Enuma Elish

(ca. 1500 BCE)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

Enuma Elish tells one continuous story, beginning with the world coming into being, continuing through conflict between the generations of the gods, and culminating in Marduk’s being enthroned as the champion and ruler of the gods and his creation of human beings. The seventh and last tablet of Enuma Elish (which is not treated here directly) gives a list of Marduk’s cultic names and epithets. Note that the text is highly repetitious compared with most modern writing (perhaps owing to the conditions of performance of the original work). This often takes the form of one character’s giving a speech in which he quotes what was said by another, and then a third character finds occasion later to repeat the whole verbatim. The reader must be careful not to become lost in the many levels of quotation. Note, too, that ellipses in the text indicate gaps due to damage of the original manuscripts.

The First Tablet

The first tablet begins before...

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The ruins of Babylon (Library of Congress)

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