A Lament for Dumuzid

Today is the date of the Vernal Equinox, in which we commemorate the first day of Spring and the blossoming of life.

Trees begin to bud — if they haven’t already.

Spring flowers break forth from the soil and lift their heads to face the sun.

Birds sing their amorous mating calls.

Soon the air will be full of pollen.

Despite the stirring of new life upon the Earth, this is also a time of sorrow.

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The Enûma Eliš: An Adaptation

What follows is part one of my adaptation of one of the most notable Mesopotamian myth — that of the Babylonian creation epic known as the Enûma Eliš, or “When on high”. This text has been adapted by myself and was originally intended for major publication. Due to its length however, the decision was made to publish it here.

As with all mythological texts, there are other matters at play.

The text served as a political and ecclesiastical means of asserting the rule of the Babylonian god, Marduk and signifies the defining moment of his rise to power. Thus legitimizing his dominion over all of them, including Enlil, the undisputed head of the Mesopotamian pantheon as a whole.

For the sake of simplicity, accented letters have been replaced by those letters which would otherwise determine their sound (e.g., “š” being replaced with “sh”).

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Ancestral Accountability

It seems quite often that I happen upon someone’s think piece or social media post about the joy of “working with the ancestors” or the affirmations that they receive daily that their ancestors are pleased as punch with the lives their descendants live.

How does one attain this level of familial perfection? Especially with those family members that one has never met? 

There are numerous individuals who would solemnly swear that their ancestor, removed by so many generations, is an exotic royal, an affable rogue, a shaman, or some other colorful character has pointed their otherworldly finger and beckoned them to their destiny. 

Of that, I must admit, I am ever the skeptic.

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Adapa: An Adaptation

Early myths and religious texts contextualize the mortality of humanity.

This theme is quite common in religious traditions of the indigenous people of North America. In Greek myth, we find that it is the opening of Pandora’s box that releases death into the world — an event orchestrated by Zeus after his quarrel with Prometheus. 

The biblical account of Adam and Eve found in the Book of Genesis is perhaps the most well-known narrative in the western world all thanks to the forbidden fruit of Eden and the sibilant voice of a certain serpent. 

The Mesopotamian people have a myth of their own…

The mythological narrative of Adapa adapted for this site is based on the translation of the original cuneiform tablet. The story is known as “Adapa and the South Wind” and originates from fragmented tablets from the Library of Ashurbanipal circa 600 BCE and older texts from Tell el-Amarna (south of the modern Egyptian city, al-Minya) circa 1300 BCE.

I have taken notable liberties with the myth’s narrative in the prose that follows. The original myth does not mention Adapa’s family or go into detail about his interactions with the gods other than greeting them at the gate and a brief explanation of his actions. 

Within the context of myth, these parts of the narrative could be considered apocryphal. 

Adapa, over time, became a figure of great prominence and was invoked during exorcism rites. The exorcist would also conflate themselves with him by speaking the proclamation, “I am Adapa!”.

In an attempt to reconcile Sumerian and Akkadian sources, I have purposefully used both Sumerian and Akkadian names when referring to the deities depicted in the story — especially Enki. The Akkadians referred to him as Ea (pronounced “Yah”). Some Akkadian texts however, also refer to Ea by his Sumerian name. Another name used to refer to Enki is Nudimmud. 

This story is but a part of a greater story “I, Adapa”, which may be found in Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s anthology entitled “Circe’s Cauldron: Pagan Poems and Tales of Magic and Witchcraft”. 

Copyright 2020 by the author and publisher. 

“In the beginning there was Adapa: chief among men in Eridu;

In the beginning there was Adapa: his word was like the divine utterance of An, the highest of Heaven;

In the beginning there was Adapa: Nudimmud, who is Enki and Ea, gave him a vast and all-knowing mind…”

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The Descent of Inanna: An Adaption

From the Sumerian and Akkadian Descent myths.

The text which follows was written as classroom material for California State University, Los Angeles’ 2020 Ancient Near East history syllabus.

It may be presented as “reader’s theater”, with each part written specifically for the various figures featured in this, the most prolific myth of the Mesopotamian people.

Narrator: Here follows the story of Inanna, once a maiden and goddess of the storehouse.

Here follows the story of Inanna, the goddess who defeated the god Enki in a drinking game and took the Divine Measures as her prize. 

Here follows the story of Inanna, the goddess who seized control of the Temple of Heaven from An, the father of the gods. 

Here follows the story of Inanna, who having gained the powers of Heaven and Earth, set her sights on the Great Below. 

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