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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