Really enjoyed the opening chapters with all the information that was contained therein. The only thing about the kindle edition I didn't like was the missing photographs. Mainly because the descriptions of the photos were there and weren't very well separated from the main text so as to become annoying. The translation was good but there is alot of missing sections. Since this was such an early translation hopefully we have found the missing pieces to flesh out any newer translations out there. It is a nice introduction for those just coming to the myths.
I'm think I liked it because I'm into this kind of thing. I like to see connections throughout the ages. This points out a few of the similarities that are held among the creation stories and even shows some of the connections of poetry style from this babylonian text and hebrew texts.
This suffers from being written in 1921, when the volume of translations was very small and the understanding of the context and meaning was incomplete. This beats having nothing, but I suspect there are now more complete versions with better translations.
The Babylonians/Assyrians/etc fascinate me. That so much is lost and known only in cobbled-together pieces across civilizations is equally fascinating. So much of modern concepts of these cultures is tarred by the accounts of them in the Bible— oversimplified religion, perceived as heathens and awful people. So a fresh look at their beliefs gives new perspective.
The Babylonian Legends of Creation (1921) was an awesome follow-up to E.A. Wallis Budge's previous short book on the subject of the Great Flood and the Epic of Gilgamish called The Babylonian Story of the Deluge(1920). I don't know if somehow my disgruntlement with the lack of maps and illustrations made it back in time to 1921 or if someone re-edited the book, but happily, my edition of Legends of Creation did include both a map and illustrations of different gods and demons.
What the book is about is several interpretations from different times and regions of the Babylonian story of creation. I believe there is 4 versions in total in there, raging anywhere in time from about 2500Bc to 600AD. Bossus' and the version on 7 tablets found at Nineveh were my favourites.
An image of Marduk killing Tiamat. In general, the story is as follows. The primordial serpentine (draconian) goddess Tiamat, along with her partner Apsu created all. If you ask me it's prolly mostly Tiamat, for after Apsu is killed, she goes on creating without a problem. They sort of exist in primordial waters (some say Apsu IS that primordial water... elsewhere I heared it was Tiamat's womb waters etc etc). In those waters exist many of their undifferentiated creations, or what Babylonians called demons. They would probably appear as abominations to the humans then, Men/women combos, beings of multiple-mixtures of animals and humans. From that primordial soup human-looking gods arise, and to them, a champion: god Marduk (or Enlil/Bel in other versions). Marduk kills Tiamat and fashions the world out of her body that keeps the primordial waters out.
Out of the blood of Kingu (Tiamat's ally) and some clay he fashions humans to serve his buddies, the gods. Out of her allies in battle he creates the constellations that pin half of Tiamat's body to the sky. [image error] Then Marduk reigns supreme above all men and Gods.
My Interpretation I think this is a cool story of a change of Aeons, an allegorical story depicting the struggle of non-duality and duality (Tiamat vs. the gods), whereby duality wins and a new way of thinking and seeing the world is created. The individualized gods (mostly male) come out of the hodge-podge of Tiamat's waters, and kill the goddess, taking over her reign BUT creating order out of chaos (Ordo Ab Chao) as well as creating duality (right, wrong; day, night;, male,female; sun, moon etc).
I really liked this short short book. I appreciated all the versions of the story in 1 volume. I enjoyed that Budge first told us the story of the 7 tablets of Nineveh, and then let us read the direct translation line by line.
Sometimes however, there was some confusion in my mind (as with any creation story really). Just like the stories of the 4 apostles about Jesus don't really add up 100%, so neither do the 4 stories of Babylonian creation. But that doesn't matter. The allegory is still there, and it's awesome! :)
This is based on translations of tablets found from the Babylonian area. They include a Babylonian version of the legend of the great flood. It notes that some portions of the legend of creation from that civilization are similar to the traditional legends of creations found in the Bible.
One problem in compiling the legends was the number of tablets found,(in the thousands), and getting those translated and the translations compiled in one central source.
The main god involved in the creation legend depended on the city the tablets were found in; each major city had its own god as the major figure in the legend. In one form of the legend a female divine figure created humanity. One legend holds that there were only the waters at first, along with the lands. Marduk, a god, then made people. He also created Babylon and the gods of the Anunnaki (which figure in some of the theories that the Anunnaki were beings from another planet that really were responsible for the human race, and someday they will return.) A goddess named Aruru helped Marduk create 'the seed of man.
Even cities were part of this version of the creation.
A later account (250 B.C.E.) held that everything was dark and there was an abyss and water. There were some kind of monsters in the water. There were people that were part human, part animal.
The Seven Tablets of Creation hold that there was a watery deep at the beginning; then demons and Gods came about. A whole bunch of gods got created, and one got tired of everything being so orderly and wanted some chaos around. There was some kind of Tablet of Destinies, something dealing with fate, but the tablet no longer exists.
Then there was a long war between the forces and gods of light, and the forces and gods of darkness and chaos. There seems to be some similarities between these stories and stories found in Egyptian mythology. There may also be some relation with these events and how the zodiac came to be.
Marduk becomes the leader of the forces of light. He encounters Tiamat, the leader of the forces of darkness with specifically eleven main aides and he defeats Tiamat, captures the eleven and kills them all. Marduk then uses her (Tiamat) dead body to create a new heaven and Earth. What happened next is not known since the tablets for that part of the information are missing.
The author then describes how the early civilizations emphasized astronomy. The relationship of the zodiac to early Babylonian civilization is then discussed. The creation of human beings seems to have been a committee effort.
The Babylonian creation mythology differs from Christian mythology. In the Babylonian version, demons and devils came before the creator god came to be; in Christianity, God came before all other forms of existence came into being. The creation mythology in the tablets, though, is actually based on much older, perhaps very much older myths and legends. Each tablet is then examined, with a great deal of it dealing with a war between the gods.
- Quote: "There was a time in which there existed nothing but darkness and an abyss of waters, wherein resided most hideous beings, which were produced on a two-fold principle. There appeared men, some of whom were furnished with two wings, others with four, and with two faces. They had one body but two heads; the one that of a man, the other of a woman; and likewise in their several organs both male and female." - Thoughts: It is a clarifying experience to find that so many roots of modern religions are nothing more than heritage of older, blasphemous and heretic. Also, Thiamat's campaign against the gods is pretty cool, she was a really badass goddess back in her time. I should get a T-shirt with her someday. ▶◀ These are my personal opinions, you may discord, my final rating of the book is not necessarily linked to this system and may diverge from it. Real life research - Development: 4/5 stars - Research: 5/5 stars - Enjoyment: 4/5 stars - Writing stile: 4/5 stars - Translations: 3/5 stars - Violence level: Ancient gods battles, mention of human sacrifice (real) - Tech level: Babylon and Assiria - Religion level: It's a real religion research - Main genre: Research - Subgenre: Religion - Best of it: The author shows different pieces of the same legend, each from different sources, giving us a broader picture of the real faith of those ancient people. - Worst of it: No pictures in this old format ebook, some tablets and cylinder seals described can be easily found in Google, some others I could not be sure to get the right one, maps would also be helpful, lots of maps - Aftertaste: It's like lettuce, it is good if you have a taste for it World - Real world (Y/N): sure - Main scenario: Ancient Mesopotamia, museums Setting - Historical importance: 5/5 Stars - Historical deep: 5/5 Stars - Historical score: 5/5 Stars - Geopolitical importance: 5/5 Stars - Geopolitical variety: 5/5 Stars - Geopolitical score: 5/5 Stars - Setting overall score: 5/5 Stars - About the setting: Great real life research
I give this such a high rating because of its importance to the history of religion. It staggers the imagination to think of Sir Wallis translating this manuscript from clay tablets in cuneiform, many of them in fragments. It is also important for our understanding of the early history of that part of the world.
Read this on a whim and it turned out to be a very interesting quick read. Trying to draw parallels with other religious myths is obviously part of the fun too. It's a shame the tablets were partly unreadable but the author seems to have managed well with the gaps. The missing photos in the Kindle edition are frustrating though.
This might be of interest to a scholar of ancient mythology who's on the lookout for primary sources, but to the casual reader who's only interested in discovering new myths and legends, it can get rather fragmented, confusing, and obnoxiously repetitive.