so far honouring it as to place within its confines a votive
object from Elam, which had originally been placed in the temple of
Ishtar at Erech, whence it had been removed by an Elamite conqueror
about 900 years before. This was almost as remarkable as if the Stone
of Destiny, the Lia Fail, in Westminster Abbey were to be restored to
its original seat in Ireland.

The temple at Nippur was at this time dedicated to Bel before that
deity was ousted by Merodach. Almost every one of the Kassite rulers
made more or less costly additions to the temple at Nippur, and from
their several inscriptions we can follow its history down to Assyrian
times. About the twelfth century B.C. E-Kur yielded its supremacy to
E-Sagila. It was sacked and partially destroyed, until later restored
by Assyrian monarchs, who conscientiously re-decorated it and erected
many new buildings within its area. But during the new Babylonian
period it was once more sacked by order of southern rulers, and at the
end of the seventh century B.C. its history comes to a close. Its site,
however, did not lose its sanctity, for it was used as a cemetery and
partially inhabited till the twelfth century A.D.

The Brilliant House

This outline of the history of E-Kur will serve for that of many other
Babylonian temples. The temple of Shamash at Sippar, which was known
as E-babbara, or the 'Brilliant House,' can be traced back as far
as the days of Naram-Sin. This was also restored by monarchs of the
Kassite dynasty, but the nomadic tribes, who ever threatened the peace
of Babylonia, made an inroad, scattered the priesthood, and destroyed
the great idol of Shamash. It was nearly 500 years after this that the
'Brilliant House' was restored to its former glory by Nabu-baliddin.
Nebuchadrezzar rebuilt portions of the temple, as did the last King of
Babylonia, Nabonidus, who scandalized the priests of Babylon by his
preference for the worship of Shamash.

Ur, the Moon-City

We shall remember that one of the principal centres of the cult of the
moon was at Ur, the city whence came Abram the Patriarch, and it is
probable that he was originally a moon-worshipper. Another such centre
of lunar adoration was Harran. These places were regarded as especially
sacrosanct, as the moon-cult was more ancient than that of the sun, and
was therefore looked upon with a greater degree of veneration. Both
of these cities possessed temples to Sin, the moon-god, and in them
astrology and stellar observation were enthusiastically carried on.
Harran was more than once overrun by the fierce nomadic tribes of the
desert, but its prestige survived even their destructive tendencies.

The temple of E-anna at Erech, dedicated to Ishtar, was one of the
most famous sanctuaries in Babylonia. It is alluded to in one of the
creation legends, as were also the temples at Nippur, as 'The bright
house of the gods.'

The Twin Temples

The temple of Merodach at E-Sagila and that of Nabu at E-Zida were
inseparably associated, for a visit to one practically necessitated
a visit to both. An original rivalry between the gods had ended in
a species of amalgamation, and together they may be said to have
symbolized the national religion of Babylonia. Indeed so great was
their influence that it can scarcely be over-estimated. The theological
thought of the country emanated from the schools which clustered around
them, and they were the great literary centres of Babylonia, and thus
the progenitors of Assyrian culture.

[Illustration: Excavated Ruins of the Temple of E-Sagila. The two walls
in the centre mark the entrance to the passage, a quarter of a mile
long, which connected the Tower of Babel with this temple. Copyright by
Underwood and Underwood, London.]

Temples as Banks

It was perhaps typical of the race that its places of worship should
gradually become great financial centres and the nuclei of trade and
usury. Heavily endowed as they were by the kings of Babylonia and
Assyria, and boasting immense wealth in lands, subsidies, and slaves,
they also had at their command an army of workmen and labourers.
But their directors were also bankers and money-lenders, buyers and
barterers of produce and manufactures of every kind, estate-agents and
men of commerce generally. Sacred objects of every kind were on sale in
the temple precincts, idols, votive offerings, amulets, and so forth.
With what object did the priesthood of Babylonia pursue a commercial
career? It could scarcely have been one in which personal gain bulked
largely, as the impersonal temple swallowed up all the profit. The cost
of upkeep of such shrines must have been enormous, and when we think of
the gorgeous nature of their interiors, and the costly character of the
rich vessels and altars with which they were equipped, we can marvel no
longer at what appears a degrading and unnecessary commerce on the part
of their priesthood.

Feasts and Festivals

Babylonian religious festivals were, as a rule, periods of jubilation
and rejoicing. Each god had his own day of festival in the calendar.
The first day of the year, or _Zag-muku_, was sacred to the goddess
Bau. Gudea, who had made Nin-girsu his favourite, attempted to 'work
him into' this festival by uniting him in marriage with Bau, and he
offers her marriage gifts on New Year's Day. But later the _Zag-muku_
was transformed into a festival to Merodach. The circumstance that
it was celebrated in the first month of the year shows that it did
not originally belong to Merodach, whose month was Marcheshuan, the
eighth. But it is eloquent of his popularity that the great New Year's
feast should have been dedicated to him. It seems to have lasted for
at least ten or twelve days. As has already been described, the union
of Nabu and Merodach, father and son, was solemnly celebrated, Nabu
piously paying a visit to his father's sanctuary. The other gods were
supposed to assemble in spirit in Merodach's temple to witness the
ceremony, and afterwards the priests of Merodach escorted the idol of
Nabu back to its shrine, themselves carrying the image of their deity.

To behold this festival, which was celebrated with all possible
magnificence, people flocked from all parts of Babylonia. The
king, approaching the statue of the god, seized its hands in token
of covenant, and in later times Assyrian monarchs, in order to
legitimatize themselves as rulers of Babylonia, went through this
ceremony, which came to be recognized as duly fulfilling their claims
to sovereignty in the southern land; but whereas they went through the
ceremony once only, the kings of Babylonia celebrated it annually with
the intensest possible devotion.

The Chamber of Fates

On the eighth day of the festival all the gods were thought to assemble
in Merodach's 'Chamber of Fates,' to hearken to Merodach's decree
concerning the fates of men for the ensuing year. This remarkable
apartment was regarded as the reproduction of the interior of the great
mountain wherein the gods met in council, just as the zikkurat was
thought to typify that mountain itself. It was situated in a special
portion of the 'mountain' known as the _Ubshu-Kenna_, and among its
sacred names is one which may be translated 'brilliant chamber,'
which shows that it must have been lavishly decorated. Ubshu-Kenna
(or Upshukki-naku) must be carefully distinguished from the 'heaven'
proper of the Babylonian gods. It is situated in the east, in the
Mountain of the Sunrise, not far from the edge of the world, where
it was bounded by the waters of the great deep. It is, in fact, the
'brilliant chamber' where the sun takes his rise.

Lamentation Rituals

On the occasion of any national or popular disaster, such as defeat in
war, the appearance of a pestilence or an eclipse of the sun or moon, a
certain formula of lamentation was gone through, which was thought to
have the effect of lessening or averting the malign influence of evil
powers, or the punitive measures of an angry god. This formula varied
of course with the deity or demon who was considered to have caused
the calamity. Many of these ancient lamentations are written in the
Sumerian tongue, which witnesses to their great antiquity. From them
it would seem that the Babylonians were of the opinion that if the
people had in any way sinned, the gods averted their faces from them,
and departing from their neighbourhood left them a prey to calamities
of all kinds. A definite ritual accompanied these formulas, one of the
provisions of which was fasting, and purification ceremonies of a very
elaborate nature were also celebrated by the priests, probably in the
hope of symbolically washing away the sin which had so offended the

The formula most in use in these propitiatory ceremonies was that which
obtained in the sacred city of Nippur, and particularly in the temple
of E-Kur. The monotony of these laments is typical of ancient Semitic
worship. They describe the disasters that have occurred, and piteously
beg that the gods may be appeased. Only now and again in perusing them
does a bright line or a picturesque phrase capture the eye and fire
the imagination. A paraphrase of one of them may well characterize
the whole. The god En-lil, shepherd of the dark-headed people, is
implored to return to his city. He is entreated by the various names
of his godhead, such as 'lord of lands,' 'lord of the faithful word,'
'lord of self-created vision,' and so forth. Each separate part of the
temple area is alluded to in the request that he will return--the great
gate, the storehouse, and the other religious departments. A touching
domestic picture is drawn of the deserted homes in the city; where the
woman could say to her young husband, "My husband," where she could
say to the young child, "My child," where the maiden could say, "My
brother," where the little girl could say, "My father,"--there the
little ones perish, there the great perish. In her banqueting-hall the
wind holds revel, her streets are desolate.

From some of the texts it would appear that the suppliants were
ignorant of the sin they had committed, and many so-called 'penitential
psalms' are extant in which the stricken one appeals fervently to the
gods to release him from the burden of his unknown sin. He weeps,
and he is unable to restrain himself. He laments earnestly, and begs
through the priest for the divine mercy. These appeals always end in
the same way--that is, in the pious hope that the heart and liver of
the god may be appeased. With the Babylonians, as with the modern
Armenians, to whom they are perhaps related, the liver was regarded as
the seat of the emotions.

Occasionally a higher intellectual and ethical plane is reached by
these prayers. "Men," says one of them, "are blind: which of them knows
anything? They do not even know good from evil." The god is fervently
petitioned not to cast his servant off. He is in a deep morass, and he
earnestly prays that the deity may take him by the hand, may change his
sin to grace, and permit the wind to carry off his transgressions.

The Terror of Eclipse

The terror of eclipse of the sun or moon was a very real one to the
ancient Babylonians. The tablet with the history of the seven evil gods
or spirits, though much mutilated, gives us a hint of the attack made
by them upon the moon. They dwelt in the lower part of heaven, and were
rebellious in heart. Shaped like leopards, serpents, and angry beasts
of prey, they went from city to city on the wings of an evil wind,
destroying and smiting. And into the heaven of Anu they burst, but Bel
and Ea took counsel, and set Sin the moon, Shamash the sun, and Ishtar
the planet Venus in the lower part of heaven to govern and control it
along with Anu. No sooner had this been accomplished than the seven
evil spirits fiercely attacked the moon-god. But Bel saw the peril of
Sin, and said to his attendant, the god Nusku, "Carry word of this
thing to the ocean, to the god Ea." Ea heard the message, and called
his son, the god Merodach. "Go, my son Merodach," quoth he, "enter
into the shining Sin, who in heaven is greatly beset, and expel his
enemies from heaven." It is impossible to decipher the context from the
mutilated remains of the tablets, but we may take it for granted that
the pious efforts of Merodach were rewarded with success.

An eclipse to most primitive peoples means that the sun- or moon-god
has either met with disaster or has withdrawn his face from his
worshippers. The monthly waning of the moon made the ancients believe
that it would be entirely blotted out unless the god was pacified. Thus
if no eclipse took place it was considered that the efforts of priests
and people had prevailed; otherwise they were held to have failed, and
panic ruled supreme. In a certain prayer Sin is adjured not to withhold
his face from his people. The day of the monthly disappearance of the
moon is called a day of distress, but a season of jubilee followed upon
the advent of the new moon next day.


Like other primitive races the peoples of Chaldea scarcely
discriminated at all between religion and magic. One difference
between the priest and the sorcerer was that the one employed magic
for religious purposes whilst the other used it for his own ends. The
literature of Chaldea--especially its religious literature--teems
with references to magic, and in its spells and incantations we see
the prototypes of those employed by the magicians of mediæval Europe.
Indeed so closely do some of the Assyrian incantations and magical
practices resemble those of the European sorcerers of the Middle Ages
and of primitive peoples of the present day that it is difficult to
convince oneself that they are of independent origin.

In Chaldea as in ancient Egypt the crude and vague magical practices
of primeval times received form and developed into accepted ritual,
just as early religious ideas evolved into dogmas under the stress
of theological controversy and opinion. As there were men who would
dispute upon religious questions, so were there persons who would
discuss matters magical. This is not to say that the terms 'religion'
and 'magic' possessed any well-defined boundaries for them. Nor is
it at all clear that they do for us in this twentieth century. They
overlap; and it has long been the belief of the writer that their
relations are but represented by two circles which intersect one
another and the areas of which partially coincide.

The writer has outlined his opinions regarding the origin of magic
in an earlier volume of this series,[1] and has little to add to
what he then wrote, except that he desires to lay stress upon the
identification of early religion and magic. It is only when they begin
to evolve, to branch out, that the two systems present differences. If
there is any one circumstance which accentuates the difference more
than another it is that the ethical element does not enter into magic
in the same manner as it does into religion.

That Chaldean magic was the precursor of European mediæval magic as
apart from popular sorcery and witchcraft is instanced not only by the
similarity between the systems but by the introduction into mediæval
magic of the names of Babylonian and Assyrian gods and magicians. Again
and again is Babylon appealed to even more frequently than Egypt, and
we meet constantly with the names of Beelzebub, Ishtar (as Astarte),
Baal, and Moloch, whilst the names of demons, obviously of Babylonian
origin, are encountered in almost every work on the subject. Frequent
allusions are also made to the 'wise men' and necromancers of Babylon,
and to the 'star-gazers' of Chaldea. The conclusion is irresistible
that ceremonial magic, as practised in the Middle Ages, owed much to
that of Babylon.

Our information regarding Chaldean magic is much more complete than
that which we possess concerning the magic of ancient Egypt. Hundreds
of spells, incantations, and omen-inscriptions have been recovered,
and these not only enlighten us regarding the class of priests who
practised magic, but they tell us of the several varieties of demons,
ghosts, and evil spirits; they minutely describe the Babylonian witch
and wizard, and they picture for us many magical ceremonies, besides
informing us of the names of scores of plants and flowers possessing
magical properties, of magical substances, jewels, amulets, and the
like. Also they speak of sortilege or the divination of the future, of
the drawing of magical circles, of the exorcism of evil spirits, and
the casting out of demons.

The Roots of Science

In these Babylonian magical records we have by far the most complete
picture of the magic of the ancient world. It is a wondrous story
that is told by those bricks and cylinders of stamped clay--the story
of civilized man's first gropings for light. For in these venerable
writings we must recognize the first attempts at scientific elucidation
of the forces by which man is surrounded. Science, like religion, has
its roots deep in magic. The primitive man believes implicitly in the
efficacy of magical ritual. What it brings about once it can bring
about again if the proper conditions be present and recognized. Thus
it possesses for the barbarian as much of the element of certainty as
the scientific process does for the chemist or the electrician. Given
certain causes certain effects _must_ follow. Surely, then, in the
barbarous mind, magic is pseudo-scientific--of the nature of science.

There appears a deeper gloom, a more ominous spirit of the ancient and
the obscure in the magic of old Mesopotamia than in that of any other
land. Its mighty sanctuaries, its sky-aspiring towers, seem founded
upon this belief in the efficacy of the spoken spell, the reiterated
invocation. Thousands of spirits various and grotesque, the parents
of the ghosts and goblins of a later day, haunt the purlieus of the
temple, battening upon the remains of sacrifice (the leavings of the
gorged gods), flit through the night-bound streets, and disturb the
rest of the dwellers in houses. Demons with claw and talon, vampires,
ghouls--all are there. Spirits blest and unblest, jinn, witch-hags,
lemures, sorrowing unburied ghosts. No type of supernatural being
appears to have been unknown to the imaginative Semites of old
Chaldea. These must all be 'laid,' exorcised, or placated, and it is
not to be marvelled at that in such circumstances the trade of the
necromancer flourished exceedingly. The witch or wizard, however, the
unprofessional and detached practitioner with no priestly status, must
beware. He or she was regarded with suspicion, and if one fell sick of
a strange wasting or a disease to which he could not attach a name,
the nearest sorcerer, male or female, real or imaginary, was in all
probability brought to book.

Priestly Wizards

There were at least two classes of priests who dealt in the occult--the
_barû_, or seers, and the _asipû_, or wizards. The caste of the barû
was a very ancient one, dating at least from the time of Khammurabi.
The barû performed divination by consulting the livers of animals and
also by observation of the flight of birds. We find many of the kings
of Babylonia consulting this class of soothsayer. Sennacherib, for
example, sought from the barû the cause of his father's violent death.
The asipû, on the other hand, was the remover of taboo and bans of
all sorts; he chanted the rites described in the magical texts, and
performed the ceremony of atonement. It is

  He that stilleth all to rest, that pacifieth all.
  By whose incantations everything is at peace.

The gods are upon his right hand and his left, they are behind and
before him.

The wizard and the witch were known as _Kassapu_ or _Kassaptu_. These
were the sorcerers or magicians proper, and that they were considered
dangerous to the community is shown by the manner in which they are
treated by the code of Khammurabi, in which it is ordained that he who
charges a man with sorcery and can justify the charge shall obtain the
sorcerer's house, and the sorcerer shall plunge into the river. But if
the sorcerer be not drowned then he who accused him shall be put to
death and the wrongly accused man shall have his house.

A series of texts known as 'Maklu' provides us, among other things,
with a striking picture of the Babylonian witch. It tells how she
prowls the streets, searching for victims, snatching love from handsome
men, and withering beauteous women. At another time she is depicted
sitting in the shade of the wall making spells and fashioning images.
The suppliant prays that her magic may revert upon herself, that the
image of her which he has made, and doubtless rendered into the hands
of the priest, shall be burnt by the fire-god, that her words may be
forced back into her mouth. "May her mouth be fat, may her tongue be
salt," continues the prayer. The _haltappen-plant_ along with sesame is
sent against her. "O, witch, like the circlet of this seal may thy face
grow green and yellow!"

An Assyrian text says of a sorceress that her bounds are the whole
world, that she can pass over all mountains. The writer states that
near his door he has posted a servant, on the right and left of his
door has he set Lugalgirra and Allamu, that they might kill the witch.

The library of Assur-bani-pal contains many cuneiform tablets dealing
with magic, but there are also extant many magical tablets of the
later Babylonian Empire. These were known to the Babylonians by some
name or word, indicative perhaps of the special sphere of their
activities. Thus we have the Maklu ('burning'), Surpu ('consuming'),
Utukki limnûti ('evil spirits'), and Labartu ('witch-hag') series,
besides many other texts dealing with magical practices.

The Maklu series deals with spells against witches and wizards, images
of whom are to be consumed by fire to the accompaniment of suitable
spells and prayers. The Surpu series contains prayers and incantations
against taboo. That against evil spirits provides the haunted with
spells which will exorcise demons, ghosts, and the powers of the air
generally, and place devils under a ban. In other magical tablets the
diseases to which poor humanity is prone are guarded against, and
instructions are given on the manner in which they may be transferred
to the dead bodies of animals, usually swine or goats.

[Illustration: Exorcising Demons of Disease.--From _Religious Belief and
Practice in Babylonia and Assyria_, by Professor Morris Jastrow.--By
permission of Messrs G.P. Putnam's Sons.]

A Toothache Myth

The Assyrian physician had perforce to be something of a demonologist,
as possession by devils was held to be the cause of divers diseases,
and we find incantations sprinkled among prescriptions. Occasionally,
too, we come upon the fag-end of a folk-tale or dip momentarily into
myth, as in a prescription for the toothache, compounded of fermented
drink, the plant _sakilbir_, and oil--probably as efficacious in the
case of that malady as most modern ones are. The story attached to the
cure is as follows:

When Anu had created the heavens, the earth created the rivers, the
rivers the canals, and the canals the marshes, which in turn created
the worm. And the worm came weeping before Ea, saying, "What wilt thou
give me for my food, what wilt thou give me for my devouring?" "I will
give thee ripe figs," replied the god, "ripe figs and scented wood."
"Bah," replied the worm, "what are ripe figs to me, or what is scented
wood? Let me drink among the teeth and batten on the gums that I may
devour the blood of the teeth and the strength thereof." This tale
alludes to a Babylonian superstition that worms consume the teeth.

The Word of Power

As in Egypt, the word of power was held in great reverence by the
magicians of Chaldea, who believed that the name, preferably the
secret name, of a god possessed sufficient force in its mere syllables
to defeat and scatter the hordes of evil things that surrounded and
harassed mankind. The names of Ea and Merodach were, perhaps, most
frequently used to carry destruction into the ranks of the demon army.
It was also necessary to know the name of the devil or person against
whom his spells were directed. If to this could be added a piece of
hair, or the nail-parings in the case of a human being, then special
efficacy was given to the enchantment. But just as hair or nails were
part of a man so was his name, and hence the great virtue ascribed
to names in art-magic, ancient and modern. The name was, as it were,
the vehicle by means of which the magician established a link between
himself and his victim, and the Babylonians in exorcising sickness or
disease of any kind were wont to recite long catalogues of the names of
evil spirits and demons in the hope that by so doing they might chance
to light upon that especial individual who was the cause of the malady.
Even long lists of names of persons who had died premature deaths were
often recited in order to ensure that they would not return to torment
the living.

Babylonian Vampires

In all lands and epochs the grisly conception of the vampire has gained
a strong hold upon the imagination of the common people, and this was
no less the case in Babylonia and Assyria than elsewhere. There have
not been wanting those who believed that vampirism was confined to the
Slavonic race alone, and that the peoples of Russia, Bohemia, and the
Balkan Peninsula were the sole possessors of the vampire legend. Recent
research, however, has exposed the fallacy of this theory and has
shown that, far from being the property of the Slavs or even of Aryan
peoples, this horrible belief is or was the possession of practically
every race, savage or civilized, that is known to anthropology. The
seven evil spirits of Assyria are, among other things, vampires of no
uncertain type. An ancient poem which was chanted by them commences

  Seven are they! Seven are they!
  In the ocean deep, seven are they!
  Battening in heaven, seven are they!
  Bred in the depths of the ocean;
  Not male nor female are they,
  But are as the roaming wind-blast.
  No wife have they, no son can they beget;
  Knowing neither mercy nor pity,
  They hearken not to prayer, to prayer.
  They are as horses reared amid the hills,
  The Evil Ones of Ea;
  Throne-bearers to the gods are they,
  They stand in the highway to befoul the path;
  Evil are they, evil are they!
  Seven are they, seven are they,
  Twice seven are they!

  Destructive storms (and) evil winds are they,
  An evil blast that heraldeth the baneful storm,
  An evil blast, forerunner of the baleful storm.
  They are mighty children, mighty sons,
  Heralds of the Pestilence.
  Throne-bearers of Ereskigal,
  They are the flood which rusheth through the land.
  Seven gods of the broad earth,
  Seven robber(?)-gods are they,
  Seven gods of might,
  Seven evil demons,
  Seven evil demons of oppression,
  Seven in heaven and seven on earth.

  Spirits that minish heaven and earth,
  That minish the land,
  Spirits that minish the land,
  Of giant strength,
  Of giant strength and giant tread,
  Demons (like) raging bulls, great ghosts,
  Ghosts that break through all houses,
  Demons that have no shame,
  Seven are they!
  Knowing no care, they grind the land like corn;
  Knowing no mercy, they rage against mankind,
  They spill their blood like rain,
  Devouring their flesh (and) sucking their veins.
   * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
  They are demons full of violence, ceaselessly devouring

This last line clearly indicates their character as vampires. They are
akin to the Rakshasas of India or the arch-demons of Zoroastrianism.
Such demons are also to be seen in the Polynesian _tii_, the Malayan
_hantu penyadin_, a dog-headed water-demon, and the _kephu_ of the
Karens, which under the form of a wizard's head and stomach devours
human souls. Tylor considers vampires to be "causes conceived in
spiritual form to account for specific facts of wasting disease."
Afanasief regards them as thunder-gods and spirits of the storm, who
during winter slumber in their cloud-coffins to rise again in spring
and draw moisture from the clouds. But this theory will scarcely
recommend itself to anyone with even a slight knowledge of mythological
science. The Abbé Calmet's difficulty in believing in vampires was
that he could not understand how a spirit could leave its grave and
return thence with ponderable matter in the form of blood, leaving no
traces showing that the surface of the earth above the grave had been
stirred. But this view might be solved by the occult theory of the
'precipitation of matter'!

The Bible and Magic

The earliest Biblical account of anything supposed to be connected with
magic, is to be found in the history of Rachel. When with her sister
Leah, and her husband Jacob, she had left the house of her father.
"Rachel had stolen the images that were her father's.... Then Laban
overtook Jacob ... and Laban said ... yet wherefore hast thou stolen my
gods?... and Jacob answered and said, With whomsoever thou findest thy
gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern thou what is thine
with me, and take it to thee. For Jacob knew not that Rachel had stolen
them. And Laban went into Jacob's tent, and into Leah's tent, and into
the two maid-servants' tent, but he found them not. Then went he out
of Leah's tent and entered into Rachel's tent. Now Rachel had taken
the images, and put them in the camel's furniture and sat upon them.
And Laban searched all the tent, but found them not. And she said to
her father, Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise up before
thee.... And he searched, but found not the images." This passage has
given no little trouble to commentators; but most of them seem to
consider these teraphim or images as something of a magical nature.

The Speaking Head

The targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel gives the following version: "And
Rachel stole the images of her father; for they had murdered a man,
who was a first-born son, and, having cut off his head, they embalmed
it with salt and spices, and they wrote divinations upon a plate of
gold, and put it under his tongue and placed it against the wall, and
it conversed with them, and Laban worshipped it. And Jacob stole the
science of Laban the Syrian, that he might not discover his departure."

The Persian translation gives us astrolabes instead of teraphim, and
implies that they were instruments used for judicial astrology, and
that Rachel stole them to prevent her father from discovering their
route. At all events the teraphim were means of divination among
believers and unbelievers; they were known among the Egyptians and
among Syrians. What makes it extremely probable that they were not
objects of religious worship is, that it does not appear from any other
passage of Scripture that Laban was an idolater; besides which Rachel,
who was certainly a worshipper of the true God, took them, it seems,
on account of their supposed supernatural powers. It must, however, be
observed that some have supposed these teraphim to have been talismans
for the cure of diseases; and others, that being really idols, Rachel
stole them to put a stop to her father's idolatry. There is a not very
dissimilar account related (Judges xviii) of Micah and his teraphim,
which seems sufficient to prove that the use of them was not considered
inconsistent with the profession of the true religion.

Gods once Demons

Many of the Babylonian gods retained traces of their primitive
demoniacal characteristics, and this applies to the great triad, Ea,
Anu, and En-lil, who probably evolved into godhead from an animistic
group of nature spirits. Each of these gods was accompanied by demon
groups. Thus the disease-demons were 'the beloved sons of Bel,' the
fates were the seven daughters of Anu, and the seven storm-demons the
children of Ea. In a magical incantation describing the primitive
monster form of Ea it is said that his head is like a serpent's, the
ears are those of a basilisk, his horns are twisted into curls, his
body is a sun-fish full of stars, his feet are armed with claws, and
the sole of his foot has no heel.

Ea was 'the great magician of the gods'; his sway over the forces
of nature was secured by the performance of magical rites, and his
services were obtained by human beings who performed requisite
ceremonies and repeated appropriate spells. Although he might be
worshipped and propitiated in his temple at Eridu, he could also be
conjured in mud huts. The latter, indeed, as in Mexico, appear to have
been the oldest holy places.

The Legend of Ura

It is told that Ura, the dread demon of disease, once made up his mind
to destroy mankind. But Ishnu, his counsellor, appeased him so that
he abandoned his intention, and he gave humanity a chance of escape.
Whoever should praise Ura and magnify his name would, he said, rule
the four quarters of the world, and should have none to oppose him.
He should not die in pestilence, and his speech should bring him into
favour with the great ones of the earth. Wherever a tablet with the
song of Ura was set up, in that house there should be immunity from the

As we read in the closing lines of the Gilgamesh epic, the dead were
often left unburied in Babylonia, and the ghosts of those who were
thus treated were, as in more modern times and climes, supposed to
haunt the living until given proper sepulture. They roamed the streets
and byways seeking for sustenance among the garbage in the gutters,
and looking for haunted houses in which to dwell, denied as they were
the shelter of the grave, which was regarded as the true 'home' of
the dead. They frequently terrified children into madness or death,
and bitterly mocked those in tribulation. They were, in fact, the
outcasts of mortality, spiteful and venomous because they had not been
properly treated. The modern race which most nearly approximates to
the Babylonian in its treatment of and attitude to the dead seems to
be the Burmese, who are extremely circumspect as to how they speak and
act towards the inhabitants of the spirit-world, as they believe that
disrespect or mockery will bring down upon them misfortune or disease.
An infinite number of guardian spirits is included in the Burman
demonological system. These dwell in their houses and are the tutelars
of village communities, and even of clans. These are duly propitiated,
at which ceremonies rice, beer, and tea-salad are offered to them.
Women are employed as exorcists for driving out the evil spirits.


Purification by water entered largely into Babylonian magic. The
ceremony known as the 'Incantation of Eridu,' so frequently alluded to
in Babylonian magical texts, was probably some form of purification
by water, relating as it does to the home of Ea, the sea-god. Another
ceremony prescribes the mingling of water from a pool 'that no hand
hath touched,' with tamarisk, _mastakal_, ginger, alkali, and mixed
wine. Therein must be placed a shining ring, and the mixture is then to
be poured upon the patient. A root of saffron is then to be taken and
pounded with pure salt and alkali and fat of the _matku_-bird brought
from the mountains, and with this strange mixture the body of the
patient is to be anointed.

The Chamber of the Priest-Magician

Let us attempt to describe the treatment of a case by a
priest-physician-magician of Babylonia. The proceeding is rather a
recondite one, but by the aid of imagination as well as the assistance
of Babylonian representation we may construct a tolerably clear
picture. The chamber of the sage is almost certain to be situated in
some nook in one of those vast and imposing fanes which more closely
resembled cities than mere temples. We draw the curtain and enter a
rather darksome room. The atmosphere is pungent with chemic odours,
and ranged on shelves disposed upon the tiled walls are numerous
jars, great and small, containing the fearsome compounds which the
practitioner applies to the sufferings of Babylonian humanity. The
asipu, shaven and austere, asks us what we desire of him, and in the
rôle of Babylonian citizens we acquaint him with the fact that our
lives are made miserable for us by a witch who sends upon us misfortune
after misfortune, now the blight or some equally intractable and
horrible disease, now an evil wind, now unspeakable enchantments which
torment us unceasingly. In his capacity of physician the asipu examines
our bodies, shrunken and exhausted with fever or rheumatism, and having
prescribed for us, compounds the mixture with his own hands and enjoins
us to its regular application. He mixes various ingredients in a stone
mortar, whispering his spells the while, with many a prayer to Ea the
beneficent and Merodach the all-powerful that we may be restored to
health. Then he promises to visit us at our dwelling and gravely bids
us adieu, after expressing the hope that we will graciously contribute
to the upkeep of the house of religion to which he is attached.

Leaving the darkened haunt of the asipu for the brilliant sunshine of
a Babylonian summer afternoon, we are at first inclined to forget our
fears, and to laugh away the horrible superstitions, the relics of
barbarian ancestors, which weigh us down. But as night approaches we
grow more fearful, we crouch with the children in the darkest corner
of our clay-brick dwelling, and tremble at every sound. The rushing of
the wind overhead is for us the noise of the Labartu, the hag-demon,
come hither to tear from us our little ones, or perhaps a rat rustling
in the straw may seem to us the Alu-demon. The ghosts of the dead
gibber at the threshold, and even pale Uru, lord of disease, himself
may glance in at the tiny window with ghastly countenance and eager,
red eyes. The pains of rheumatism assail us. Ha, the evil witch is at
work, thrusting thorns into the waxen images made in our shape that we
may suffer the torment brought about by sympathetic magic, to which we
would rather refer our aches than to the circumstance that we dwell
hard by the river-swamps.

A loud knocking resounds at the door. We tremble anew and the children
scream. At last the dread powers of evil have come to summon us to the
final ordeal, or perhaps the witch herself, grown bold by reason of
her immunity, has come to wreak fresh vengeance. The flimsy door of
boards is thrown open, and to our unspeakable relief the stern face of
the asipu appears beneath the flickering light of the taper. We shout
with joy, and the children cluster around the priest, clinging to his
garments and clasping his knees.

The Witch-Finding

The priest smiles at our fear, and motioning us to sit in a circle
produces several waxen figures of demons which he places on the floor.
It is noticeable that these figures all appear to be bound with
miniature ropes. Taking one of these in the shape of a Labartu or
hag-demon, the priest places before it twelve small cakes made from a
peculiar kind of meal. He then pours out a libation of water, places
the image of a small black dog beside that of the witch, lays a piece
of the heart of a young pig on the mouth of the figure and some white
bread and a box of ointment beside it. He then chants something like
the following: "May a guardian spirit be present at my side when I draw
near unto the sick man, when I examine his muscles, when I compose his
limbs, when I sprinkle the water of Ea upon him. Avoid thee whether
thou art an evil spirit or an evil demon, an evil ghost or an evil
devil, an evil god or an evil fiend, hag-demon, ghoul, sprite, phantom,
or wraith, or any disease, fever, headache, shivering, or any sorcery,
spell, or enchantment."

Having recited some such words of power the asipu then directs us to
keep the figure at the head of our bed for three nights, then to bury
it beneath the earthen floor. But alas! no cure results. The witch
still torments us by day and night, and once more we have recourse to
the priest-doctor; the ceremony is gone through again, but still the
family health does not improve. The little ones suffer from fever, and
bad luck consistently dogs us. After a stormy scene between husband and
wife, who differ regarding the qualifications of the asipu, another
practitioner is called in. He is younger and more enterprising than
the last, and he has not yet learned that half the business of the
physician is to 'nurse' his patients, in the financial sense of the
term. Whereas the elderly asipu had gone quietly home to bed after
prescribing for us, this young physician, who has his spurs to win,
after being consulted goes home to his clay surgery and hunts up a
likely exorcism.

Next day, armed with this wordy weapon, he arrives at our dwelling and,
placing a waxen image of the witch upon the floor, vents upon it the
full force of his rhetoric. As he is on the point of leaving, screams
resound from a neighbouring cabin. Bestowing upon us a look of the
deepest meaning our asipu darts to the hut opposite and hales forth
an ancient crone, whose appearance of age and illness give her a most
sinister look. At once we recognize in her a wretch who dared to menace
our children when in innocent play they cast hot ashes upon her thatch
and introduced hot swamp water into her cistern. In righteous wrath
we lay hands on the abandoned being who for so many months has cast a
blight upon our lives. She exclaims that the pains of death have seized
upon her, and we laugh in triumph, for we know that the superior magic
of our asipu has taken effect. On the way to the river we are joined by
neighbours, who rejoice with us that we have caught the witch. Great is
the satisfaction of the party when at last the devilish crone is cast
headlong into the stream.

But ere many seconds pass we begin to look incredulously upon each
other, for the wicked one refuses to sink. This means that she is
innocent! Then, awful moment, we find every eye directed upon us, we
who were so happy and light-hearted but a moment before. We tremble,
for we know how severe are the laws against the indiscriminate
accusation of those suspected of witchcraft. As the ancient crone
continues to float, a loud murmuring arises in the crowd, and with
quaking limbs and eyes full of terror we snatch up our children and
make a dash for freedom.

Luckily the asipu accompanies us so that the crowd dare not pursue,
and indeed, so absurdly changeable is human nature, most of them are
busied in rescuing the old woman. In a few minutes we have placed
all immediate danger of pursuit behind us. The asipu has departed
to his temple, richer in the experience by the lesson of a false
'prescription.'[3] After a hurried consultation we quit the town, skirt
the arable land which fringes it, and plunge into the desert. She who
was opposed to the employment of a young and inexperienced asipu does
not make matters any better by reiterating "I told you so." And he
who favoured a 'second opinion,' on paying a night visit to the city,
discovers that the 'witch' has succumbed to her harsh treatment; that
his house has been made over to her relatives by way of compensation,
and that a legal process has been taken out against him. Returning to
his wife he acquaints her with the sad news, and hand in hand with
their weeping offspring they turn and face the desert.

The Magic Circle

The magic circle, as in use among the Chaldean sorcerers, bears many
points of resemblance to that described in mediæval works on magic.
The Babylonian magician, when describing the circle, made seven little
winged figures, which he set before an image of the god Nergal. After
doing so he stated that he had covered them with a dark robe and bound
them with a coloured cord, setting beside them tamarisk and the heart
of the palm, that he had completed the magic circle and had surrounded
them with a sprinkling of lime and flour.

That the magic circle of mediæval times must have been evolved from
the Chaldean is plain from the strong resemblance between the two.
Directions for the making of a mediæval magic circle are as follows:--

In the first place the magician is supposed to fix upon a spot proper
for such a purpose, which must be either in a subterranean vault, hung
round with black, and lighted by a magical torch, or else in the centre
of some thick wood or desert, or upon some extensive unfrequented
plain, where several roads meet, or amidst the ruins of ancient
castles, abbeys, or monasteries, or amongst the rocks on the seashore,
in some private detached churchyard, or any other melancholy place
between the hours of twelve and one in the night, either when the moon
shines very bright, or else when the elements are disturbed with storms
of thunder, lightning, wind, and rain; for, in these places, times, and
seasons, it is contended that spirits can with less difficulty manifest
themselves to mortal eyes, and continue visible with the least pain.

When the proper time and place are fixed upon, a magic circle is to
be formed within which the master and his associates are carefully to
retire. The reason assigned by magicians and others for the institution
and use of the circles is, that so much ground being blessed and
consecrated by holy words and ceremonies has a secret force to expel
all evil spirits from the bounds thereof, and, being sprinkled with
sacred water, the ground is purified from all uncleanness; beside
the holy names of God being written over every part of it, its force
becomes proof against all evil spirits.

Babylonian Demons

Babylonian demons were legion and most of them exceedingly malevolent.
The Utukku was an evil spirit that lurked generally in the desert,
where it lay in wait for unsuspecting travellers, but it did not
confine its haunts to the more barren places, for it was also to be
found among the mountains, in graveyards, and even in the sea. An evil
fate befel the man upon whom it looked.

The Rabisu is another lurking demon that secretes itself in
unfrequented spots to leap upon passers-by. The Labartu, which has
already been alluded to, is, strangely enough, spoken of as the
daughter of Anu. She was supposed to dwell in the mountains or in
marshy places, and was particularly addicted to the destruction of
children. Babylonian mothers were wont to hang charms round their
children's necks to guard them against this horrible hag.

The Sedu appears to have been in some senses a guardian spirit and in
others a being of evil propensities. It is often appealed to at the
end of invocations along with the Lamassu, a spirit of a similar type.
These malign influences were probably the prototypes of the Arabian
jinn, to whom they have many points of resemblance.

Many Assyrian spirits were half-human and half-supernatural, and some
of them were supposed to contract unions with human beings, like
the Arabian jinn. The offspring of such unions was supposed to be a
spirit called Alu, which haunted ruins and deserted buildings and
indeed entered the houses of men like a ghost to steal their sleep.
Ghosts proper were also common enough, as has already been observed,
and those who had not been buried were almost certain to return to
harass mankind. It was dangerous even to look upon a corpse, lest the
spirit or edimmu of the dead man should seize upon the beholder. The
Assyrians seemed to be of the opinion that a ghost like a vampire
might drain away the strength of the living, and long formulæ were in
existence containing numerous names of haunting spirits, one of which
it was hoped would apply to the tormenting ghost, and these were used
for the purposes of exorcism. To lay a spirit the following articles
were necessary: seven small loaves of roast corn, the hoof of a
dark-coloured ox, flour of roast corn, and a little leaven. The ghosts
were then asked why they tormented the haunted man, after which the
flour and leaven were kneaded into a paste in the horn of an ox and a
small libation poured into a hole in the earth. The leaven dough was
then placed in the hoof of an ox, and another libation poured out with
an incantation to the god Shamash. In another case figures of the dead
man and the living person to whom the spirit has appeared are to be
made and libations poured out before both of them, then the figure of
the dead man is to be buried and that of the living man washed in pure
water, the whole ceremony being typical of sympathetic magic, which
thus supposed the burial of the body of the ghost and the purification
of the living man. In the morning incense was to be offered up before
the sun-god at his rising, when sweet woods were to be burned and a
libation of sesame wine poured out.

If a human being was troubled by a ghost, it was necessary that he
should be anointed with various substances in order that the result of
the ghostly contact might be nullified.

An old text says, "When a ghost appeareth in the house of a man there
will be a destruction of that house. When it speaketh and hearkeneth
for an answer the man will die, and there will be lamentation."


The belief in taboo was universal in ancient Chaldea. Amongst the
Babylonians it was known as _mamit._ There were taboos on many things,
but especially upon corpses and uncleanness of all kinds. We find the
taboo generally alluded to in a text "as the barrier that none can

Among all barbarous peoples the taboo is usually intended to hedge in
the sacred thing from the profane person or the common people, but it
may also be employed for sanitary reasons. Thus the flesh of certain
animals, such as the pig, may not be eaten in hot countries. Food must
not be prepared by those who are in the slightest degree suspected of
uncleanness, and these laws are usually of the most rigorous character;
but should a man violate the taboo placed upon certain foods, then he
himself often became taboo. No one might have any intercourse with him.
He was left to his own devices, and, in short, became a sort of pariah.
In the Assyrian texts we find many instances of this kind of taboo,
and numerous were the supplications that these might be removed. If
one drank water from an unclean cup he had violated a taboo. Like the
Arab he might not "lick the platter clean." If he were taboo he might
not touch another man, he might not converse with him, he might not
pray to the gods, he might not even be interceded for by anyone else.
In fact he was excommunicate. If a man cast his eye upon water which
another person had washed his hands in, or if he came into contact with
a person who had not yet performed his ablutions, he became unclean. An
entire purification ritual was incumbent on any Assyrian who touched or
even looked upon a dead man.

It may be asked, wherefore was this elaborate cleanliness essential to
avoid taboo? The answer undoubtedly is--because of the belief in the
power of sympathetic magic. Did one come into contact with a person who
was in any way unclean, or with a corpse or other unpleasant object, he
was supposed to come within the radius of the evil which emanated from

Popular Superstitions

The superstition that the evil-eye of a witch or a wizard might bring
blight upon an individual or community was as persistent in Chaldea as
elsewhere. Incantations frequently allude to it as among the causes of
sickness, and exorcisms were duly directed against it. Even to-day, on
the site of the ruins of Babylon children are protected against it by
fastening small blue objects to their head-gear.

Just as mould from a grave was supposed by the witches of the Middle
Ages to be particularly efficacious in magic, so was the dust of the
temple supposed to possess hidden virtue in Assyria. If one pared one's
nails or cut one's hair it was considered necessary to bury them lest
a sorcerer should discover them and use them against their late owner;
for a sorcery performed upon a part was by the law of sympathetic magic
thought to reflect upon the whole. A like superstition attached to the
discarded clothing of people, for among barbarian or uncultured folk
the apparel is regarded as part and parcel of the man. Even in our own
time simple and uneducated people tear a piece from their garments
and hang it as an offering on the bushes around any of the numerous
healing wells in the country that they may have journeyed to. This is a
survival of the custom of sacrificing the part for the whole.

If one desired to get rid of a headache one had to take the hair of a
young kid and give it to a wise woman, who would "spin it on the right
side and double it on the left," then it was to be bound into fourteen
knots and the incantation of Ea pronounced upon it, after which it
was to be bound round the head and neck of the sick man. For defects
in eyesight the Assyrians wove black and white threads or hairs
together, muttering incantations the while, and these were placed upon
the eyes. It was thought, too, that the tongues of evil spirits or
sorcerers could be 'bound,' and that a net because of its many knots
was efficacious in keeping evilly-disposed magicians away.


Divination as practised by means of augury was a rite of the first
importance among the Babylonians and Assyrians. This was absolutely
distinct from divination by astrology. The favourite method of augury
among the Chaldeans of old was that by examination of the liver of a
slaughtered animal. It was thought that when an animal was offered up
in sacrifice to a god that the deity identified himself for the time
being with that animal, and that the beast thus afforded a means of
indicating the wishes of the god. Now among people in a primitive state
of culture the soul is almost invariably supposed to reside in the
liver instead of in the heart or brain. More blood is secreted by the
liver than by any other organ in the body, and upon the opening of a
carcase it appears the most striking, the most central, and the most
sanguinary of the vital parts. The liver was, in fact, supposed by
early peoples to be the fountain of the blood supply and therefore of
life itself. Hepatoscopy or divination from the liver was undertaken
by the Chaldeans for the purpose of determining what the gods had in
mind. The soul of the animal became for the nonce the soul of the god,
therefore if the signs of the liver of the sacrificed animal could be
read the mind of the god became clear, and his intentions regarding the
future were known. The animal usually sacrificed was a sheep, the liver
of which animal is most complicated in appearance. The two lower lobes
are sharply divided from one another and are separated from the upper
by a narrow depression, and the whole surface is covered with markings
and fissures, lines and curves which give it much the appearance of
a map on which roads and valleys are outlined. This applies to the
freshly excised liver only, and these markings are never the same in
any two livers.

Certain priests were set apart for the practice of liver-reading, and
these were exceedingly expert, being able to decipher the hepatoscopic
signs with great skill. They first examined the gall-bladder, which
might be reduced or swollen. They inferred various circumstances from
the several ducts and the shapes and sizes of the lobes and their
appendices. Diseases of the liver, too, particularly common among sheep
in all countries, were even more frequent among these animals in the
marshy portions of the Euphrates Valley.

[Illustration: Clay Object resembling a Sheep's Liver. This is inscribed
with magical formulæ; it was probably used for purposes of divination,
and was employed by the priests of Babylon in their ceremonies.--Photo
W.A. Mansell and Co.]

The literature connected with this species of augury is very extensive,
and Assur-bani-pal's library contained thousands of fragments
describing the omens deduced from the practice. These enumerate the
chief appearances of the liver, as the shade of the colour of the gall,
the length of the ducts, and so forth. The lobes were divided into
sections, lower, medial, and higher, and the interpretation varied from
the phenomena therein observed. The markings on the liver possessed
various names, such as 'palaces,' 'weapons,' 'paths,' and 'feet,' which
terms remind us somewhat of the bizarre nomenclature of astrology.
Later in the progress of the art the various combinations of signs
came to be known so well, and there were so many cuneiform texts in
existence which afforded instruction in them, that a liver could be
quickly 'read' by the _barû_ or reader, a name which was afterward
applied to the astrologists as well and to those who divined through
various other natural phenomena.

One of the earliest instances on record of hepatoscopy is that
regarding Naram-Sin, who consulted a sheep's liver before declaring
war. The great Sargon did likewise, and we find Gudea applying to his
'liver inspectors' when attempting to discover a favourable time for
laying the foundations of the temple of Nin-girsu. Throughout the whole
history of the Babylonian monarchy in fact, from its early beginnings
to its end, we find this system in vogue. Whether it was in force
in Sumerian times we have no means of knowing, but there is every
likelihood that such was the case.

The Ritual of Hepatoscopy

Quite an elaborate ritual grew up around the readings of the omens by
the examination of the liver. The barû who officiated must first of
all purify himself and don special apparel for the ceremony. Prayers
were then offered up to Shamash and Hadad or Rammon, who were known as
the 'lords of divination.' Specific questions were usually put. The
sheep selected for sacrifice must be without blemish, and the manner of
slaughtering it and the examination of its liver must be made with the
most meticulous care. Sometimes the signs were doubtful, and upon such
occasions a second sheep was sacrificed.

Nabonidus, the last King of Babylon, on one occasion desired to restore
a temple to the moon-god at Harran. He wished to be certain that this
step commended itself to Merodach, the chief deity of Babylonia, so he
applied to the 'liver inspectors' of his day and found that the omen
was favourable. We find him also desirous of making a certain symbol of
the sun-god in accordance with an ancient pattern. He placed a model
of this before Shamash and consulted the liver of a sheep to ascertain
whether the god approved of the offering, but on three separate
occasions the signs were unfavourable. Nabonidus then concluded that
the model of the symbol could not have been correctly reproduced, and
on replacing it by another he found the signs propitious. In order,
however, that there should be no mistake he sought among the records of
the past for the result of a liver inspection on a similar occasion,
and by comparing the omens he became convinced that he was safe in
making a symbol.

Peculiar signs, when they were found connected with events of
importance, were specially noted in the literature of liver divination,
and were handed down from generation to generation of diviners. Thus a
number of omens are associated with Gilgamesh, the mythical hero of the
Babylonian epic, and a certain condition of the gall-bladder is said
to indicate "the omen of Urumush, the king, whom the men of his palace

Bad signs and good signs are enumerated in the literature of the
subject. Thus like most peoples the Babylonians considered the right
side as lucky and the left as unlucky. Any sign on the right side of
the gall-bladder, ducts or lobes, was supposed to refer to the king,
the country, or the army, while a similar sign on the sinister side
applied to the enemy. Thus a good sign on the right side applied to
Babylonia or Assyria in a favourable sense, a bad sign on the right
side in an unfavourable sense. A good sign on the left side was an omen
favourable to the enemy, whereas a bad sign on the left side was, of
course, to the native king or forces.

It would be out of place here to give a more extended description of
the liver-reading of the ancient Chaldeans. Suffice it to say that
the subject is a very complicated one in its deeper significance, and
has little interest for the general reader in its advanced stages.
Certain well-marked conditions of the liver could only indicate certain
political, religious, or personal events. It will be more interesting
if we attempt to visualise the act of divination by liver reading, as
it was practised in ancient Babylonia, and if our imaginations break
down in the process it is not the fault of the very large material they
have to work upon.

The Missing Caravan

The ages roll back as a scroll, and I see myself as one of the great
banker-merchants of Babylon, one of those princes of commerce whose
contracts and agreements are found stamped upon clay cylinders where
once the stately palaces of barter arose from the swarming streets of
the city of Merodach. I have that morning been carried in my litter by
sweating slaves, from my white house in a leafy suburb lying beneath
the shadow of the lofty temple-city of Borsippa. As I reach my place of
business I am aware of unrest, for the financial operations in which
I engage are so closely watched that I may say without self-praise
that I represent the pulse of Babylonian commerce. I enter the cool
chamber where I usually transact my business, and where a pair of
officious Persian slaves commence to fan me as soon as I take my seat.
My head clerk enters and makes obeisance with an expression on his
face eloquent of important news. It is as I expected--as I feared. The
caravan from the Persian Gulf due to arrive at Babylon more than a week
ago has not yet made its appearance, and although I had sent scouting
parties as far as Ninnur, these have returned without bringing me the
least intelligence regarding it.

I feel convinced that the caravan with my spices, woven fabrics, rare
woods, and precious stones will never come tinkling down the great
central street to deposit its wealth at the doors of my warehouses;
and the thought renders me so irritable that I sharply dismiss the
Persian fan-bearers, and curse again and again the black-browed sons
of Elam, who have doubtless looted my goods and cut the throats of my
guards and servants. I go home at an early hour full of my misfortune.
I cannot eat my evening meal. My wife gently asks me what ails me, but
with a growl I refuse to enlighten her upon the cause of my annoyance.
Still, however, she persists, and succeeds in breaking down my surly

"Why trouble thy heart concerning this thing when thou mayest know what
has happened to thy goods and thy servants? Get thee to-morrow to the
Baru, and he will enlighten thee," she says.

I start. After all, women have sense. There can be no harm in seeing
the Baru and asking him to divine what has happened to my caravan. But
I bethink me that I am wealthy, and that the priests love to pluck a
well-feathered pigeon. I mention my suspicions of the priestly caste in
no measured terms, to the distress of my devout wife and the amusement
of my soldier-son.

Restlessly I toss upon my couch, and after a sleepless night feel that
I cannot resume my business with the fear of loss upon me. So without
breathing a word of my intention to my wife, I direct my litter-slaves
to carry me to the great temple at Borsippa.

Arrived there, I enquire for the chief Baru. He is one of the friends
of my youth, but for years our paths have diverged, and it is with
surprise that he now greets me. I acquaint him with the nature of my
dilemma, and nodding sympathetically he assures me that he will do his
utmost to assist me. Somewhat reassured, I follow him into a tiled
court near the far end of which stands a large altar. At a sign from
him two priests bring in a live sheep and cut its throat. They then
open the carcase and extract the liver. Immediately the chief Baru
bends his grey head over it. For a long time he stares at it with the
keenest attention. I begin to weary, and my old doubts regarding the
sacerdotal caste return. At last the grey head rises from the long
inspection, and the Baru turns to me with smiling face.

"The omen is good, my son," he says, with a cheerful intonation. "The
compass and the hepatic duct are short. Thy path will be protected by
thy Guardian Spirit, as will the path of thy servants. Go, and fear

He speaks so definitely and his words are so reassuring that I seize
him by the hands, and, thanking him effusively, take my leave. I go
down to my warehouses in a new spirit of hopefulness and disregard the
disdainful or pitying looks cast in my direction. I sit unperturbed and
dictate contracts and letters of credit to my scribe.

Ha! what is that? By Merodach, it is--it is the sound of bells! Up
I leap, upsetting the wretched scribe who squats at my feet, and
trampling upon his still wet clay tablets, I rush to the door. Down the
street slowly advances a travel-worn caravan, and at the head of it
there rides my trusty brown-faced captain, Babbar. He tumbles out of
the saddle and kneels before me, but I raise him in a close embrace.
All my goods, he assures me, are intact, and the cause of delay was
a severe sickness which broke out among his followers. But all have
recovered and my credit is restored.

As I turn to re-enter my warehouse with Babbar, a detaining hand is
placed on my shoulder. It is a messenger from the chief Baru.

"My brother at the temple saw thy caravan coming from afar," he says
politely, "and his message to thee, my son, is that, since thou hast so
happily recovered thine own, thou shouldst devote a tithe of it to the
service of the gods."

[1] _The Myths of Ancient Egypt._

[2] From _Semitic Magic_, by R. Campbell Thompson, p. 47 _ff_. (By
permission of Messrs Luzac and Co., London.)

[3] He is exempt from the punishment provided by the code of Khammurabi
for the false accusation.


Tiawath was not the only monster known to Babylonian mythology. But
she is sometimes likened to or confounded with the serpent of darkness
with which she had originally no connexion whatever. This being was,
however, like Tiawath, the offspring of the great deep and the enemy of
the divine powers. We are told in the second verse of Genesis that "the
earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the
deep," and therefore resembling the abyss of Babylonian myth. We are
also informed that the serpent was esteemed as "more subtle than other
beast of the field," and this, it has been pointed out by Professor
Sayce, was probably because it was associated by the author or authors
of Genesis with Ea, the god of waters and of wisdom. To Babylonian
geographers as to the Greeks, the ocean was a coiling, snake-like
thing, which was often alluded to as the great serpent, and this soon
came to be considered as the source of all evil and misfortune. The
ancients, and especially the ancient Semites, with the exception of
the Phœnicians, appear to have regarded it with dread and loathing.
The serpent appears to have been called Aibu, 'the enemy.' We can see
how the serpent of darkness, the offspring of chaos and confusion,
became also the Hebrew symbol for mischief. He was first the source of
physical and next the source of moral evil.

Winged Bulls

The winged bulls so closely identified with ancient Chaldean mythology
were probably associated with Merodach. These may have represented
the original totemic forms of the gods in question, but we must not
confound the bull forms of Merodach and Ea with those winged bulls
which guarded the entrances to the temples. These, to perpetrate a
double 'bull,' were not bulls at all but divine beings, the gods or
genii of the holy places. The human head attached to them indicated
that the creature was endowed with humanity and the bull-like body
symbolized strength. When the Babylonian translated the word 'bull'
from the Akkadian tongue he usually rendered it 'hero' or 'strong
one.' It is thought that the bull forms of Ea and Merodach must have
originated at Eridu, for both of these deities were connected with
the city. The Babylonians regarded the sky-country as a double of the
plain in which they dwelt, and they believed that the gods as planets
ploughed their way across the azure fields of air. Thus the sun was
the 'Bull of Light,' and Jupiter, the nearest of the planets to the
ecliptic, was known as the 'Planet of the Bull of Light.'

The Dog in Babylonia

Strangely enough the dog was classed by the Babylonians as a monster
animal and one to be despised and avoided. In a prayer against the
powers of evil we read, "From the dog, the snake, the scorpion, the
reptile, and whatever is baleful ... may Merodach preserve us." We
find that although the Babylonians possessed an excellent breed of dog
they were not fond of depicting them either in painting or bas-relief.
Dogs are seen illustrated in a bas-relief of Assur-bani-pal, and five
clay figures of dogs now in the British Museum represent hounds which
belonged to that monarch. The names of these animals are very amusing,
and appear to indicate that those who bestowed them must have suffered
from a complete lack of the humorous sense, or else have been blessed
with an overflow of it. Translated, the names are: 'He-ran-and-barked,'
'The-Producer-of-Mischief,' 'The-Biter-of-his-foes,'
'The-Judge-of-his-companions,' and 'The-Seizer-of-enemies.' How well
these names would fit certain dogs we all know or have known! Here is
good evidence from the buried centuries that dog nature like human
nature has not changed a whit.

But why should the dog, fellow-hunter with early man and the companion
of civilized humanity, have been regarded as evil? Professor Sayce
considers that the four dogs of Merodach "were not always sent on
errands of mercy, and that originally they had been devastating winds."

A Dog Legend

The fragment of a legend exists which does not exhibit the dog in any
very favourable light.

Once there was a shepherd who was tormented by the constant assaults of
dogs upon his flocks. He prayed to Ea for protection, and the great god
of wisdom sent his son Merodach to reassure the shepherd.

"Ea has heard thee," said Merodach. "When the great dogs assault thee,
then, O shepherd, seize them from behind and lay them down, hold them
and overcome them. Strike their heads, pierce their breasts. They are
gone; never may they return. With the wind may they go, with the storm
above it! Take their road and cut off their going. Seize their mouths,
seize their mouths, seize their weapons! Seize their teeth, and make
them ascend, by the command of Ea, the lord of wisdom; by the command
of Merodach, the lord of revelation."[1]

Gazelle and Goat Gods

The gazelle or antelope was a mythological animal in Babylonia so far
as it represented Ea, who is entitled 'the princely gazelle' and 'the
gazelle who gives the earth.' But this animal was also appropriated
to Mul-lil, the god of Nippur, who was specially called the 'gazelle
god.' It is likely, therefore, that this animal had been worshipped
totemically at Nippur. Scores of early cylinders represent it being
offered in sacrifice to a god, and bas-reliefs and other carvings show
it reposing in the arms of various deities. The goat, too, seems to
have been peculiarly sacred, and formed one of the signs of the zodiac.
A god called Uz has for his name the Akkadian word for goat. Mr Hormuzd
Rassam found a sculptured stone tablet in a temple of the sun-god at
Sippara on which was an inscription to Sin, Shamash, and Ishtar, as
being "set as companions at the approach to the deep in sight of the
god Uz." This god Uz is depicted as sitting on a throne watching the
revolution of the solar disc, which is placed upon a table and made to
revolve by means of a rope or string. He is clad in a robe of goat-skin.

The Goat Cult

This cult of the goat appears to be of very ancient origin, and the
strange thing is that it seems to have found its way into mediæval
and even into modern magic and pseudo-religion. There is very little
doubt that it is the Baphomet of the knights-templar and the Sabbatic
goat of the witchcraft of the Middle Ages. It seems almost certain
that when the Crusaders sojourned in Asia-Minor they came into contact
with the remains of the old Babylonian cult. When Philip the Fair of
France arraigned them on a charge of heresy a great deal of curious
evidence was extorted from them regarding the worship of an idol that
they kept in their lodges. The real character of this they seemed
unable to explain. It was said which the image was made in the likeness
of 'Baphomet,' which name was said to be a corruption of Mahomet, the
general Christian name at that period for a pagan idol, although others
give a Greek derivation for the word. This figure was often described
as possessing a goat's head and horns. That, too, the Sabbatic goat
of the Middle Ages was of Eastern and probably Babylonian origin is
scarcely to be doubted. At the witch orgies in France and elsewhere
those who were afterwards brought to book for their sorceries declared
that Satan appeared to them in the shape of a goat and that they
worshipped him in this form. The Sabbatic meetings during the fifteenth
century in the wood of Mofflaines, near Arras, had as their centre a
goat-demon with a human countenance, and a like fiend was adored in
Germany and in Scotland. From all this it is clear that the Sabbatic
goat must have had some connexion with the East. Eliphas Levi drew a
picture of the Baphomet or Sabbatic goat to accompany one of his occult
works, and strangely enough the symbols that he adorns it with are
peculiarly Oriental--moreover the sun-disc figures in the drawing. Now
Levi knew nothing of Babylonian mythology, although he was moderately
versed in the mythology of modern occultism, and it would seem that if
he drew his information from modern or mediæval sources that these must
have been in direct line from Babylonian lore.

Adar, the sun-god of Nippur, was in the same manner connected with the
pig, which may have been the totem of the city he ruled over; and many
other gods had attendant animals or birds, like the sun-god of Kis,
whose symbol was the eagle.

Those monsters who had composed the host of Tiawath were supposed,
after the defeat and destruction of their commandress, to have been
hurled like Satan and his angels into the abyss beneath. We read of
their confusion in four tablets of the creation epic. This legend seems
to be the original source of the belief that those who rebelled against
high heaven were thrust into outer darkness. In the Book of Enoch we
read of a 'great abyss' regarding which an angel said to the prophet,
"This is a place of the consummation of heaven and earth," and again,
in a later chapter, "These are of the stars who have transgressed the
command of God, the Highest, and are bound here till 10,000 worlds, the
number of the days of their sins, shall have consummated ... this is
the prison of the angels, and here they are held to eternity." Eleven
great monsters are spoken of by Babylonian myth as comprising the host
of Tiawath, besides many lesser forms having the heads of men and the
bodies of birds. Strangely enough we find these monsters figuring in a
legend concerning an early Babylonian king.

The Invasion of the Monsters

The tablets upon which this legend was impressed were at first known
as 'the Cuthæan legend of creation'--a misnomer, for this legend does
not give an account of the creation of the world at all, but deals with
the invasion of Babylonia by a race of monsters who were descended from
the gods, and who waged war against the legendary king of the period
for three years. The King tells the story himself. Unfortunately the
first portions of both tablets containing the story are missing, and
we plunge right away into a description of the dread beings who came
upon the people of Babylonia in their multitudes. We are told that they
preferred muddy water to clear water. These creatures, says the King,
were without moral sense, glorying in their power, and slaughtering
those whom they took captives. They had the bodies of birds and some
of them had the faces of ravens. They had evidently been fostered by
the gods in some inaccessible region, and, multiplying greatly, they
came like a storm-cloud on the land, 360,000 in number. Their king
was called Benini, their mother Melili, and their leader Memangab,
who had six subordinates. The King, perplexed, knew not what to do.
He was afraid that if he gave them battle he might in some way offend
the gods, but at last through his priests he addressed the divine
beings and made offerings of lambs in sacrifice to them. He received a
favourable answer and decided to give battle to the invaders, against
whom he sent an army of 120,000 men, but not one of these returned
alive. Again he sent 90,000 warriors to meet them, but the same fate
overtook these, and in the third year he despatched an army of nearly
70,000 troops, all of whom perished to a man. Then the unfortunate
monarch broke down, and, groaning aloud, cried out that he had brought
misfortune and destruction upon his realm. Nevertheless, rising from
his lethargy of despair, he stated his intention to go forth against
the enemy in his own person, saying, "The pride of this people of the
night I will curse with death and destruction, with fear, terror, and
famine, and with misery of every kind."

Before setting out to meet the foe he made offerings to the gods. The
manner in which he overcame the invaders is by no means clear from the
text, but it would seem that he annihilated them by means of a deluge.
In the last portion of the legend the King exhorts his successors not
to lose heart when in great peril but to take courage from his example.

He inscribed a tablet with his advice, which he placed in the shrine
of Nergal in the city of Cuthah. "Strengthen thy wall," he said,
"fill thy cisterns with water, bring in thy treasure-chests and thy
corn and thy silver and all thy possessions." He also advises those
of his descendants who are faced by similar conditions not to expose
themselves needlessly to the enemy.

It was thought at one time that this legend applied to the
circumstances of the creation, and that the speaker was the god Nergal,
who was waging war against the brood of Tiawath. It was believed that,
according to local conditions at Cuthah, Nergal would have taken the
place of Merodach, but it has now been made clear that although the
tablet was intended to be placed in the shrine of Nergal, the speaker
was in reality an early Babylonian king.

[Illustration: Eagle-headed Mythological Being In the Louvre.--Photo W.
A. Mansell and Co.]

The Eagle

As we have seen, the eagle was perhaps regarded as a symbol of the
sun-god. A Babylonian fable tells how he quarrelled with the serpent
and incurred the reptile's hatred. Feeling hungry he resolved to eat
the serpent's young, and communicated his intention to his own family.
One of his children advised him not to devour the serpent's brood,
because if he did so he would incur the enmity of the god Shamash. But
the eagle did not hearken to his offspring, and swooping down from
heaven sought out the serpent's nest and devoured his young. On his
arrival at home the serpent discovered his loss, and at once repaired
in great indignation to Shamash, to whom he appealed for justice. His
nest, he told the god, was set in a tree, and the eagle had swooped
upon it, destroying it with his mighty wings and devouring the little
serpents as they fell from it.

"Help, O Shamash!" cried the serpent. "Thy net is like unto the broad
earth, thy snare is like unto the distant heaven in wideness. Who can
escape thee?"

Shamash hearkening to his appeal, described to him how he might succeed
in obtaining vengeance upon the eagle.

"Take the road," said he, "and go into the mountain and hide thyself in
the dead body of a wild ox. Tear open its body, and all the birds of
heaven shall swoop down upon it. The eagle shall come with the rest,
and when he seeks for the best parts of the carcase, do thou seize him
by his wing, tear off his wings, his pinions, and his claws, pull him
in pieces and cast him into a pit. There may he die a death from hunger
and thirst."

The serpent did as Shamash had bidden him. He soon came upon the body
of a wild ox, into which he glided after opening up the carcase.
Shortly afterwards he heard the beating of the wings of numberless
birds, all of which swooped down and ate of the flesh. But the eagle
suspected the purpose of the serpent and did not come with the rest,
until greed and hunger prompted him to share in the feast.

"Come," said he to his children, "let us swoop down and let us also eat
of the flesh of this wild ox."

Now the young eagle who had before dissuaded his father from devouring
the serpent's young, again begged him to desist from his purpose.

"Have a care, O my father," he said, "for I am certain that the serpent
lurks in yonder carcase for the purpose of destroying you."

But the eagle did not hearken to the warning of his child, but swooped
on to the carcase of the wild ox. He so far obeyed the injunctions
of his offspring, however, as closely to examine the dead ox for the
purpose of discovering whether any trap lurked near it. Satisfied that
all was well he commenced to feed upon it, when suddenly the serpent
seized upon him and held him fast. The eagle at once began to plead for
mercy, but the enraged reptile told him that an appeal to Shamash was
irrevocable, and that if he did not punish the king of birds he himself
would be punished by the god, and despite the eagle's further protests
he tore off his wings and pinions, pulled him to pieces, and finally
cast him into a pit, where he perished miserably as the god had decreed.

[1] Sayce, _Hibbert Lectures_, p. 288 (by permission of Messrs Williams
and Norgate).


The tales of the Babylonian and Assyrian kings which we present in
this chapter are of value because they are taken at first hand from
their own historical accounts of the great events which occurred during
their several reigns. On a first examination these tablets appear
dry and uninteresting, but when studied more closely and patiently
they will be found to contain matter as absorbing as that in the most
exciting annals of any country. Let us take for example the wonderful
inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser II (950 B.C.) which refer to his
various conquests, and which were discovered by George Smith at Nimrûd
in the temple of Nebo.

Tiglath commences with the usual Oriental flourish of trumpets. He
styles himself the powerful warrior who, in the service of Asshur, has
trampled upon his haters, swept over them like a flood, and reduced
them to shadows. He has marched, he says, from the sea to the land
of the rising sun, and from the sea of the setting sun to Egypt. He
enumerates the countless lands that he has conquered. The cities
Sarrapanu and Malilatu among others he took by storm and captured the
inhabitants to the number of 150,000 men, women, and children, all of
whom he sent to Assyria. Much tribute he received from the people of
the conquered lands--gold, silver, precious stones, rare woods, and
cattle. His custom seems to have been to make his successful generals
rulers of the cities he conquered, and it is noticeable that upon a
victory he invariably sacrificed to the gods. His methods appear to
have been drastic in the extreme. Irritated at the defiance of the
people of Sarrapanu he reduced it to a heap of earth, and crucified
King Nabu-Usabi in front of the gate of his city. Not content with
this vengeance, Tiglath carried off his wealth, his furniture, his
wife, his son, his daughters, and lastly his gods, so that no trace
of the wretched monarch's kingdom should remain. It is noticeable
that throughout these campaigns Tiglath invariably sent the prisoners
to Assyria, which shows at least that he considered human life as
relatively sacred. Probably these captive people were reduced to
slavery. The races of the neighbouring desert, too, came and prostrated
themselves before the Assyrian hero, kissing his feet and bringing him
tribute carried by sailors.

Tiglath then begins to boast about his gorgeous new residence with
all the vulgarity of a _nouveau riche_. He says that his house was
decorated like a Syrian palace for his glory. He built gates of
ivory with planks of cedar, and seems to have had his prisoners, the
conquered kings of Syria, on exhibition in the palace precincts. At
the gates were gigantic lions and bulls of clever workmanship which he
describes as "cunning, beautiful, valuable," and this place he called
'The Palaces of Rejoicing.'

[Illustration: Capture of Sarrapanu by Tiglath-Pileser II.--Evelyn Paul.]

In a fragment which relates the circumstances of his Eastern
expeditions he tells how he built a city called Humur, and how he
excavated the neighbouring river Patti, which had been filled up in
the past, and along its bed led refreshing waters into certain of the
cities he had conquered. He complains in one text that Sarduri, the
King of Ararat, revolted against him along with others, but Tiglath
captured his camp and Sarduri had perforce to escape upon a mare. Into
the rugged mountains he rode by night and sought safety on their
peaks. Later he took refuge with his warriors in the city of Turuspa.
After a siege Tiglath succeeded in reducing the place. Afterwards he
destroyed the land of Ararat, and made it a desert over an area of
about 450 miles. Tiglath dedicated Sarduri's couch to Ishtar, and
carried off his royal riding carriage, his seal, his necklace, his
royal chariot, his mace, and lastly a 'great ship,' though we are not
told how he accomplished this last feat.

Poet or Braggart?

It is strange to notice the inflated manner in which Tiglath speaks in
these descriptions. He talks about people, races, and rulers 'sinning'
against him as if he were a god, but it must be remembered that he,
like other Assyrian monarchs, regarded himself as the representative
of the gods upon earth. But though his language is at times boastful
and absurd, yet on other occasions it is extremely beautiful and even
poetic. In speaking of the tribute he received from various monarchs
he says that he obtained from them "clothing of wool and linen, violet
wool, royal treasures, the skins of sheep with fleece dyed in shining
purple, birds of the sky with feathers of shining violet, horses,
camels, and she-camels with their young ones."

He appears, too, to have been in conflict with a Queen of Sheba or
Saba, one Samsi, whom he sent as a prisoner to Syria with her gods and
all her possessions.

The Autobiography of Assur-bani-pal

In a former chapter we outlined the mythical history of Assur-bani-pal
or Sardanapalus, and in this place may briefly review the story of
his life as told in his inscriptions. He commences by stating that he
is the child of Asshur and Beltis, but he evidently intends to convey
that he is their son in a spiritual sense only, for he hastens to tell
us that he is the "son of the great King of Riduti" (Esar-haddon). He
proceeds to tell of his triumphal progress throughout Egypt, whose
kings he made tributary to him. "Then," he remarks in a hurt manner,
"the good I did to them they despised and their hearts devised evil.
Seditious words they spoke and took evil counsel among themselves."
In short, the kings of Egypt had entered into an alliance to free
themselves from the yoke of Assur-bani-pal, but his generals heard
of the plot and captured several of the ringleaders in the midst of
their work. They seized the royal conspirators and bound them in
fetters of iron. The Assyrian generals then fell upon the populations
of the revolting cities and cut off their inhabitants to a man, but
they brought the rulers of Egypt to Nineveh into the presence of
Assur-bani-pal. To do him justice that monarch treated Necho, who is
described as 'King of Memphis and Sars,' with the utmost consideration,
granting him a new covenant and placing upon him costly garments and
ornaments of gold, bracelets of gold, a steel sword with a sheath of
gold; with chariots, mules, and horses.

Dream of Gyges

Continuing, Assur-bani-pal recounts how Gyges, King of Lydia, a remote
place of which his fathers had not heard the name, was granted a
dream concerning the kingdom of Assyria by the god Asshur. Gyges was
greatly impressed by the dream and sent to Assur-bani-pal to request
his friendship, but having once sent an envoy to the Assyrian court
Assur-bani-pal seemed to think that he should continue to do so
regularly, and when he failed in this attention the Assyrian king
prayed to Asshur to compass his discomfiture. Shortly afterwards
the unhappy Gyges was overthrown by the Cimmerians, against whom
Assur-bani-pal had often assisted him.

Assur-bani-pal then plaintively recounts how Saulmugina, his younger
brother, conspired against him. This brother he had made King of
Babylon, and after occupying the throne of that country for some time
he set on foot a conspiracy to throw off the Assyrian yoke. A seer
told Assur-bani-pal that he had had a dream in which the god Sin spoke
to him, saying that he would overthrow and destroy Saulmugina and
his fellow-conspirators. Assur-bani-pal marched against his brother,
whom he overthrew. The people of Babylon, overtaken by famine, were
forced to devour their own children, and in their agony they attacked
Saulmugina and burned him to death with his goods, his treasures, and
his wives. As we have before pointed out, this tale strangely enough
closely resembles the legend concerning Assur-bani-pal himself. Swift
was the vengeance of the Assyrian king upon those who remained. He cut
out the tongues of some, while others were thrown into pits to be eaten
by dogs, bears, and eagles. Then after fixing a tribute and setting
governors over them he returned to Assyria. It is noticeable that
Assur-bani-pal distinctly states that he 'fixed upon' the Babylonians
the gods of Assyria, and this seems to show that Assyrian deities
existed in contradistinction to those of Babylonia.

In one expedition into the land of Elam, Assur-bani-pal had a dream
sent by Ishtar to assure him that the crossing of the river Itite,
which was in high flood, could be accomplished by his army in perfect
safety. The warriors easily negotiated the crossing and inflicted
great losses upon the enemy. Among other things they dragged the idol
of Susinay from its sacred grove, and he remarks that it had never
been beheld by any man in Elam. This with other idols he carried off
to Assyria. He broke the winged lions which flanked the gates of the
temple, dried up the drinking wells, and for a month and a day swept
Elam to its utmost extent, so that neither man nor oxen nor trees
could be found in it--nothing but the wild ass, the serpent, and the
beast of the desert. The King goes on to say that the goddess Nanâ,
who had dwelt in Elam for over 1600 years, had been desecrated by so
doing. "That country," he declares, "was a place not suited to her.
The return of her divinity she had trusted to me. 'Assur-bani-pal,'
she said, 'bring me out from the midst of wicked Elam and cause me
to enter the temple of Anna.'" The goddess then took the road to the
temple of Anna at Erech, where the King raised to her an enduring
sanctuary. Those chiefs who had trusted the Elamites now felt afflicted
at heart and began to despair, and one of them, like Saul, begged his
own armour-bearer to slay him, master and man killing each other.
Assur-bani-pal refused to give his corpse burial, and cutting off its
head hung it round the neck of Nabu-Quati-Zabat, one of the followers
of Saulmugina, his rebellious brother. In another text Assur-bani-pal
recounts in grandiloquent language how he built the temples of Asshur
and Merodach.

"The great gods in their assembly my glorious renown have heard, and
over the kings who dwell in palaces, the glory of my name they have
raised and have exalted my kingdom.

Assur-bani-pal as Architect

"The temples of Assyria and Babylonia which Esar-haddon, King of
Assyria, had begun, their foundations he had built, but had not
finished their tops; anew I built them: I finished their tops.

"Sadi-rabu-matati (the great mountain of the earth), the temple of
the god Assur my lord, completely I finished. Its chamber walls I
adorned with gold and silver, great columns in it I fixed, and in its
gate the productions of land and sea I placed. The god Assur into
Sadi-rabu-matati I brought, and I raised him an everlasting sanctuary.

"Saggal, the temple of Merodach, lord of the gods, I built, I completed
its decorations; Bel and Beltis, the divinities of Babylon and Ea, the
divine judge from the temple of ... I brought out, and placed them in
the city of Babylon. Its noble sanctuary a great ... with fifty talents
of ... its brickwork I finished, and raised over it. I caused to make
a ceiling of sycamore, durable wood, beautiful as the stars of heaven,
adorned with beaten gold. Over Merodach the great lord I rejoiced in
heart, I did his will. A noble chariot, the carriage of Merodach, ruler
of the gods, lord of lords, in gold, silver, and precious stones, I
finished its workmanship. To Merodach, king of the whole of heaven and
earth, destroyer of my enemies, as a gift I gave it.

"A couch of sycamore wood, for the sanctuary, covered with precious
stones as ornaments, as the resting couch of Bel and Beltis, givers of
favour, makers of friendship, skilfully I constructed. In the gate ...
the seat of Zirat-banit, which adorned the wall, I placed.

"Four bulls of silver, powerful, guarding my royal threshold, in the
gate of the rising sun, in the greatest gate, in the gate of the temple
Sidda, which is in the midst of Borsippa, I set up."[1]

[Illustration: The Fatal Eclipse (June 15, 763 B.C.)--M. Dovaston,
R.B.A.--By permission of Messrs Hutchinson and Co.]

A 'Likeable' Monarch

Esar-haddon, the father of Assur-bani-pal, has been called "the
most likeable" of the Assyrian kings. He did not press his military
conquests for the mere sake of glory, but in general for the
maintenance of his own territory. He is notable as the restorer
of Babu and the reviver of its culture. He showed much clemency
to political offenders, and his court was the centre of literary
activity. Assur-bani-pal, his son, speaks warmly of the sound education
he received at his father's court, and to that education and its
enlightening influences we now owe the priceless series of cylinders
and inscriptions found in his library. He does not seem to have been
able to control his rather turbulent neighbours, and he was actually
weak enough (from the Assyrian point of view) to return the gods of the
kingdom of Aribi after he had led them captive to Assyria. He seems to
have been good-natured, enlightened, and easy-going, and if he did not
boast so loudly as his son he had probably greater reason to do so.

One of the descendants of Assur-bani-pal, Bel-zakir-iskun, speaks
of his restoration of certain temples, especially that of Nebo, and
plaintively adds: "In after days, in the time of the kings my sons
... When this house decays and becomes old who repairs its ruin and
restores its decay? May he who does so see my name written on this
inscription. May he enclose it in a receptacle, pour out a libation,
and write my name with his own; but whoever defaces the writing of my
name may the gods not establish him. May they curse and destroy his
seed from the land." This is the last royal inscription of any length
written in Assyria, and its almost prophetic terms seem to suggest that
he who framed them must have foreseen the downfall of the civilization
he represented. Does not the inscription almost foreshadow Shelley's
wondrous sonnet on 'Ozymandias'?

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The Fatal Eclipse

The reign of Assur-Dan III (773-764 B.C.) supplies us with a
picturesque incident. This Assyrian monarch had marched several times
into Syria, and had fought the Chaldeans in Babylonia. Numerous were
his tributary states and widespread his power. But disaster crept
slowly upon him, and although he made repeated efforts to stave it
off, these were quite in vain. Insurrection followed insurrection, and
it would seem that the priests of Babylon, considering themselves
slighted, joined the malcontent party and assisted to foment discord.
At the critical juncture of the fortunes of Assur-Dan there happened
an eclipse of the sun, and as the black shadow crept over Nineveh and
the King lay upon his couch and watched the gradual blotting out of
the sunlight, he felt that his doom was upon him. After this direful
portent he appears to have resisted no longer, but to have resigned
himself to his fate. Within the year he was slain, and his rebel son,
Adad-Narari IV, sat upon his murdered father's throne. But Nemesis
followed upon the parricide's footsteps, for he in turn found a rebel
in his son, and the land was smitten with a terrible pestilence.

[Illustration: Shalmaneser pouring out the Dust of a Conquered City.
--Ambrose Dudley.--By permission of Messrs. Hutchinson and Co.]

Shalmaneser I (_c._ 1270) was cast in a martial and heroic mould, and
an epic might arise from the legends of his conquests and military
exploits. In his time Assyria possessed a superabundant population
which required an outlet, and this the monarch deemed it his duty to
supply. After conquering the provinces of Mitani to the west of the
Euphrates, he attacked Babylonia, and so fiercely did he deal with
his southern neighbours that we find him actually gathering the dust
of their conquered cities and casting it to the four winds of heaven.
Surely a more extreme manner of dealing summarily with a conquered
enemy has never been recorded!

Although the life of the Babylonian or Assyrian king was lived in the
full glare of publicity, he had not to encounter the same criticism as
regards his actions that present-day monarchs must face, for the moral
code of the peoples of Mesopotamia was fundamentally different from
that which obtains at the present time. As the monarch was regarded as
the vicegerent of the gods upon earth, it therefore followed that he
could do no wrong. Submission to his will was complete. In the hands
of a race of men who wielded this power unwisely it could have been
nothing else but disastrous to both prince and people. But on the whole
it may be said that the kings of this race bore themselves worthily
according to their lights. If their sense of dignity at times amounted
to bombast, that was because they were so full of their sense of
delegated duty from above. There is every reason to believe that before
entering upon their kingly state they had to undergo a most rigorous
education, consisting of instruction upon religious subjects, some
history, and the inculcation of moral precepts. On the other hand they
were by no means mere puppets, for we find them initiating campaigns,
presiding over courts of law, and framing the laws themselves and
generally guiding the trend of the national policy. As a whole they
were a strong and determined race, wise as well as warlike, and by no
means unmindful of the requirements of their people. But with them the
gods were first, and their reading of the initial duty of a king seems
to have been the building of temples and the celebration of religious
ceremonies of which a gorgeous and prolonged ritual was the especial

A Royal 'Day'

A sketch of a day in the life of an Assyrian or Babylonian king may
assist the reader to visualize the habits of royalty in a distant era.
The ceremonies of robing and ablution upon rising would necessitate the
attendance of numerous special officials, and, the morning repast over,
a private religious ceremony would follow. The business of the court
would supervene. Perhaps an embassy from Elam or Egypt would occupy the
early hours of the morning, failing which the dictation of letters to
the governors of provinces and cities or to distant potentates would
be overtaken. As a scholar himself the King would probably carefully
scrutinize these productions. A visit might then be paid to a temple
in course of construction, where the architect would describe the
progress of the building operations, and the King would watch the slow
rising of shrine and tower; or, perhaps, the afternoon would be set
apart for the pleasures of the chase. Leashes of great dogs, not unlike
those of the Danish boarhound breed, would be gathered at a certain
point, and setting out in a light but strong chariot, the King would
soon arrive at that point where the beaters had assured themselves of
the presence of gazelles, wild asses, or even lions. Matters would,
of course, be so arranged that the chief glories of the day should be
left with royalty. It is not clear whether the King was accompanied
by his courtiers in the chase, as was the case in the Middle Ages,
or if he was merely attended by professional huntsmen. Be that as it
may, when the ceremony of pouring libations over the dead game came
to be celebrated, we find no one except the King, the harpers, and
professional huntsmen present, for the kings of this virile and warlike
race did not disdain to face the lion unattended and armed with nothing
but bow and arrows and a short falchion. Unless the inscriptions which
they have left on record are altogether mendacious we must believe that
many an Assyrian king risked his life in close combat with lions. Great
risk attends lion-hunting when the sportsman is armed with modern
weapons of precision, but the risk attending a personal encounter with
these savage animals when the hunter is armed with the most rudimentary
weapons seems appalling, according to modern civilized ideas.

Or again the afternoon might be occupied by a great ceremonial
religious function, the laying of the foundation-stone of a temple,
the opening of a religious edifice, or the celebration of a festival.
The King, attended by a glittering retinue of courtiers and priests,
would be carried in a litter to the place of celebration where hymns
to the god in whose honour the function was held were sung to the
accompaniment of harps and other instruments, libations to the god
were poured out, sacrifices offered up, and prayers made for continued

[Illustration: The Marriage Market from the painting by Edwin Long,
R.A.--By permission of the Fine Art Society, Ltd.]

The private life of an Assyrian or Babylonian king was probably not
of a very comfortable order, surrounded as he was by sycophantic
officials, spies in the pay of his enemies, schemers and office-seekers
of all descriptions. As in most Oriental countries, the harem was
the centre of intrigue and political unrest. Its occupants were
usually princesses from foreign countries who had probably received
injunctions on leaving their native lands to gain as much ascendancy
over the monarch as possible for the purpose of swaying him in matters
political. Many of these alliances were supposed to be made in the
hope of maintaining peaceful relations between Mesopotamia and the
surrounding countries, but there is little doubt that the numerous
wives of a Mesopotamian king were only too often little better than
spies whose office it was to report periodically to their relatives the
condition of things in Babylon or Nineveh.

Slaves swarmed in the palaces, and these occupied a rather higher
status than in some other countries. A slave who possessed good
attainments and who was skilled in weaving, the making of unguents or
preserves, was regarded as an asset. The slaves were a caste, but the
laws regarding them were exact and not inhumane. They were usually sold
by auction in the market-places of the large towns. A strange custom,
too, is said by Herodotus to have obtained among the Babylonians in
connexion with marriage. Every marriageable woman obtained a husband
in the following manner: The most beautiful girls of marriageable age
were put up to auction, and the large sums realized by their sale were
given to the plainer young women as dowries, who, thus furnished with
plentiful means, readily found husbands. The life of a Mesopotamian
king was so hedged around by ceremonial as to leave little time for
private pleasures. These, as in the case of Assur-bani-pal, sometimes
took the form of literary or antiquarian amusements, but the more
general form of relaxation seems to have been feasts or banquets at
which the tables were well supplied with delicacies obtained from
distant as well as neighbouring regions. Dancing and music, both
furnished by a professional class, followed the repast, and during
the evening the King might consult his soothsayers or astrologers as
to some portent that had been related to him, or some dream he had

The royal lines of Mesopotamia seem to have been composed of men grave,
sedate, and conscious of the authority which reposed in them. But few
weaklings sat upon the thrones of Babylonia or Assyria, and those who
did were not infrequently swept aside to make room for better men.

[1] George Smith's translation. See his _Assyrian Discoveries_, p. 355


The comparative value of the religions of Babylonia and Assyria is
very high, as they represent Semitic polytheism in evolution, and in a
state of prosperity, though hardly in decay. They are, in fact, typical
of Semitic religion as a whole, and as the Semitic race initiated no
less than three of the great religious systems of the world--Judaism,
Christianity, and Mohammedanism--they are well worth careful study
on the part of those who desire to specialize in religious science.
It is, however, for a variety of reasons, inevitable that we should
compare them most frequently with the religion of Israel, the faith
that in general most resembled them, although a wide cleavage existed
between the ethics of that system and their moral outlook. That
notwithstanding, there was direct contact between the Babylonian
and Jewish religions for a prolonged period, and the influence thus
absorbed was quickened by racial relationship.

Ere we deal with these purely Semitic and racial resemblances which
are so important for the proper comprehension of Biblical history and
religious science in general, let us briefly compare the faith of
Babylonia and Assyria with some of the great religious systems of the
world. It perhaps more closely resembles the composite general Egyptian
religious idea (one cannot speak of an Egyptian religion) than any
other. But whereas in Egypt the deities had been almost universally
evolved from nome or province-patrons, totemic or otherwise, a
number often coalesced in one form, the gods of Chaldea were usually
city- or district-gods, showing much less of the nature of the
departmental deity in their construction than the divinities of Egypt.
The Egyptian god-type was more exact and explicit. We have seldom much
difficulty in discovering the nature of an Egyptian god. We have
frequently, however, immense trouble in finding out for what a
Mesopotamian deity stands. The Babylon-Assyrian idea of godhead appears
to have been principally astral, terrestrial, or aquatic--that is, most
Babylonian-Assyrian deities are connected either with the heavenly
bodies, the earth, or the waters. It is only as an afterthought that
they become gods of justice, of letters, of the underworld. This
statement must of course be taken as meaning that their connexion with
abstract qualities is much more loose than in the case of the Egyptian
gods--that their departmental character is secondary to their original
character as gods of nature. There is only one exception to this, and
that is to be found in the department of war, to which certain of them
appear to have been relegated at an early period and later to have
become identified with it very closely indeed.

In one circumstance the Babylonian-Assyrian religion closely resembled
the Egyptian, and that was the lasting effect wrought upon it by
priestly cults and theological schools. Just as the priests of Thebes
and Memphis and On moulded the varying cults of Egypt, added to their
mythology, and read into them ethical significance, so did the priests
of Nippur and Erech mould and form the faith of Babylon. We have plenty
of evidence for such a statement, and nowhere perhaps was theological
thought so rife in the ancient world as in Babylonia and Egypt.

There are also points of contact with the great mythological system
of Greece, that system which was so much a mythology that it could
scarcely be called a religion. That Greece borrowed largely from
Mesopotamia is not to be doubted, but we find the Hellenic departmental
deities very explicit indeed in their nature. Pallas, for example,
stands for wisdom, Poseidon for the sea, Ares for war, and so forth.
One god usually possesses one attribute, and although Zeus has a number
of minor attributes we do not find him combining in his one person
so many as does Merodach. As has been said, it would seem that the
departmental character of many Babylonian gods was purely accidental
or fortuitous. The formula seems to run--take a local or city god,
probably derived from totemic sources or perhaps of animistic origin,
and, having conquered much surrounding territory, exalt him to the
position of the god of a large region, which, being incorporated again
with a still larger empire, leaves him only a local status. This status
he cannot hold in a pantheon where each member must possess a specific
attribute, therefore it becomes necessary to impose upon him some
quality by which he can be specially recognized. Sometimes that quality
is suitable to his character, in fact it may be indicated by it, but
at other times it is merely arbitrary. Why, for example, should Ishtar
have been made a goddess of war by the Assyrians?

This bestowal of departmental characteristics upon the gods of
Babylonia and Assyria was contemporary with the erection of these
countries into empires. No pantheon can exist on high without a
political reflex in the world below. Like the granting of most
departmental offices in religious systems, these changes took place
at a comparatively late date in the evolution of Semitic religion.
Whenever we find the departmental deities of a religious system more
or less sharply outlined as to their duties and status we may premise
two things: first, that temporal power has been acquired by the race
which conceived them, and secondly that this power is of comparatively
recent origin.

Semitic Conservatism

When we speak of departmental deities of a country like Babylonia or
Egypt we must bear in mind that these lands knew so many dynasties and
had such an extended history that their religious systems must from
first to last have experienced the most profound changes. In Egypt,
for example, religious phenomena altered slowly and by imperceptible
degrees. The changes experienced in the course of fifty centuries
of religious evolution must have made the cults of Egypt exhibit
very different conditions at the close of their development from,
let us say, those seen midway in their evolutionary course. We have
seen how the Babylonian and Assyrian faiths altered in the course of
generations, but withal there appears to have been something more
strongly conservative in the nature of Semitic religion than in any
other. Probably in no other land did the same ritual and the same
religious practices obtain over so long a period as in Babylonia, where
the national life was much stronger and much more centralized than in
Egypt, and where, if rival cults did exist, they were all subservient
to one, as was by no means the case in the land of the Nile.

Teutonic and Celtic Comparisons

Compared with the great Germanic religion the Babylonian offers few
points of resemblance. In the faith of the Teutons departmental
deities were the rule rather than the exception; in fact in no mythic
system are the gods so associated with departments as in the Teutonic,
and this despite the fact that no definite empire was ruled by Teutonic
tribes. (Was the Teutonic system the remains of a religious aristocracy
which had hived off from some centre of political power?) Nor do the
Semitic religions have much in common with the Celtic so far as their
basis of polity is concerned, although numerous valiant attempts have
been made by antiquarian gentlemen, of the type so common half a
century ago and not yet defunct, to prove Babylonian influence upon
Celtic faith and story. Thus we have been told that the Celtic Bilé
was as certainly allied to the Semitic Bel as the Roman Mars was to
the Greek Ares, and this of course through Phœnician influence, the
people of Tyre and Sidon having been traced to Ireland as colonists.
These 'theories' are, of course, not worth the paper they are printed
upon, any more than is the supposition that the Scottish-Celtic
festival of Beltane has any connexion with the Babylonian Bel. It was,
in fact, presided over by the god Bilé, a Celtic deity who has on other
counts been confounded with the Babylonian god.

Babylonian Religion Typically Animistic

We learn, then, from the comparison of the Babylonian religion with
that of other ancient races one circumstance of outstanding importance,
that is, if the Babylonian gods were so perfunctorily attached to
departments expressive of their functions and were so closely bound to
the elements that they must have had an elemental origin, that they
were indeed originally spirits of the earth, the air, and the water.
This, of course, is no new conclusion, only the circumstance that the
Babylonian gods were not strictly departmental, that they have only a
slight hold upon their offices, assists in proving the correctness of
the theory of their elemental origin. It is also of interest to the
student of comparative religion as indicating to him a mythological
system in which the majority of the gods are certainly of elemental
origin as opposed to totemic or fetishistic origin. Of the spiritistic
nature of the Babylonian pantheon small doubt remains. To the Semite,
in whom imagination and matter-of-fact are so strongly combined,
animistic influences would be sure to appeal most strongly. It stands
to primitive reason that if man is gifted with life so is everything
else, and this conviction gives imagination full play. We do not
discover these animistic influences so strongly entrenched in ancient
Egypt. The Osirian cult is certainly animistic to a degree, but the
various totemic cults which rivalled it and which it at last embraced
held their own for many a day.

[Illustration: A Royal Hunt (See p. 310)--Photo W. A. Mansell and Co.]

A Mother-Goddess Theory

One outstanding feature of Babylonian religion is the worship of the
great earth-mother. This is a universal religious phase, but in few
systems do we find it so prominent as in Babylonia and indeed in the
whole Mesopotamian tract. Efforts have been made to show that in
Mesopotamia there encountered one another two streams of people of
opposing worship, one worshipping a male, and the other a female deity.
With those who worshipped the man-god--hunters and warriors with whom
women were considered more as beasts of burden than anything else--man
was the superior being. The other people who worshipped the woman-god
were not necessarily more civilized; the origin of their adoration may
have been a scarcity of women in the tribe. Where these two streams
fused the worship of an _androgyne_, or man-woman god, is said to
have resulted. But were there peoples who specifically and separately
worshipped male and female deities? If certainty can be approached in
debating such matters, these deities would assuredly be animistic,
and a people who worship animistic gods do not worship one god or
one sex, but scores of spirit-gods of both sexes. Wherever we find a
mother-earth, too, we are almost certain to discover a father-sky.
The cult of the great mother-goddess was of rather later origin. All
localities and all regions in the Semitic world possessed such a
deity and it was the fusion of these in one that produced Ishtar or
Astarte, who was probably also the 'Diana of the Ephesians.' Perhaps
the best parallel to this Semitic worship of the earth-mother is to
be found in the mythology of the ancient Mexican races, where each
pueblo, or city-state, possessed its earth-mother, several of whom were
finally merged, after the conquest of their worshippers, in the great
earth-mother of Mexico.

Babylonian Influence on Jewish Religion

But Babylonian-Assyrian religion is chiefly of interest to the student
of comparative religion in that it casts a flood of light upon that
wonderful Jewish faith with which the history of our own is so closely

Professor Sayce[1] writes:

"There was one nation at all events which has exercised, and still
exercises, a considerable influence upon our own thought and life,
and which had been brought into close contact with the religion and
culture of Babylonia at a critical epoch in its history. The influence
of Jewish religion upon Christianity, and consequently upon the races
that have been moulded by Christianity, has been lasting and profound.
Now Jewish religion was intimately bound up with Jewish history, more
intimately perhaps than has been the case with any other great religion
of the world. It took its colouring from the events that marked the
political life of the Hebrew people; it developed in unison with their
struggles and successes, their trials and disappointments. Its great
devotional utterance, the Book of Psalms, is national, not individual;
the individual in it has merged his own aspirations and sufferings into
those of the whole community. The course of Jewish prophecy is equally
stamped with the impress of the national fortunes. It grows clearer and
more catholic as the intercourse of the Jewish people with those around
them becomes wider; and the lesson is taught at last that the God of
the Jews is the God also of the whole world. Now the chosen instruments
for enforcing this lesson, as we are expressly told, were the Assyrian
and Babylonian. The Assyrian was the rod of God's anger, while the
Babylonish exile was the bitter punishment meted out to Judah for its
sins. The captives who returned again to their own land came back with
changed hearts and purified minds; from henceforth Jerusalem was to be
the unrivalled dwelling-place of 'the righteous nation which keepeth
the truth.'

"Apart, therefore, from any influence which the old religious beliefs
of Babylonia may have had upon the Greeks, and which, as we shall see,
was not so wholly wanting as was formerly imagined, their contact with
the religious conceptions of the Jewish exiles must, to say the least,
have produced an effect which it is well worth our while to study.
Hitherto the traditional view has been that this effect exhibited
itself wholly on the antagonistic side; the Jews carried nothing away
from the land of their captivity except an intense hatred of idolatry,
more especially Babylonian, as well as of the beliefs and practices
associated therewith."

Professor Ignatius Goldziher, of Budapest, has enlightened us, in a
passage in his _Mythology among the Hebrews_, as to the great influence
wielded by Babylonian upon Jewish religion. He says: "The receptive
tendency of the Hebrew manifested itself again prominently during the
Babylonian Captivity. Here first they gained an opportunity of forming
for themselves a complete and harmonious conception of the world. The
influence of Canaanitish civilization could not then be particularly
powerful on the Hebrews; for that civilization, the highest point of
which was attained by the Phœnicians, was quite dwarfed by the
mental activity exhibited in the monuments of the Babylonian and
Assyrian Empire, which we are now able to admire in all their grandeur.
There the Hebrews found more to receive than some few civil, political,
and religious institutions. The extensive and manifold literature
which they found there could not but act on a receptive mind as a
powerful stimulus; for it is not to be imagined that the nation then
dragged into captivity lived so long in the Babylonian-Assyrian Empire
without gaining any knowledge of its intellectual treasures. Schrader's
latest publications on Assyrian poetry have enabled us to establish a
striking similarity between both the course of ideas and the poetical
form of a considerable portion of the Old Testament, especially of the
Psalms, and those of this newly-discovered Assyrian poetry. It would
be a great mistake to account for this similarity by reference to a
common Semitic origin in primeval times; for we can only resort to
that in cases which do not go beyond the most primitive elements of
intellectual life and ideas of the world, or designations of things of
the external world. Conceptions of a higher and more complicated kind,
as well as æsthetic points, can certainly not be carried off into the
mists of a prehistoric age. It is much better to keep to more real and
tangible ground, and to suppose those points of contact between Hebrew
and Assyrian poetry which are revealed by Schrader's, Lenormant's, and
George Smith's publications, to form part of the contributions made by
the highly civilized Babylonians and Assyrians to the Hebrews in the
course of the important period of the Captivity.

"We see from this that the intellect of Babylon and Assyria exerted a
more than passing influence on that of the Hebrews, not merely touching
it, but entering deep into it and leaving its own impress upon it.
The Assyrian poetry of the kind just mentioned stands in the same
relation to that of the Hebrews as does the plain narrative texts of
the Hebrews, and as does the sacrificial Tablet of Marseilles to the
Hebrews' beginnings of a sacerdotal constitution. The Babylonian and
Assyrian influence is of course much more extensive, pregnant, and

The Abbé Loisy in a French work, _Les myths babyloniens, et les
premiers chapitres de la Genèse_ (Paris, 1901), says a few things upon
Jewish and Babylonian mythical relations worth translating:

"We can no longer take the first eleven or twelve chapters of Genesis
as a whole and treat them as a monotheistic redaction of the Babylonian
myths.... The Biblical accounts are not mere transcriptions ... and the
gaps between them presuppose much assimilation and transformation, much
time, and probably many intermediaries to boot.... If the relationship
of the Biblical narratives to the Chaldean legends is in many respects
less intimate than was thought, it now appears to be more general.
The Creation, and the Flood in particular, are still the most obvious
points of resemblance; but the story of Adam and Eve, the earthly
paradise, the food of life, the explanation of death,--all of which
have sometimes been sought where they were not to be found,--are now
found where there was no thought of seeking them.... The Biblical texts
have no literary dependence upon the Babylonian texts; they do not even
stand to them in a relation of direct dependence in the case of the
special traditions they exhibit: but they rest on a similar--we might
say a common--foundation, of Chaldean origin, whose antiquity cannot be
even approximately estimated.... On the other hand, it appears certain
that the period of Assyrian dominance, and the Captivity, quickened
the recollection of the old traditions and supplemented them by fresh
materials easy to graft on the ancient stem.... We may well believe
that the metamorphosis was complete in the oral tradition of the people
before the legend was embodied in the Biblical narrative."

Babylonian Influence upon the other Semites

The influence of the Babylonian religion upon other Semitic cults is
worthy of notice, although its effect upon the Jewish faith was more
marked than on any other Semitic form of belief. Yet still through
conquest and other causes it undoubtedly exercised a strong influence
upon the surrounding peoples, especially those of related stock. We
must regard the whole of Asia Minor, or at least its most civilized
portion, as peopled by races of diverse origin who yet possessed a
general culture in common. Some of those races, if we be permitted to
employ rather time-worn ethnological labels, were 'Semitic,' like the
Assyrians and Hebrews, others were of the 'Ural-Altaic' or 'Armenoid'
type, like the Hittites, whilst still others, like the Philistines,
appear to have been of 'Aryan' race, resembling the Greeks and Goths.
But all these different races had embraced a common culture, their
architecture, pottery, weapons, crafts, and laws seem to have come from
a common source, and lastly their religious systems were markedly alike.

The Canaanites

We find a people called the Canaanites as the first historic dwellers
in the countries now known as Syria and Palestine. We do not know
whether the name Canaan originated with the land or the race, but
the name 'Canaanites' is now used as a general designation of the
pre-Israelite inhabitants of Palestine. These people were probably
neolithic in origin and appeared to have been Semitic. In any case they
spoke a language very much akin to Hebrew. They exercised a strong
influence upon Egypt about 1400 B.C., and thousands of them settled
in that country as slaves or officials. They invaded Babylonia at
an early date under the name of Amorites, and many of the personal
names of Babylonian kings during the Hammurabi dynasty seem to be
Amorite in origin. From the Egyptian records it seems pretty clear that
as early as 2500 B.C. they had invaded Palestine, had exterminated
the inhabitants, and that this invasion synchronized with that of
Babylonia. Their religion seems to have been markedly Semitic in type
but of the earlier variety, that is, animism was just beginning to
emerge into polytheism. The gods were not called by their personal
names, but rather by their attributes. The general name for 'god' was
'_el_,' which was used also by the Hebrews, and which we find in such
names as Jezebel, Elkanah, and perhaps in the modern Arabic 'Allah.'
But this word was not employed by the Canaanites in a monotheistic
sense, it was generic and denoted the particular divinity who dwelt
in a certain place. It was indeed the word 'god'--a god, any god, but
not _the_ God. But such a god having a sanctuary or presiding over a
community was known as '_Ba'al_.' This might apply to any supernatural
being from fetish to full-fledged deity, and only meant that the spirit
or divinity had established a relation with a particular holy place.

We also find amongst the Canaanitish deities Shamash, the sun-god so
widely worshipped in Babylonia, Sin the moon-god, Hadad or Rimmon,
and Uru, god of light, whose name is found in Uru-Salim or Jerusalem.
Dagon, too, is held by some authorities to have been purely an Amorite
divinity. The worship of animals was also general, and bulls, horses,
and serpents were represented as deities. There were also an immense
number of nameless gods or spirits presiding over all sorts of
physical objects, and these were known as _ba'alim_. They were the
resultants of animistic ideas. The early inhabitants of Canaan were
also ancestor-worshippers like many other primitive people, and they
seem to have shown a marked preference for the cult of the dead.

But many of their departmental deities were either identical with or
strongly resembled the gods of the Babylonians. Ashtart was of course
Ishtar. In the mounds of Palestine large numbers of terra-cotta plaques
bearing her effigy are found. She is often depicted on these with a
tall head-dress, necklace, anklets, and girdle quite in the Babylonian
style. But other representations of her reveal Egyptian, Cypriote,
and Hittite influences, and this goes to show that in all probability
the great mother-goddess of Babylon and Asia Minor was compounded of
various early types fused into one. To confine ourselves to those
deities who are more closely connected with the Babylonian religion, we
find the name of Ninib translated by the Canaanites as En-Mashti, and
it has been thought that Ninib was a god of the West who had migrated
to Babylonia. The name of Nebo, the Babylonian patron of Borsippa, who
also acted as scribe to the gods, appears in that of the town of Nebo
in Moab in Judea, and that Canaanites were conversant with the name
of Nergal, the war-god, is proved by a sealed cylinder of Canaanitish
workmanship which bears the inscription, "Atanaheli, son of Habsi
servant of Nergal." Resheph also appears to have been known to the

[Illustration: Elijah prevailing over the Priests of Baal.--Evelyn Paul.]

The Gods of the Phœnicians

The Phœnicians who were the lineal descendants of the Canaanites
adopted many of the deities of Babylonia. Like the early deities of
that great empire, the Phœnician gods were associated either with
the earth, the waters, or the air. Some of these in later times held
sway over more than one element. Thus the god Melkarth of Tyre had both
a celestial and a marine aspect, and Baal and Ashtart assumed celestial
attributes in addition to their earthly one. The Phœnicians
described their gods in general as _alônim_, much as the Israelites
in early times must have described theirs, for we find in the first
chapters of Genesis the word _elohim_ employed. Both then went back
to the singular form _el_, the common Semitic name for 'god,' adding
to it the Semitic plural ending _im_. The god of a locality or shrine
was known as its '_ba'al_,' and, as in early times, this did not apply
to any particular deity. Although their gods all had names, yet still
they were merely the _ba-alim_ of Tyre, the chief of whom was Melkarth,
whose name signifies merely 'king' or patron of the city. Perhaps one
of their most venerated gods was Ba'al-Hamman, who was also worshipped
in Carthage, a Phœnician colony. One of the most strongly marked
characteristics of the Phœnician religion was the unvarying addition
of a female to every male god. Ashtart or Ishtar was quite as popular
in modern Phœnicia as she has been in ancient Canaan. It must be
borne in mind that Tyre and Sidon were closely in touch with Assyria,
and that their ships probably carried Assyrian commerce far and wide
throughout the Mediterranean, exchanging Syrian goods for Egyptian,
Cyprian, and Hellenic. Ashtart or Ishtar had temples at Sidon and
Askelon, and Phœnician mariners seem to have carried her worship as
far as Cyprus and even Sicily. Indeed it was probably through their
agency that she was introduced into the Greek world, but there were
Greek colonies on the shores of Asia Minor at an early date, and these
may have transferred her cult to the people of their own race in the
Greek motherland. Another goddess specially honoured at Carthage was
Tanith, who was also called the 'Countenance of Ba'al.' Eshmun, the god
of vital force and healing, seems to have been worshipped especially
at Sidon but also at Carthage. Melkarth, the patron deity of Tyre, the
Greeks equated with their Heracles; Reshef, the lightning god, was
of Syrian origin, and was identified by the Greeks with Apollo. The
Phœnicians were also prone to fuse their gods one with another, so
that we have such combinations as Eshmun-Melkarth, Melkarth-Reshef,
and so forth. Phœnician religion was also strongly influenced by
Egyptian ideas, and Plutarch has put it on record that when Isis
journeyed to Byblus she was called Astarte. Certain Phœnician
settlers at Piræus, the port of Athens, worshipped the Assyrian god
Nergal, and many of their proper names are compounded of the names of
Babylon deities. The worship of Moloch was also popular in Phœnicia,
where he was called Melk ('King'), and to him, as to the Moloch of
the other Semitic peoples, infants were offered up in sacrifice. The
Phœnicians likewise adopted the custom of burning the chief god
of the city in effigy or in the person of a human representative at
Tyre and Carthage. (See remarks on Hamman, pages 142-144; and on
Sardanapalus, pages 31-34.)

We know very little concerning Phœnician myth. We cannot credit
what is written by Philo of Byblus concerning it, as he professed that
he had used as his authority the writings of one Sanchuniathon, an
ancient Phœnician sage, who, he says, derived his information from
inscribed stones in Phœnician temples. All of Philo that remains
(and thus all of Sanchuniathon) is preserved in the works of Eusebius.
It would seem, however, to be unfair to regard Eusebius as the inventor
of Sanchuniathon. As we have already remarked in the paragraphs dealing
with the legend of Oannes or Ea, several of the myths he quotes as
coming from the Phœnician sage are manifestly of Babylonian origin.

Like all Semites the Phœnicians closely identified themselves with
their gods, in whom, if inscriptions can be believed, they seemed to
find a great deal of comfort. They were assiduous devotees of their
several cults, and as prone to sacrifice as were their cousins of
Babylonia. Probably, too, their voyages and mercantile ventures made
them firm believers in the efficacy of divination, and it cannot be
doubted that the trade of the seer in ancient Tyre or Sidon must have
been a flourishing one indeed.

The Carthaginian Religion

Very little is known concerning the religion of the Semites of
Carthage, those colonists from Phœnicia who settled on the
north-western shores of Africa at an early date, and this is probably
owing to the circumstance that the jealousy of their Roman conquerors
ordained that all records pertaining to them should so far as possible
be blotted out. In Virgil's _Æneid_ we find Queen Dido of Carthage
worshipping and sacrificing to the gods of Rome, but whether this error
is due to Roman lack of imagination or otherwise it would be difficult
to say. Carthaginian religion was strongly influenced by Assyrian
belief. The chief gods worshipped in Carthage were Baal-ammon or
Moloch, Tanit, goddess of the heavens and the moon, Ashtart or Ishtar,
and Eshmun, the patron deity of the city. The cult of Tammuz-Adonis was
also greatly in vogue, as was that of the god Patechus, a repulsive
monster who may have been of Egyptian origin. The Tyrian Melkarth, too,
was widely worshipped. We also encounter in inscriptions the names of
deities concerning whom we know nothing, such as Rabbat Umma, 'the
Great Mother,' Illat, Sakon, and Tsaphon.

About the beginning of the third century B.C. the intimate relations
between the Carthaginians and the Greeks of Sicily favoured the
introduction of a Hellenic element into the Punic religion, and there
was reciprocal borrowing on the part of the Greeks. In the forum of
Carthage was a temple to Apollo containing a colossal statue which was
later removed to Rome, and on one occasion the Carthaginian worshippers
of Apollo actually sent offerings to Delphi. We also find their goddess
Tanit compared with the Greek Demeter. Her symbol is a crescent moon,
and in her temple at Carthage was preserved a famous veil which was
regarded as the palladium or 'mascot' of the city, its luck-bringer.
Inscriptions to Tanit and Baal-ammon abound, and as these are usually
found in conjunction it is only reasonable to suppose that these
two deities are worshipped together. Tanit was, in fact, frequently
alluded to as 'The Countenance of Baal,' whose name we find in those
of the Carthaginian heroes, Hannibal and Hasdrubal. The Carthaginian
Baal-ammon is represented as an old man with ram's horns on his
forehead, and that animal was frequently portrayed along with him. He
also holds a scythe. At Carthage children were sacrificed to him, and
their bodies were placed in the arms of a colossal bronze statue which
represented him. When they grew tired they slipped through the embrace
of the god into a furnace below amid the excited cries of the fanatical
worshippers. Even Roman severity could not put an end to these horrors,
which persisted in secret until a relatively late date.

It is strange to think that after the fall of Carthage the goddess
Tanit became identified with Dido by the new Roman colonists of the
city. Virgil had celebrated her misfortunes, and a public Dido cult
grew up, the colonists even claiming to have discovered the very house
from which she had watched the departure of Æneas.

It is not unlikely that through the agency of the Phœnicians some
fragments of the Babylonian religion may have penetrated even to
our own shores. We know that they traded for tin with the ancient
inhabitants of Cornwall and the Scilly Isles, and some writers believe
they have philology on their side when they try to show that several
Cornish names are of Phœnician origin. For example, the name
Marazion appears to mean in Semitic 'Hill by the Sea,' and Polgarth,
say some, owes its second syllable to the Phœnician word for 'city.'
But it will not do to be dogmatic regarding these names, which may
after all be explicable from Cornish or other sources.

We see then that the Semitic religion travelled over a considerably
wide area, that beginning in all probability in Arabia it spread
itself through Mesopotamia northward as far as Lake Van, and southward
through the Sinaitic peninsula into Egypt and the north of Africa. It
is strange to observe that the later Semitic religion of Mohammed
followed almost precisely the same course, and that its early progress
westward halted almost on the very site of ancient Carthage; that
when it overflowed into Spain its disciples were acting precisely as
Carthaginian Hannibal had done long before, and that it was beaten back
by European effort in almost exactly the same way.

Robertson Smith in his valuable work, _The Religion of the Semites_,
mentions that in his view Semitic religion does not differ so
fundamentally from the other types of world religion as many writers
on the subject appear to think. But the longer one considers it the
greater do the barriers between Semitic and other religions appear
and the more clearly marked their lines of demarcation. The prolonged
isolation to which the Semitic peoples seem to have been subjected
appears to have greatly affected their manner of religious thought.
They are in truth a 'peculiar people,' practical yet mystical, strongly
of the world yet finding their chief solace in those things which are
not of the world.

The materials for a complete inquiry into the history of Semitic
religion are lacking, and we must perforce fill up the gaps which are
many by comparative methods. But in this we are greatly assisted by
the numerous manifestations of Semitic faith which, including as it
does Babylonian, Assyrian, Canaanitish, Phœnician, Arabian, and
Mohammedan cults, provides us with rich comparative material.

The Religion of Zoroaster

The faith which immediately supplanted that of ancient Babylonia
and Assyria could not fail to draw considerably from it. This was
the Zoroastrian faith, the religion of the Persians introduced by
the reformer Zarathustra, the earliest form of Zoroaster's name as
given in the _Avesta_. Uncertainty hangs over the date and place of
his birth. The Greeks spoke of him as belonging to a remote age, but
modern scholars assign the period of his life to the latter half of
the seventh and early sixth century B.C. It seems certain that he was
not a Persian, but a Mede or a Bactrian, either supposition being
supported by indications of one kind or another. From the whole tenor
of the Gathas, the most ancient part of the _Avesta_, we are led, says
Dr. Haug, their translator, to feel that he was a man of extraordinary
stamp acting a grand part on the stage of his country's history.
Zarathustra speaks of himself as a messenger from God sent to bring
the people the blessing of civilization and to destroy idolatry. Many
legends grew up around his memory, of miraculous signs at his birth,
of his precocious wisdom, whereby even as a child he confounded the
Magi, of his being borne up to the highest heaven and there receiving
the word of life from Deity itself, together with the revelation of
all secrets of the future. He retired as a young man from the world
to spend long years of contemplation before he began his teaching at
thirty, and he lived to the age of seventy-seven. The religion he
taught was the national religion of the Persians from the time of the
Achæmenidæ, who dethroned Cyaxares' son, 558 B.C., to the middle of
the seventh century A.D. It declined after Alexander's conquest under
the Seleucidæ and the succeeding dynasty of the Arsacidæ, but was
revived by the Sassanian rulers and flourished for the four centuries
A.D. 226-651. Then followed the Mohammedan conquest, accompanied by
persecution, before which the faithful followers of Zarathustra fled
to India, where they are now represented by their descendants, the
Parsis of Bombay.

The religious belief taught by Zarathustra is based on the dual
conception of a good principle, Ahura Mazda, and an evil principle,
Anra Mainyu, and the leading idea of his teaching is the constant
conflict between the two, which must continue until the end of the
period ordained by Ahura Mazda for the duration of the world, when
evil will be finally overcome; until then the god's power is to
some degree limited, as evil still withstands him. Zarathustra's
doctrine was essentially practical and ethical; it was not in abstract
contemplation, or in separation from the world, that man was to
look for spiritual deliverance, but in active charity, in deeds of
usefulness, in kindness to animals, in everything that could help to
make the world a well-ordered place to live in, in courage and all
uprightness. To build a bridge or dig a canal was to help to lessen
the power of evil. As Reinach has concisely expressed it, "a life
thoroughly occupied was a perpetual exorcism."

The two figures of Ahura Mazda and Anra Mainyu, the one with his
attendant archangels and angels, and the other with his arch-demons
and demons, or Divs, compose the Zarathustrian celestial hierarchy, as
represented in the earlier sacred writings; in the later ones other
figures are introduced into the pantheon. The sacred writings that
have been preserved are of different periods, and outside the range
of Zarathustra's moral system of religion there are traces in them of
revivals of an older primitive nature worship, and of the beliefs of an
early nomadic shepherd life, as, for instance, the sacredness in which
cow and dog are held, as well as reminiscences of general Indo-Germanic

Ahura Mazda was the creator of the universe for the duration of which
he fixed a certain term. It seems uncertain whether the Persians
pictured the world as round or flat, but according to their idea it
was divided into seven zones, of which the central one was the actual
habitable earth. Between these zones and enveloping the whole was the
great abyss of waters. Between earth and heaven rose the celestial
mountain whence all the rivers upon earth had their source, and on
which was deposited the Haoma.

The central feature of Zoroastrian ritual was the worship of fire, an
old-established worship which had existed before Zoroaster's time.
In the oldest period images were forbidden, and holy rites could be
performed without temples, portable fire-altars being in use. Temples
were, however, built in quite early times, and within these was the
sanctuary from which all light was excluded, and where the sacred fire
was kept alight, which could only be approached by the priest with
covered hands and mouth. The Persians carried the fear of defilement to
an extreme, and had even more elaborate regulations than most Easterns
concerning methods of purification and avoidance of defilement, both as
regards personal contamination or that of the sacred elements of earth,
fire, and water. Even hair and nails could not be cut without special
directions as to how to deal with the separated portions. But this
perpetual and exhausting state of caution and protective effort against
contact with defiling objects and rigorous system of purification had
an ultimate concern with the great struggle going on between good and
evil. Death and everything that partook of death, or had any power of
injury, were works of the arch-enemy.

It was owing to the fear of contaminating the three elements named
above that the Persians neither buried nor cremated their dead, and
looked upon it as a criminal act to throw a corpse into the water. The
old mode of disposing of the dead was similar to that now practised
by the Parsis of Bombay, who carry the body to one of the Towers
of Silence. So the Persians exposed the corpse, till one or other
devouring agent, birds of prey or the elements, had reduced it to a
skeleton. As regards man himself he was thought to be a reasonable
being of free will with conscience, soul, and a guardian spirit or
prototype of himself who dwelt above, called a Fravashi--his own
character, indeed, put into a spiritual body, almost identical with the
_amei-malghen_ or spiritual nymphs of the Araucanian Indians of Chile.
He had the choice of good and evil, and consequently suffered the due
punishment of sin. For the first three days after death the soul of the
dead was supposed to hover about its earthly abode.

During this time friends and relatives performed their funerary rites,
their prayers and offerings becoming more earnest and abundant as the
hour drew nigh when the soul was bound to start on its journey to the
beyond. This was at the beginning of the fourth day, when Sraosha
carried it aloft, assailed on the way by demons desirous of obtaining
possession of his burden. On earth everything was being done to keep
the evil spirits in check, fires lighted as particularly effective
against the powers of darkness. And, thus assisted, Sraosha arrived
safely with his charge at the bridge that spanned the space between
earth and heaven. Here at the entrance to the 'accountants' bridge' the
soul's account was cast up by Mithra and Rashnu; the latter weighed
its good and evil deeds, and even if the good deeds turned the scale,
the soul had still to undergo immediate penance for its transgression,
so strict was the justice meted out to each. Now the bridge may be
crossed, and a further automatic kind of verdict is given, for to
those fit for heaven the bridge appears a wide and easy way; to the
unfortunate ones doomed to destruction it seems but of a hair's
breadth, and stepping on to it they straightway fall into the yawning
gulf beneath. The blessed ones are met at heaven's gate by a radiant
figure, who leads them through the ante-chambers that finally open into
the everlasting light of the celestial abode. This is the triumph of
the individual soul; but there is 'a far-off divine event' awaiting,
which will be heralded by signs and wonders. For 3000 years previous to
it there are alternate intervals of overpowering evil and conquering
peace. At last the great dragon is let loose and the evil time comes,
but Mazda sends a man to slay it. Then the saviour Saoshyant is born of
a virgin. The dead arise, the sheep and goats are divided, and there is
lamentation on the earth. The mountains dissolve and flood the earth
with molten metal, a devouring agent of destruction to the wicked,
but from which the good take no hurt. The spiritual powers have now
to battle it out. Mazda and Sraosha overcome Ahriman and the dragon,
and "then age, decay, and death are done away, and in their place are
everlasting growth and life."

Babylonian Ethics

And, lastly, what of the ethics of ancient Babylon and Assyria? On
the whole the moral standard of these countries was not by any means
so exalted as our own, although the religious outlook was not a low
one. To begin with, the character of Babylonian myth was a great deal
purer than that of Hellenic or Scandinavian myth. The gods of Babylonia
appear to be more dignified than those of the Greeks or Norsemen,
for example. They do not descend to the same puerilities, and their
record is immeasurably cleaner. This may have something to do with the
very great body of ritual connected with the Babylonian religion, for
when a people is so hedged in by religious custom as were the ancient
Chaldeans, so threatened on every side by taboo, the mere thought of
wrongdoing and the consequence thereof is sufficient to deter them from
acting otherwise than reasonably. In course of time sin becomes so ugly
and repulsive in the light of punishment that the moral code receives a
tremendous impulse.

There is no doubt that the Babylonians devoutly believed that their
gods demanded rigid adherence to the moral code. It was generally
thought that misfortune and illness were the consequences of moral
transgression. But the Babylonians did not believe that the cardinal
sins alone were heinous, for they included in transgression such
misdemeanours as maliciousness, fraud, unworthy ambitions, and
injurious teaching.

[1] _Hibbert Lectures_, pp. 38 ff. (by permission of Messrs Williams
and Norgate).


In no land has excavation assisted history so greatly as in
Mesopotamia. In Egypt, although spade-work has widened our knowledge of
life and religion in the Nile country, most of what we know of these
subjects has been gleaned from temples and pyramids, rock-tombs and
mastabas, for the proper examination of which little or no digging
was necessary, and generally speaking it may be said that excavation
in Egypt has furnished us with a greater insight into the earlier
periods of Egyptian progress, its 'prehistoric' life. But in the
Babylonian-Assyrian region, practically every discovery has been due to
strenuous labour with pick and spade; our knowledge of Chaldea in its
hey-day has literally been dug up piece by piece.

The honour of beginning the great task of unearthing the buried cities
of Mesopotamia belongs to M. Botta, who was French consul at Mosul in
1842. Moved by the belief that many of the great sand-covered mounds
which are so conspicuous a feature of the Mesopotamian landscape
probably concealed ruins of a vanished civilization, Botta commenced to
excavate the large mound of Kouyunjik, which is situated close to the
village where he resided. But he found little to reward his labours,
and he does not seem to have gone about the business of excavation in
a very workmanlike manner. His attention was called by an intelligent
native to the mounds of Khorsabad, the site of ancient Nineveh, and
he dispatched a party of workmen to the spot. Soon his perseverance
was rewarded by the discovery of some sculptures, and recognizing
the superior importance of Khorsabad for archæological purposes, he
transferred his establishment to that village and resolved to devote
himself to a thorough investigation of the site.

Soon a well-planned sinking operation came upon one of the palace
walls, and subsequent digging was rewarded by the discovery of many
chambers and halls faced with slabs of gypsum covered with mythological
figures, battle scenes, processions, and similar subjects. He had, in
fact, unearthed a palace built at Nineveh by Sargon, King of Assyria,
who reigned 722-705 B.C., one of the finest examples of Assyrian
palatial architecture. He continued his excavations at Khorsabad until
1845, and was successful in bringing to light a temple and a grand
porch decorated by three pairs of wings, under which passed the road
from the city to the palace. Many of the fruits of his labours were
removed to Paris and deposited in the Louvre. His successor, Victor
Place, continued Botta's work at Khorsabad, and discovered a city gate
guarded by winged bulls, the backs of which supported the arch of the

Sir Henry Layard

Meanwhile Mr, afterward Sir Henry, Layard had visited the country in
1840, and was greatly impressed by Botta's work and its results. Five
years later, through the assistance of Sir Stratford Canning, he was
enabled himself to commence excavations at Nimrûd. He soon unearthed
the remains of extensive buildings--in fact he discovered two Assyrian
palaces on the very first day of his excavations! At the outset he
had only eleven men in his employ, and being anxious to push on the
work in fear that the local Turkish governor or the approach of the
winter season would put an end to his operations, he increased his
staff to thirty men. The peasants laboured enthusiastically, but to the
excavator's disgust the Turkish authorities forbade him to proceed.
Layard, nevertheless, hoodwinked the authorities, and succeeded in
uncovering several large figures of winged bulls and lions.

[Illustration: EXCAVATIONS IN BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA. From _Guide to the
Babylonian and Assyrian Antiquities_, by permission of the Director of
the British Museum.]

Soon after this Layard spent Christmas with Sir Henry Rawlinson of the
British Museum, with whom he cemented a warm friendship, and together
they were able to overcome the unfriendliness of the Turkish officials.
Hormuzd Rassam, an intelligent native Christian, came to Layard's
assistance, and operations were once more commenced at Nimrûd. Rassam's
labours were quickly crowned by success, for he came upon a large hall
in a fine state of preservation. The serious work of excavation was
not without its humorous side, for if they chanced to unearth a carven
monster with the body of a bull and the head of a bearded man, the
native labourers threw down their tools and ran. The Turkish Governor,
too, hearing from a native source that 'Nimrod' had been found, sent a
message to the effect that "his remains should be treated with respect
and be no further disturbed."

[Illustration: The 'Black Obelisk' of Shalmaneser II.--Photo W. A.
Mansell and Co.]

Layard had now unearthed many valuable sculptures, and he resolved to
attempt their dispatch to England. Rawlinson sent a small steamer,
the _Nitocris_, to Nimrûd, but it was found impossible to ship the
massive pieces on this frail craft, and even the smaller sculptures
had perforce to be floated down the Tigris on rafts. Layard's health
was by this time in no very robust state, but a two months' mountain
holiday in Kurdistan refreshed him, and once more he recommenced his
labours at Nimrûd, heartened by the news that the British Government
had awarded a grant for the continuation of his researches. The grant,
however, was distressingly small, and its inadequacy compelled him to
limit his excavations in the most unsatisfactory way. Despite this, the
new operations were rich in results, especially those in the building
known as the 'south-west palace.' This palace, he ascertained from
bricks unearthed, had been built by Esar-haddon, King of Assyria.
Sculptures glorifying King Assur-nazir-pal (885-860 B.C.) were also
discovered at the north-west palace, some of them of a most spirited
character, representing the King in battle, crossing a river full of
turtles and fishes, or leading his army.

It was in the central building, however, that one of his most important
discoveries awaited him. This was the obelisk of Shalmaneser II
(860-825 B.C.), nearly seven feet high, and in admirable preservation.
The monarch had erected this in his palace to commemorate the leading
military events of his career. It contains twenty small bas-reliefs and
210 lines of cuneiform inscription, alluding among other things to the
receipt of the tribute of "Jehu, son of Omri."[1] This priceless relic
is one of the treasures in the keeping of the British Museum.

Layard devoted the first four months of 1847 to the exploration of
the north-west palace, and disclosed painted chambers on which were
represented hunting-scenes and various religious ceremonies, each
design separated by a conventional representation of the sacred tree.
Many of the lesser objects found here exhibited Egyptian influence.
Here he also came upon the oldest Assyrian arch ever discovered.

He had now collected a large number of important sculptures, and of
these he succeeded in sending three by raft to Basra, whence they were
later shipped to England. By the middle of May 1847 he had finished his
work at Nimrûd, and had commenced his search for the ruins of Nineveh
in the mound of Kouyunjik, near Mosul, where Botta had laboured before
him. He dug for the platform of sun-dried bricks which he knew by
experience formed the foundation of all large Assyrian edifices, and
came upon it, as he had expected, at a depth of twenty feet, shortly
afterward discovering the entrance, flanked by the inevitable winged
bulls. But the building itself had been so damaged by fire as to
present little more than crumbling heaps of lime.

Layard returned to England in June 1847, and was appointed attaché
to the Embassy at Constantinople. Meanwhile his published works had
created an extraordinary impression throughout Europe, and the pressure
of public opinion so wrought upon the Government that he was requested
to lead a second expedition to Nineveh.

Where Rawlinson Slept

Better equipped, Layard left Constantinople in August 1849 and arrived
at Kouyunjik in October. Employing about a hundred men, he set
strenuously to work, removing only as much earth as was necessary to
show the sculptured walls. Having fairly started the work at Kouyunjik,
Layard, accompanied by Rassam, returned to Nimrûd, and recommenced
work there. One morning he was inspecting the trenches when he found
Rawlinson asleep on the floor of an excavated chamber, wrapped in his
travelling cloak, "wearied out by a long and harassing night's ride."
He was on his way home to England, which he had not seen for twenty-two

The rich finds in the painted palace of Sennacherib at Kouyunjik
consisted chiefly of mural paintings and bas-reliefs. Of these
Professor Hilprecht says:[2] "Hundreds of figures cover the face of the
slabs from top to bottom. We become acquainted with the peculiarities,
in type and dress, of foreign nations, and the characteristic features
and products of their lands; we are introduced into the very life
and occupations of the persons represented. The sculptor shows us
the Babylonian swamps with their jungles of tall reeds, frequented
by wild boars, and barbarous tribes skimming over the waters in
their light boats of wicker-work, exactly such as are used to-day by
the inhabitants of the same marshes; or he takes us into the high
mountains of Kurdistan, covered with trees and crowned with castles,
endeavouring even to convey the idea of a valley by reversing the trees
and mountains on one side of the stream, which is filled with fishes
and crabs and turtles. He indicates the different head-gear worn by
female musicians, or by captive women carried with their husbands
and children to Nineveh. Some wear their hair in long ringlets, some
plaited or braided, some confined in a net; others are characterized by
hoods fitting close to their heads, others by a kind of turban; Elamite
ladies with their hair in curls falling on their shoulders, bound above
the temples by a band or fillet, while those from Syria wear a high
conical head-dress, similar to that which is frequently found to-day in
those regions."

The excavation of Sennacherib's palace with its seventy rooms, halls,
and galleries was indeed one of the most striking results of Layard's
second expedition to Nineveh. But even more remarkable was the find of
Assur-bani-pal's famous royal library at Nineveh, which has already
been described. Results at Nimrûd, too, had been favourable, perhaps
the most interesting being the discovery of the tower of Calah,
regarded at first as the tomb of Sardanapalus. Now for the second time
Layard began to feel the effects of overwork and exposure, and in April
1851, accompanied by Rassam, he turned from the ruins of Nineveh "with
a heavy heart." Twenty-four years later he was to become Ambassador
at Constantinople, in which capacity he loyally assisted the zealous
Rassam, his worthy subordinate.

[Illustration: Outline of the Mounds at Nimrûd. From a drawing made on
the spot by Sir Henry Layard.]

In 1851 Rawlinson was entrusted by the British Government with the
excavations in Assyria and Babylonia. He had the invaluable assistance
of Rassam as 'chief practical excavator.' Stationing his workmen at
as many sites as possible, he unearthed the annals of Tiglath-pileser
I at Qal'at Sherqat, discovered E-zide, the temple of Nebo at Nimrûd,
and a 'stele' of Samsi-Adad IV (825-812 B.C.). At Kouyunjik he came
upon the palace of Assur-bani-pal. A beautiful bas-relief was recovered
representing Assur-bani-pal in his chariot on a hunting expedition.
The 'lion-room,' the walls of which represented a lion-hunt, was also
unearthed, and was shown to have been used both as a library and a
picture-gallery, many thousands of clay book-tablets being found

Abandoning excavation for a political appointment, Mr Rassam was
followed by William Kennet Loftus, who did good work at the ruins of
Warkâ in Babylonia. Meanwhile the French expedition under Fresnel,
Oppert, and Thomes was excavating at Babylon, coming upon the remains
of the Nebuchadrezzar period and excavating the mound of Bâbil.

George Smith

One who was to perform yeoman service for Assyriology now entered the
field. This was George Smith, whose name is so unalterably associated
with the romantic side of that science he loved so well. Writing of
himself he says: "Everyone has some bent or inclination which, if
fostered by favourable circumstances, will colour the rest of his life.
My own taste has always been for Oriental studies, and from my youth I
have taken a great interest in Eastern explorations and discoveries,
particularly in the great work in which Layard and Rawlinson were
engaged. For some years I did little or nothing, but in 1866, seeing
the unsatisfactory state of our knowledge of those parts of Assyrian
history which bore upon the history of the Bible, I felt anxious to do
something towards settling the questions involved."[3] Smith found the
Deluge tablets among the scores of fragments sent to the British Museum
by Layard and Loftus, and this and other discoveries whetted his desire
to go to Mesopotamia and unearth its treasures with his own hands. In
consequence of the wide interest taken at the time in these discoveries
the proprietors of _The Daily Telegraph_ came forward with the offer of
a thousand guineas for fresh researches at Nineveh, with the proviso
that Smith should head the expedition and supply the journal with
accounts of his discoveries. The offer was accepted, and Smith, now a
member of the staff of the British Museum, received leave of absence
for six months.

Arrived at Nimrûd, Smith settled down to excavation there, commencing
operations at the temple of Nebo; but he found little to justify his
labour, as the structure was in a ruinous condition and had latterly
been used as a granary. On each side of the entrance stood a colossal
figure of the god with crossed arms in an attitude of meditation,
and lesser images of him were found inside the ruined building.
Smith's reason for digging here was that he suspected the presence of
inscriptions which might cast light upon the reign of Tiglath-pileser
II (745 B.C.) and therefore upon Bible history. His industry was
rewarded by the discovery of the upper portion of a tablet of this
monarch, but further finds of importance were not forthcoming.

[Illustration: The Palaces of Nimrûd (Restored). From a sketch by James
Ferguson for Sir Henry Layard.]

The Palace of Nimrûd

Smith then instituted systematic excavations in the south-east palace,
and made some interesting discoveries. On examining this part of the
mound he saw a considerable tunnel in the south face, commencing on
the sloping part of the mound. This tunnel appeared to go along the
middle of a chamber, the floor having been cut through and appearing
in a line on each side of the tunnel. Further on, the tunnel reached
the wall at the end of the chamber, and the face of this had been
cleared for some little distance; then, descending below the foundation
of this wall, the passage ran for some distance into the base of the
mound. He commenced on the two sides of this cutting, and cleared away
to the level of the pavement, soon coming to the wall on each side.
The southern wall of the chamber had fallen over into the plain, as it
was here close to the edge of the platform, and the chamber commenced
with two parallel walls running north and south. The right-hand wall,
in a place near the edge where it was much broken down, showed three
steps of an ascent which had gone apparently to some upper chambers.
Further on it showed two recesses, each ornamented on both sides
with three square pilasters. The left hand showed an entrance into a
second chamber running east to west, and from this turned a third,
running parallel with the first. Altogether in this place he opened
six chambers, all of the same character, the entrances ornamented by
clusters of square pilasters and recesses in the rooms in the same
style. The walls were coloured in horizontal bands of red, green, and
yellow on plaster; and where the lower parts of the chambers were
panelled with small stone slabs, the plaster and colours were continued
over these. In one of these rooms there appeared a brick receptacle
let into the floor, and on lifting the brick which covered this Smith
found six terra-cotta winged figures, closely packed in the receptacle.
Each figure was full-faced, having a head like a lion, four wings, with
one hand across the breast, holding a basket in the other, and clothed
in a long dress to the feet. These figures were probably intended to
preserve the building against the power of evil spirits.

All the eastern and southern portions of the mound of Nimrûd had
been destroyed by being turned into a burial-place. The ruins had
been excavated after the fall of the Assyrian empire, walls had been
dug through, and chambers broken into, and the openings filled with

Mr Smith then turned his attention to the ruins of Nineveh at Kouyunjik
and Nebbi Yunas. Layard and even the Turkish Government had both been
before him here. He commenced operations by cutting trenches at the
south-eastern corner of Assur-bani-pal's palace. But at first nothing
of great interest resulted, and he diverted operations to the palace
of Sennacherib hard by. Here he came upon a number of inscriptions
which compensated him for his labour. At length the excavations in
Assur-bani-pal's palace bore fruit, for there were unearthed the
greater portion of seventeen lines of inscription belonging to the
first column of the Deluge narrative, and fitting into the only place
where there was a serious blank in the story.

The palace of Sennacherib also steadily produced its tribute of
objects, including a small tablet of Esar-haddon, King of Assyria, some
new fragments of one of the historical cylinders of Assur-bani-pal, and
a curious fragment of the history of Sargon, King of Assyria, relating
to his expedition against Ashdod, which is mentioned in the twentieth
chapter of the Book of Isaiah. On the same fragment was also part of
the list of Median chiefs who paid tribute to Sargon.

The proprietors of _The Daily Telegraph_ considered that with the
finding of the Deluge fragment the purpose of the expedition had been
served, and that further excavation in Mesopotamia should be carried
on under national auspices. Mr Smith was therefore forced to return to
England, but not before he had discovered further a valuable syllabary,
and two portions of the sixth tablet of the Deluge story, as well as
other minor objects of interest.

About the end of 1873, however, the British Museum authorities
dispatched Mr Smith once more to Mesopotamia, where he recommenced
operations at Kouyunjik, and unearthed on this occasion an inscription
of Shalmaneser I, King of Assyria (1300 B.C.), recording that he
founded the palace of Nineveh, and alluding to his restoration of the
temple of Ishtar. Inscriptions of his son Tukulti-ninip were also
found at this place, as were dedications of Assur-nazir-pal (885 B.C.)
and Shalmaneser II (860 B.C.). Some very curious pottery, too, came
from this spot, ornamentations being laid on the clay, as in many
examples of the pottery of the Maya of Central America. At the same
time fragments of sculptured walls representing marching warriors were
brought to light, and some tablets of great importance giving the names
of six new Babylonian kings, a sixth tablet of the Deluge series, and a
bilingual tablet in fine preservation.

In the south-west palace Smith excavated at the grand entrance to see
if any records remained under the pavement, but there were none. This
part of the pavement had been broken through, and anything under it
had long ago been carried away. He sank some trenches in the grand
hall and found a fragment of inscription, and further on in the palace
several other fragments. His principal excavation was, however, carried
on over what Layard called the library chamber of this palace. Layard,
who discovered the library chamber, describes it as full of fragments
of tablets, up to a foot or more from the floor. This chamber Layard
had cleared out and he had brought its treasures to England, but
Smith thought on examining the collection at the British Museum that
not one-half of the library had been removed, and steadily adhered
to the belief that the rest of the tablets must be in the palace of
Sennacherib. On excavating he found nearly three thousand fragments of
tablets in the chambers round Layard's library chamber, and from the
position of these fragments he was led to the opinion that the library
was not originally situated in these chambers but in an upper story of
the palace, and that on the collapse of the building they fell into
the chambers below. Some of the chambers in which he found inscribed
tablets had no communication with each other, while fragments of the
same tablets were in them; and looking at this fact, and the positions
and distribution of the fragments, he was convinced that the tablets
were scattered over a wide area and resolved to excavate over an
extensive section of the palace.

"In the long gallery, which contained scenes representing the moving
of winged figures," says Smith, "I found a great number of tablets,
mostly along the floor; they included syllabaries, bilingual lists,
mythological and historical tablets. Among these tablets I discovered a
beautiful bronze Assyrian fork, having two prongs joined by ornamental
shoulder to shaft of spiral work, the shaft ending in the head of an
ass. This is a beautiful and unique specimen of Assyrian work, and
shows the advances the people had made in the refinements of life.
South of this there were numerous tablets round Layard's old library
chamber, and here I found part of a curious astrolabe, and fragments of
the history of Sargon, King of Assyria, 722 B.C. In one place, below
the level of the floor, I discovered a fine fragment of the history
of Assurbanipal, containing new and curious matter relating to his
Egyptian wars, and to the affairs of Gyges, King of Lydia. From this
part of the palace I gained also the shoulder of a colossal statue,
with an inscription of Assurbanipal. In another spot I obtained a bone
spoon, and a fragment of the tablet with the history of the seven
evil spirits. Near this I discovered a bronze style, with which I
believe the cuneiform tablets were impressed. In another part of the
excavation I found part of a monument with the representation of a
fortification. In the western part of the palace, near the edge of the
mound, I excavated and found remains of crystal and alabaster vases,
and specimens of the royal seal. Two of these are very curious; one
is a paste seal, the earliest example of its kind, and the other is
a clay impression of the seal of Sargon, King of Assyria. Near where
the principal seals were discovered I found part of a sculpture with a
good figure of a dead buffalo in a stream. Among these sculptures and
inscriptions were numerous small objects, including beads, rings, stone
seals, etc."[4]

By January 1, 1874, Smith had no less than six hundred men employed.
But he had to encounter tremendous local difficulties, especially
demands that he should pay immense sums to the proprietors of the land
which he excavated. Soon afterward, the season being unpropitious, he
returned to England. A third visit to Mesopotamia proved his last,
as he became ill and passed away at Aleppo in 1876, to the universal
regret not only of those who were privileged to have his friendship,
but to all who had perused his works and were aware of his strenuous
life and studies. From the position of a bank-note engraver he had
raised himself to that of an esteemed scholar, and his kindness of
heart and honesty of purpose, no less than his outstanding abilities,
make him one of the most gracious figures in the history of a science
to which many men of high endeavour have devoted their lives.

[Illustration: Work of the excavators in Babylon. One hundred workmen
laboured in digging this cut, which is 40 feet deep. Copyright by
Underwood and Underwood, London.]

Hormuzd Rassam

The lamented death of Smith caused the British authorities to request
Mr Hormuzd Rassam, who had retired into private life in England,
to take up the vacant post. Mr Rassam at once accepted the trust,
and started for Constantinople in November 1876. At first there was
serious trouble with the Turkish Government, but in January 1878
Rassam was enabled to commence excavations, which he carried on almost
continuously for five years. Layard, as ambassador at Constantinople,
stood him in good stead. He took much advantage of native talent,
which, if not up to the standard of European efficiency, he found in no
wise despicable. But too many excavations were being carried on at one
and the same time. Again, Rassam was prone to attempt sensational finds
rather than to keep steadily at the more solid and less showy work of
excavation. Guided by certain indications of the presence of objects
of the Shalmaneser period at Kouyunjik, he dug there once more and
succeeded in unearthing the bronze plaques which had covered the cedar
gates of a large Assyrian building at least 2500 years old, and built
by Shalmaneser II. They represented warriors and equestrian figures,
and it was found that the site on which they were discovered had been
the city of Imgur-Bel. Rassam also recovered further clay tablets from
the library of Assur-bani-pal at Kouyunjik. With his return to England
in 1882 it may be said that the Assyrian excavations of the nineteenth
century, in contradistinction to those carried out on Babylonian soil,
came to an end.

De Sarzec

With the excavations of the Frenchman de Sarzec at Tellô the second
great period of Chaldean archæological research may be said to have
commenced. Ernest de Sarzec was French Vice-consul at Basra, but by
his private efforts he succeeded in making Tellô 'the Pompeii of early
Babylonian antiquity.' The two principal mounds excavated by him are
known to Assyriologists as 'Mound A' and 'Mound B.' Digging in the
former he soon collected sufficient evidence to convince him that
he stood on a site of great antiquity. He found indeed that Mound A
consisted of a platform of unbaked bricks crowned by an edifice of
considerable size and extent. He unearthed part of a great statue,
on the shoulder of which was engraved the name of Gudea (2700 B.C.),
patesi, or ruler, of Lagash, with which city Mound A proved to be
identical, and later exposed numerous large columns of bricks of the
time of Gudea, the 'stele of vultures' erected by King E-anna-tum, and
two large terra-cotta cylinders of Gudea, each inscribed with about
2000 lines of early cuneiform writing.

On a later visit, at the end of 1880 and beginning of 1881, he further
developed excavation in Mound A, and discovered nine large dolerite
statues, fragments of precious bas-reliefs, and numerous inscriptions.
He also came upon layers of more ancient remains beneath the building
he had unearthed in Mound A.

The collection of early Babylonian sculptures regained by de Sarzec
was hailed with acclamation in Paris. An Oriental section was
instituted in the Louvre, and Léon Heuzy commenced the publication of a
monumental work, _Découvertes en Chaldée par Ernest de Sarzec_ (Paris,
1884, _seq._), which laid the foundation for a methodical treatment of
ancient Chaldean art. The subsequent excavation of de Sarzec in Tellô
and its neighbourhood carried the history of the city back to at least
4000 B.C., and a collection of more than 30,000 tablets of the time of
Gudea was gradually unearthed.

In 1886-1887 a German expedition under Dr Koldewey explored the
cemetery of El Hibba to the South of Tellô, and succeeded in throwing
much light upon the burial customs of ancient Babylonia. A second
German expedition under Dr Andrae, working at Babylon in 1889, laid
bare the palace of Nebuchadrezzar and the great processional road,
and subsequently conducted excavations at Qal'at Sherqat, the site of

The American Expedition of 1889

There had been keen interest in Babylonian archæology in America
almost from the inception of the series of excavations dealt with in
this sketch, and this was in all likelihood due to the popularity of
Biblical studies in the great republic of the West. The Babylonian
Exploration Fund was instituted on November 30, 1887. Excavatory
labours were commenced at Nippur in 1889, and on first beholding the
immense mass of the mounds which concealed the ruins of the temple-city
the members of the expedition were not a little disturbed. "Even at
a distance I began to realize that not twenty, not fifty years would
suffice to excavate this important site thoroughly," writes Professor
Hilprecht.[5] The ruins resembled "a picturesque mountain range" rather
than "the last impressive remains of human constructions." But the
Americans 'sat down' before the mass with the courage of their race,
resolved to probe into its innermost secrets. At first they speculated
as to the character of the buildings hidden from their view. The
director, Dr Peters, was rapidly exhausting his fund of $15,000 without
coming upon anything of value, and recognizing the necessity for the
prompt discovery of important objects if opinion at home was to be
placated, Hilprecht pointed out to him the desirability of attacking
an isolated mound which in his judgment contained the residences of
the priests and the temple library. Peters agreed to the proposal,
and almost at once an important series of tablets was discovered. The
mound seemed, indeed, inexhaustible, and most of its contents were of
a date about 2000 B.C., but there were also later tablets belonging to
the reign of Nabopolasser, Nebuchadrezzar, Nabonidus, and even Cyrus,
Cambyses, and Darius. Shortly after this the first expedition was
brought to a close.

[Illustration in text, previous page: Plan of Nineveh (Nippur) A.
Palace of Sennacherib. B. Palace of Assur-bani-pal. _By permission of
the Director of the British Museum._]

In the second expedition, also undertaken at Nippur, Dr Peters decided
to dispense with the services of Messrs Hilprecht and Field, the expert
Assyriologists who had been dispatched to advise him professionally.
Himself not an Assyriologist, he laboured at a disadvantage without
the assistance of these experts. The work of the first expedition had
concentrated at three conspicuous points--the temple, the 'tablet'
hill which had yielded such good results, and the 'Court of Columns.'
The principal objective was now the conical hill of Bint-el-Amir,
containing the zikkurat and temple of Bel. Peters regarded the temple
as having been built by a king "not far removed from Nebuchadrezzar in
time," but many of his inferences have been traversed by Hilprecht. "In
his endeavour to reach the older remains before the more recent strata
had been investigated in the least adequately, Peters broke through
the outer casing of the zikkurat, built of 'immense blocks of adobe,'
in a cavity of which he discovered a well-preserved goose egg, and
perceived that there was an older stage-tower of quite a different form
and much smaller dimensions enclosed within the other. By means of a
diagonal trench cut through its centre, he ascertained its height and
characteristic features down to the level of Ur-Gur, and came to the
conclusion (which, however, did not prove correct) that the zikkurat
of this ancient monarch was the earliest erected at Nippur. 'Wells and
similar shafts were sunk at other points of the temple,' especially
at the northern and western corners, where he reached original
constructions of Ashurbanapal (668-626 B.C.) and Ur-Gur (about 2700
B.C.), and discovered scattered bricks ... 'showing that many kings of
many ages had honoured the temple of Bel at Nippur.'"[6]

The Business Quarter of Nippur

The excavators soon concluded that they had hit upon the business
quarter of Nippur, basing their belief upon the commercial character
of the tablets found, the large number of day labels pierced for
attachment to sacks and jars, books of entry in clay, and weights
and measures. So much damage had been done to the buildings while
excavating, however that the appearance and plan of any of the
Babylonian business houses and warehouses could not be arrived at.

In August 1893 Haynes commenced a search for the original bed and
embankment of the river Chebar, which he came upon at a depth of
twenty feet from the surface. In the dried-up bed of the river or
canal he found a round terra-cotta fountain in three fragments,
decorated with birds from whose mouths the water passed.

The Fourth Campaign

The fourth campaign covered the years 1898-1900, and was under the
direct control of the University of Pennsylvania. Excavations were
commenced at the extreme south-eastern end of the west ridge. Spring
and summer were spent by Haynes in a 'nervous search' for tablets,
although a strictly scientific examination of Nippur had been asked
for. Late tablets and coffins resulted from this search; finds of old
Babylonian character were meagre. The director did not see eye to eye
with his architects, and one of them, Mr Fisher, resigned, returning,
however, in the autumn of 1899. The Committee in America requested
Haynes to confine his efforts to the exploration of the eastern half
of the temple court, and to this task he addressed himself with zeal
if only with partial success. Tablets, according to the director,
sufficient to institute "a distinct library by itself," continued to
pour out of 'Tablet Hill.' But technical and expert advice was lacking.
The architects desired to remove a Parthian round tower, Haynes
reluctantly consented, and upon its removal the gate of an ancient
temple was unearthed.

Hilprecht Returns

Professor Hilprecht now reappeared, and his coming put a new complexion
on affairs. A trained and efficient archæologist, he saw at once that
'Tablet Hill' represented the site of the temple library, so resolved
to leave its excavation to a later expedition, and meantime to settle
"the more essential topographical questions." He saw that these once
answered, "it would be a comparatively easy task for the Committee to
have the single mounds excavated one after another by somebody else, if
necessity arose, who was less familiar with the ruins and the history
of their exploration. Every trench cut henceforth--and there were a
great many--was cut for the sole purpose of excavating structures
systematically and of gathering necessary data for the history and
topography of ancient Nippur. If these trenches yielded tangible museum
results at the same time, so much the better; if they did not," he
says, "I was not troubled by their absence." However, "antiquities were
found so abundantly in the pursuit of the plan described, that the
principle was established anew that a strictly scientific method of
excavating is at the same time the most profitable."

Summarizing his 'explanations' of the ruins at Bint-el-Amir, Hilprecht
writes: "1. A stage-tower of smaller dimensions existed at Nippur
before Sargon I (about 3800 B.C.). 2. In pre-Sargonic times the ground
around the sacred enclosure was a vast graveyard, a regular fire
necropolis. 3. One of the names of the stage-tower of Nippur suggested
the idea of a tomb to the early inhabitants of the country. In the
course of time certain zikkurats were directly designated by the
Babylonians as tombs of the gods. 4. The stage-tower of Bel did not
occupy the centre of the enclosed platform, but the south-west section
of it, while the north-east part was reserved for 'the house of Bel,'
his principal sanctuary, which stood at the side of the stage-tower.
5. The temple of Bel consisted of two large courts adjoining each
other, the north-west court with the zikkurat and 'the house of
Bel' representing the most holy place or the inner court, while the
south-east (outer) court seems to have been studded with the shrines of
all the different gods and goddesses worshipped at Nippur, including
one for Bel himself. 6. Imgur-Marduk and Nimit-Marduk, mentioned in the
cuneiform inscriptions as the two walls of Nippur (dûru and Shalkhû),
cannot have surrounded the whole city. According to the results of the
excavations conducted under my own supervision, only the temple was
enclosed by a double wall, while in all probability the city itself
remained unprotected. 7. The large complex of buildings covering the
top of Bint-el-Amir has nothing to do with the ancient temple below,
but represents a huge fortified Parthian palace grouped around and upon
the remains of the stage-tower then visible."[7]

By means of careful tunnelling Hilprecht also unearthed the south-east
side of a pre-Sargonic temple-tower, but the nature of the excavation,
risking as it did a sudden collapse of soil and bricks, was too
dangerous to permit of further labours upon it.

The House of the Dead

A building-record of Assur-bani-pal was brought to light which
described the temple-tower of Nippur as E-gigunnû, 'House of the Tomb.'
Before this other titles of it had been recovered which alluded to it
as 'Mountain of the Wind,' and it was understood to have been a local
representation of the great mythological 'mountain of the world,'
Kharsag-kurkura. This was puzzling until Hilprecht found that the
tower penetrated so far into the earth as to descend to the 'city of
the dead' which, according to Babylonian belief, was directly below and
within the earth.

The Temple Library

Hilprecht now turned his attention to the temple library in 'Tablet
Hill,' with results most important for the science of Assyriology.
This building, contemporary with the time of Abram, now yielded large
quantities of ancient tablets, occurring in strata of from one to
four feet in thickness, as if they had once been disposed upon wooden

A Babylonian Museum

An important find was made of a jar containing about twenty inscribed
objects, mostly clay tablets, which constituted a veritable small
Babylonian museum, evidently collected by a late Babylonian priest or
someone connected with the temple library. Archæology was probably
fashionable about the time of Nabonidus (556-539 B.C.), himself a
monarch of antiquarian tastes. The collector of this 'museum' had
actually taken a 'squeeze' or impression of an inscription of Sargon I
(3800 B.C.), in his time about 3340 years old, and had even placed upon
it a label stating that the object was a 'squeeze' or 'mould' of an
inscribed stone "which Nabûzêrlishir, the scribe, saw in the palace of
King Naram-Sin at Agade."

Says Hilprecht concerning this remarkable collection, "The owner,
or curator, of the little museum of Babylonian originals must have
obtained his specimens by purchase or through personal excavations
carried out in the ruined buildings of Bel's city. He doubtless lived
in the sixth century, about the time of King Nabonidos, and was a
man well versed in the ancient literature of his nation and deeply
interested in the past history of Nippur. This follows from the fact
that his vase was found in the Neo-Babylonian stratum of 'Tablet Hill,'
and from the circumstance that the latest antiquity of his collection
is dated in the government of Sin-sharishkun, the last representative
of the Assyrian dynasty (about 615 B.C.)."

In the second year of this campaign Peters contented himself with
'sounding' as many places as possible rather than settling down to the
steady work of excavation, in which preference he resembled Rassam. But
his labours were crowned with no little success, for he came upon a
large number of Kassite votive objects, the first great collection of
antiquities of this dynasty ever found, and a shrine of King Bur-Sin
I dedicated to Bel about 2600 B.C. The excavation of the large and
important building remains grouped around the temple tower of Bel
was, however, Peters' principal task during his second campaign. But
his hope of discovering many inscribed tablets while excavating these
ruins was not to be realized. He was more fortunate, however, in the
triangular mound (that known as 'Mound IV') to the south of the temple,
which yielded some 2000 tablets, scientific, literary, and financial
manuscripts, and even school exercises being turned up by the spade.
About the same time excavations in the south-eastern wing of the
large mounds disclosed the presence of thousands of tablets and many
figures of Bel and his consort Beltis. Most of the tablets here were
commercial, and of date about 2600 to 2000 B.C. In May the labours of
the second campaign came to a close.

Haynes' Work at Nippur

The third campaign (1893-1896) Peters delegated to Haynes, who
commenced operations at Nippur in the great ridge which stretches
along the southward bank of the Shatt-en-Nîl, where numerous tablets
had already been unearthed. In about four months he had collected some
8000 tablets, and when the supply of these began to fail he transferred
his attention to the temple mound which had been worked at before, and
which he continued to explore until April 1894. With the help of Joseph
A. Meyer, a young American architect, Haynes concentrated his work on
the zikkurat at Nippur. Unfortunately Meyer died in December, but not
until he had rendered priceless service to Haynes in his capacity as
advisory architect. Haynes, unable to continue the exploration of the
temple-mound without expert advice, undertook to unearth a sufficient
quantity of tablets to meet Peters' demand for inscribed material.
Later he pursued excavations at the Bint-el-Amir, where Peters had
worked before him, cleared the zikkurat of Assur-bani-pal there and
excavated the court of that building down to the water level. The
excavation of the immense façade of this great erection was a work of
enormous labour, hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of rubbish having
to be removed before a partial clearance was effected.

The excavation of the south-west court of the zikkurat of
Assur-bani-pal was the most interesting part of Haynes' work on
the temple of Bel. First he had to clear away the Parthian ruins
superimposed upon the site, until he came to the brick pavement of
Assur-bani-pal. He then came upon a pavement of the Sargonic period
which extended through a considerable part of the mound as a dividing
line. The rubbish which lay beneath this was about sixteen feet in
depth, and had been accumulated within a period of more than three
thousand years (3800-350 B.C.). The most important of the many strata
of this rubbish-heap is that which lies between the pavement of King
Ur-Ninib and that immediately below it. Over 600 fragments of vases,
statues, and slabs were gathered here, all seemingly deliberately
broken, "by somebody who lived between the reigns of Ur-Gur of Ur and
Ur-Ninib of Nisin"--perhaps the leader of an Elamite raid. The famous
text of Lugalzuggisi, King of Erech, with its 132 lines of writing, was
found here and restored by Hilprecht from sixty-four fragments.

Digging elsewhere, Haynes unearthed the oldest arch in the world at
a considerable depth, drain-pipes of the date about 4500 B.C., and
pre-Sargonic cellars containing large wine-or oil-jars. In one chamber
twenty feet below the surface were found the business archives of a
great Babylonian firm, Murashu and Sons, bankers and brokers at Nippur
(_c_. 464-424 B.C.).

[Illustration: Ruins of Babylon Uncovered after twelve years' labour
by German archæologists, who began excavating in 1900. Copyright by
Underwood and Underwood, London.]

Recent Research

Recent research in Mesopotamia has centred around the site of Babylon,
where results of a most interesting and encouraging description have
been achieved. The German Oriental Society commenced work upon the site
in the spring of 1899, and after twelve years of incessant labour under
the direction of Dr Robert Koldewey, published the report of their
labours in 1911.

The Babylon of Nebuchadrezzar II

The portion of the city laid bare in these twelve years of digging was
contemporary with the reigns of Nebuchadrezzar II and Nabonidus, the
last native King of Babylon, but certain parts of the ruins unearthed
had been built in the much more ancient era of Khammurabi, the great
law-maker, and even during the First Dynasty. The later Babylon is
known to us from the pages of Herodotus and Ctesias, and the explorers
speedily found that the accounts of these writers in nowise squared
with the actual topographical conditions of the ruins unearthed and
surveyed. Herodotus speaks of a Babylon 53 miles in circumference, and
Ctesias is not much more modest in his estimate of over 40 miles. The
city wall to the north-east side may still be traced in its entirety,
and remains to prove that the city on this side measured not more
than 2 3/4 miles, and judging from this, we obtain an approximate
circumference of 11 miles--a figure far short of the estimate of the
'Father of History.'

The Outer Wall

The walls themselves are of considerable interest. The outer wall
was nearly twenty feet in thickness, and was built of burnt bricks
impressed with the royal stamp of Nebuchadrezzar. Here and there
its length was broken by towers for outlook or defensive purposes.
Herodotus states that so broad was the top of the wall that a
four-horse chariot could easily turn upon its surface, and that two of
these vehicles had a sufficiency of room to pass one another without
risk to horses or driver. Companies of men could be moved along this
mural highway in time of siege, so that a supply of defenders could be
brought with dispatch to guard any portion of the defences that was
imminently threatened.

Bâbil as a Citadel

The mound of Bâbil, to which we have frequently referred in
this account of Babylonian excavation, was recognized by the
German expedition as a citadel built for defensive purposes by
Nebuchadrezzar--a place of refuge to which the King and court could
repair in case of the capture of the city itself. It contained the
royal stores and treasury, a large armoury and arsenal, and there is
reason to believe that the monarch resided there even in times of
peace. It was, indeed, a miniature city, a lesser Babylon, containing
everything necessary for the royal support and pleasure.

Babylon's Water-Supply

The question of a suitable water-supply agitated municipal Babylon just
as keenly as it does any of our own great centres of population, and
recent excavations have illustrated the manner in which the Euphrates
was utilized for this purpose. Nabopolasser has left inscriptions to
show how he rebuilt the walls of a channel called the Arakhtu to lead
the river Euphrates past the city boundaries. Nebuchadrezzar built
a massive fortification with walls of from fifty to sixty feet in
thickness into the bed of the Euphrates to prevent the formation of
sandbanks in the river which possibly caused the flooding of the left
bank above the temple of E-Sagila. This left a narrow channel between
the new wall and the old quay, and it is probable that this huge
construction caused a subsequent change in the course of the Euphrates.

Nebuchadrezzar's Palace

Nebuchadrezzar's palace was situated in the southern citadel on the
mound known as the Kasr. On this building he lavished both time and
treasure. When he came to the throne he found the site occupied by the
residence of his father Nabopolasser, but when he returned from his
triumphant Egyptian campaigns he despised the plain old place and, like
some modern potentates, resolved to build himself a royal edifice which
would symbolize the power and majesty of the empire he had won for
himself. He turned his father's palace into a mere platform upon which
to rear his own more flamboyant structure, and filled in its rooms,
courts, and spaces with rubble.

The Palace without Windows

For the most part the palace was built round open courts, much in the
Spanish fashion, and there is no trace of windows, a phenomenon which
constantly recurs in ancient buildings in the East, in Egypt, and in
Central America. But when we consider the extremes of heat encountered
in these latitudes we can appreciate the desire for a cool semi-gloom
which called for the windowless chamber. The flat roofs, too, were used
for sleeping purposes, so that the inhabitants did not wholly dispense
with fresh air.

The Great Throne Room

But by far the most interesting apartment in the palace is the great
Throne Room of Nebuchadrezzar, the apartment upon which he lavished so
much personal care and consideration. It stands immediately south of
the Great Court, and is much the most spacious room in the palace. In
the wall opposite the grand entrance from the court is a deep recess or
niche, where it is thought the royal throne must have stood, so that
not only the courtiers in the Throne Room but the lesser dignitaries
thronging the courtyard without could have had sight of the monarch of
the Eastern World seated in all his splendour upon his imperial throne.
Strangely enough the walls of this great apartment of state were merely
plastered with white gypsum, while the brickwork of the outer façade
which faced the court was decorated with brightly coloured enamels
displaying the most involved designs, floral and geometrical, in blue,
yellow, black, and white. Such ornamentation would probably be banned
from the Throne Room because of the high reflections from a brightly
polished enamelled surface, and as we have seen heat and light were
taboo in Babylonian interiors.

[Illustration: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.--M. Dovaston, R.B.A.--By
permission of Messrs Hutchinson and Co.]

The Drainage System

Doors in the throne-room wall communicated with what were probably
the King's private apartments. The harem and other purely private
suites were placed further to the west, over the earlier residence of
Nabopolasser, the official portion of the palace being situated towards
the east. There was a most elaborate drainage system which not only
carried rain-water from the flat roofs but from the courts and walls as
well. The larger drains had corbel-shaped roofs, but the smaller ones
were formed of bricks set together in the shape of a 'V' and closed
in at the top with other bricks laid flat. Vertical shafts and gutters
were also in use, and these were conducted down the sides of towers and

The Hanging Gardens

Another structure has been indicated as perhaps the foundation of
the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It consists of a number of
barrel-vaulted cells, seven on each side of a central passage. These
cells are roofed over with semi-circular arches, and are flanked on
the north by the palace wall. It is known that hewn stone was employed
in the construction of this 'wonder of the world,' and only in three
other places in the palace demesne (the Sacred Road, the bridge over
the Euphrates, and the Kasr Wall) is stone employed. This points
to the identification of the site in question as being that of the
Hanging Gardens, on which layers of earth were laid and the shrubs,
trees, and arbours which decorated it planted thereon. Berossus
distinctly states that these gardens were within the buildings by which
Nebuchadrezzar enlarged his father's palace. But the dimensions of this
structure do not tally with those given by Strabo and Diodorus, and
the imagination revolts at the conception of these famous and romantic
gardens having for their foundation this obscure and prosaic cellarage.
Archæology must leave us something. By all means let us have truth and
enlightenment--unless where truth is itself uglier than falsehood! It
has been shrewdly conjectured by Professor King[8] that these cellars
formed the palace granary, and we must be grateful to him for the

The Great Gate of Ishtar

It was in the spring of 1902 that Dr. Koldewey made the important
discovery of the Great Gate of the goddess Ishtar which spanned the
Sacred Way of the imperial city. This turreted erection, ornamented
in relief by the figures of mythical animals in coloured brick, has
been excavated clean out of the superincumbent earth, and constitutes
a double monument to its ancient builders and to the patient
archæologists who recovered it from the sands of antiquity. It was the
main gate in the north citadel wall, and had been reconstructed by the
zealous Nebuchadrezzar. It is double (for the fortification line in
which it stood was twofold), and in front consists of two high towers
with gate-houses behind. The figures of the animals are so arranged
that to the eye of one approaching the city they would seem advancing
to meet him. At least 575 of these creatures were depicted on the
gate, the favourite subjects being bulls and dragons, beautifully and
realistically modelled in relief.

The Street of Processions

A portion of the Street of Processions upon which this gateway opened
has also been excavated. This highway was of imposing breadth, and
ran its course from north to south directly across the city. It was
a species of Via Sacra, for over its stones was carried the image of
Merodach upon his day of high festival. Its use was restricted to
foot-passengers, and no chariots or other horse-drawn vehicles were
permitted to make use of it. Its foundation is of burnt brick upon
which is overlaid an upper pavement of breccia (conglomerate rock) in

The Temples of Babylon

Interest has naturally centred around the excavation of the five great
temples of Babylon, the ground-plans of four of which have been laid
bare. The temple of E-Makh, dedicated to the goddess Nin-Makh was the
first to be excavated. It contains one of the only two altars found in
Babylon, a structure of plain, crude brick, simple and unadorned, which
stands outside its main entrance. As the only other example in the city
occupies an exactly similar position, we must conclude that custom or
ritual dictated an exterior site for the sacrificial altar. The temple
of Nin-Makh was a simple shrine of mere mud-brick, decorated with black
and white designs superimposed upon a scanty coating of whitewash.
Nin-Makh (the great lady) was one of the titles of Ishtar. The temple
appears to have been built round a large court, and to have been
entered by a gateway flanked by a series of square, solid towers, three
on either side. There is a long, narrow passage behind the shrine,
which probably gave access to a concealed opening in the back wall of
the temple behind the image of the goddess, who could thus have been
made to give forth oracular utterances. In the courtyard was a well
from which water was drawn for the purpose of performing lustral rites.

We are ignorant of the precise form of the upper part of Babylonian
temples (apart from the _zikkurats_ or towers), as only the lower
portions of their walls in most cases remain to us. But from certain
plaques and seals on which temples are represented we can glean that
they were probably turreted or castellated in front and perhaps at
the sides as well, and that the entrance was arched, the frontage
presenting a picture not very unlike that of a heavily constructed
castle of the Norman epoch. Indeed one unidentified temple bears
resemblance to a prison, so forbidding is it in its almost unbroken
line of turret and retaining wall. We must remember, however, that
colour lent embellishment to these buildings, the otherwise heavy
façades of which would have been dreary indeed.


The temple of E-Sagila, which was dedicated to Merodach, patron deity
of Babylon, is of course by far the most important within the city
bounds. It has not been wholly excavated from the mound of Tell Amran,
but the main western portion of it has been brought to light, and has
been shown, like other Babylonian shrines, to have consisted of a
series of chambers built round an open court. In the centre of each
side was an open gateway where once stood the famous eight bronze
serpents, two to each entrance. The especial shrine of Merodach,
which has not yet been unearthed, lay on the western side, and had a
towered entrance and decorated façade which Nebuchadrezzar stated he
caused 'to shine like the sun.' He coated the walls of the shrine with
gold and roofed it with the choicest cedars from Lebanon, 'the noble
forest.' Here, says Herodotus, the mighty figure of the god rested,
which, with the throne, dais, and table before it was fashioned of pure
gold, of 800 talents in weight. To the north of Merodach's temple rose
its _zikkurat_ or tower. So far excavation upon it has in a measure
disproved the account of Herodotus that it consisted of a stepped
tower in eight stages with the ascent to the summit encircling the
outside. The first stage, now uncovered, has a triple stairway built
against one side of the tower, but we shall never know what the upper
stories were like, for they have long since crumbled into desert dust.
Dr. Koldewey considers that the great tower was built in one stage,
decorated with coloured bands, and surmounted by a shrine.

The Great Tower of Nabu (E-Zida)

The foundations of the great tower of Nabu at Borsippa, a suburb of
Babylon, still awaits excavation, but as it stands it rises to a
height of over 100 feet above the desert. The clearing of its base
will necessitate a colossal amount of labour, but when effected, our
knowledge of these temple-towers will be considerably enhanced.

The Euphrates Bridge

The bridge over the river Euphrates is worthy of mention, since it
represents the oldest bridge known to the science of archæology. It
possessed stone piers, built in the shape of boats, thus showing that
it had been evolved from an earlier bridge of boats. The bows of these
piers point up-stream, and thus break the force of the current. The
river at the point where it was crossed by the bridge was at least
sixty feet broad, and the passage-way of wood was laid across the
boat-piers, and must have been rather narrow. The structure was the
work of Nabopolasser.

The Elder Babylon

During the first years of their labours the excavators were under the
impression that the destruction of the older portions of the city by
Sennacherib had been so complete that but few of its remains were to
be looked for in the course of excavation. But as time progressed it
was found that the relics of the older quarters lay mostly beneath the
present water-level. In the Menkes Mound a quarter of the ancient city
has been unearthed at a depth of some thirty feet, and the outline of
its streets clearly shown. Still lower were found houses dating from
the period of Merodach-baladan I (1201-1189 B.C.) and Meli-shipok II
(1216-1202 B.C.). A thick layer of ashes showed that a still earlier
portion of the city had been destroyed by fire, and this archaic
quarter has been identified as the city of Khammurabi, the princely
law-maker (2123-2081 B.C.), and his immediate successors, according
to dated tablets found among the burnt debris--mute witnesses of the
disaster which overtook Babylon's First Dynasty.


It is noticeable that the later streets follow closely the trend and
plan of the older thoroughfares, which, generally speaking, ran north
and south, parallel to the course of the Sacred Way. Professor King[9]
gives it as his opinion that here we have a deliberate attempt at
town-planning on a scientific basis! He credits this to the Semitic
element in the population, as in Sumerian towns there is no trace of
town-planning. And yet Babylon was strangely conservative. As she
commenced, so she continued, and her early efforts were only superseded
in magnitude, not in quality of purpose.

[1] But _cf._ 1 Kings xix 16, _ff_.; 2 Kings ix and x.

[2] _Explorations in Bible Lands_ (T. and T. Clark, 1903).

[3] _Assyrian Discoveries_, p. 9 (London, 1875).

[4] _Assyrian Discoveries_, p. 148 (London, 1875).

[5] _Explorations in Bible Lands_ (T. and T. Clark, 1903).

[6] Hilprecht, _Explorations in Bible Lands_, p. 232 (T. and T. Clark,

[7] _Explorations in Bible Lands_ (T. and T. Clark, 1903).

[8] _History of Babylon_, p. 50 (1915).

[9] _History of Babylon_, p. 85.


With the fall of the Assyrian empire in 606 B.C., Babylonia once more
regained her national status. This meant that her national god Merodach
was no longer subservient to the Assyrian Asshur in a political sense,
and regained his place as sole head of the Babylonian pantheon.

Great must have been the satisfaction of the people of Babylon when,
this comparatively mild tyranny removed, they could worship their own
gods in their own way, free from the humiliating remembrance that
their northern neighbours regarded all Babylonian sacred things as
appanages of the Assyrian empire. Nabopolasser and Nebuchadrezzar, his
successor, gave effect to these changes, and the latter king placed
Nabu on a footing of equality with Merodach. Was this the cause of
his punishment? Was it because he had offended in a religious sense
that he had to undergo the terrible infliction of which we read in the
Scriptures? The priesthood of Merodach must have possessed immense and
practically unlimited power in Babylon, and we may feel sure that any
such interference with their newfound privilege, as is here suggested,
would have met with speedy punishment. Was the wretched monarch led to
believe that an enchantment had been cast upon him, and that he had
been transformed into animal shape at the command of an outraged deity?
We cannot say. The cause of his misfortune must for ever remain one of
the mysteries of the ancient world.

The unfortunate Nabonidus, too, attempted to replace the cults of
Merodach and Nabu by that of Shamash. And that hastened his doom,
for the priests became his bitter enemies, and when the Persian Cyrus
entered the gates of Babylon as a conqueror he was hailed as the
saviour of Merodach's honour.

The last native kings of Babylonia were great temple-builders, and
this policy they continued until the end. Indeed in the time of
Nebuchadrezzar there was a revival of ancient and half-forgotten cults,
and many local gods were exalted to a pitch of popularity hitherto

The Conquering Cyrus

Then in 539 B.C. came the conquering Cyrus, and the period of the decay
of the Babylonian religion began. The victor merely upheld the cults of
Merodach and Nabu for reasons of policy, and when in turn the Greeks
ruled over Babylonia they followed the Persian lead in this respect.
By the defeat of the Persian Darius at the battle of Arbela (331 B.C.)
the way to Babylon was left open to the mighty Alexander the Great.
This was the beginning of the end. The old religion dragged out a
broken existence until about the beginning of the Christian era, then
slowly but surely vanished beneath the attacks of Hellenic scepticism,
Christian propaganda, and pagan caprice.

That a faith so virile, so ancient, so entrenched in the love of a
people as that of Babylonia should fall into an oblivion so profound
as to be totally forgotten for nearly nineteen centuries is a solemn
and impressive reminder of the evanescent character of human affairs.
They were men of their hands, these ancient Mesopotamians, great
theologians, great builders, great soldiers. Yet their mighty works,
their living faith left 'not a wrack behind' save mounds of rubbish
which, when excavated by the modern antiquary, were found to contain
a few poor vestiges of the splendour that was Babylon and the pomps
of the city of Asshur. Does there not reside in this a great lesson
for modernity? Must our civilization, our faith, all that is ours and
that we have raised--must these things, too, fade into the shadows of
unremembrance as did the civilization of Mesopotamia?

A Great Lesson

The answer to such a question depends upon ourselves--upon each and
every one of us. If we quit ourselves as civilized men, striving
and ever striving to refine and purify our lives, our conduct, our
intellectual outlook, to spiritualize our faith, then though the things
of our hands may be dust, the works of our minds, of our souls shall
not vanish, but shall remain in the consciousness of our descendants
so long as human memory lasts. The faith of ancient Babylon went under
because it was built rather on the worship of frail and bestial gods
than the love of truth,--gods many of whom were devils in disguise,
but devils no whit worse than our fiends of ambition, of greed, of
pugnacity, of unsympathy. Through the worship of such gods Babylon came
to oblivion. Let us contemplate the colossal wreck of that mighty work
of man, and as we gaze over the gulf of a score of centuries to where
its "cloud-capp'd towers and gorgeous palaces" glitter in the mirage of
legend, let us brace ourselves for the struggle which humanity has yet
to wage with darkness, with disease, with superstition. But while we
remember her fall with sadness, let us think generously and kindly of
her dead mightiness, of the ancient effort she made, striving after her
lights, of her picturesque and many-coloured life, and, not least, of
her achievements--the invention of those symbols by which the words of
man can be transferred to his brother across the silent ocean of time.



Assyrian differs in many respects from the other Semitic languages.
There are few gutturals, these having been mostly smoothed out. Thus
'Ba'l' became 'Bel,' and 'Hadad,' 'Adad.' On the other hand it is
thought that the cuneiform inscriptions may have omitted guttural
sounds. The cuneiform system of writing is so imperfect and complicated
that we must make certain reservations in our acceptance of the
transcriptions of contemporary Assyriologists, and it must therefore be
understood that Assyrian names and words as we know them and as found
in the present work and index may be yet greatly modified by future
researches. Assyrian names as known to-day are pronounced according to
analogy gleaned from the pronunciation of the other Semitic languages.
Thus 'Shin'ar' is spelt with the Hebrew _'ain_, (guttural _a_) in
the Scriptures, and we are unaware whether the Scriptural author
interpolated the guttural or not. Analogy in this instance is not
nearly so valuable a guide as in the case of Egyptian, where we have in
Coptic the modern form of the Egyptian language to guide us, nor is it
at all likely that we shall ever know much more than we do concerning
the pronunciation of a language the written symbols of which are so
uncertain as regards their precise alphabetic values.



Aa or Â. Consort of Shamash, 110
ABED'NEGO. One of Daniel's companions, 38
AB'RAM. Ur, city of, 15, 145, 249;
  Nimrod and, 51-56;
  Jewish legends _re_, 51, 52;
  Persian traditions _re_, 52, 53;
  another tradition _re_, preserved in the East, 53-56;
  star Venus and, 55
AB'U-HABB'AH. The ancient site of Sippar, 177
ABYDENUS. Statement of, _re_ Ea, 112
ABYSS, THE. Paradise and, 82
ACCA'D. Part of Nimrod's kingdom, 49
ACHÆMENIDÆ. Cyaxares' son dethroned by, 333
A'DAD. Equivalent, Hadad, 187-191
A'DAD-EA. Ut-Napishtim's ferry-man, 172;
  Gilgamesh consults, 172;
  Ut-Napishtim, Gilgamesh and, 178
A'DAD-NARARI IV. Son of Assur-Dan III, 308
ADAM. The sons of, 232
AD'APA. The South Wind and, story of, 116-121
AD'AR. Sun-god of Nippur;
  Hymn to, 68;
  connected with the pig, 93, 294
AD'NA. Wife of Azar;
  according to an Eastern tradition the parents of Abram, 54
AD-ÔNIS. Smyrna, mother of, reference to, 127;
  myth of related to that of Tammuz, 131
AEDORACHUS. Of Pantibiblon, reference to, 112
ÆLIAN. Of Gilgamos (Gilgamesh);
  grandson of Sokkaros, 157
AF-AN-AS-I'EF. On vampires, 266
AFRICA, 329;
  Semitic religion in, 331
A'HAB. King of Israel, overthrown by Shalmaneser II, 24
A'HI-MI-TI. Sargon displaces Azuri by, 210
AH'RI-MAN. Mazda and Sraosha overcome, 337
AHURA MAZDA. Good principle of Zarathustra's religion, 334;
  creator of the universe, 335
A-I'BU. The serpent, 289
AKK'AD. Kingdom founded by Semites, 16;
  King Sargon of, founds first great Semitic empire in Babylonia, 16
AKK-AD'IANS. Description of, 13-16;
  language, 13, 14;
  Babylonian Semites receive germs of culture from the, 14;
  modern equivalent for the older, is the expression 'Sumerian,' 15;
  stars studied by, 231
AKK'U-LU (Eater). Attendant hound of Merodach, 202
A-LAL'U. The eagle;
  Ishtar and, 167
'ALL'AH.' Modern Arabic name, 325
ALL-A-TU. Equivalent, Eresh-ki-gal, mistress of Hades, 129;
  realms of, 237
_Al-ô-nim_. Descriptive term of Phœnicians for their gods, 327
ALTAR-S. Of Dodo, and of Yahveh, 190, 191
A'LU. Bull, sent by Anu against Gilgamesh, 168, 169
AL'U-DEMON. The, 271, 277
A-MAR'UDUK. The name Merodach, originally, 202
AM'EN-HET'EP IV. King of Egypt;
  letters to, unearthed at Tel-el-Amarna, 22
AMORITE-S. Hadad, a god of the, 188;
  deity, Dagon an, 352
AN'A-TU. The consort of Anu, 123;
  mother of Ishtar, 168
ANCESTOR-WORSHIP. The Canaanites and, 326
ANDRAE, Dr. A German explorer, 356
ANIMALS. Babylonian gods having form of, 92, 93;
  mythological monsters and, of Chaldea, 289-298;
  the dog, 290-292;
  the pig, 294
ANIMISTIC. Babylonian religion typically, 317, 319
AN-NE-DA'TUS. Appears from Eruthrean Sea, 112
_Ann'-u-na-ki_, THE. Generic name for the gods of the earth, 82, 130;
  spirits of earth, 90;
  decree fate, 173;
  torches carried by, 175
AN'SAR. God;
  birth of, 71;
  Tiawath and, 76
AN'SHAR. Variant of Asshur;
  created with Kishar, 208;
  Anu, Ea, and Merodach sent to destroy Tiawath, 208
AN'U. God of the sky;
  son of Ansar and Kisar, 72;
  Ansar and, 76;
  Merodach and, 79;
  most ancient of Babylonian deities, 90;
  held sway over Erech and Der, 94;
  temple of, 102;
  South Wind and, 117-121;
  En-lil, Ea and, the universal triad, 121;
  significance, 121-123;
  Anatu, the consort of, 123;
  Bau and, 144;
  sacred bull sent against Gilgamesh by, 158;
  father of Ishtar, 168;
  Hadad worshipped with, at Asshur, 188;
  the Tablets of Destiny and, 195;
  in a triad with Ea and Bel, but more frequently in the texts apart
  from them, 197, 198;
  Dagan and, 198;
  in Assyria--in Babylon, 217;
  invoked with Bel, 227;
  the Pole Star, 236;
  eclipses and, 255
ANU'NIT. Lesser goddess, merged in conception of Ishtar, 124
APH-RO-DI'TÉ. Ishtar and cult, of, 124;
  Ishtar and, connected, 235
APOCRYPHA. Legend of Bel and the Dragon in, 97
APOLLO. Temple to, at Carthage, 330
APOLLODORUS. Statement of, _re_ Ea, 112
_Ap'su_. The deep, or 'house of knowledge,' 72;
  alternative, Zigarun;
  mother of Ea, 72, 73, 74;
  the primeval, 193
AQUARIUS, SIGN OF. The deluge story and, 183
ARABIA. Semites believed to have come from, 15, 16;
  Naram-Sin penetrates, 17;
  Semitic religion in, 331
AR-AKH'TU. Nabopolasser and the channel called the, 368
1. The underworld, 125;
  128-131, 171.
2. Goddess;
  variant, Eres-ki-gal;
  Nergal and, 150
AR-BE'LA. Ishtar's shrine in, 212;
  battle of, 378
ARCHÆOLOGY. Babylonian, 46, 47;
  Chaldean, 339-366;
  American interest in Babylonian, 356-366;
  fashionable about the time of Nabonidus (556-539 B.C.), 363
ARES. Greek god, 315
AR'GO. Ea identified with a star in the constellation, 236
ARK. The Babylonian, 174-178
AR-TA'IOS. Median monarch;
  Nannar confounded with, 146
ARTEMIS. Reference to, 132
ART-S. Babylonian;
  gem-cutting, etc., 17;
  Babylonian literature and, under Khammurabi the Great, 20;
  all the, under Ea's patronage, 192
A-RU'-RU. Goddess who aided the formation of man, 82, 86, 123;
  creates a champion against Gilgamesh, 162
AR'Y-AN. Race;
  the Philistines of, 324
AS-A'RI. Appellation of Merodach, 202;
  may be compared with Asar (Osiris), 202
ASH'DOD. Temple of Dagon at, 151;
  Sargon's expedition against, 210, 211, 350
ASH'TART or ISH'TAR. Worshipped in Carthage, 327, 330
ASH'TER-OTH or AS-TAR'TE. Ishtar known to Canaanites, Phœnicians,
  and Greeks as, 124, 319, 326;
  the Aphrodite of the Greeks, 131;
  Phœnician god, 328
ASHURBAN'APAL. _See_ Assur-bani-pal.
A-SHU'SHU-NA'MIR. Created by Ea, 130
ASIA. Submitted to Ninus, 25;
  Tiglath-pileser III invested with sovereignty of, 30;
  Belit and Asshur in pantheon of, 228
ASIA MINOR. Greek colonies in, 235, 236;
  peopled by diverse races, 324;
  worship of Ashtart in, 328
_A'si-pû_. The wizards, 260;
  273, 274
AS'KE-LON. Temple of Ashtart (Ishtar) at, 327
1. City;
  site of, explored by the German expedition of 1899, 47;
  residence of god Asshur, 207;
  Bel's temple in, 227.
2. God;
  identified with Merodach, 94;
  Ishtar, consort of, 125;
  religion of Assyria centres in, 206-211;
  etymology of name, 208;
  variant, Anshar, 208;
  mentioned in inscription of Samsi-Ramman, 208;
  Sargon and the conquering power of, 210, 211;
  Ishtar and, 214;
  Bel-Merodach placed after, in the Assyrian Pantheon, 225, 377;
  prisoner-gods and, 226;
  Belit and, 227
ASSUR-BAN'I-PAL. King of Assyria;
  Greek equivalent, Sardanapalus, 32;
  historic reality, 33;
  death of, 33;
  succeeded Esar-haddon, 34;
  Samus-sum-yukin, brother of, 34;
  his death, 35;
  his library at Nineveh, 35, 46, 71, 261, 282, 346;
  patron of literature, 154;
  Sin and, 224;
  Belit and, 227, 228;
  capture of twenty gods of the Elamites by, 204;
  tablets dealing with magic in library of, 261;
  the five hounds of, 290, 291;
  autobiography of, 301-306;
  palace of, discovered by Rawlinson, 346;
  fragment of history of, discovered by George Smith, 352;
  tablets of, 354;
  zikkurat of, 365
ASS'UR-DAN III. The fatal eclipse and, 307-309
ASSUR-NAZ'IR-PAL. Son of Tuk-ul-ti-in-Aristi, 23;
  places Hadad-nadin-akhi on throne of Babylon, 23;
  Ishtar and, 214;
  Ninib, and, 214, 216;
  Calah residence of, 215;
  Shamash and, 223;
  Sin and, 223;
  sculptures glorifying, 343;
  dedications of, unearthed, 351
ASSUR-NAZ'IR-PAL III. King of Assyria, reference to his reign, 23
ASS'UR-RI-SHI'-SHI'. Ninib and, 214
ASS'UR-YU-BALL'IDH. The Kassite king of Babylonia marries daughter of, 22
ASSYRIA-NS. Race origin, 12;
  Hittite and Amorite elements intermingled with, 12, 13;
  land boundaries, the Tigris and Euphrates, 12;
  the Akkadians and, 13;
  Tiglath-pileser, King of, 23;
  Semiramis the Great, Queen of, 24-29;
  Assur-bani-pal desired to make the centre of religious influence
  of the empire, 35;
  Scythians penetrate into, 36;
  Sin-sar-iskin, last King of, 36;
  cuneiform writing of, 60-66;
  religion, Semitic influence on, 91, 92;
  the Pantheon of, 203-230;
  religion of, centres in Asshur, 206;
  secret of, 208, 209;
  Ishtar in, 211-214;
  worship of Ramman in, 220;
  Shammash's cult in, 222, 223;
  Bel-Merodach and, 225;
  cult of Nabu in, 228;
  temples of, 242-251;
  progenitors of, 250;
  magic and demonology, 257-288;
  belief in taboo, 278;
  religions of Babylonia and, comparative value of, 313-337;
  religion of Zoroaster supplanted that of ancient, 332;
  ethics, 337, 338;
  modern excavations in, 339-366;
  empire, fall of, in 606 B.C., 377
ASTROLOGY. Birthplace of, 231
ATARATH. The _arel_ (or altar) of Dodo carried from, 190
ATARGA'TUS. God; Dagon worshipped as, 27
ATARYAT'IS. Alternative, Derketo. Fish-goddess, legendary mother of
  Semiramis, 25
ATHENAG'ORAS. Refers to worship of Semiramis, 27
ATHENS. Piræus, port of, 328
AT'TIS. A god akin to Adonis, 132
AU'RA MA-I-NYU. Evil principle of Zarathustra's religion, 334
A-VERR'-O-ES. Friend of Maimonides, 232
AVESTA. Earliest form of Zoroaster's name in the, 333
A'YA. The betrothed of Sham-ash, 166
AZ'AR. One of Nimrod's guards; traditional father of Abram, 54
AZ'TECS. Reverence of, for worship of Toltecs, 226, 227
AZ-U-RI, King. Sargon displaces, by Ahimiti, 210


BAAL. Sun-god;
  Hadad the supreme, 189;
  magic and, 258;
  Phœnician god, 327;
  Tanit alluded to as 'The Countenance of --,' 330
'BA'AL.' Canaanitish god, 325;
  term applied by Phœnicians, 327
BAAL-AMM'ON or MO'LOCH. _See_ Moloch
BA'AL-HAMM'AN. Phœnician god worshipped in Carthage, 327
_Ba'alim_. Presiding spirits, 326;
  of Tyre, the Phœnicians and, 327
BA'BEL. The Tower of, 48;
  Hebrew verb _babal_ confused with word _babel_, 48;
  story of Tower of, suggested by one of the towers of Babylon;
  the beginning of Nimrod's kingdom was, 49
BÂBIL. Mound and enclosure of 103, 347;
  as a citadel, 368
BA'BU. Esar-haddon, restorer of, 306
BABYLON-IA-N. Racial origin, 12;
  mother of astrology and magic, 12;
  land boundaries, the Tigris and Euphrates, 12;
  the Akkadians and, 13;
  Semites--receive germs of culture from Akkadians, 14;
  language, 14;
  civilization, 14;
  offshoot of culture of Eridu, 15;
  first founders, 15;
  Semite conquerors enter, 15, 16;
  first great Semitic empire in, founded by Sargon of Akkad, 16;
  Syria and Palestine welded with, by Sargon, 17;
  kings, vicegerents of the gods, 17;
  art; gem-cutting, etc., 17;
  communication between island of Cyprus and, 18;
  fall of 'First Dynasty of --', 21;
  Burna-buryas, King of, 22;
  Tukulti-in-Aristi takes, and slays King Bitilyasu, 22;
  built by Semiramis, 26;
  finally conquered by Tiglath-pileser III, 30;
  surrender of, through starvation, 34;
  literature; Assur-bani-pal and, 35;
  Nebuchadrezzar leads Jews into captivity in, 37;
  Kings; Nabonidus, last of, 40;
  independence of, recovered after death of Darius, 41;
  Persians conquer, 41;
  destruction of, 41;
  Seleucia built out of ruins of, 42;
  archæology, 46, 47;
  legend of confusion of tongues and towers of, 47;
  E-Sagila, tower of, 47;
  built by Nimrod, 50;
  cuneiform writing of, 60-66;
  cosmogony, 70-87;
  religion, early, 88-153;
  spirits and gods in ancient, 89-153;
  religion, Semitic influence on, 91, 92;
  religion, signs of totemism in, 92;
  the Pantheon--Early, 94, 95;
  Later, 184-198;
  Nippur preferred to, 196;
  the country of Bel, 225;
  star-worship in, 231-238;
  temples of, 242-251;
  magic and demonology, 257-288;
  belief in taboo, 278;
  conquered by Shalmaneser I, 308;
  religions of Assyria and, comparative value, 313-336, etc.;
  captivity, 321;
  religion, penetrated to Britain, 331;
  the religion of Zoroaster supplanted that of ancient, 332;
  ethics, 337, 338;
  myth, compared with Hellenic and Scandinavian, 338;
  moral code, 338;
  modern excavations in, 339-366;
  the, of Nebuchadrezzar II, 367;
  water supply of, 368;
  hanging gardens of, 371;
  the elder, 375, 376;
  national status of, regained, 377;
  religion, decay of, 378, 379
_Bab-y-lon'ic-a_. A work by Iamblichus, containing fragments of
  Babylonian history, 56;
  reference to an epitome of the, by Photius, 56
BANKS. Temples as, 250, 251
BAPHOMET. Name of pagan idol, 293
BARBARO, JOSAPHAT. Cuneiform writing and, 61
BAR-SA'NES. King of Armenia, 25
_Barû_. The seers, 260
BAS'RA. Layard sends sculptures to, 344;
  Ernest de Sarzec, French vice-consul at, 355
BAS-RELIEF-S. Found in palace of Sennacherib at Kouyunjik, 345;
  found in palace of Assur-bani-pal, 346
BAU. Goddess;
  mother of mankind, 'chief daughter of Anu,' 144, 145;
  _Zag-muku_ and, 251
BE-DAD or BEN-DAD. The father of the Edomite Hadad, 190
BE-EL'ZE-BUB. Magic and, 258
BE-HIS-TÛN. Persian text at, 65
BEL. Babylonian sun-god, 41;
  the Dragon and 71;
  Merodach and, 79, 194;
  at Nippur, looked on as creator of man, 86;
  ruled at Nippur (Niffur), 94;
  earlier variant, En-lil;
  description of, 95-97;
  legend of the Dragon and, in the Apocrypha, 97;
  worship of, at Babylon, 98;
  King Cyrus and worship of, 98-101;
  the temple of, 101-105;
  discovery of Mr George Smith re temple of, 101;
  Nebo, son of, 102;
  father of Nirig, 153;
  Ut-Napishtim and, 174, 176;
  Gilgamesh resorts to, 180;
  Tablets of Destiny and, 193-195;
  Dagan and, 198, 216;
  the Assyrians and the country of, 225;
  Merodach usurped place of, 227;
  the Pole Star (of equator), 236;
  eclipses and, 255;
  Bilé allied with, 317;
  shrine to, of King Bur-Sin I, 364
_Bel, The Observations of_. In library founded by Sargon, 18;
  translated into Greek by Berossus, 18
BEL'IT. A generic term given to Ishtar, 214, 227;
  Anu's consort, 227;
  figures as wife of Asshur, 227;
  Tiglath-pileser I and, 227;
  Assur-bani-pal and, 227
BEL-KU'DUR-U'ZUR. The last of the old Assyrian line, killed by
  Hadad-nadin-akhi, 23
BEL-MER'O-DACH. Babylonian god;
  avenged by Cyrus, 41;
  son of Ea and Dawkina, 73;
  absorbed into the Assyrian pantheon, 225
BE'LOS. _See_ variant, Bel-Merodach, 73
BEL-TE-SHAZZ'AR. Babylonian appellation for Daniel, 37
BEL'TIS. Variant, Nin-lil;
  the wife of En-lil, 101;
  sanctuary of, at Girsu, 101;
  name signified 'lady,' 101;
  tablets and figures of, found by Dr Peters, 364
BEL'US. Temple of;
  mound of Bâbil identified with, 103;
  delineations of animals preserved in temple of, 114;
  variant, Dis, 114
BEL-ZAK'IR-ISK'UN. Descendant of Assur-bani-pal, 306, 307
BE-NA'NI. God;
  husband of Melili, 82
BE-NI'NI. King of the monsters, 295, 296
1. Babylonian historian;
  translates _The Observations of Bel_ into Greek, 18;
  narrative of, _re_ creation of man, 81;
  his statement _re_ Ea copied by Alexander Polyhistor, etc., 112, 113;
  quotes version of the deluge myth, 177, 178;
  the hanging gardens of Babylon and, 371.
2. A priest of Bel at Babylon, 42;
  'history' by, 42-45;
  extracts from history of, preserved by Josephus and Eusebius, 42;
  Sisuthrus and, 42;
  his legend of Oannes, 42;
  his account of the deluge, 42-44;
  Daonus and, 127
BILÉ. A Celtic deity, 317
BINT-EL-AMIR. Hill of, 358, 361, 362, 365
BIRD MESSENGERS. Ut-Napishtim sends out, 176
BIRS NIMRÛD. Ruins of, 103
_Bit-ili_, THE. Sacred stones, 19
BIT-IL-YA'SU. King of Babylon, slain by Tukulti-in-Aristi, 22
BOMBAY. The Parsis of, 336
BOR-SIP'PA. Site of Nebo's temple at, 103;
  'The Stages of the Seven Spheres,' the wonder of, 104;
  chief seat of Nebo's worship, 184
BOTTA, M. Archæological researches at Nineveh, 46;
  French Consul at Mosul;
  his excavations in Mesopotamia, 339, 340
BRITISH MUSEUM. Bricks in, containing Assur-bani-pal's researches, 35,
  71, 154, 155, 290;
 obelisk of Shalmaneser II in, 343
BULL. Sacred, slain by Gilgamesh and Eabani, 158;
  Ramman's name the great, 220;
  forms of Ea and Merodach, 290
BULL, WINGED. Symbol of and En-lil, 97;
  associated with Merodach, 289, 290
BURMESE. Attitude of, to the dead, 269
BUR'NA-BUR'YAS. King of Babylonia, 22
BURNOUF. Cuneiform writing and, 63
BUR-SIN. Repairs Urbau's zikkurat, 248;
  shrine to Bel dedicated by, 364
BYB'LUS. Journey of Isis to, 328;
  Philo of, 328


CA'LAH. Sennacherib takes nucleus of Assur-bani-pal's library from, 154;
  residence of Asshur, 207;
  Ninib's temple at, 215;
  residence of Assur-nazir-pal, 215;
  Sin's temple of, 223;
  tower of, discovered by Layard, 346
CALMET, ABBÉ. Disbelief of, in vampires, 266
CAL'NEH. Part of Nimrod's kingdom, 49
CAM-BY'SES. Son of Cyrus, 41
CANAANITES, THE. First historic dwellers in Syria and Palestine, 324-326;
  gods of, 325, 326;
  ancestor-worship and, 326
CANNING, SIR STRATFORD. Sir Henry Layard assisted by, in his excavations
  at Nimrûd, 340
CAPRICORNUS, SIGN OF. Sea-goddess Sabitu and, 183
CARAVAN. The story of the missing, 285-288
CAR-CHE'MISH. Worship of Hadad extended from, to Edom, 189
CARTHAGE. Dido, the presiding deity of, 190;
  Ba'al-Hamman worshipped in, 327;
  Tanith honoured at, 328;
  Eshmun worshipped at, 328;
  religion of Semites of, 329;
  Dido, Queen of, 329;
  Apollo's temple at, 330;
  Mohammedanism at, 332
CELTIC. Teutonic religion and, compared, 317;
  Bilé a, 317
CE'RES. Reference to, 133
CHAL'CHIS. Iamblichus a native of, 56
CHALDEAN MYTHOLOGY. The sign Gemini, associated with the two forms
  of the solar deity in, 182
CHAL-DE'A-N-S. Birthplace of Abram, 52;
  Nimrod, King of, 52;
  star-gazers, 202;
  difference between the faiths of the two great races of, 204;
  astrologers, 231, 232;
  speculations, 233-235;
  magic, 258, 259;
  belief in taboo, 278;
  belief in superstitions, 280;
  divination, 281;
  excavations in, 339
CHA'OS. Tiawath, 193
CHARDIN, JOHN. Cuneiform writing and, 61
CHE'MOSH. God of the Moabite king, Mesha, 190
CHRISTIANITY. Initiated by Semitic race, 313;
  Jewish influence upon, 320
CHRO'NOS. Berossus substitutes for Ea in the version of the deluge myth
  quoted in his history, 177
CHUS. The Æthiop;
  equivalents, Cush, or Cash (a coloured race), 49;
  father of Nimrod, 49
CIRCLE, THE MAGIC. Chaldean sorcerers and, 275, 276
CODE, MORAL. Of the Babylonians, 338
COLOSSI. Gate of, 101;
  example of art of which Ea was patron, 229
COR-CY'RE-AN MOUNTAINS. Reference to, by Berossus, 44
CORN-SPIRITS. The primitive, 139
CORNWALL. Phœnicians in, 331
COSMOGONY. Babylonian, 70-87;
  Jastrow's opinion, 84;
  type of, 84-87
CREATION. Babylonian myth of, 70-87;
  story of, in Genesis;
  myths found in Egyptian papyri;
  and that in the _Popol Vuh_, 70;
  Seven Tablets of, 71;
  of man, by Merodach, 80, 81;
  legend; Apsu and Tiawath in, 193;
  'Cuthæan legend of --,' 294-296;
  common origin of Biblical and Babylonian accounts of, 323
CTES'I-AS. His tale _re_ Parsondes, 146-149;
  reference to, 367
CUNE-I-FORM TEXTS. Merodach and, 200
CUSH, or CASH. _See_ equivalent, Chus
CU'THAH. Temple of Nergal at, 82, 94, 105, 296
CU-THÆ'AN LEGEND, THE. Of creation, 294-296
CYAXARES. Scythian king of Ecbatana, 36;
  son of, dethroned by Achæmenidæ, 333
CYBE'LÉ. The mother-goddess, 132
CYPRUS. Among the conquests of Sargon, 18;
  communication between Babylonia and island of, 19;
  worship of Ashtart at, 327
CYRUS, KING. The worship of Bel and, 98-101
CYRUS THE PERSIAN. Invasion of Babylonia by, 41;
  the pretended avenger of Bel-Merodach, 41;
  Cambyses, son of, 41;
  conqueror of Babylon and saviour of Merodach's honour, 378


DA'DA. Abbreviated form of Abd-Hadad;
  resemblances between Hadad, Dido, Davad, and, 189-191;
  Shalmaneser (II) speaks of, 189
DAG'AN. Palestinian form of Dagon;
  a fish-god, same as Oannes or Ea, 216, 217;
  associated with Bel, 217;
  Anu and, 198
DAG'ON. God Atargatus worshipped under the name of, 27;
  a fish-god, 151, 152;
  an Amorite deity, 325
DAM'AS. One of the two eunuchs appointed to watch Rhodanes and Sinonis, 57
DAM-AS'CI-US. The last of the Neoplatonists, 72;
  author of _Doubts and Solutions of the First Principles_, 73
DAM-AS'CUS. Worship of Hadad at, under name of Rimmon, 189;
  worship of Ramman in, 220
DAM'KU. One of the lesser Babylonian gods, 229
DAN'I-EL. Babylonian appellation, Belteshazzar, 37;
  Nebuchadrezzar and, 37-40;
  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego companions of, 38;
  reference to a corrupted story of the deliverance of the three Hebrew
  princes recorded by, 53;
  Book of, 97;
  the worship of Bel and, 98-101
DA'ON. The shepherd king of Pantibiblon, 112
DA-O'NUS or DAOS. King of Babylonia, _vide_ Berossus, 127
DAR-I'US. Babylonia independence recovered after death of, 41;
  defeated at Arbela, 378
DA'VID. Resemblances between Hadad, Dáda, Dido, and, 189-191;
  variants, Dod, Dodo, 190
DAW-KI'NA. Belos (Bel-Merodach), the son of Ea, and, 73;
  saved from the deluge, 115;
  Ishtar identified with, 127, 137;
  consort of Ea, 197
DE MORGAN. Unearths monument of Naran-Sin at Susa, 17;
  copy of Khammurabi's code found by, 21
DE SAR'ZEC, ERNEST. French vice-consul at Basra;
  diorite statues of Gudea (2700 B.C.) found by, 47;
  excavations of, at Tellô, 355, 356;
  _Découvertes en Chaldée par_, reference to, 356
DEAD. The doctrine of ministering to, 181;
  often left unburied in Babylonia, 269;
  attitude of Burmese to, 269;
  Canaanites and cult of the, 326;
  Persians and their, 336;
  Parsis and their, 336;
  'House of the --,' at Nippur, 362
DELLA VALLE, PIETRO. Cuneiform writing and, 61
DELPHI. Worshippers of Apollo send offerings to, 330
DELUGE, THE. Berossus' account of, 42-45;
  reference to account of, in _Gilgamesh Epic_, 42;
  analogies with Flood Myth, 45, 46;
  Babylonian and Hebrew story of, have a common origin, 45, 323;
  myth of, 112, 173-178;
  refugees saved from--Ea, etc., 115
DEMETER. Tanit compared with, 330
DEMONOLOGY. Of Babylonia and Assyria, 257-288
DEMONS. Many Babylonian gods evolved from, 268;
  Babylonian, described, 276-278
DESTINY. Mammetum, the maker of, 173;
  Zu and the Tablets of, 193-195;
  the Lia Fail, the Stone of, reference to, 248
DEVIL-S. Possession by, 262
DI-A'NA. Goddess, 235, 319
DI-BARR'A. A variant of Nergal, 106;
  a Babylonian deity placed in the Assyrian pantheon, 229
DI'DO. Resemblances between Hadad, Dáda, David, and, 189-191;
  Queen of Carthage, 329;
  Tanit identified with, 331
DIS. Variant of Belus, 114
DIVINATION. Practice of, by Babylonians and Assyrians, 281-288;
  Shamash, Hadad, and Rimmon, 'lords of --,' 283;
  Phœnicians' belief in, 329
DIVINITIES, TRIBAL. The most outstanding, 94
DIVS. Arch-demons and demons, 334
DOD OR DODO. _See_ David;
  worship of, by the side of Yahveh, 190
DOG-S. The, in Babylonia;
  five hounds of Assur-bani-pal, 290, 291;
  legend of a, 291, 292
DRAGON, THE. Bel and, 71;
  China and, 80;
  in Egypt, it is the serpent Apep, 80;
  in India, the serpent Vritra (Ahi), 80;
  in Australia and in parts of N. America a great frog, 80;
  Beowulf and, 80;
  Faffnir and, 80;
  legend of Bel and, in the Apocrypha, 97;
  Merodach's, 186;
  the, in Zoroaster's religion, 337
DREAM-S. Nebuchadrezzar's, and Daniel, 37-40;
  of Gyges, King of Lydia, 302, 303
DU-MU-ZI. A contraction of Du-mu-zi-apsu;
  name of Tammuz derived from, 126
DUN'GI. Gudea vassal of the throne of, 19
DYNASTY. 'The First, of Babylon,' 21;
  a Kassite, founded by Kandis, 21;
  the First, of Ur, 101;
  Khumbaba, and an Elamite, 166;
  reference to Kassite, 248;
  the Hammurabi, 325;
  the Seleucidæ and the Arsacidæ, 333


E'A, OR O'AN-NES. The Babylonian god of light and wisdom, 14;
  held sway at Eridu, 14;
  legendary father of Semiramis, 25;
  source of all things and, 72;
  Apsu (Zigarun), mother of, 72;
  variant, Nudimmud, 73;
  Tiawath and, 76;
  Merodach and, 79;
  displaced politically by Merodach, 86, 199;
  name of Jonah may be compared with that of, 87;
  fish-form of, 93;
  the God of the deep, 93;
  Eridu, city of, 94;
  temple of, 102;
  the god of the waters and of the abyss, 111-116;
  father of Merodach, 111, 191;
  Greek name, Oannes, 111;
  instructions tending to humanize mankind, 112, 113;
  writings of, 113-116;
  myth _re_ creation of world and, 115;
  variant, Nin-a-gal, 116;
  variant, En-ki, 116;
  Adapa, son of, 116;
  Dagon (Dagan) same as, 151, 152, 216, 217;
  Ut-Napishtim instructed by, 174, 176;
  in later times, 191-193;
  Dawkina, consort of, 197;
  identified with a star in the constellation Argo, 236;
  eclipses and, 255;
  demons and name of, 263;
  gazelles and, 292
EA-BA'NI. Goddess Aruru and, 86;
  temple maiden Ukhut and, 129, 163;
  typifies primitive man in Gilgamesh epic, 155, 159, 160;
  the monster Khumbaba and, 158;
  slain by wrath of Ishtar, 158;
  shade of, appears to Gilgamesh, 160;
  a sort of satyr, 163;
  the beguiling of, 163, 164;
  Gilgamesh meets, 164-166;
  death of, 170;
  Gilgamesh laments, 179;
  ghost of, designated _utukku_, 181
EAGLE. Symbol of Kis, 294, 296;
  Babylonian fable _re_ the, 296-298
EA-LUR. Goddess;
  amalgamated with Zarpanitum, 186
E-ANNA. Temple of, at Erech, 250
E-ANNA-TUM. Shamash first mentioned in reign of, 109;
  'stele of vultures' erected by, discovered by de Sarzec, 355
EARTH. The _Annunaki_, the spirits of, 90;
  -mother, worship of, 318, 319
E-BABB'ARA. 'The shining house';
  name of Shamash's sanctuary, 109, 249
EC-BA-TA'NA. Cyaxares, the Scythian king of, 36
ECLIPSE. Terror of, to Babylonians, 255, 256;
  the fatal, in case of Assur-Dan III, 307-309
E'DOM. Worship of Hadad extended from Carchemish to, 189
E-GIG-UN-NÛ. 'House of the Tomb';
  the temple-tower of Nippur, 362
EGYPT. Semitic immigrants in, 15;
  conquered by Semiramis, 26;
  Esar-haddon wars with, 31;
  Nebuchadrezzar invades, 37;
  cult of Ishtar in, 124;
  Semitic religion in, 331;
  excavations in, 339
E-KUR. The temple of, 248, 253;
  temples of E-Sagila and, 249
E'LAM-ITES. Northern Mesopotamia and, overcome by Sargon, 17;
  yoke of, thrown off by Khammurabi, 20;
  name of Khumbaba argues enmity between Babylon and, 166;
  Assur-bani-pal and gods of the, 204;
  votive object from, 248
EL-BUGÂT. Feast of, 134
EL-IS'SA. Dido confounded with, 190
_Elôhim_. Term employed in Genesis, 327
EN-KI. Variant of Ea, 116
EN-LIL. The god, 14;
  temple of, unearthed, 47;
  Merodach and, 84;
  earlier name of Bel, 95-97;
  a god of vegetation, 96;
  symbol of winged bull represents, 97;
  word _lil_ signifies a 'demon,' 97;
  Beltis (Nin-lil), wife of, 101;
  Hadad resembled, 188;
  Ramman, son of, 221;
  temple of E-Kur sacred to, 248
EN-MASH'TI. Name of Ninib translated by Canaanites as, 326
E'NOCH, BOOK OF. Quoted, 294
E'NOS. Son of Seth, 232
EPH'ES-US. Patroness of, and Diana, 235
EP-I-PHA'NI-US. His allegations _re_ Nimrod, 49
ER'ECH. Part of Nimrod's kingdom, 49;
  temple of, 82;
  Dibarra plunders, 106-109;
  centre of Ishtar's cult, 124;
  Gilgamesh, prince of, 154;
  temple of Ishtar at, 248
ER'ESH-KI-GAL (Allatu). The mistress of Hades, 129
ER-I-DU. Babylonian civilization grouped round, 14;
  the home of Ea, or Oannes, the god of light and wisdom, 14;
  Ur a near neighbour of, 15;
  culture of, and Babylon, 15;
  'magical' hymns emanated from, 68;
  worshippers of Ea at, 72;
  temple of Ea at, 111;
  the deluge and, 116;
  supremacy of, passes to Babylon, 199;
  Merodach originated at, 200
E-SAG-I'LA. Nabonidus and the priests of, 41;
  Nebo's shrine, E-Zila, in temple of, 185;
  name of Merodach's temple at Babylon, 200;
  temples of E-Kur and, 249;
  temple of, 250, 368, 374, 375
E-SAGILA. Tower in Babylon, 47, 374, 375
E'SAR-HAD'DON. Son of Sennacherib, 31;
  Assur-bani-pal succeeded, as King of Assyria, 34;
  Ishtar and, 212;
  'the most likeable' of the Assyrian kings, 306, 307;
  palace built by, unearthed by Layard, 343
ESHMÛN. The god of force and healing, 328, 330
ESHMUN-MEL'KARTH. Phœnician combination, 328
ES'THER. Ishtar and, 124, 140-144;
  Book of, why written, 141;
  equivalent, Ishtar, 142;
  Lang, on story of, 142, 143;
  Xerxes and, 143;
  variant, Hadassah, 143;
  Dr Jastrow on Book of, 143
ET-A'NA. The legend of, 195
ETHICS. Babylonian and Assyrian, 337, 338
ETHNOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES. Between the peoples of the northern and
  southern culture-groups, 203
1. River, 177, 368, 369;
2. Bridge, 375
  civilization of, influenced Semitic field, 92
EU-SE'BI-US. Sanchuniathon, Philo, and, 329
EXCAVATION-S. Modern, in Babylonia and Assyria, 339-366;
  in Egypt, 339;
  map relating to, in Babylonia and Assyria, 341;
  at Nineveh by George Smith, 347-354;
  at Kouyunjik by Rassam, 354, 355;
  of de Sarzec at Tellô, 355, 356;
  Babylonian Exploration Fund instituted in America, 356-366;
  under control of the University of Pennsylvania, 360-366;
  recent, by German Oriental Society, 367-377
1. Temple of Nabu at, 250;
  discovered by Rawlinson 346;
2. Great tower of Nabu, 375
E-ZILA. 'The firm house'; Nebo's shrine in temple of E-Sagila, 185


FABLE. A Babylonian, _re_ the eagle, 296-298
FATE-S. The great gods Annunaki decree, 173;
  the Chamber of, 185, 252, 253
FATHER-SKY. Of primitive mythologies, 196
FEAST-S. The Jewish, of Purim, 140;
  Babylonian, 251, 252
FESTIVAL-S. Of Adonis, 135;
  of the Sacæa or Zakmuk, 141;
  New Year; Nebo and, 185;
  Babylonian; _Zag-muku_, sacred to Bau, 251, 252;
  Scottish-Celtic, of Beltane, 317.
FIELD. An expert Assyriologist, 358
FIRE-GOD. Gibil, the, 225
FIRE-WORSHIP. The central feature of Zoroastrian ritual, 335
FISHER, MR. Architect in American exploration campaign, 360
FLOOD. _See_ Deluge.
FRA-VASH'I. Guardian spirit of the Persians, 336
FRAZER, SIR JAMES. On the Greek way of representing Ashurbanapal
  (_i.e._ Sardanapalus), 32;
  on the real and the mock Sardanapalus, 34;
  Tammuz, and his _Golden Bough_, 134;
  Ishtar and, 137;
  feast of Purim and, 140;
  on Vashti, 143
FRESNEL. French exploration expedition and, 347


GARDENS, HANGING. Of Babylon, 371
GAR'MUS. King of Babylon;
  romance of Sinonis and, 56-60;
  Rhodanes and, 56-60
GATHAS. The most ancient part of the Avesta, 333
GA-TUM-DUG. Goddess; allied form of Bau, 145
GA'ZA. Temple of Dagon at, 151
GAZELLE. Goat and, gods, 292-294
GEM'I-NI, SIGN. Gilgamesh and Eabani some relation to the, 182
GENESIS, BOOK OF. Reference to, _re_ Nimrod, 49;
  creation story in, 70, 289;
  Abbé Loisy and, 322, 323;
  term _elohim_ in, 327
GERMANY. Goat-demon adored in, 293
GHOSTS. Assyrian, 277, 278
GI'BI. Prayer and the god, 68
GIB'IL. The god of fire;
  Nusku and, 225
  Nimrod identified with, 50, 156;
  epic; goddess Aruru figures in, 86;
  prince of Erech, 154-183;
  provisional name _Gisdhubar_, or _Izdubar_, 156;
  Shamash and, 156;
  birth of, related by Ælian, 156;
  Rimatbelit, mother of, 158;
  shade of Eabani appears to, 160;
  Ishtar's love for, 167, 168;
  mourning the loss of Eabani, 170;
  his quest for the secret of perpetual life, 170-173;
  his ancestor, Ut-Napishtim, 170;
  Sin delivers, 170;
  seeks from Ut-Napishtim the secret of perpetual life, 173-180;
  Adad-Ea and, 178, 179
GIL-GA'MESH EPIC, THE. Account of deluge in, reference to, 42;
  one of the greatest literary productions of ancient Babylonia, 154-183;
  Ishtar in, 213
GIR'SU. Beltis' sanctuary at, 101
GIS-DHU'BAR or IZDU'BAR. Gilgamesh's provisional name, 156
GISH-ZI'DA. One of the guardians of the gates of heaven, 118
GOATS. Gazelle and, gods, 292-294
GOD-S. Ea, or Oannes, 14, 25, 72, 73, 76, 79, 86, 87, 93, 94, 102,
  111-116, 216, 229;
  En-lil, 14, 47, 84, 95-97, 101;
  Babylonian kings the direct vice-regents of the, on earth, 17;
  Babylonian, Merodach, 41, 47, 50, 68, 76-82, 81, 84, 86, 93, 94,
  103, 106, 184-198, 199-202;
  Bel, Babylonian sun-, 41, 196, 197;
  the birth of the, 71-87;
  Tiawath, Apsu, and Mummu, a trinity of, 74;
  Horus, reference to, 75;
  Kingu; Tiawath and, 75;
  Merodach, the creator of the, 82;
  Semites and, 89;
  spirits and, in ancient Babylonia, 89-91;
  Anu, most ancient of Babylonian, 90, 121-123, 197, 198, 217;
  invoked by Assyrian kings, 90;
  Kis, the sun-, 93, 294;
  under animal forms, 92, 93;
  the great, 93-153;
  Sin, moon-, 94, 109, 128, 170, 325;
  tribal divinities, 94;
  pantheon that held sway prior to Khammurabi, 94, 95;
  description of Bel, 96;
  a trinity of (Bel, Ea, and Anu), 97;
  Sibi, 108;
  Shamash, the sun-, 41, 94, 109, 187, 222, 223, 325;
  Nergal, 82, 94, 105, 106, 151, 180, 235, 326, 328, 329;
  Adapa, 116-121;
  Ishtar, 123-144;
  Tammuz, sun-god of Eridu, 126-144;
  Ishtar and Persephone, 131-135;
  Nin-Girsu, 144;
  Bau, 144;
  Pap-sukal, messenger of the, 130;
  Ga-tum-dug, 145;
  Nannar, the moon-god of Ur, 145-149;
  Dagon, a fish-, 151, 152, 216, 217, 325;
  Nirig, or Enu-Res-tu, 153;
  Gilgamesh, a sun-, 157;
  Eabani, a sun-, 159;
  Later Pantheon of Babylonia, 184-198;
  Nebo, 184-186, 326;
  Ramman, 187-189, 195, 217-222, 325;
  Hadad or Adad, 187-191, 325;
  Baal, a sun-, 189, 327, 328;
  Dáda, Dido, Dodo, 189-191;
  Zu, a storm-, 193-195;
  Merodach originally a sun-, 199;
  the great, of Assyria, 205-229;
  Asshur, 94, 124, 206-211;
  Nin-ib, war-god and hunter-, 214-216, 326;
  the moon-, 94, 109, 128, 170, 180, 223, 224;
  Nusku, 224, 225;
  Gibil, the fire-, 225;
  Bel-Merodach, 225;
  prisoner-, 225, 226;
  Belit alluded to as 'Mother of the Great --', 228;
  procession of--_see_ illustration, 230;
  ideograph the same for 'star' and, 234;
  planets identified with, 235;
  Nabu and Merodach, 228;
  Dibbarra, 229;
  Damku and Sharru-Ilu, 229;
  many Babylonian, evolved from demons, 268;
  gazelle- and goat-, 292-294;
  Hellenic departmental, 315;
  departmental characteristics of the, of Babylonia and Assyria, 315, 316;
  general equivalent, '_el_,' used by Canaanites and Hebrews, 325, 326;
  of light--Uru, 325;
  of the Phœnicians, 327-329;
  Resheph, a Canaanite, 326, 328;
  Melkarth of Tyre, 327;
  Ashtart, 326, 327, 330;
  Eshmun, god of vital force, 328;
  Moloch, 328;
  Carthaginian Moloch, 330;
  Patechus, a monster, 330;
  Illat, 330;
  Sakon, 330;
  Tsaphon, 330;
  of Babylon more dignified than those of the Greeks or Norsemen, 338;
  the Twilight of the, 377-380
GODDESS-ES. Ishtar, 28, 94, 101, 106, 107, 111, 123-144, 158,
  165-168, 176, 211-214, 326;
  'Ishtar' a generic designation for, 124;
  Nanâ and Anunit, 124;
  Samkhat -- of joy, 131;
  Cybele, the mother-, 132;
  Bau, 'mother of Lagash,' 144, 145;
  Ga-tum-dug, allied form of Bau, 14;
  Azalu, 149-151;
  Sabitu, a sea-, 172;
  Ealur, amalgamated with Zarpanitum, 186;
  Innana or Ninni, 187;
  Dawkina, 197;
  worship of great mother, 318, 319;
  Tanith, 328;
  Ashtart, 326, 327, 328;
  Isis (Astarte), 328;
  Tanit, the moon, 330;
  Rabbat Umma, 330;
  Tanit, 330
GRAIN-GOD. Nebo as, 186
GREECE. Cult of Ishtar in, 124
GREEKS. Babylonia ruled over by, 378
GROTEFEND, GEORG. Cuneiform writing and, 62-64
GU-BARR'A. Prayer and god, 68
GU-DE'A. A vassal of the throne of Dungi, 19;
  high-priest of Lagash, 19;
  his building and architectural ability, 19, 247;
  diorite statues of, found by de Sarzec, 47;
  Bau alluded to in ancient inscriptions of, 144;
  worship of Innana by, 187;
  Nin-girsu favourite of, 251;
  hepatoscopy and, 283;
  de Sarzec and, 355
GU'LA. Consort of Ninib, 216
GY'GES. King of Lydia;
  Assur-bani-pal and, 302, 303;
  George Smith's discoveries _re_, 352


HABB'AC-UC. A prophet; sent to feed Daniel, 100
HA'DAD or ADAD. Ramman or Rimmon identified with, 187-191;
  resemblances between Dáda, Dido, David and, 189-191;
  the supreme Baal, 189;
  a Canaanitish god, 325
HA'DAD-NA'DIN-AKHI. Placed on throne of Babylon by Assur-nazir-pal, 23;
  kills the Assyrian monarch, Bel-kudur-uzur, 23
HAD-ASS'AH. Variant of Esther, 143
HA'DES. Descent of Ishtar into, 125, 126, 128-131;
  Eresh-ki-gal (Allatu), mistress of, 129
HAL'LA-BI. Innana's temple at, 187
HAM'AN. The Book of Esther and, 141;
  accepted identity with Humman or Homman, 142
HAMMURABI. Dynasty, 325
HAN'NI-BAL. Carthaginian hero, 330, 332;
  Baal's name in, 330
HA-O'MA. Deposited on the celestial mountain, 335
HAR-AN'. Abram's youngest brother, 52
HAR' RAN. A centre of lunar adoration, 250, 283
HAS'DRU-BAL. Carthaginian hero; Baal's name in, 330
HAUG, DR. Translator of the Gāthās, 333
HAYNES. Excavations of, at Nippur, 360-366
HAYNES, MR J.H. Sent in 1889 to excavate at Nippur, 47
HEAVEN. The _Igigi_ the spirits of, 90
1. Symbol; the serpent the, for mischief, 285;
2. Religion; Babylonian influence upon, 321, 322
HE-PAT-OS'CO-PY. Ritual and practice of, 282-288
HER'AC-LES. Melkarth equated with, 328
HER'CU-LES. Reference to, 87
HER-O'DOT-US. Statements of, _re_ Semiramis, 28;
  account of, _re_ temple of Bel, 101, 103;
  marriage customs in Babylonia described by, 312;
  reference to, 367, 374
HEZ-EK-I AH. King of Judah, 30, 37;
  Sennacherib's campaign against, 30;
  praise of, sung by Byron in his _Hebrew Melodies_, 30
HI-ER-A'POL-IS. Memorials of Semiramis preserved at, 27
HILPRECHT, PROFESSOR. An expert Assyriologist, 345, 357, 360-363
HINKS, REV. EDWARD. Language found at Persepolis deciphered by, 65
HO'RUS. The Egyptian god of light; Tiawath reminds of, 75
'HOUSE OF NO RETURN.' Equivalent, Hades, 126
HUITZILOPOCHTLI (pron. _Hweet-zil-o-potch-tlee_). Reference to, 144
HUR-AK-ÂN. The storm-god alluded to in the _Popol Vuh_, 97
HYMN-S. To Adar, 68;
  to Nebo, 69;
  to Nusku, 69;
  'magical,' emanated from Eridu, 68;
  Akkadian, in which Tammuz is addressed, 126;
  of Khammurabi, 219;
  to Ramman, 220


I-AM'BLI-CHUS. Author of a _Babylonica_, 56
IDOLATRY. Legend _re_ origin of, 232;
  Laban's images, 266-268
_IG'I-GI_, THE. Spirits of heaven, 90
IK-SU'DA (Grasper). Attendant hound of Merodach, 202
IL-A-BRAT. Minister of Anu, 117
ILL'AT. Carthaginian deity, 330
IL-TE'HU (Holder). Attendant hound of Merodach, 202
IMAGE-S. Stars and, 233
IM-GÛR-BEL. City of, 354
'INCANTATION OF ERIDU.' The ceremony of the, 270
INDIA-NS. Semiramis makes war on Strabrobates, King of, 26, 27;
  followers of Zarathustra fled to; descendants, the Parsis of, 334;
  Araucanian, of Chile, 336
IN'ESH. The pilot of Eridu, 115
IN'MAR-MA'ON. City of, 108
INSCRIPTION-S. Of Shalmaneser I, 351;
  of Tukulti-ninip, 351
IR'KAL-LA. The abode of;
  the house of darkness, 128, 169
IR'NI-NA. A form of Ishtar, 165
IS-AI'AH. Jerusalem described by, 191;
  reference to Sargon's expedition against Ashdod mentioned by, 350
ISH'NU, Ura's counsellor, 269
ISH'TAR. Goddess;
  fame of Semiramis mingled with that of the, 28;
  goddess of Nineveh, 94, 212;
  court of Zamama and, 101;
  witnesses plunder of Erech by Dibarra, 106, 107;
  both male and female, 111;
  significance, 123-144;
  generic designation for goddess, 124;
  equivalents, Ashteroth or Astarte, 124, 327;
  cult of Aphrodite began in that of, 124;
  Esther and, 124, 140-144;
  identified with Venus, 124, 235;
  identified with Nin-lil, 124;
  the consort of Asshur, 125;
  descent into Hades of, 125-126;
  war-goddess, 127, 213, 214;
  consort of Tammuz, 127;
  consort of Merodach and Assur, 127;
  identified with Dawkina, 137;
  a goddess of vegetation, 137, 138;
  slays Eabani, 158;
  Ir-nina a form of, 165;
  love of, for Gilgamesh, 167, 168;
  Anu father of, 168;
  Anatu mother of, 168;
  Lady of 'the Gods,' 176;
  Assyrians and, 211-214;
  Assur-nazir-pal and, 214;
  confusion between Belit and, 228;
  Aphrodite and, connected, 235;
  sixth month sacred to, 236;
  temple of E-anna dedicated to, 250;
  magic and, 258;
  variant, Ashtart, 326, 327, 330;
  great gate of, discovered by Dr Koldewey, 372
ISH'UM. Attendant of Dibarra, 106-108
I'SIS. Osiris and, 133;
  journey to, as Astarte, 328
ISRAELITES. Worship of Dodo, or Dod, by the side of Yahveh, by the, 190
I'YAR. The second month, sacred to Ea, 236
IZ-DU'BAR or GISDHUBAR. Provisional name of Gilgamesh, 156


JA'COB. Laban and, 267
JE-HO'IA-KIM. King of Jerusalem; Nebuchadrezzar puts to death, 37
JE'HU. Son of Omri (_sic_);
  obelisk of Shalmaneser and, 343
JEN'SEN. View of, _re_ Hamon, 142, 143;
  explanation of, _re_ Ninib, 216
JERUSALEM. Reference to deliverance of, from Sennacherib, 30;
  King Nebuchadrezzar wars against, 37;
  Isaiah describes, 191
JEW-S. Nebuchadrezzar leads into captivity, 37;
  feast of Purim and, 140;
  Mordecai name of a real, 143
JEWISH. Religion;
  Babylonian influence on, 319-329
JO'NAH. Story of, and supposed allusion to Babylonian cosmology, 86;
  Tiawath and the 'fish' of, 87
JOP'PA. Place, 86
JUDAISM. Initiated by the Semitic race, 313
JU'PIT-ER. The planet;
  represented Merodach, 202, 235;
  controlled stars under name Nibir, 235;
  the 'Planet of the Bull of Light,' 290


KAA'BA (Temple). The celebrated, at Mecca, 52
KAN'DIS. A Kassite dynasty founded by, 21
_Kas'sa-pu_ or _Kas'sap-tu_. Names by which the wizard and
  the witch were known, 261
KASS'ITE. Dynasty;
  founded by Kandis, 21;
  King of Babylonia marries daughter of Assur-yuballidh of Assyria, 22;
  dynasty, reference to, 248;
  rulers and temple at Nippur, 248;
  votive objects found by Dr Peters, 358, 359, 364, 365
  Most famous name in Babylonian history, 20;
  art and literature blossomed under care of, 20;
  is to be regarded as the Babylonian Alfred, 21;
  pantheon that held sway prior to, 94;
  worship of Merodach and, 184;
  Nebo, Tashmit, and, 186;
  Shamash and, 187;
  goddess Innana or Ninni and, 187;
  age of, fertile in writers, 192;
  Hymn of--Ramman and Shamash appealed to in, 219;
  builder of sanctuaries, 247;
  city of, discovered, 376
KHARSAG-KURKURA. 'Mountain of the World,' 362
KHI-KHI. Mountain of, 108
  residence of Asshur, 207;
  M. Botta and mounds of, 339;
  Victor Place's work at, 340
KHUM'BA-BA. Monster, overcome by Gilgamesh and Eabani, 158, 160, 166, 167
KHUR'SAG KUR'KUR-A. The birthplace of the gods, 242
KID'MU-RU. Ishtar's shrine in, 212
KING-S. Of Babylonia and Assyria--Sargon of Akkad, 16-21, 47, 210,
  211, 340, 350, 352;
  'of the Four Zones'--Naram-Sin, 17;
  of Ur--Dungi, 19;
  of Lagash--Gudea, 19;
  of Babylonia--Khammurabi the Great, 20, 21, 109;
  of Babylonia (Kassite dynasty)--Kandis, 21;
  of Egypt--Amen-hetep IV, 22;
  of Babylonia--Burna-buryas, 22;
  of Assyria--Shalmaneser I, 22, 351;
  of Assyria--Tukulti-in-Aristi, 22;
  of Babylon--Bitilyasu, 22;
  of Babylon--Hadad-nadin-akhi, 23;
  of Assyria--Bel-kudur-uzur, 23;
  of Assyria--Tiglath-pileser I, 23, 346;
  of Assyria--Assur-nazir-pal III, 23, 214-216, 223, 343, 351;
  of Assyria--Shalmaneser II, 24, 343, 351;
  of Israel--Ahab, 24;
  of Assyria--Samsi-Rammon, 24;
  of Assyria--Ninus, 25;
  of Armenia--Barsanes, 25;
  of India--Strabrobates, 26;
  'of the World, etc., etc.'--Semiramis, 29;
  of Assyria--Tiglath-pileser III, 29;
  of Assyria--Shalmaneser IV, 30;
  of Judah--Hezekiah, 30, 37;
  of Assyria--Sennacherib, 30;
  of Assyria--Esar-haddon, 31, 306, 307, 343, 350;
  of Assyria--Assur-bani-pal (Sardanapalus), 31, 32, 301-306, 346;
  of Assyria--Ashurbanapal, 33;
  of Assyria--Sin-sar-iskin, 36;
  of Ecbatana--Cyaxares, 36;
  of Babylonia--Nebuchadrezzar II, 36-40, 47, 104;
  of Babylonia--Nabonidus, 40, 249;
  Cyrus the Persian, 41;
  of Babylon--Cambyses, 41;
  Alexander the Great, 42;
  of Chaldea--Nimrod, 52;
  Rammannirari I, 90;
  of Persia--Cyrus, 98;
  Daon, the shepherd, of Pantibiblon, 112;
  of Persia--Xerxes, 141;
  of Babylonia--Sokkaros, 157;
  of Babylonia--Mili-Shikhu, 187;
  the Moabite--Mesha, 190;
  of Ashdod--Azuri, 210, 211;
  of Babylonia, and soothsayers, 260;
  tales of Babylonian and Assyrian, 299-312;
  Nabu-Usabi, King of Sarrapanu, 300;
  Gyges, King of Lydia, 302;
  Tiglath-pileser II, 299-301;
  of Assyria--Assur-Dan III, 308;
  of Assyria--Adad-Narari IV, 308;
  a royal 'day,' 309-312;
  of Assyria--Ur-Gur, 359, 366;
  of Assyria--Ur-Ninib, 366
KIN'GU. God;
  'only husband' of Tiawath, 75;
  bound by Merodach, 78;
  son of Tiawath, 194
KIS. The Babylonian sun-god, 93, 294
KI'SAR. God;
  birth of, 71
KOLDEWEY, DR. German explorer, 356, 367;
  great gate of Ishtar discovered by, 372;
  temple of E-Sagila and, 374, 375
_Kosmologie_. Jensen's, 216
KOU-YUN-JIK. M. Botta and mound of, 339;
  Layard's searches in mound of, 344, 345;
  George Smith's excavations at, 351;
  Rassam's excavations at, 354, 355
KUK-UL-CAN. Reference to the god, 224


LAB'AN. Jacob and, 267
LAB'AR-TU. The hag-demon, 271, 277
LADY OF THE GODS. Ishtar the, 176
LAG'ASH. The modern Tel-lo, earliest Semite monuments come from, 16;
  the priests of became kings, 16;
  Gudea high-priest of, 19, 355;
  Bau 'mother of,' 145
LA'HA-MÉ. God;
  birth of, 71
LAH'MU. God;
  birth of, 71
LAM-AS'SU. A spirit of similar type to the Sedu, 277
LAMENTATION-S. For Tammuz, 135, 136, 140;
  Rituals, 253-255
LANGUAGE. The Akkadian, 13, 14;
  Babylonian priesthood preserved old Akkadian tongue as a sacred, 14;
  Sumerians borrowed from rich Semitic tongue, 15;
  cuneiform writing, 60-66, _see_ Writing;
  Median, 65;
  Susian, 65;
  Assyrian, 65;
  Longpérier's translation of Assyrian, 66;
  of Babylonia and Assyria, compared, 205
LAR'SA. Shamash worshipped at, 109;
  Khammurabi's improvements at, 187
LA'YARD, Sir HENRY. Assur-bani-pal's library at Nineveh and, 35, 46;
  archæological researches at Nineveh, 46, 155, 344, 346;
  researches of, at Nimrûd, 340, 342-344, 346
LEGEND-S. Jewish, _re_ Abram and Nimrod, 51;
  Persian, _re_ Abram and Nimrod, 52, 53;
  the creation, 193-195;
  of Etana, 195;
  of the origin of star-worship, 232-3;
  the, of Ura, 268-270;
  of a dog, 291, 292;
  'Cuthæan, of creation,' 294-6
LENORMANT. Hebrew and Assyrian poetry and, 322
LEO, SIGN OF. Recalls the slaying of Khumbaba, 182
LETTER-S. Franked by clay seals bearing name of Sargon, 18
LEVI, ELIPHAS. The Baphomet goat and, 293
LIA FAIL, THE. The Stone of Destiny; reference to, 248
LIBRARY. Assur-bani-pal's, 35, 46, 71, 261, 282, 346;
  the temple in 'Tablet Hill,' 363
LIGHT. Merodach and Tiawath, and the primal strife between darkness and, 79
LITERATURE. Babylonian art and, under Khammurabi the Great, 20;
  Assur-bani-pal and Babylonian, 35;
  sacred, of Babylonia, 67-69
LIVER-READING. By priests, 281-283
LOFTUS, WILLIAM KENNET. Successor of Mr Hormuzd Rassam, 346, 347
LO'KI. God of fire; Nergal not unlike, 106
LU'GAL-BAN'DA. Storm-bird god; like Prometheus, 93
LU'GAL-ZUG-GI'SI. King of Erech; famous text of, found by Hilprecht, 366


MAAT. Reference to, 222
MAGI. Confounded by Zoroaster, 333
MAGICAL TEXTS. Dawkina alluded to in the, 197;
  Anu mentioned in, 198;
  of Babylonia and Assyria, 257, 288;
  alluded to in Bible, 266, 267;
  circle, the, 275, 276
MAGICIAN-S. The word of power and, 263;
  Ea, the great, of the gods, 268
MAHOMET-AN. 'Baphomet' a corruption of, 293;
  conquest, 333
MAI-MON'I-DES. Jewish rabbi, friend of Averroes;
  his commentary on the _Mischnah_, 232
'MAK'LU.' A series of texts known as, 261
_Mam'it_. Equivalent for taboo, 278
MAM-MET'UM. The maker of destiny, 173
MAN-KIND. Creation of, by Merodach, 80, 81;
  goddess Aruru assists in the creation of, 82, 86;
  humanizing of, 112, 113
MARAZION. Signifies in Semitic, 'Hill by the Sea,' 331
MAR-CHESH-UAN. Merodach's month, 251
MAR'DUK. _See_ Merodach, 175, 200
MARRIAGE. Customs in Babylonia, 312
MARS. Identified with Nergal, 235
MAS'HU. The Mountain of Sunset, 171
MAZ'DA. One of the spiritual powers in Zoroaster's religion, 337
MEC'CA. Reference to the celebrated Kaaba (temple) at, 52
MEDE. Zoroaster a, 333
ME'DI-A. Subdued by Ninus, 25
MEDICINE. Ea, a god of, 192
MEG-ID'DO. The Canaanitish fortress of, 189
1. Queen; wife of Benani, 82;
2. Mother of the monsters, 295, 296
MEL'I-SHIP'OK II. Houses found dating from period of, 376
MELK ('KING'). Variant of Moloch, 328
MEL'KARTH. Phœnician god of Tyre, 327, 328;
  worship of, in Carthage, 330
MEL'KARTH-RESH'EF. Phœnician combination, 328
MEM-AN-GAB. Leader of the monsters, 295, 296
MEM'PHIS. Assyrians enter, 31
MER-AG-A'GA. Variant of Merodach, 202
MER'CURY. Identified with Nabu, 235
MER'OC. Yaran flees to, 210, 211
MER'O-DACH. Babylonian god, 41;
  temple of, 47, 374;
  Nimrod identified with, 50;
  prayer and god, 68;
  Tiawath and, 76-82;
  creates man, 81;
  the central figure of a popular myth, 84;
  god Ea displaced by, 86, 199;
  may have been a bull-god, 93;
  worshipped at Babylon, 94;
  Asshur identified with, 94;
  Nebuchadrezzar and, 104;
  Diabarra and, 106;
  the name Mordecai a form of, 142;
  great festival of, the Zakmuk, 141;
  worship of, first prominent in days of Khammurabi, 184-198;
  association with Nebo, 184-186;
  the Chamber of Fates in temple of, 185;
  Zarpanitum, wife of, 186, 202;
  supremacy of, 192;
  variant Marduk, 194, 200;
  Shamash and, 200;
  variants, Amaruduk, Asari, Saragagam, and Mer-agaga, 202;
  attendant hounds of, 202;
  usurped place of Bel, 227;
  Bel paired with, 228;
  Jupiter, identified with, 235;
  eighth month ruled over by, 237;
  month Marcheshuan belonged to, 251;
  eclipses and, 256;
  demons and the name of, 263;
  four dogs of, 291;
  head of the Babylonian Pantheon, 377;
  Nabonidus, 377
MER'O-DACH-BAL-A-DAN I. Houses found dating from period of, 376
MESH'A. The Moabite king; Chemosh, god of, 190
MESH'ACH. One of Daniel's companions, 38
MES-O-POT-A'MI-A. Elam and Northern --, overcome by Sargon, 17;
  Semitic religion in, 331;
  excavations in, 339, ff.;
  George Smith dispatched to, 351;
  recent research in, 366-376
MEXICO. Reference to religious system of ancient, 204;
  reference to temples, on, 243
MIC'AH. Reference to his teraphim, 268
MIDDLE AGES. The Sabbatic goat of the witchcraft of the, 293
MI-LI-SHIK'HU. Babylonian monarch; Shamash and, 187
_Misch'nah_. Commentary on the, 232
MITANI. Provinces of, conquered by Shalmaneser I, 308
MITH'RA. Rashnu and, 337
MIT-RA-PHER'NES. Artaios' eunuch, 149
MOFFLAINES. Wood of, 293
MOHAMMEDANISM. Initiated by the Semitic race, 313, 332
MOLOCH. Magic and, 258;
  worship of, in Phœnicia, 328;
  worship of, in Carthage, as Baal-ammon, 330;
  children sacrificed to, 331
MOMMU TI-A-WATH. The primeval ocean, 71. _See_ Moumis
MONSTER-S. Mythological animals and, of Chaldea, 289-298;
  the dog, 290, 291;
  invasion of the, 294-296;
  Patechus, 330
MONTH-S. Titles of, by Babylonians, 236-238
MOON. Babylonian religion and, 236;
  city; Ur, the, 249, 250;
  Abram, probably a moon-worshipper, 249;
  eclipses and the, 256
MOON-DEITIES. Osiris, 138;
  Aphrodite, 138;
  Proserpine, 138;
  Phœnician Ashtoreth, 138;
  Nannar, moon-god of Ur, 145-149;
  Sin, 94, 109, 128, 170, 223, 224, 250;
  Tanit, 330
MOR'DE-CA-I. The Book of Esther and, 141;
  a form of Marduk or Merodach, 142
MOSÛL. M. Botta French Consul at, 339;
  Layard's researches at, 340-344
MOTHER-EARTH. Of primitive mythologies, 197
MOTHER-GODDESS. Theory, 318, 319;
  compounded of various types, 326
'MOTHER OF THE GREAT GODS,' Belit alluded to as, 228
MOU'MIS or MUM'MU. Son of Tiawath and Apsu, 73;
  name at one time given to Tiawath, 73
MOUNTAIN. Of the Sunset, Gilgamesh journeys to, 158, 159, 171;
  of the Sunrise, 253;
  of the Earth, 305;
  of the Wind, 362;
  of the World, 362
MUL-LIL. The 'gazelle god' of Nippur, 292
MU-RASH'U AND SONS. Bankers and brokers at Nippur, 366
MU'RO. Worship of Ramman originated at, 220
MEYER, JOSEPH A. An American architect who assisted Haynes at Nippur, 365
MYRRH. Used at the Adonia festival, 136;
  -tree and Adonis, 137
MYTH-S. Of Sardanapalus, reference to, 32;
  analogies with Flood-, 45;
  North American Indian, reference to, 46, 122;
  Algonquin, reference to, 46;
  Babylonian, of creation, 70-87;
  confusing, connected with Ea, 112;
  of deluge, 111, 173-178;
  of Merodach and Tiawath, reference to, 78, 114, 199;
  Mexican, reference to, 115;
  Greek, reference to, 122, 315;
  of Tammuz, 126-129;
  Tammuz and Ishtar, groundwork of those of Greece and Rome, 131;
  of Adonis, 131-133;
  Egyptian, _re_ quest of Isis, 133;
  Tammuz-Ishtar, 135;
  various strata underlying the Gilgamesh, 159, 160;
  of the slaughter of Tiawath, 201;
  of Persephone and of Osiris, 201;
  a toothache-, 262, 263;
  Phœnician, little known _re_, 328;
  Indo-Germanic, reminiscences in Zarathustra's religion, 334;
  character of Babylonian, compared with that of Hellenic and
  Scandinavian, 338


NA-BO-NI'DES. Archæology fashionable in time of, 363
NABONIDOS. _See_ Nabonidus, 364
NA-BO-NI'DUS. The last of the Babylonian kings, 40, 110, 283;
  displaced by Cyrus, 41;
  cults of Merodach, Nabu, and Shamash, and, 377
NAB'O-POL-AS'SER. Reference to inscriptions of, 368;
  father of Nebuchadrezzar, 369, 370;
  Euphrates bridge, work of, 375;
  god Merodach and, 377
NAB'U, 175;
  Nusku and, connected, 225;
  Merodach and, paired, 228;
  Bel paired with, 228;
  Ramman-Nirari and, 228;
  called by Sargon 'the Seer who guides the gods,' 228;
  Mercury and, 235;
  tenth month sacred to, 237;
  tower of, 375;
  Nebuchadrezzar and, 377;
  Nabonidus and, 377
NAB'U-BALIDDIN. Shamash's temple restored by, 249
NABU-QUA'TI-ZA'BAT. Assur-bani-pal and, 304
NAB'U-USA'BI, King. Crucified by Tiglath-pileser II, 300
NA-BÛ-ZÈR-LÎ-SHIR. Scribe, 363
NAM'TAR. The plague-demon, 129
NANÂ. Merged in conception of Ishtar, 124;
  Assur-bani-pal and, 304
NAN'NAR. The moon-god of Ur, 145-149
NANN'AR-OS. Satrap of Babylon, 146-149
NANN'A-RU. The new moon, established by Merodach, 79
NA'RAM-SIN. Son of Sargon; title, 'King of the Four Zones,' 17, 19;
  Nabonidus and, 41;
  bricks discovered with name of, on, 47;
  'Builder of the Temple of En-lil,' 247;
  omens and, 283;
  'mould' of an inscribed stone belonging to Sargon I in palace of, 363
NE'BO. Hymn to, 69;
  son of Bel, 102;
  shrine sacred to, 102;
  Tashnit, wife of, 102, 185, 186;
  association with Merodach, 184-186;
  chief seat, Borsippa, 184, 326;
  as grain-god, 186;
  the altars of Yahveh dragged from, 190;
  temple of, 306, 346, 348
NEB'ROD. _See_ Nimrod
NE-BICH-AD-REZ'ZAR I. Ramman and, 219
NEBUCHADREZZAR II (or NEBUCHADNEZZAR). King of Babylonia, reign of, 36-40;
  invades Egypt, 37;
  wars against Jerusalem, 37;
  puts Jehoiakim to death, 37;
  sets up Zedekiah as King of Jerusalem, 37;
  Daniel and, 37-40;
  his dreams, 37-40;
  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and, 38;
  ruins of palace of, explored in 1899, 47;
  Sir H. C. Rawlinson's discovery _re_, 104;
  Shamash's temple restored by, 249;
  Dr Andrae's discovery _re_, 356;
  Merodach and, 377
NEBUCHADREZZAR III. King of Babylonia, 41
NEM'ART. _See_ Nimrod
NER'GAL. Temple of, at Cuthah, 82, 296;
  of Cuthah, 94;
  patron god of Cuthah, 105;
  not unlike Loki, 106;
  Dibarra, variant of, 106;
  Aralu and, 150, 151;
  shade of Eabani, and, 180;
  Mars and, 235;
  Canaanitish war-god, 326;
  worshipped by Phœnicians, 328
NEW YEAR. Assembly of gods at Babylon on first day of, 201;
  Merodach and, 201;
  Bau and, 251;
  Gudea and, 251
NI-BI'RU, Merodach's star, 79
NIM'ROD. The mighty hunter, 49-56;
  son of Chus, the Æthiop, 49;
  a reputed descendant of Ham, 49;
  figures in Biblical and Babylonian tradition, 49;
  built Babylon, 50;
  Greek named Nebrod or Nebros, 50;
  identified with Merodach, Gilgamesh, and Orion, 50;
  name found in Egyptian documents of XXII Dynasty as 'Nemart,' 50;
  derivation of name may mean 'rebel,' 50;
  legends of, related by Philo in his _De Gigantibus_, 50;
  Abram and, 51-56;
  King of Chaldea, 52;
  suggested identity with Gilgamesh, 156
NIM'RÛD. Sir Henry Layard's excavations at, 340, 342-344;
  Rassam's searches at, 344;
  George Smith's searches at, 348-354
NIN-A-GAL. Variant of Ea, 116
NIN'EV-EH. Built by Sennacherib, 31;
  Assur-bani-pal's library at, 35, 71, 154, 346;
  archæological researches of Layard and Botta at, 46;
  George Smith's labours at, 46;
  Mr Hormuzd Rassam's work at, 47;
  built by Asshur, 49;
  tablet written for temple of Nergal discovered at, 82;
  residence of Asshur, 207;
  Ishtar's shrine in, 212;
  M. Botta and site of, 339, 340;
  Layard and, 344;
  plan of, 357
NIN-GIR'SU. Name means 'Lord of Girsu,' 144;
  known as Shulgur ('Lord of the corn heaps'), 144;
  identified with Tammuz, 144;
  variant, Ninib, 214, 216;
  favourite of Gudea, 251;
  temple of, 283
NIN'IB, 84, 175;
  a war-god, 214;
  variant of, Nin-girsu, 214, 216;
  Tiglath-pileser I, Assur-rishishi, Assur-nazir-pal, and, 214;
  as hunter-god, 216;
  extolled by Tiglath-pileser I, 216;
  invoked by Assur-nazir-pal, 216;
  Gula, consort of, 216;
  Saturn and, 235;
  translated as En-Mashti by Canaanites, 326
NIN-IGI-NAG'IR-SIR. Saved with Ea, etc., from deluge, 115
NIN-LIL. Variant of Beltis, 101;
  consort of En-lil; Ishtar and, 124
NIN'NI. Variant of Innana, 187
NIN'SUM. Gilgamesh resorts to, 180
NI'NUS. King of Assyria, 25;
  Semiramis, wife of, 25;
  Ninyas, son of, 26
NIN'YAS. Son of Ninus; during minority of, Semiramis assumed
  the regency, 26
NIPPUR. Babylonian civilization grouped round, 14;
  god En-lil and, 14;
  city of Ur colonized by, 15;
  Mr Haynes' excavations at, 47, 359, 360, 365, 366;
  temple of, 82;
  cosmological tales at, 84;
  of Sumerian origin, 96;
  preferred to Babylon, 196;
  lamentation ritual at, 199, 200;
  temple of E-Kur at, 248;
  business quarter of, unearthed, 359, 360;
  stage-tower of, 361;
  temple-tower of, 362
NIR'IG. God; variant, Enu-Restu; Bel, father of, 153
NIZ'AN. First month; sacred to Anu and Bel, 236
NO'AH. Patriarch, reference to, 45;
  legend of deluge and Ea, 115;
  variant, Ut-Napishtim, 116
NO-RETURN. Land of, 128
NU-DIM-MUD. Variant of name of Ea, 73;
  Tiawath and, 76
NUMBERS. Assigned to each of the gods, 237, 238
NUS'KU. The messenger of Mul-lil, 68;
  hymn to, 69;
  temple of, 102;
  of the 'Brilliant Sceptre,' 224, 225;
  Nabu and, connected, 225;
  eclipses and, 255


O-AN'NES. _See_ Ea, 14
OBELISK. Of Shalmaneser II, 343
O-DA'CON. Appears from sea of Eruthra, 112
OMEN-S. Library of Sargon contained book dealing with, 18;
  divination by, 281, 282
O-MOR'CA. Chaldaic equivalent, Thalath;
  Greek, _thalassa_, 114
ON'NES. One of Ninus' generals, husband of Semiramis, 25
OPPERT. French exploration expedition and, 347
O-RI'ON. Nimrod identified with, 50
O-SI'RIS. Isis and, reference to, 133;
  reference to, 201, 228
'O-ZY-MAN'DI-AS.' Shelley's sonnet on, 307


PAINTINGS. Discovered in Sennacherib's palace at Kouyunjik, 345
PALACE-S. Built at Nineveh by Sargon; M. Botta unearths, 340;
  Assyrian, two discovered at Nimrûd, 340;
  built by Esar-haddon, unearthed by Layard, 343;
  of Sennacherib, found by Layard, 345;
  Assur-bani-pal's, discovered by Rawlinson, 346;
  of Nimrûd, George Smith's excavations in, 348, 349;
  Nebuchadrezzar's, excavated, 369-371
PALESTINE. Syria and, invaded by Sargon, 17;
  worship of Hadad in, 188;
  the Canaanites first dwellers in, 324
PALL'AS A-THÊ-NÉ. Reference to, 222, 315
PAN'THE-ON, ASSUR-BANI-PAL'S. Belit and Asshur in, 228
  differences between the Babylonian and, 203, 204;
  Dagon in, associated with Anu, 216, 217;
  Bel-Merodach absorbed in the, 225;
  Ea in the, 229;
  Dibbarra, in the, 229
1. Early. Prior to Khammurabi, 94, 95.
2. Later. General changes in and additions to, 184-198;
  Bel's place usurped in the, by Merodach, 227;
  spiritistic nature of, 318
PAP-SUK'AL. The messenger of the gods, 130
PARADISE. The Abyss and, 82
PAR'SÎS. Of Bombay, 334
PAR-SON'DES. Ctesias' tale _re_, 146-149
PAT-E'CHUS. God; a repulsive monster, 330
PER-SEPH'O-NÉ or PROS'ER-PINE. Reference to, 132, 201;
  corresponds to Allatu, 132
PER-SE'POLIS. Reference to, 61;
  language found at, deciphered by Löwenstern and Hinks, 65;
  Longpérier translated language found at, 66
PER'SE-US. Reference to, 87
PERSIAN-S. Signs in connexion with cuneiform writing, 60-66;
  religion of (Zoroaster's), 332-336, etc.;
  fear of defilement, 335
PETERS, DR. Director of American expeditions, 358, 359, 364, 365
PHIL-IS'T'I-A. Sargon's expedition against, 210, 211
PHŒ-NIC'I-A. Worship of Moloch in, 328
PHŒNICIAN-S. The Gods of the, 326-329;
  religion; Egyptian influence, 328
PICTURE-WRITING. Cuneiform and, 66. _See_ Writing
PIR-Æ'US. Port of Athens, 328
PIS'CES, SIGN OF. Eabani and, 183
PLACE, VICTOR. Botta's work at Khorsabad, continued by, 340
PLANET-S. Identified with gods, 235
PLUTARCH. Isis (Astarte) and, 328
PLU'TO. Reference to, 133
POETRY. Assyrian, 321, 322
POLGARTH. Phœnician word 'city' and, 331
POL-Y-HIS'TOR, ALEXANDER. God Ea and, 112, 113
POLYTHEISM. Semitic, 313
_Pop'ol Vuh_. Reference to, 97, 151
POS-EI'DON. Greek god, 315
PRAYER-S. To the sun-god, etc., 67, 68
PRIEST-S. Akkadian tongue preserved by Babylonian, 14;
  those of Lagash became kings, 16;
  high, of Asshur, took title of king, 21, 208;
  sole mythographers, 191;
  -hood, cult and temples, 239-241;
  wizards and, 260;
  -magician; the chamber of the, 270-275;
  liver-reading by, 282;
  of Thebes, Memphis, and On, 314;
  of Nippur and Erech, 314
PRIESTESSES. In Babylonia, 240, 241
PRIEST-HOOD. _See_ Priests
PRISONER-GODS. Assyrian rulers and, 225, 226
PRO-ME'THE-US. Lugalbanda and, 93;
  Zu and, 195
PSALMS, BOOK OF THE. National, not individual, 320;
  Poetical form of, 322
PU'NIC. Religion, 330
  by water, in connexion with Babylonian magic, 270
PÛRIM. Feast of, 140, 141


QAL'AT SHER'QAT. Annals of Tiglath-pileser I discovered by Rawlinson, 346;
  Dr Andrae's excavations at, 356


RA. Worship of, in Egypt, 223
RAB'BAT UM'MA. 'The Great Mother,' 330
RAB-I'SU. A lurking demon, 276, 277
RACES. Asia Minor peopled with diverse, 324
RACHEL. The stolen images and, 266-268
RACH'MET. Reference to, 61
RAM'MAN, 175; equivalent, Rimmon;
  identified with Hadad or Adad, 187-189;
  the Tablets of Destiny and, 195;
  popularity and functions, 217-222;
  weapons of, 218;
  worship of, in days of Khammurabi and Nebuchadrezzar I, 219;
  Assur-nazir-pal and, 219;
  Attributes and signification, 218-222;
  eleventh month sacred to, 237
RAM'MAN-NIR-A'RI I. The _Annunaki_ and _Igigi_ and, 90
RAM'MAN-NI-RA'RI III. Nabu exalted at expense of Asshur by, 228
RASH'NU. Mithra and, 337
RASS'AM, MR HOR'MUZD. Assur-bani-pal's library at Nineveh and, 35;
  his archæological researches at Nineveh and at Abu-habba, 47;
  stone tablet found at Sippard by, 292;
  researches at Nimrûd, 342, 344. 346, 354. 355
RAWLINSON, MAJOR (SIR) HENRY. Cuneiform writing and, 64-66;
  his discovery _re_ Nebuchadrezzar, 104;
  Layard and, 342, 344, 345, 346
RED INDIANS. Titles of months and, 236
REINACH. Reference to, 334
RELIGION-S. Akkadian tongue used as a sacred language by Babylonian
  priesthood, 14;
  early Babylonian, 88-153;
  Jewish, 88;
  of ancient Mexico, 88;
  Vedic, of India, 88;
  Semitic influence on Babylonian, 91, 92;
  official system of Babylonian and Assyrian, 92;
  Semitic, Euphrates-Tigris influence on, 92;
  totemism in Babylonian, 92;
  system of, in Babylonia, overshadowed by Merodach, 199;
  Jastrow's _Religion in Babylonia and Assyria_ quoted, 199, 212;
  star-worship, the origin of, 237;
  _of the Semites_ quoted, 91, 241, 332;
  cult of the gods, 292;
  comparative value of the, of Babylonia and Assyria, 313-336 and on;
  Teutonic and Celtic, comparisons, 316;
  Babylonian, typically animistic, 317, 318;
  worship of great earth-mother, 318, 319;
  Jewish, 319-329;
  Canaanite, 324-326;
  Carthaginian, 329;
  Semitic, 329, 331;
  Punic, 330;
  Mohammedanism, 313, 332;
  of the Persians (Zoroaster), 332-337;
  of Babylonians, 338;
  decay of Babylonian, 378, 379
RESH'EPH. Known to the Canaanites, 326;
  the lightning god; origin; identified with Apollo, 328
RHO-DA'NES. Romance of Sinonis and, 56-60
RIM'AT-BEL'IT. Mother of Gilgamesh, 158;
  interprets Gilgamesh's dream, 164
RIM'MON. _See_ Rammon
RITUAL. Lamentation at Nippur, 199, 200;
  of hepatoscopy, 283-288;
  Zoroastrian fire worship central feature of, 335


SABBATIC GOAT. Witchcraft of Middle Ages and the, 293
SAB-I'TU. The sea-goddess; Gilgamesh and, 172;
  sign Capricornus and, 183
SAC'A. One of the two eunuchs appointed to watch Rhodanes and Sinonis, 57
SAC-Æ'A. The Asiatic equivalent of the Saturnalia, 33;
  Festival of Zakmuk, or, 141
SACRIFICE-S. Babylonian, 241, 242
SADI-RAB'U-MA-TA'TI. The great mountain of the earth, 305
SAG'GAL. Temple of Merodach, 305
SAK'ON. Carthaginian deity, 330
SAM-AS-SUM-YU'KIN. Viceroy of Babylonia, 34;
  raises revolt in Assyrian empire, 34;
  his death, 34
SAM'KHAT. Goddess of joy, 131
SAM-MUR'A-MUT. Assyrian title of Semiramis. _See_ Semiramis
SAM'SI-A'DAD IV. Rawlinson discovers stele of, 346
SAM'SI-RAM'MON. Son of Shalmaneser II;
  succeeds his father as King of Assyria, 24;
  Sammuramat favourite of, 24;
  Asshur mentioned in inscription of, 208
SANCH-UN-I-A'THON. Philo and, preserved in works of Eusebius, 329
SAOSHYANT. The saviour, in Zoroaster's religion, 337
SAR-AG-AG'AM. Variants of Merodach, 202
SAR-A'KOS. Greek equivalent for Sin-sarkin, 36
SAR-DA-NA-PAL'US THE SPLENDID. Assur-bani-pal known to Greek legend as, 31;
  King of Assyria, 31;
  reference to, in _The Golden Bough_, 32;
  Sir James Frazer on, 32, 34;
  prominent features in legends of, 33;
  weaving of legend of, 34
I. Of Akkad, founds first great Semitic empire in Babylonia, 16;
  a Babylonian Arthur, 16, 21;
  the legend of his birth, 16, 17;
  invasions of Syria and Palestine, 17;
  Elam and N. Mesopotamia overcome by, 17;
  Naram-Sin son of, 17, 19;
  letters franked by clay seals bearing name of Sargon, 18;
  first founder of Babylonian library, 18;
  bricks discovered with name of, on, 47;
  Asshur's conquering power and, 210, 211;
  King Azuri and, 210;
  Ahimiti and, 210;
  Yaran and, 210;
  Sin and, 223;
  Bel and, 227;
  Nabu termed 'that Seer who guides the gods,' 228;
  'Builder of the Temple of En-lil,' 247;
  hepatoscopy and, 283;
  palace built by, unearthed at Nineveh, 340;
  George Smith finds fragments of history of, 352.
II. Usurping general, claimed descent from Sargon the Great, 30;
  father of Sennacherib, 30
SAR'RA-PAN-U. Tiglath-pileser II captures, 299
SASS-AN'I-AN. Rulers, 333
SAT'URN. Identified with Ninib, 235
SAUL-MU-GI'NA. Rebellious brother of Assur-bani-pal, 304
SCHRADER. Assyrian poetry and, 321, 322
SCIENCE. Star-worship the origin of, 237;
  the roots of, 259
SCILLY ISLANDS. Phœnicians in, 331
SCOR'PIO, SIGN OF. Gilgamesh and, 182
SCOTLAND. Goat-demon adored in, 293
SCULPTURE-S. Discovery of, glorifying Assur-nazir-pal, 343;
  Babylonian, discovered by de Sarzec, 355
SCYTHIAN-S. Penetrate into Assyria, 36
SED'U. A guardian (sometimes an evil) spirit invoked with the Lamassu, 277
SEL-EU'CI-A. City, built out of ruins of Babylon, 42
SEM-IR'A-MIS THE GREAT. Assyrian Queen, 24-29;
  legendary origin, 25;
  wife of Onnes, and later of Ninus, 26;
  Ninyas son of, 26;
  engages in battle Strabrobates, King of India, 27;
  fame of, 28, 29;
  Sammuramat, her Assyrian title, 29;
  wife of Samsi-Rammon, 29;
  mythical connexion with Ishtar, 29;
  worshipped by the Syrians, 27;
  esteemed as the daughter of Dercatus, 27;
  district round Lake Van called after, Shamiramagerd, 28
SEMITES. Germs of culture received from Akkadians by Babylonian, 13;
  their love of wisdom, 14, 15;
  Babylon entered by, 15, 16;
  believed to have come from Arabia, 15, 16;
  made by the code of Khammurabi, 21;
  ancient, and gods, 89;
  serpent loathed by, 289;
  animistic influences;
  appeal of, to, 318
SEMITIC. Empire, first great, founded in Babylonia by Sargon of Akkad, 16;
  religious thought, 235;
  worship and, lamentations, 253;
  polytheism, 313;
  conservatism, 316;
  cults; Babylonian influence upon, 324;
  religion, 329, 331;
  peoples; a 'peculiar people,' 332;
  faith, includes various manifestations, 332
SEN-NACH'E-RIB. Son of usurping general Sargon, 30;
  campaign of, against Hezekiah, 30;
  Nineveh built by, 30;
  Esar-haddon son of, 31;
  takes nucleus of Assur-bani-pal's library from Calah, 154;
  soothsayers and his death, 260;
  Layard's discoveries in palace of, 345
SERPENT. The ancients and the, 289;
  equivalent, Aibu ('the enemy'), 289
SET. Osiris and, reference to, 133
SET-A'PO. A wealthy Babylonian who harbours Sinonis, 59
'SEVEN SPHERES, THE STAGES OF.' A building, the wonder of Borsippa, 104
SEVEN TABLETS. Of creation; primary object of, 71
SHAD'RACH. One of Daniel's companions, 38
SHAL-MA-NE'SER I. King of Assyria, 22, 308;
  Tukulti-in-Aristi, son of, 22;
  Nusku and, 224;
  inscription of, unearthed by George Smith, 351
SHAL-MA-NE'SER II. King of Assyria in succession
  to Assur-nazir-pal III, 24;
  Overthrows Ahab, King of Israel, 24;
  Samsi-Rammon son of, 24;
  the god Dáda and, 189;
  Merodach (Bel) and, 225, 227;
  discovery of obelisk of, 343;
  dedications of, unearthed, 351
SHAL-MA-NE'SER IV. Successor of Tiglath-pileser III, 30
1. Temple of, at Sippar, restored by Nabonidus, 41;
  adored at Sippar, 94;
  the sun-god, 109-111;
  son of Sin, 109;
  Aa, consort of, 110;
  Ishtar and, 130;
  Gilgamesh and, 156, 165;
  Khammurabi and, 187;
  Zu captured by, 195;
  Merodach and, 200;
  cult of, in Assyria, 222, 223;
  seventh month sacred to, 236;
  a Canaanitish god, 325;
  Nabonidus and, 377.
2. The great idol of, 249
SHAR'RU-ILU. One of the lesser Babylonian gods, 229
SHATT-EN-NÎL. Excavations along bank of, by Haynes, 365
SHE'BA, QUEEN OF. Tiglath-pileser II quarrels with, 301
SHEPHERD. The sun the, of the stars, 236;
  En-lil, of the dark-headed people, 254
SHEPHERD KING, THE. Daon, of Pantibiblon, 112
SHI'NAR, PLAIN OF. Babylon built on, 52
SHUL-GUR. Variant of Nin-Girsu, 144
1. Son of Ubara-Tutu, 173.
2. City of, 177, 178
SHU'TU. Variant of South Wind, 117
SI'BI. The god, 108
SICILY. Worship of Ashtart (Ishtar) at, 327
SID'DA. The temple, 306
SI'DON. Tyre and, in touch with Assyria, 327;
  Ashtart or Ishtar, temple of, in, 327;
  Eshmun worshipped at, 328
SIGN-S. Gemini, Leo, Virgo, Taurus, Scorpio, 182;
  Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces, 183
SILENCE, TOWERS OF. Parsis' dead and the, 336
SIN (perhaps pron. _Siñ_). The moon-god, 94, 223, 224;
  Ruled at Ur, 94;
  Shamash son of, 109;
  Ishtar daughter of, 128;
  Gilgamesh delivered by, 170;
  Gilgamesh resorts to, 180;
  eclipses and god, 256;
  a Canaanitish god, 325
SIN-A-IT'IC PENINSULA. Semitic religion in, 331
SI-NO'NIS. Romance of Garmus and, 56-60
SIN-SAR-IS'KIN. Last King of Assyria, 36;
  the Sarakos of the Greeks, 36
SIN-SHAR-ISH'KUN. The last representative of the Assyrian dynasty, 364
SIP'PAR. Shamash worshipped at, 109;
  Aa worshipped at, 110;
  Abu-Habbah, the ancient site of, 177;
  Berossus substitutes, for Shurippak, 178;
  Khammurabi's improvements at, 187;
  Shamash's temple at, 249
SIP'PA-RA. Temple of sun-god, Mr Rassam discovers, 47, 292
SIS-U'THRUS. The Flood Myth and, 45
SI'WAN. Month sacred to Sin, 236
SMITH, GEORGE. Reference to archæological labours, 46, 155, 347-354;
  discovery of, _re_ Bel, 101;
  discovery of, _re_ Tiglath-pileser II, 299;
  Babylonian and Assyrian poetry and, 322
SMYR'NA. Mother of Adonis, reference to, 127
SOUL. Supposed to reside in the liver, 281
SPAIN. Mohammedanism in, 332
SPEAKING HEAD, THE. Laban and, 267
SPIRIT-S. Assyrian, 277, 278
SOKK-A'ROS. First king to reign in Babylonia after the deluge, 157;
  Ælian the grandson of, 157
SOOTHSAYERS. Sennacherib and, 260
SOR-ACCH'US. Magistrate, who sends Sinonis to Babylon, 58
SORCERERS. Chaldean, and the magic circle, 275, 276
SRA-O'SHA. Soul carried by, to the beyond, 336, 337
STAR-S. Formed by Belus, 115;
  Babylonian worship of, 231-238;
  ideograph the same for 'god' and, 234;
  the sun the shepherd of the, 236;
  Anu the Pole, 236;
  Bel the Pole (equator), 236;
  Ea and star in constellation Argo, 236;
  -gazers of Chaldea, 258
ST IL'YA. Tammuz compared with, 127
STONE. The Moabite, 190;
  examined by Professors Socin and Smend, 190
STRA-BRO-BA'TES. King of India;
  Semiramis makes war on, 26, 27
'SU-ME'RI-AN.' Modern equivalent for the old expression 'Akkadian,' 15
SUN. Merodach's ideograph is the, 202;
  known as the 'Way of Anu,' 234;
  the 'Bull of Light,' 290
SUN-GOD. _See_ Gods.
SUPERSTITION-S. In Chaldea, 280, 281
SU'SA. Monument of Naram-Sin unearthed by de Morgan at, 17;
  copy of Khammurabi's code found at, by J. de Morgan, 21
SUS'I-AN. Language; alternative, Median, 65
SUS'IN-AY. Idol of, 304
SYRIA. Palestine and, invaded by Sargon, 17;
  worship of Hadad in, 188;
  the Canaanites first dwellers in, 324
SYSTEM-S. Official, of religion in Babylonia and Assyria, 92;
  of religion in Babylonia, 199;
  religious, of ancient Mexico, Guatemala, and Yucatan;
  reference to, 204;
  Hellenic and Roman, 235;
  religions--Judaism, Christianity, Mohammedanism, 313;
  of religious races in Asia Minor, 324;
  Zarathustra's moral, 334


'TABLET HILL.' Haynes' discoveries at, 360;
  the temple library in, 363;
  King Nabonidos' (Nabonidus) vase found at, 364
TABLETS. Twelve, of the Gilgamesh epic, 155, 158, 159;
  detailed examination of, 161-180;
  of Destiny, 193-195;
  cuneiform, dealing with magic, 261, 262;
  Surpu and Maklu, series of, 262;
  the deluge, discovered by Smith, 347, 351, 352;
  discovered by Rassam, 354;
  of Nabopolasser, Nebuchadrezzar, Nabonidus, Cyrus, Cambyses, and
  Darius, 358
TAB'OO. Prayers, etc., against, 262;
  belief in, in Chaldea, 278;
  known in Babylonia as _mamit_, 278
TAM'MUZ. One of the guardians of the gates of heaven, 118;
  Ishtar's search for, 126;
  myth of, 126-129;
  name derived from Dumu-zi, 126;
  Professor Sayce and, 126;
  addressed as 'shepherd and lord' in Akkadian hymn, 126;
  Ishtar, consort of, 127;
  Adonis myth related to that of, 131;
  Sir James Frazer's _Golden Bough_ and, 134;
  lamentations for, 135, 136, 140;
  a god of vegetation, 137, 138;
  Nin-Girsu (Shulgur) identified with, 144;
  the bridegroom of Ishtar's youth, 167;
  Dido and, 190;
  Ninib and, 216
TAM'MUZ-A-DO'NIS. Worshipped in Carthage, 330
TAM'TU. Assyrian term signifying 'the deep sea,' 72
TA'NIT. Goddess of the heavens and the moon;
  compared with Demeter, 330;
  inscriptions to, 330;
  identified with Dido, 331
TA'NITH. Goddess, honoured at Carthage, 328
TASH'MIT. Nebo's consort, 102, 185, 186;
  patron of writing, 185
TAU'RUS, SIGN OF. Represented by the slaying of the celestial bull,
  Alu, 182
TELL AM'RAN. Mound of, 374
TEL-LÔ. Ernest de Sarzec's researches at, 355, 356
TEMPLE-S. Of Bel, 101-105, 227;
  of Nebo and Tashmit, 102;
  of Ea and Nusku, 102;
  of Bel and Anu, 102;
  of Belus, reference to, 103;
  of Ea, 111;
  of Belus, reference to, 114;
  of Dagon, at Ashdod and Gaza, 151;
  of Merodach, at Babylon, 185, 374;
  of Asshur, 207;
  of Sin, at Calah, 223;
  priesthood, cult and, 239-241;
  of Babylonia and Assyria, 242-251;
  oldest, in Babylonia, was E-Kur, 248;
  as banks, 250;
  begun by Esar-haddon, 305;
  Saggal, of Merodach, 305;
  Sidda, 306;
  of Ashtart or Ishtar, at Sidon and Askelon, 327;
  to Apollo, 330;
  Zoroastrian, 335;
  of Nebo, 348;
  of Babylon, 373-375
TE'RAH. Father of Abraham, 51, 52
TESTAMENT, OLD. Nergal mentioned in, 105;
  Dagon in, 151, 152;
  David of the, 190;
  poetical form of, 322
TEUTONIC. Celtic religion and, compared, 316, 317
TEXTS, CUNEIFORM. _See_ Cuneiform
TEXTS, MAGICAL. Dawkina alluded to in, 197;
  Anu mentioned in, 197, 198;
  a series known as 'Maklu,' 261, 262
TEZ-CAT-LI-PO'CA. Reference to, 222
THAL-ATH. Chaldaic equivalent for Omorca, 114
THEIAS, KING. Reference to, 132
_T'hom_ or 'DEEP.' Tiawath a parallel to the Old Testament expression, 72
THOMES. French exploration expedition and, 347
THOTH. Reference to, 185, 222, 224, 228
THUNDER-BIRD. North-American Indian conception, 193
THUNDER-GOD. Hadada, 188, 189
TI'A-MAT. Variant of Tiawath, 71
TI'AWATH. Variant, Tiamat, 71;
  a parallel to Old Testament expression _T'hom_ (or 'deep'), 72, 73;
  her ill-will toward the gods of heaven, 76-78;
  her death by Merodach, 78, 199;
  the 'fish' of Jonah and, 87;
  chaos, 193;
  slaughter of, enacted, 201;
  the host of, 232;
  not the only Babylonian monster, 289
TIG'LATH-PIL-E'SER I. Alternative, Tukulit-pal-E-saria,
  King of Assyria, 23;
  god Bel (En-lil) and, 95;
  Ishtar and, 212;
  Ninib and, 214, 216;
  Shamash and, 222;
  Merodach and, 227;
  Rawlinson discovers annals of, 346
TIG'LATH-PIL-E'SER II. Tales of, 299-301
TIG'LATH-PIL-E'SER III. Second Assyrian Empire commenced with, 29;
  conquers Babylon and is invested with the sovereignty of 'Asia,' 36
TIGRIS. The river, 206, 342
TOL'TECS. Reference to Aztecs, and, 226, 227
TONGUES. Babylonian towers and legend of confusion of, 47;
  legend of confusion of, found in Central America, 48;
  among African tribes some such myth found, 49;
  certain Australian and Mongolian peoples possess a similar tradition, 49
TOTEMISM. Signs of, in Babylonian religion, 92
TOWER OF BABEL. Legend of confusion of tongues and, 47. _See_ Babel
TREE-S. Adonis and myrrh-, 137;
  Osiris and tamarisk-, 137;
  Attis and pine-, 137, 138;
  Tammuz and cedar, 138
TRIAD. _See_ Trinity
TRIBAL DIVINITIES. The most outstanding, 94
TRINITY, A. Tiawath, Apsu, and Mummu, 74;
  Bel, Ea, and Anu, 97, 111, 191, 196-198;
  En-lil, Ea, and Anu, 121;
  of earth, air, and sea, 197;
  Ramman, Sin, and Shamash, 219;
  Ea, Anu, and Enlil evolved from demons, 268
TSAI'DU. The hunter; Gilgamesh, Eabani, and, 163-166
TSA'PHON. Carthaginian deity, 330
TUK-UL'TI-IN-AR-IS'TI. Son of Shalmaneser I; takes Babylon
  and slays its king, Bitilyasu, 22
TUK-UL'TI-NIN'IP. Son of Shalmaneser I;
  inscriptions of, 351
TYRE. Sidon and, in touch with Assyria, 327


U-BA'RA-TU-TU. Shurippak son of, 173
UB'SHU-KEN'NA (or Upshukkina-ku). The 'brilliant chamber' where the sun
  takes his rise, 252, 253
UK'HUT. Eabani and, 129, 163;
  one of the sacred women of the temple of Ishtar, 163
UKK'U-MU (Seizer). Attendant hound of Merodach, 202
UNDERWORLD, THE, 125, 128-132, 136;
  Eabani descends into, 160;
  description of, in VIIth of Gilgamesh tablets, 169
UR. City from whence Abram came, a near neighbour of Eridu, colonized
  by Nippur, 15;
  fall of the dynasty, 20;
  Nannar, the moon-god, of, 145-149;
  the moon-city, 249, 251
U'ra. The legend of, 268-270
UR-A-GAL, 175
UR'BAU. Bau alluded to in inscriptions of, 144;
  Zikkurat built by, at Nippur, 248
UR'GA. A town in Mesopotamia; equivalents, Caramit and Diarbekr, 52
UR-GUR. King of Assyria, 359, 366
UR-NIN'IB. Reference to pavement of, 366
U'ru. Canaanitish god of light; name found in Uru-Salim, 325
URU-AZ-AG'GA. Bau's temple at, 145
UR'UK. Place, 84
URU-KAG-I'NA. Bau alluded to in inscriptions of, 144
UT-NAP-ISH'TIM. Variant of Noah, 116, 160;
  hero of Babylonian deluge myth, figures in Gilgamesh epic, 155, 158, 160;
  Gilgamesh's ancestor, 170-173;
  Gilgamesh seeks secret of perpetual life from, 173-178;
  the deluge myth and, 173-178
UT-UKKU. Ghost of Eabani designated, 181;
  an evil spirit, 276
UZ. God; worshipped under form of a goat, 93, 292
UZZ'I-EL, JONATHAN, BEN. The targum of, 267


VAMPIRES. Babylonian, 264-266
VAN. Lake, 331
VASH'TI. Reference to, 142;
  Frazer on, 143
VED'IC GODS. Reference to, 77
VEGETATION. En-lil (Bel), a god of, 96;
  Ishtar, 'great mother' of, 123, 137, 138, 168;
  seven gates of Aralu and the decay of, 137;
  Tammuz, a god of, 137, 138, 140;
  Adonis and Aphrodite connected with, 139;
  Ceres, a corn-mother, 139;
  Proserpine, same nature, 139;
  Osiris introduced corn into Egypt, 139;
  Mordecai as god of, 144;
  Humman an Elamite god of, 144
VE'NUS. Star;
  Abram and, 55;
  temple of, 58;
  Ishtar and, 124, 235
VIR'GO, SIGN OF. Ishtar and the, 182


WAR. Ishtar, goddess of, 127, 213, 214;
  -god, Ninib a, 214;
  -god, Ramman a, 221
WAR-KÂ. Work of Loftus at, 346, 347
WATER. Purification by, 270
WATERS OF DEATH. Gilgamesh crosses, 158, 159
WESTERGAARD. Median language and, 65
WIND, SOUTH. Adapa and the, story of, 116-121;
  variant, Shutu, 117
WINDOWS. None in Nebuchadrezzar's palace at Babylon, 369
WITCH. Known as _Kassaptu_, 261;
  -finding, 272-275;
  -orgies in France, 293
WIZARDS. Priestly, 260-262;
  known as _Kassapu_, 261
WORD OF POWER, THE. The magicians of Chaldea and, 263
WORSHIP. Of gods by gods, 77;
  of gods under animal forms, 92, 93;
  of Bel, 98-101;
  of Shamash, 109;
  of Aa, 110;
  of Ishtar, 124;
  of Dagon, 151;
  of Merodach, 184, 185;
  of Nebo, 184, 185;
  of Hadad, in Syria, 188;
  of the Sun-god in Canaan and Phœnicia, 190;
  of Dodo or Dod, by the side of Yahveh, 190;
  of Ramman, 219, 220;
  of Aztecs and Toltecs, 226, 227;
  of stars, Babylonian, 231-238;
  lunar, 236;
  moon-, 249;
  Semitic, and lamentations, 253;
  of the gazelle and goat, 292-294;
  of great earth-mother, 318, 319;
  of ancestors; Canaanites, 326;
  of Moloch, 328;
  Carthaginian, 329-332;
  Zoroastrian, 332-336;
  of fire, 335, etc.
WRITING, CUNEIFORM. Restoration of, 60-67;
  Josaphat Barbara and, 61;
  Pietro della Valle and, 61;
  Sir John Chardin and, 61;
  Niebuhr and, 61;
  Tychsen and, 61;
  Münter and, 61;
  Georg Grotefend, and, 62;
  Professor Lassen and, 63;
  Burnouf and, 63;
  Major Henry Rawlinson and, 64-66;
  Westergaard and, 65;
  Morris and, 65;
  Löwenstern and, 65;
  Hinks and, 65;
  Longpérier and, 66;
  origin of, 66, 67;
  on obelisk of Shalmaneser II, 343
WRITING-S. Religions, of Babylonia, 67;
  of Oannes, 113-116;
  Nebo credited, like Ea, with the invention of, 185;
  Tashmit patron of, 185;
  stars, the, of heaven, 231;
  Zarathustrian sacred, 334


XER'XES, KING. Reference to, 141;
  Esther, the crown-name of Jewish wife of, 143


YAH'WEH. The Hebrew name of God, 49;
  worship of, by the side of Dodo, by the Israelites, 190
YAR'AN. Sargon and, 210, 211
YEAR, NEW. _See_ New


ZAB. The river, 207
ZAG-MU'KU (_Zak-muk_). Festival of Sacæa or, 141;
  goddess Bau and, 251
ZAK-MUK. _See_ Zag-muku.
ZA'MAMA. Court of Ishtar and, 101
ZA-RA-THUS'TRA. _See_ Zoroaster
ZAR-PA-NI'TUM. Goddess, wife of Merodach, 186, 202;
  Ealur amalgamated with, 186
ZECH-A-RI'AH. Allusion of, to Hadad-Rimmon, 189
ZED-EK-I'AH. King of Jerusalem; Nebuchadrezzar and, 37
ZEUS. Reference to, 132, 315
ZIG-A-RUN. Variant of Apsu, 72
ZIK-KU-RAT-S. Staged towers;
  described, 242, 246;
  of Assur-bani-pal, 365
ZI'RAT-BA'NIT. The seat of, 306
ZIS-U'THROS, KING. Berossus substitutes, for Ut-Napishtim, 177, 178
ZO'DIAC. Signs of the, in the Babylonian astrological system, 183,
  231, 232;
  the goat, one of the signs of the, 292
ZOG-A'NES. The, of the Sacæa, 142
ZOR-O-AS'TER. The religion of, 332-;
  earliest form of name Zarathustra, 333;
  a Mede, 333;
  good and evil principles of religion of, 334
ZU. The storm-god;
  retained a bird-like form, 93, 193-195;
  legend of, 193-195
ZU-BIRD. The bird roc, in _Arabian Nights_, a possible descendant of, 193

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