Wednesday, February 9, 2011

a play in three tablets

Tablet I
Creation myth about the Sumerian Tri-Chief gods
Anu, Enlil, Enki- "when gods were in the ways of men".
The Cleromancy Tri-Chief Decision-
Sky to be ruled by Anu,
Earth by Enlil,
Freshwater Sea by Enki.
Enlil put to task the lesser divinity to do farm labor and maintain the rivers and canals.
Years had passed, when these dingirs rebelled and refused to do strenuous labor.
Enki, who is also the kind, wise counselor of the gods,
proposed instead of punishing all the rebels,
sacrifice one
that humans may be created to do their work.
Belit-ili the womb-goddess is present,
Let the womb-goddess create offspring,
And let man bear the load of the gods!
Scapegoat Ring Leader to be Their Sacrifice-
The Mother of Womb Goddess Mami Nin is assigned the task of creating humans-
from shaped clay figurines she mixed with the flesh and blood of their sacrificed lesser deity Geshtu-e,
"a god who had intelligence", meaning "ear", "wisdom".
All the lesser gods in turn spit upon the muddled sacrificial clay.
Ten months had past, whence Mami Nin's specially made womb breaks open and humans are born.
The womb-goddesses were assembled
He [Enki] trod the clay in her presence;
She kept reciting an incantation,
For Enki, staying in her presence, made her recite it.
When she had finished her incantation,
She pinched off fourteen pieces of clay,
And set seven pieces on the right,
Seven on the left.
Between them she put down a mud brick.
When the tenth month came,
She [birth-goddess] slipped in a staff and opened the womb.
Tablet II
Dealing with the overpopulation of humans
Tri-Chief god Enlil sends first famine and drought at formulaic intervals of 1200 years to reduce the population.
Enlil is a nasty capricious god.
Enki is a kind helpful god.
Enlil's decision to destroy humankind with a flood,
Enki bound by an oath to keep the plan secret.
The country was as noisy as a bellowing bull
The God grew restless at their racket,
Enlil had to listen to their noise.
He addressed the great gods,
'The noise of mankind has become too much,
I am losing sleep over their racket.
Give the order that surrupu-disease shall break out.'
When the second year arrived
They had depleted the storehouse.
When the third year arrived
The people's looks were changed by starvation.
When the fourth year arrived
Their upstanding bearing bowed,
Their well-set shoulders slouched,
The people went out in public hunched over.
When the fifth year arrived,
A daughter would eye her mother coming in;
A mother would not even open her door to her daughter. . . .
When the sixth year arrived
They served up a daughter for a meal,
Served up a son for food.
Tablet III
Atrahasis of Shuruppak
The Tri-Chief god Enki warns the human hero Atrahasis ("Extremely Wise") of Shuruppak,
speaking through a reed wall (an oracle):
to dismantle his house and build a boat
to escape the flood planned by the Triune Enlil to destroy humankind.
The boat is to have a roof "like Apsu" (a fresh water marsh next to the temple of Enki),
upper and lower decks, and to be sealed with bitumen.
Wall, listen constantly to me!
Reed hut, make sure you attend to all my words!
Dismantle the house, build a boat, . . .
Roof it like the Apsu
So the sun cannot see inside it!
Make upper decks and lower decks,
The tackle must be very strong,
The bitumen strong . . .
Atrahasis boards the boat with his family and animals and seals the door.
The storm and flood begin.
Even the gods are afraid.
Like a wild ass screaming the winds howled
The darkness was total, there was no sun. . . .
As for Nintu the Great Mistress,
Her lips became encrusted with rime.
The great gods, the Annuna,
Stayed parched and famished.
The goddess watched and wept . . .
After seven days the flood ends and Atrahasis offers sacrifices to the gods.
Enlil is furious with Enki for violating his oath.
But Enki denies violating his oath and argues:
"I made sure life was preserved."
Our Polemic dieties, Enki and Enlil, agree on other means for controlling the human population.

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