by George Smith | 1876 | 63,564 words
The Chaldean account of Genesis, containing the description of the creation, the fall of man, the deluge, the tower of Babel, the times of the patriarchs, and Nimrod; Babylonian fables, and legends of the gods; from the cuneiform inscriptions Author: Smith, George, 1840-1876 Subject: Bible; Mythology, Assyro-Babylonian; Creation Publisher: London ...
- Berosus and his copyists.
- Cory's translation.
- Alexander Polyhistor.
- Oannes, his teaching.
- Chaldean kings.
- The Ark.
- Return to Babylon.
- Alorus, first king.
- Ten kings.
- Tower of Babel.
- Cronos and Titan.
- Nicolaus Damascenus.
- Dispersion from Hestiasus.
- Babylonian colonies.
- Tower of Babel.
- The Sibyl.
- Titan and Prometheus.
- Kissare and Assorus.
I HAVE included in this chapter the principal extracts from ancient authors respecting the Babylonian accounts of Genesis. Many others are known, but are of doubtful origin, and of less immediate interest to my subject.
Berosus, from whom the principal extracts are copied, lived, as I have mentioned in Chapter I, about B.C. 330 to 260, and, from his position as a Babylonian priest, had the best means of knowing the Babylonian traditions.
The others are later writers, who copied in the main from Berosus, and whose notices may be taken as giving abridgments of his statements.
I have preferred as usual, the translations of Cory as being standard ones, and made without prejudice from recent discoveries.
EXTRACT I. FROM ALEXANDER POLYHISTOR
(CORY, p. 21).
Berosus, in the first book of his history of Babylonia, informs us that he lived in the age of Alexander, the son of Philip. And he mentions that there were written accounts, preserved at Babylon with the greatest care, comprehending a period of above fifteen myriads of years; and that these writings contained histories of the heaven and of the sea ; of the birth of mankind; and of the kings, and of the memorable actions which they had achieved.
And in the first place he describes Babylonia as a country situated between the Tigris and the Eu phrates; that it abounded with wheat, and barley, and ocrus, and sesame ; and that in the lakes were produced the roots called gongoe, which are fit for food, and in respect to nutriment similar to barley. That there were also palm-trees and apples, and a variety of fruits; fish also and birds, both those which are merely of flight, and those which frequent the lakes. He adds that those parts of the country which bordered upon Arabia were without water, and barren ; but that the parts which lay on the other side were both hilly and fertile.
At Babylon there was (in these times) a great resort of people of various nations, who inhabited Chaldea, and lived in a lawless manner like the beasts of the field.
Oannes and other Babylonian Mythological Figures from Cylinder
In the first year there appeared, from that -part of the Erythraean sea which borders upon Babylonia, an animal endowed with reason, by name Cannes, whose whole body (according to the account of Apollodorus) was that of a fish; that under the fish's head he had another head, with feet also below similar to those of a man, subjoined to the fish's tail. His voice, too, and language were articulate and human ; and a representation of him is preserved even to this day.
This being was accustomed to pass the day among men, but took no food at that season ; and he gave them an insight into letters and sciences, and arts of every kind. He taught them to construct cities, 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 the fruits ; in short, he instructed them in every thing which could tend to soften manners and humanize their lives. From that time, nothing material has been added by way of improvement to his instructions. And when the sun had set this being Cannes retired again into the sea, and passed the night in the deep, for he was amphibious. After this there appeared other animals like Cannes, of which Berosus proposes to give an account when he comes to the history of the kings. Moreover, Cannes wrote concerning the generation of mankind, and of their civil polity ; and the fol lowing is the purport of what he said :
"There was a time in which there existed nothing but darkness and an abyss of waters, wherein resided most hideous beings, which were produced of 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. Other human figures were to be seen with the legs and horns of a goat ; some had horses feet, while others united the hind quarters of a horse with the body of a man, resembling in shape the hippocentaurs. Bulls likewise were bred there with the heads of men ; and dogs with fourfold bodies, terminated in their extremities with the tails of fishes ; horses also 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 in which were combined the limbs of every species of animals. In addition to these, fishes, reptiles, serpents, with other monstrous animals, which assumed each other's shape and countenance.
Composite Animals from Cylinder
Of all which were preserved delineations in the temple of Belus at Babylon.
"The person who presided over them was a woman named Omoroca, which in the Chaldean language is Thalatth, in Greek Thalassa, the sea; but which might equally be interpreted the moon. All things being in this situation, Belus came, and cut the woman asunder, and of one half of her he formed the earth, and of the other half the heavens, and at the same time destroyed the animals within her (or in the abyss).
"All this" (he says) " was an allegorical description of nature. For, the whole universe consisting of moisture, and animals being continually generated therein, the deity above-mentioned took off his own head ; upon which the other gods mixed the blood, as it gushed out, and from thence formed men. On this account it is that they are rational, and partake of divine knowledge. This Belus, by whom they signify Jupiter, divided the darkness, and separated the heavens from the earth, and reduced the universe to order. But the animals, not being able to bear the prevalence of light, died. Belus upon this, seeing a vast space unoccupied, though by nature fruitful, commanded one of the gods to take off his head, and to mix the blood with the earth, and from thence to form other men and animals, which should be capable of bearing the air. Belus formed also the stars, and the sun, and the moon, and the five planets." (Such, according to Polyhistor Alexander, is the account which Berosus gives in his first book.)
(In the second book was contained the history of the ten kings of the Chaldeans, and the periods of the continuance of each reign, which consisted collectively of an hundred and twenty sari, or four hundred and thirty-two thousand years ; reaching to the time of the Deluge. For Alexander, enumerating the kings from the writings of the Chaldeans, after the ninth Ardates, proceeds to the tenth, who is called by them Xisuthrus, in this manner) :
"After the death of Ardates, his son Xisuthrus reigned eighteen sari. In his time happened a great deluge; the history of which is thus described. The deity Cronos appeared to him in a vision, and warned him that upon the fifteenth day of the month Daesius there would be a flood, by which mankind would be destroyed. He therefore enjoined him to write a history of the beginning, procedure, and conclusion of all things, and to bury it in the city of the Sun at Sippara; and to build a vessel, and take with him into it his friends and relations ; and to convey on board every thing necessary to sustain life, together with all the different animals, both birds and quadrupeds, and trust himself fear lessly to the deep. Having asked the Deity whither he was to sail, he was answered, To the Gods ; upon which he offered up a prayer for the good of mankind. He then obeyed the divine admonition, and built a vessel five stadia in length, and two in breadth. Into this he put everything which he had prepared, and last of all conveyed into it his wife, his children, and his friends.
After the flood had been upon the earth, and was in time abated, Xisuthrus sent out birds from the vessel ; which not finding any food, nor any place whereupon they might 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 a trial a third time with these birds ; but they returned to him no more : from whence he judged that the surface of the earth had appeared above the waters.
He therefore made an opening in the vessel, and upon looking out found that it was stranded upon the side of some mountain; upon which he immediately quitted it with his wife, his daughter, and the pilot. Xisuthrus then paid his adoration to the earth : and, having constructed an altar, offered sacrifices to the gods, and, with those who had come out of the vessel with him, disappeared.
They, who remained within, finding that their companions did not return, quitted the vessel with many lamentations, and called continually on the name of Xisuthrus. 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 religion ; and likewise informed them that it was upon account of his piety that he was translated to live with the gods, that his wife and daughter and the pilot had obtained the same honour. To this he added that they should return to Babylonia, and, as it was ordained, search for the writings at Sippara, which they were to make known to all man kind; moreover, that the place wherein they then were was the land of Armenia. The rest having heard these words offered sacrifices to the gods, and, taking a circuit, journeyed towards Babylonia.
The vessel being thus stranded in Armenia, some part of it yet remains in the Corcyrsean mountains of Armenia, and the people scrape off the bitumen with which it had been outwardly coated, and make use of it by way of an alexipharmic and amulet.
And when they returned to Babylon and had found the writings at Sippara they built cities and erected temples, and Babylon was thus inhabited again. Syncel. Chron. xxviii. ; Euseb. Chron. v. 8.
This is the history which Berosus has transmitted to us. He tells us that the first king was Alorus of Babylon, a Chaldean, he reigned ten sari ; and after wards Alaparus and Amelon, who came from Pantebiblon ; then Ammenon the Chaldean, in whose time appeared the Musarus Cannes, the Annedotus from the Erythraean sea. (But Alexander Polyhistor, anticipating the event, has said that he appeared in the first year, but Apollodorus says that it was after forty sari; Abydenus, however, makes the second Annedotus appear after twenty-six sari.) Then succeeded Megalarus from the city of Pantibiblon, and he reigned eighteen sari ; and after him Daonus, the shepherd from Pantibiblon, reigned ten sari; in his time (he says) appeared again from the ErythraBan sea a fourth Annedotus, having the same form with those above, the shape of a fish blended with that of a man. Then reigned Euedorachus from Pantibiblon for the term of eighteen sari; in his days there appeared another personage from the Erythraean sea like the former, having the same complicated form between a fish and a man, whose name was Odacon. (All these, says Apollodorus, related particularly and circumstantially whatever Cannes had informed them of; concerning these Abydenus has made no mention.) Then reigned Amempsinus, a Chaldean from Larancha ; and he being the eighth in order reigned ten sari. Then reigned Otiartes, a Chaldean, from Larancha ; and he reigned eight sari. And, upon the death of Otiartes, his son Xisuthrus reigned eighteen sari ; in his time happened the great Deluge. So that the sum of all the kings is ten ; and the term which they collectively reigned an hundred and twenty sari. SynceL Chron. xxxix. ; Euseb. Chron. v.
So much concerning the wisdom of the Chaldeans.
It is said that the first king of the country was Alorus, and that he gave out a report that God had appointed him to be the shepherd of the people, he reigned ten sari ; now a sarus is esteemed to be three thousand six hundred years, a neros six hundred, and a sossus sixty.
After him Alaparus reigned three sari; to him succeeded Amillarus from the city of Pantibiblon, who reigned thirteen sari : in his time came up from the sea a second Annedotus, a semi-demon very similar in his form to Cannes ; after Amillarus reigned Ammenon twelve sari, who was of the city of Panti biblon; then Megalarus of the same place reigned eighteen sari ; then Daos the shepherd governed for the space of ten sari, he was of Pantibiblon; in his time four double-shaped personages came up out of the sea to land, whose names were Euedocus, Eneugamus, Eneuboulus, and Anementus ; after wards in the time of Euedoreschus appeared another, Anodaphus. After these reigned other kings, and last of all Sisithrus, so that in the whole the number amounted to ten kings, and the term of their reigns to an hundred and twenty sari. (And among other things not irrelative to the subject he continues thus concerning the Deluge) : After Euedoreschus some others reigned, and then Sisithrus.
To him the deity Cronos foretold that on the fifteenth day of the month Daesius there would be a deluge of rain : and he commanded him to deposit all the writings what ever which were in his possession in the city of the sun in Sippara. Sisithrus, when he had complied with these commands, sailed immediately to Armenia, and was presently inspired by God. Upon the third day after the cessation of the rain Sisithrus sent out birds by way of experiment, that he might judge whether the flood had subsided. But the birds, passing over an unbounded sea without finding any place of rest, returned again to Sisithrus. This he repeated with other birds. And when upon the third trial he succeeded, for the birds then returned with their feet stained with mud, the gods translated him from among men. With respect to the vessel, which yet remains in Armenia, it is a custom of the inhabitants to form bracelets and amulets of its wood. Syncel. Chron. xxxviii. ; Euseb. Prcep. Evan. lib. ix.; Euseb. Chron. v. 8.
They say that the first inhabitants of the earth, glorying in their own strength and size and despising the gods, undertook to raise a tower whose top should reach the sky, in the place in which Babylon now stands; but when it approached the heaven the winds assisted the gods, and overthrew the work upon its contrivers, and its ruins are said to be still at Babylon ; and the gods introduced a diversity of tongues among men, who till that time had all spoken the same language ; and a war arose between Cronos and Titan. The place in which they built the tower is now called Babylon on account of the confusion of tongues, for confusion is by the He brews called Babel. Euseb. Prcep. Evan. lib. ix. ; Syncel. Chron. xliv. ; Euseb. Chron. xiii.
There is above Minyas in the land of Armenia a very great mountain which is called Baris, to which it is said that many persons retreated at the time of the Deluge and were saved, and that one in par ticular was carried thither in an ark and was landed on its summit, and that the remains of the vessel were long preserved upon the mountain. Perhaps this was the same individual of whom Moses, the legislator of the Jews, has made mention. Jos. Ant. Jud. i. 3 ; Euseb. Prcep. Evan. ix.
The priests who escaped took with them the implements of the worship of the Enyalian Jove, and came to Senaar in Babylonia. But they were again driven from thence by the introduction of a diversity of tongues ; upon which they founded colonies in various parts, each settling in such situations as chance or the direction of God led them to occupy. Jos. Ant. Jud. i. c. 4; Euseb. Prcep. Evan. ix.
The Sibyl says : That when all men formerly spoke the same language some among them undertook to erect a large and lofty tower, that they might climb up into heaven. But God sending forth a whirlwind confounded their design, and gave to each tribe a particular language of its own, which is the reason that the name of that city is Babylon. After the deluge lived Titan and Prometheus, when Titan undertook a war against Cronus. Sync. xliv. ; Jos. Ant. Jud. i. c. 4 ; Euseb. Prcep. Evan. ix.
But the Babylonians, like the rest of the barba rians, pass over in silence the One principle of the universe, and they constitute two, Tauthe and Apason, making Apason the husband of Tauthe, and denominating her the mother of the gods. And from these proceeds an only-begotten son, Moymis, which I conceive is no other than the intelligible world proceeding from the two principles. From them also another progeny is derived, Dache and Dachus; and again a third, Kissare and Assorus, from which last three others proceed, Anus, and Illinus, and Aus. And of Aus and Davce is born a son called Belus, who, they say, is the fabricator of the world, the Demiurgus.