THE ERIDU GENESIS

From "The Harps That Once...: Sumerian Poetry in Translation" by Thorkild Jacobsen. Yale University Press, Publishers; Copyright 1987.


Enki
(Enki, Lord of the Water)

 


 

Nintur was paying attention:

Let me bethink myself of my humankind,
all forgotten as they are;
and mindful of mine,
Nintur's creatures let me bring them back
let me lead the people back from their trails.

May they come and build cities and cult places,
that I may cool myself in their shade;
may they lay the bricks for the cult cities in pure spots
and may they found places for divination in pure spots!


She gave directions for purification and cries for elemency,
the things that cool divine wrath,
perfected the divine service and the august offices,
said to the surrounding regions: "Let me institute peace there!"
When An, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursaga
fashioned the dark-headed people
they had made the small animals that come up from out of the earth,
come from the earth in abundance
and had let there be, as it befits it, gazelles
wild donkeys, and four-footed beasts in the desert.
...
...and let me have him advise;
let me have him oversee their labor,
and let him teach the nation to follow along
unerringly like cattle!

When the royal scepter was coming down from heaven,
the august crown and the royal throne being already
down from heaven,
he (the king) regularly performed to perfection
the august divine services and offices,
laid the bricks of those cities in pure spots.
They were named by name and allotted half-bushel baskets.

The firstling of those cities, Eridu,
she gave to the leader Nudimmud,
the second, Bad-Tibira, she gave to the prince and the sacred one,
the third, Larak, she gave to Pabilsag,
the fourth, Sippar, she gave to the gallant Utu.
The fifth, Shuruppak, she gave to Ansud.

These cities, which had been named by names,
and had been allotted half-bushel baskets,
dredged the canals, which were blocked with purplish
wind-borne clay, and they carried water.
Their cleaning of the smaller canals
established abundant growth.

[lost account of the antediluvian rulers, and how human noise vexed the chief god Enlil so much that he persuaded the divine assembly to vote the destruction of man by the deluge] ...
That day Nintur wept over her creatures
and holy Inanna was full of grief over their people;
but Enki took counsel with his own heart.
An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursaga
had the gods of heaven and earth swear
by the names of An and Enlil.

At that time, Ziusudra was king
and lustration priest.
He fashioned, being a seer, the god of giddiness
and stood in awe beside it, wording his wishes humbly.

As he stood there regularly day after day
something that was not a dream was appearing:
conversation
a swearing of oaths by heaven and earth,
a touching of throats
and the gods bringing their thwarts up to Kiur.

And as Ziusudra stood there beside it, he went on hearing:

Step up to the wall to my left and listen!
Let me speak a word to you at the wall
and may you grasp what I say,
may you heed my advice!
By our hand a flood will sweep over
the cities of the half-bushel baskets, and the country;
the decision, that mankind is to be destroyed
has been made.
A verdict, a command of the assembly cannot be revoked,
an order of An and Enlil is not known
ever to have been countermanded,
their kingship, their term, has been uprooted
they must bethink themselves of that.
Now...
What I have to say to you...

...

[lost account of Enki's advice to build a boat and load it with pairs of living things, and Ziusudra's compliance]
All the evil winds, all stormy winds gathered into one
and with them, then, the flood was sweeping over the cities of
the half-bushel baskets
for seven days and seven nights.
After the flood had swept over the country,
after the evil wind had tossed the big boat
about on the great waters,
the sun came out spreading light
over heaven and earth.

Ziusudra then drilled an opening in the big boat.
And the gallant Utu sent his light
into the interior of the big boat.
Ziusudra, being king,
stepped up before Utu kissing the ground
before him.
The king was butchering oxen,
was being lavish with the sheep
Barley cakes, crescents together with...
...he was crumbling for him
juniper, the pure plant of the
mountains, he filled on the fire
and with a ...clasped to
the breast he...

[lost account of Enlil's wrath at finding survivor's and his mollification by Enki]

You here have sworn
by the life's breath of heaven
the life's breath of earth
that he verily is allied with yourself;
you there, An and Enlil,
have sworn by the life's breath of heaven,
the life's breath of earth.
that he is allied with all of you.
He will disembark the small animals
that come up from the earth!


Ziusudra, being king,
stepped up before An and Enlil
kissing the ground.
And An and Enlil after honoring him
were granting him life like a god's,
were making lasting breath of life, like a god's,
descend into him.
That day they made Ziusudra,
preserver, as king, of the name of the small
animals and the seed of mankind,
live toward the east over the mountains
in mount Dilmun.

 

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