THE WAR OF THE GODS
Once upon a time there was no heaven and no earth. There was nothing in the world
but water and the two great beings who ruled it. The fresh water belonged to Apsu, and
the salt water to his wife, Tiamat. But at that time the two mixed and mingled together,
for there were as yet neither rivers nor seas.
Out of their marriage there sprang at length two colossal creatures, Lahmu and his
mate, Lahamu; and from them, in turn, rose a second pair, Anshar and his mate, Kishar.
Anshar was the spirit of all above, and Kishar the spirit of all below; and from them came
Anu, or Heaven.
The son of Anu was Ea, wise as he was strong, far superior to his parents and to any
that had been before him.
After the birth of Ea, the family of the gods grew apace, and a loud and noisy crew
they were! Up and down they raced, bawling and screaming at the tops of their voices,
until poor Grandma Tiamat was nothing but a bundle of nerves. Nevertheless she suffered
in silence and made no complaint. "Children are children," thought she, "and what cannot
be cured must be endured." But Grandpa Apsu was of another mind, and one day he
could stand the din no longer
So he sent for Mummu, the dwarf whom he kept in his
house to counsel
and amuse him
"Come," said he, "let
us go together to Tiamat and talk to her about it." And off they
went to Tiamat to discuss what to do about the children.
But Apsu was in no mood for quiet discussion. "Listen," he cried, "I can stand it no
more—not a moment's rest by day, and not a wink of sleep at night. We must have our
peace and quiet, and I am going to get rid of them all!"
When she heard these words, Tiamat, pale with anger, turned to Apsu. "What do you
mean?" she thundered. "Are we now to destroy what we ourselves created? Of course
they set us on edge, as all children do older people
but we should take it in our stride!"
But her words had no effect. As Soon as she had spoken them Mummu sidled up to his
master and whispered in his ear. "Sir," said he, "take no notice. If you want your peace
and quiet, go ahead and destroy them!"
The advice delighted Apsu. Lifting the dwarf upon his knees, he threw his arms around
his neck and kissed him. Then they set off together to tell the gods what they had
When the gods heard the decision they were seized with panic and started rushing to
and fro across the vault of heaven, wringing their hands in wild dismay. Then they sat
down in a gloomy, mournful silence, brooding on the fate that hung over their heads.