Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Contest With The Dragons In The Mountains (Part 37); Assyrian

(The Seer Is Mortally Wounded–His Calm View Of The Hereafter)

[1]”O Mam-mitu, thou god of fate and death!
Thou spirit of fierce hate and parting breath,
Thou banisher of joy! O ghastly Law,
That gathers countless forces in thy maw!
A phantom! curse! and oft a blessing, joy!
All Heaven and earth thy hands shall e’er employ.

With blessings come, or curses to us bring,
The god who fails not with her hovering wing;
Nor god, nor man thy coming e’er may ken,
O mystery! thy ways none can explain.”

If thou must come in earthquakes, fire, and flood,
Or pestilence and eftsoons cry for blood,
Thou comest oft with voice of sweetest love,
Our dearest, fondest passions, hopes, to move;
And men have worshipped thee in every form,
In fear have praised thee, sought thy feet to charm.

We reck not if you blessings, curses bring,
For men oft change thy noiseless, ghoulish wing.
And yet, thou comest, goddess Mam-mitu,
To bring with thee the feet of Nin-a-zu,
Two sister ghouls, remorseless, tearless, wan,
We fear ye not; ye “bu’i-du”,[2] begone!

Sweet life renews itself in holy love,
Your victory is naught! Ye vainly rove
Across our pathway with yours forms inane,
For somewhere, though we die, we live again.

[3]The soul departed shall in glory shine,
As burnished gold its form shall glow divine,
And Samas there shall grant to us new life;
And Merodac, the eldest son, all strife
Shall end in peace in yonder Blest Abode,
Where happiness doth crown our glorious God.

[4]The sacred waters there shall ever flow,
To Anat’s arms shall all the righteous go;
The queen of Anu, Heaven’s king, our hands
Outstretched will clasp, and through the glorious lands
Will lead us to the place of sweet delights;
The land that glows on yonder blessed heights
Where milk and honey from bright fountains flow.

And nectar to our lips, all sorrows, woe,
Shall end in happiness beside the Stream
Of Life, and Joy for us shall ever gleam;
Our hearts with thankfulness shall sweetly sing
And grander blissfulness each day will bring.

And if we do not reach that spirit realm,
Where bodyless each soul may ages whelm
With joy unutterable; still we live,
With bodies knew upon dear Earth, and give
Our newer life to children with our blood.

Or if these blessings we should miss; in wood,
Or glen, or garden, field, or emerald seas,
Our forms shall spring again; in such as these
We see around us throbbing with sweet life,
In trees or flowerets.

This needs no belief
On which to base the fabric of a dream,
For Earth her children from death doth redeem,
And each contributes to continuous bloom;
So go your way! ye sisters, to your gloom!

Far on their road have come the king of fame
And seer, within the land of Mas[5] they came,
Nor knew that Fate was hovering o’er their way,
In gentle converse they have passed the day.

Some twenty “kaspu” o’er the hills and plain,
They a wild forest in the mountain gain,
In a deep gorge they rode through thickets wild,
Beneath the pines; now to a pass they filed,
And lo! two dragons[6] near a cave contend
Their path! with backs upreared their coils unbend,
Extend their ravenous jaws with a loud roar
That harshly comes from mouths of clotted gore.

The sky overhead with lowering clouds is cast,
Which Anu in his rage above them massed.
Dark tempests fly above from Rimmon’s breath,
Who hovers o’er them with the gods of death;
The wicked seven winds howl wildly round,
And crashing cedars falling shake the ground.

Now Tsil-lattu her black wings spreads o’er all,
Dark shrouding all the forest with her pall,
And from his steed for safety each dismounts,
And o’er their heads now break the ebon founts.

But hark! what is that dreadful roaring noise?
The dragons come! Their flaming crests they poise
Above, and nearer blaze their eyes of fire,
And see! upon them rush the monsters dire.

The largest springs upon the giant Sar,
Who parrying with the sword he used in war,
With many wounds it pierces, drives it back;
Again it comes, renews its fierce attack,
With fangs outspread its victims to devour,
High o’er the monarch’s head its crest doth tower,
Its fiery breath upon his helm doth glow.

Exposed its breast! he strikes! his blade drives through
Its vitals! Dying now it shakes the ground,
And furious lashes all the forest round.
But hark! what is that awful lingering shriek
And cries of woe, that on his ears wild break?
A blinding flash, see! all the land reveals,
With dreadful roars, and darkness quick conceals
The fearful sight, to ever after come
Before his eyes, wherever he may roam.

The King, alas! too late Heabani drags
From the beast’s fangs, that dies beneath the crags
Overhanging near the cave. And now a din
Loud comes from “dalkhi” that around them spin
In fierce delight, while hellish voices rise
In harsh and awful mockery; the cries
Of agony return with taunting groans,
And mock with their fell hate those piteous moans.

Amazed stands Izdubar above his seer,
Nor hears the screams, nor the fierce “dalkhi’s” jeer;
Beneath the flashing lightnings he soon found
The cave, and lays the seer upon the ground.
His breaking heart now cries in agony,
“Heabani! O my seer, thou must not die!
Alas! dread Mam-mitu hath led us here,
Awake for me! arouse! my noble seer!
I would to gods of Erech I had died
For thee! my seer! my strength! my kingdom’s pride!”

The seer at last revives and turns his face
With love that death touched not, his hand doth place
With friendly clasp in that of his dear king,
And says: “Grieve not, beloved friend, this thing
Called death at last must come, why should we fear?
‘Tis Hades’ mist that opens for thy seer!

“The gods us brought, nor asked consent, and life
They give and take away from all this strife
That must be here, my life I end on earth;
Both joy and sorrow I have seen from birth;
To Hades’ awful land, whence none return,
Heabani’s face in sorrow now must turn.
My love for thee, mine only pang reveals,
For this alone I grieve.”

A teardrop steals a cross his features, shining ‘neath the light
The King has lit to make the cavern bright.
“But oh, friend Izdubar, my King, when I
From this dear earth to waiting Hades fly,
Grieve not; and when to Erech you return,
Thou shalt in glory reign, and Zaidu learn
As thy companion all that thine own heart
Desires, thy throne thou wilt to him impart.

The female, Samkha, whom he brought to me
Is false, in league with thine own enemy.
And she will cause thee mischief, seek to drive
Thee from thy throne; but do not let her live
Within the walls of Erech, for the gods
Have not been worshipped in their high abodes.

When thou returnest, to the temple go,
And pray the gods to turn from thee the blow
Of Anu’s fury, the strong god, who reigns
Above, and sent these woes upon the plains.
His anger raised against thee, even thee,
Must be allayed, or thy goods thou shalt see,
And kingdom, all destroyed by his dread power.

But Khasisadra will to thee give more
Advice when thou shalt meet the ancient seer,
For from thy side must I soon disappear.”
The seer now ceased, and on his couch asleep
Spoke not, and Izdubar alone doth weep.

And thus twelve days were past, and now the seer
Of the great change he saw was drawing near
Informed his King, who read to him the prayers,
And for the end each friendly act prepares,
Then said: “O my Heabani, dearest friend,
I would that I thy body could defend
From thy fierce foe that brings the end to thee.

My friend in battle I may never see
Again, when thou didst nobly stand beside
Me; with my seer and friend I then defied
All foes; and must thou leave thy friend, my seer?”
“Alas! my King, I soon shall leave thee here.”

[Footnote 1: We have here quoted an Accadian hymn to the goddess of fate. (“Trans. Soc. of Bib. Arch.,” vol. ii. p. 39.)]–[Footnote 2: “Bu’i-du,” ghosts.]–[Footnote 3: Accadian hymn on the future of the just. (“Trans. Soc. Of Bib. Arch.,” vol. ii. p. 32.)]–[Footnote 4: Assyrian fragmentary hymn (“W.A.I.,” iv. 25, col. v.), translated in “Records of the Past,” vol. xi. pp. 161, 162.]–[Footnote 5: The land of Mas, Mr. Sayce supposes, was situated west of the Euphrates Valley.]–[Footnote 6: “Dragons.” The word for this animal is “tammabuk-ku.” It was probably one of the monsters portrayed on the Babylonian cylinders now in
the British Museum.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VII (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Heabani Reveals Two Wonderful Visions To The King (Part 38); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The King And Seer Conversing (Part 36); Assyrian


Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The King And Seer Conversing (Part 36); Assyrian

(On Their Way To Khasi-Sadra—Interpretation Of The King’s Dream In The Palace On The Night Of The Festival)

“The dream, my seer, which I beheld last night
Within our tent, may bring to us delight.
I saw a mountain summit flash with fire,
That like a royal robe or god’s attire
Illumined all its sides. The omen might
Some joy us bring, for it was shining bright.”
And thus the Sar revealed to him his dream.

Heabani said, “My friend, though it did seem
Propitious, yet, deceptive was it all,
And came in memory of Elam’s fall.

The mountain burning was Khumbaba’s halls
We fired, when all his soldiers from the walls
Had fled;–the “ni-takh-garri”,[1]–on that morn,
Of such deceptive dreams, I would thee warn!”

Some twenty “kaspu” they have passed this day,
At thirty “kaspu” they dismount to pray
And raise an altar, Samas to beseech
That they their journey’s end may safely reach.
The tent now raised, their evening meal prepare
Beneath the forest in the open air;
And Izdubar brought from the tent the dream
He dreamed the festal night when Ishtar came
To him;–he reads it from a written scroll:
“Upon my sight a vision thus did fall:
I saw two men that night beside a god;
One man a turban wore, and fearless trod.

The god reached forth his hand and struck him down
Like mountains hurled on fields of corn, thus prone
He lay; and Izdubar then saw the god
Was Anatu,[2] who struck him to the sod.

The troubler of all men, Samu’s fierce queen,
Thus struck the turbaned man upon the plain.
He ceased his struggling, to his friend thus said:
‘My friend, thou askest not why I am laid
Here naked, nor my low condition heed.
Accursed thus I lie upon the mead;
The god has crushed me, burned my limbs with fire.’

“The vision from mine eyes did then expire.
A third dream came to me, which I yet fear,
The first beyond my sight doth disappear.
A fire-god thundering o’er the earth doth ride;
The door of darkness burning flew aside;
Like a fierce stream of lightning, blazing fire,
Beside me roared the god with fury dire,
And hurled wide death on earth on every side;
And quickly from my sight it thus did glide,
And in its track I saw a palm-tree green
Upon a waste, naught else by me was seen.”

Heabani pondering, thus explained the dream:
“My friend, the god was Samas, who doth gleam
With his bright glory, power, our God and Lord,
Our great Creator King, whose thunders roared
By thee, as through yon sky he takes his way;
For his great favor we should ever pray.

The man thou sawest lying on the plain
Was thee, O King,–to fight such power is vain.
Thus Anatu will strike thee with disease,
Unless thou soon her anger shalt appease;
And if thou warrest with such foes divine,
The fires of death shall o’er thy kingdom shine.

The palm-tree green upon the desert left
Doth show that we of hope are not bereft;
The gods for us their snares have surely weft,[3]
One shall be taken, and the other left.”

[Footnote 1: “Ni-takh-garri,” “the helpers,” or soldiers of Khumbaba.]–[Footnote 2: “Anatu,” the consort of Anu.]–[Footnote 3: “Weft,” weaved.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VII (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Contest With The Dragons In The Mountains (Part 37); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Escape Of Tammuz From Hades (Part 35); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Tammuz Is Restored To Life By The Waters Of Life (Part 34); Assyrian

(His Song Of Love)
The nectared cup the queen placed to his lips,
And o’er his heaving breast the nectar drips,
And now his arms are folded round his queen,
And her fond kisses he returns again;
And see! they bring to him his harp of gold,
And from its strings, sweet music as of old
His skilful hands wake through the sounding domes;
Oh, how his Song of Love wakes those dark rooms!

“My Queen of Love comes to my arms!
Her faithful eyes have sought for me,
My Love comes to me with her charms;
Let all the world now happy be!
My queen has come again!

Forever, dearest, let me rest
Upon the bosom of my queen!
Thy lips of love are honeyed best;
Come! let us fly to bowering green!
To our sweet bower again.

O Love on Earth! O Love in Heaven!
That dearest gift which gods have given,
Through all my soul let it be driven,
And make my heart its dearest haven,
For Love returns the kiss!

Oh! let me pillow there within
Thy breast, and, oh, so sweetly rest,
My life anew shall there begin;
On thy sweet charms, oh, let me feast!
Life knows no sweeter bliss.

Oh, let me feast upon thy lips,
As honey-bird the nectar sips,
And drink new rapture through my lips,
As honey-bee its head thus drips
In nectarine abyss!

O Love, sweet queen! my heart is thine!
My Life I clasp within mine arms!
My fondest charmer, queen divine!
My soul surrenders to thy charms,
In bliss would fly away.

No dearer joy than this I want;
If love is banished from that life
There bodyless, my soul would pant,
And pine away in hopeless grief,
If love be fled away.

If Love should hide and fold her wings
In bowers of yonder gleaming skies,
Unmeaning then each bard oft sings
Of bliss that lives on earth and dies,–
I want such love as this.

I want thy form, thy loving breast,
Mine arms of love surrounding thee,
And on thy bosom sweetly rest,
Or else that world were dead to me.
No other life is bliss.

If it is thus, my queen, I go
With joy to yonder blissful clime;
But if not so, then let me flow
To soil and streams through changing time,
To me would be more bliss.

For then, in blooming flowerets, I
Could earth adorn, my soul delight,
And never thus on earth could die;
For though I should be hid from sight,
Would spring again with joy!

And sing as some sweet warbling bird,
Or in the breezes wave as grain,
As yellow sun-birds there have whirred
On earth, could I thus live again,
That beauteous world enjoy!

‘Mid safflower-fields or waving cane,
Or in the honeysuckles lie,
In forms of life would breathe again,
Enjoy Earth’s sweetest revelry,
And ever spring again!

Each life to me new joys would bring,
In breast of beast or bird or flower,
In each new form new joys would spring,
And happy, ever, Love would soar!
Triumphant filled with joy!

In jujube or tamarisk
Perhaps would come to life again,
Or in the form of fawns would frisk
‘Mid violets upon the plain;
But I should live again!

And throb beneath the glistening dew,
In bamboo tufts, or mango-trees,
In lotus bloom, and spring anew,
In rose-tree bud, or such as these
On Earth return again!

And I should learn to love my mate,
In beast or singing bird or flower,
For kiss of love in hope could wait;
Perhaps I then would come that hour,
In form I have again!

And love you say, my queen, is there,
Where I can breathe with life anew?
But is it so? My Love, beware!
For some things oft are false, some true,
But I thee trust again!

We fly away! from gates away!
Oh, life of bliss! Oh, breath of balm!
With wings we tread the Silver Way,
To trailing vines and feathery palm,
To bower of love again.”

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VI (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Escape Of Tammuz From Hades (Part 35); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Release Of Ishtar (Part 33); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Release Of Ishtar (Part 33); Assyrian

(Her Attempts To Bring To Life Tammuz, Her First Lover)

When Allat saw the flaming herald come,
And his bright light dispelling all her gloom,
She beat her breast; and at him furious foams
In rage, and stamping shakes all Hades’ domes,
Thus cursed the herald, At-su-su-namir:
“Away! thou herald! or I’ll chain thee here
In my dark vaults, and throw thee for thy food
The city’s garbage, which has stagnant stood,
With impure waters for thy daily drink,
And lodge thee in my prison till you sink
From life impaled in yonder dismal room
Of torture; to thy fate so thou hast come?
Thine offspring with starvation I will strike!”

At last obedient doth Allat speak:
“Go, Namtar! and the iron palace strike!
O’er Asherim[1] adorned let the dawn break!
And seat the spirits on their thrones of gold!
Let Ishtar Life’s bright waters then behold,
And drink her fill, and bring her then to me;
From her imprisonment, I send her free.”
And Namtar then goes through the palace walls,
And flings the light through all the darkened halls,
And places all the spirits on their thrones,
Leads Ishtar to the waters near the cones.
She drinks the sparkling water now with joy,
Which all her form doth cleanse and purify.
And he at the first gate her robe returns,
And leads her through the second; where he turns,
And gives her bracelets back;–thus at each door
Returns to her her girdle, gems; then o’er
Her queenly brow he placed her shining crown.
With all her ornaments that were her own,
She stands with pride before the seventh gate,
And Namtar bows to her in solemn state:

“Thou hast no ransom to our queen here paid
For thy deliverance, yet thou hast said
Thy Tammuz thou didst seek within our walls,
Turn back! and thou wilt find him in these halls.
To bring him back to life the waters pour
Upon him; they thy Tammuz will restore;
With robes thou mayst adorn him and a crown
Of jewels, and thy maid with thee alone
Shall give thee comfort and appease thy grief.
Kharimtu, Samkha come to thy relief!”

Now Ishtar lifts her eyes within a room
Prepared for her, and sees her maidens come,
Before a weird procession wrapped in palls,
That soundless glide within and fills the halls.
Before her now they place a sable bier
Beside the fount; and Ishtar, drawing near,
Raised the white pall from Tammuz’s perfect form.
The clay unconscious, had that mystic charm
Of Beauty sleeping sweetly on his face,–
Of agony or sorrow left no trace:
But, oh! that awful wound of death was there
With its deep mark;–the wound, and not the scar.

When Ishtar’s eyes beheld it, all her grief
Broke forth afresh, refusing all relief;
She smote her breast in woe, and moaning cried,
Nor the bright waters to his wound applied:
“O Tammuz! Tammuz! turn thine eyes on me!
Thy queen thou didst adorn, before thee see!
Behold the emeralds and diamond crown
Thou gavest me when I became thine own!
Alas! he answers not: and must I mourn
Forever o’er my love within this bourne?
But, oh! the waters from this glowing stream!
Perhaps those eyes on me with love will beam,
And I shall hear again his song of love.
Oh, quickly let these waters to me prove
Their claim to banish death with magic power!”

Then with her maids, she o’er his form doth pour
The sparkling drops of life–
“He moves! he lives!
What happiness is this my heart receives?
O come, my Tammuz! to my loving arms!”

And on breast his breathing form she warms;
With wondering eyes he stares upon his queen,
And nestling closed his eyes in bliss again.

[Footnote 1: “Asherim,” literally “stone stakes” or “cones,” the symbols of the goddess Asherah or Ishtar (Sayce), but Calmet says that the god Ashima is a deity of very uncertain origin, and that the name “Ashima” may be very well compared with the Persian “asuman” (“heaven”); in “Zend,” “acmano,” so Gesenius in his Man. Lex., 1832. This also, according to the magi, is the name of the angel of death, who separates the souls of men from their bodies, Cal. Dic., p. 106. Cones are to be seen in the British Museum which are probably of the character which represented Elah-Gabalah, the sun-god, adored in Rome during the reign of Heliogabalus. The symbol and worship came from Hamath in Syria.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VI (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Tammuz Is Restored To Life By The Waters Of Life (Part 34); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar:The God Of Hope, And Herald Of The Gods (Part 32); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar:The God Of Hope, And Herald Of The Gods (Part 32); Assyrian


O Hope! thou fleeting pleasure of the mind,
Forever with us stay, our hearts to bind!
We cling to thee till life has fled away;
Our dearest phantom, ever with us stay!
Without thee, we have naught but dread despair,
The worst of all our torments with us here;
Oh, come with thy soft pinions, o’er us shine!
And we will worship thee, a god divine:

The “ignis fatuus” of all our skies
That grandly leads us, vanishes and dies,
And we are left to grope in darkness here,
Without a ray of light our lives to cheer.
Oh, stay! sweet Love’s companion, ever stay!
And let us hope with love upon our way!
We reck not if a phantom thou hast been,
And we repent that we have ever seen
Thy light on earth to lead us far astray;
Forever stay! or ever keep away!

When Papsukul beheld in man’s abodes
The change that spread o’er blasted, lifeless clods,
And heard earth’s wailing through the waning light,
With vegetation passing out of sight,
From the doomed world to Heaven he quickly flies,
While from the earth are rising fearful cries.
To Samas’ throne he speeds with flowing tears,
And of the future dark he pours his fears.
To Sin, the moon-god, Pap-su-kul now cries
O’er Ishtar’s fate, who in black Hades lies;
O’er Earth’s dire end, which with Queen Ishtar dies;
To Hea he appeals with mournful cries:

“O Hea, our Creator, God and King!
Queen Ishtar now is lying prone.
To Earth, our godly queen again, oh, bring!
I trust thy love, O Holy One!
To all the gods who reign o’er us on high
I pray! thus Hope thine aid implores,
Release our queen! To Hades quickly fly!
Thy Pap-su-kul with faith adores.

“The bull hath left the lowing kine bereaved,
And sulking dies in solitude;
The ass hath fled away, his mates hath grieved,
And women are no more imbued
With love, and drive their husbands far away,
And wives enjoy not their caress;
All peace and love have gone from earth this day,
And love on earth knows not its bliss.

“The females die through all the living world,
Among all beasts, and men, and plants;
All love from them on earth have madly hurled,
For blissful love no more each pants;
And Samas’ light is turned away from Earth,
And left alone volcanoes’ fire;
The land is filled with pestilence and dearth,
All life on earth will soon expire.”

When Hea heard the solemn chant of Hope,
From his high throne he let his sceptre drop,
And cried: “And thus, I rule o’er all mankind!
For this, I gave them life, immortal mind;
To earth’s relief, my herald shall quick go,
I hear thy prayer, and song of Ishtar’s woe.”

“Go! At-su-su-namir, with thy bright head!
With all thy light spring forth! and quickly speed;
Towards the gates of Hades, turn thy face!
And quickly fly for me through yonder space.

Before thy presence may the seven gates
Of Hades open with their gloomy grates;
May Allat’s face rejoice before thy sight,
Her rage be soothed, her heart filled with delight;
But conjure her by all the godly names,

And fearless be,–towards the roaring streams
Incline thine ear, and seek the path there spread.
Release Queen Ishtar! raise her godly head!
And sprinkle her with water from the stream;
Her purify! a cup filled to the brim
Place to her lips that she may drink it all.
The herald as a meteor doth fall,
With blazing fire disparts the hanging gloom
Around the gates of that dark world of doom.”

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VI (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Release Of Ishtar (Part 33); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Effect Of Ishtar’s Imprisonment In Hades (Part 31); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Effect Of Ishtar’s Imprisonment In Hades (Part 31); Assyrian

(Love Departs From The Earth—The Earth’s Solemn Dirge Of Woe.)
When Ishtar, Queen of Love, from Earth had flown,
With her love fled, and left all nature prone;
From Earth all peace with love then fled amain.
In loneliness the bull stalked o’er the plain,
And tossed his drooping crest toward the sky,
In sadness lay upon the green to die;
On the far kine looked weary and bereaved,
And turned toward the gods, and wondering grieved.

The troubled kine then gravely chewed their cud,
And hungerless in the rich pastures stood.
The ass his mate abandoned, fled away,
And loveless wives then cursed the direful day;
And loving husbands kiss their wives no more,
And doves their cooing ceased, and separate soar;
And love then died in all the breasts of men,
And strife supreme on earth was reveling then.

The sexes of mankind their wars divide,
And women hate all men, and them deride;
And some demented hurl aside their gowns,
And queens their robes discard and jewelled crowns,
And rush upon the streets bereft of shame,
Their forms expose, and all the gods defame.

Alas! from earth the Queen of Love has gone,
And lovers ‘void their haunts with faces wan
And spurn from them the hateful thought of love,
For love no longer reigns, all life to move.
An awful thrill now speeds through Hades’ doors,
And shakes with horror all the dismal floors;
A wail upon the breeze through space doth fly,
And howling gales sweep madly through the sky;
Through all the universe there speeds a pang
Of travail. Mam-nu-tu[1] appalled doth hang
Upon her blackened pinions in the air,
And piteous from her path leads Black Despair,
“The queen in chains in Hades dying lies,
And life with her,” they cry, “forever dies!”
Through misty glades and darkened depths of space,
Tornadoes roar her fate to Earth’s sweet face;
The direful tidings from far Hades pour
Upon her bosom with their saddest roar;
Like moans of mighty powers in misery,
They bring the tale with awful minstrelsy.
And Earth her mists wrapped round her face in woe,
While icy pangs through all her breast deep flow.

Her bosom sobbing wails a mighty moan,
“Alas! forever my sweet queen hath flown!”
With shrieks of hurricane, and ocean’s groan,
And sobbing of the winds through heights unknown,
Through mountain gorges sweep her wails of woe,
Through every land and seas, her sorrows flow:
Oh, moan! oh, moan! dear mountains, lakes, and seas!
Oh, weep with me dear plants, and flowers, and trees!
Alas! my beauty fading now will die!
Oh, weep, ye stars, for me in every sky!
Oh, Samas, hide thy face! I am undone!
Oh, weep with me Ur-ru,[2] my precious son.
Let all your notes of joy, my birds, be stilled;
Your mother’s heart with dread despair is filled:

“Come back, my flowerets, with your fragrant dews;
Come, all my beauties, with your brightest hues;
Come back, my plants and buds and youngling shoots!
Within your mother’s bosom hide your roots.
Oh, children, children! Love hath fled away,
Alas! that life I gave should see this day!
Your queen lies dying in her awful woe,
Oh, why should she from us to Hades go?”

Wide Nature felt her woe, and ceased to spring,
And withered buds their vigor lost, and fling
No more their fragrance to the lifeless air;
The fruit-trees died, or barren ceased to bear;
The male plants kiss their female plants no more;
And pollen on the winds no longer soar
To carry their caresses to the seed
Of waiting hearts that unavailing bleed,
Until they fold their petals in despair,
And dying, drop to earth, and wither there.
The growing grain no longer fills its head,
The fairest fields of corn lie blasted, dead.
All Nature mourning dons her sad attire,
And plants and trees with falling leaves expire.

And Samas’ light and moon-god’s soothing rays
Earth’s love no more attracts; recurring days
Are shortened by a blackness deep profound
That rises higher as the days come round.
At last their light flees from the darkened skies,
The last faint gleam now passes, slowly dies.
Upon a blasted world, dread darkness falls,
O’er dying nature, crumbling cities’ walls.
Volcanoes’ fires are now the only light,
Where pale-faced men collect around in fright;
With fearful cries the lurid air they rend,
To all the gods their wild petitions send.

[Footnote 1: “Mam-nu-tu,” goddess of fate.]–[Footnote 2: “Ur-ru,” the moon-god.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VI (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar:The God Of Hope, And Herald Of The Gods (Part 32); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Ishtar’s Descent To Hades (Part 30); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Ishtar’s Descent To Hades (Part 30); Assyrian

(Her Fearful Reception)

To Hades’ darkened land, whence none return,
Queen Ishtar, Sin’s great daughter, now doth turn;
Inclined her ear and listened through the void
That lay beneath of every path devoid,
The home of darkness, of the Under-World,
Where god Ir-kal-la[1] from the heights was hurled.

The land and road from whence is no return,
Where light no entrance hath to that dark bourne;
Where dust to dust returns, devouring clods;
Where light dwells not in Tsil-lat-tus abodes;
Where sable ravens hovering rule the air;
O’er doors and bolts dust reigneth with despair.
Before the gates of gloom the Queen now stands,
And to the keeper Ishtar thus commands:
“O keeper of the waters! open wide
Thy gate, that I through these dark walls may glide;
But if thou open’st not the gate for me,
That I may enter, shattered thou shalt see
The doors and bolts before thee lying prone,
And from the dust shall rise each skeleton,
With fleshless jaws devour all men with thee,
Till death shall triumph o’er mortality.”
The keeper to the Princess Ishtar said:
“Withhold thy speech! or Allat’s fury dread!
To her I go to bid thee welcome here.”
To Allat then the keeper doth appear:
“Thy sister Ishtar the dark waters seeks–
The Queen of Heaven,” thus Allat’s fury breaks.

“So like an herb uprooted comes this Queen,
To sting me as an asp doth Ishtar mean?
What can her presence bring to me but hate?
Doth Heaven’s Queen thus come infuriate?”
And Ishtar thus replies: “The fount I seek,
Where I with Tammuz, my first love, may speak;
And drink its waters, as sweet nectar-wines,
Weep o’er my husband, who in death reclines;
My loss as wife with handmaids I deplore,
O’er my dear Tammuz let my teardrops pour.”
And Allat said, “Go! keeper, open wide
The gates to her! she hath me once defied;
Bewitch her as commanded by our laws.”
To her thus Hades opened wide its jaws.

“Within, O goddess! Cutha thee receives!
Thus Hades’ palace its first greeting gives.”
He seized her, and her crown aside was thrown.
“O why, thou keeper, dost thou seize my crown?”
“Within, O goddess! Allat thee receives!
‘Tis thus to thee our Queen her welcome gives.”
Within the next gate he her earrings takes,
And goddess Ishtar now with fury shakes.
“Then why, thou slave, mine earrings take away?”
“Thus entrance, goddess, Allat bids this day.”

At the third gate her necklace next he takes,
And now in fear before him Ishtar quakes.
“And wilt thou take from me my gems away?”
“Thus entrance, goddess, Allat bids this day.”
And thus he strips the goddess at each gate,
Of ornaments upon her breast and feet
And arms; her bracelets, girdle from her waist,
Her robe next took, and flung the Queen undrest
Within a cell of that dark solitude.

At last, before Queen Ishtar Allat stood,
When she had long remained within the walls,
And Allat mocked her till Queen Ishtar falls
Humiliated on the floor in woe;
Then turning wildly, cursed her ancient foe.
Queen Allat furious to her servant cries:
“Go! Naintar! with disease strike blind her eyes!
And strike her side! her breast and head and feet;
With foul disease her strike, within the gate!”

[Footnote 1: “Ir-kal-la,” the King of Hades, who was hurled from the
heights of heaven with the evil gods who rebelled with Tiamatu, the
goddess of chaos, against the reign of the gods of heaven.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VI (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Effect Of Ishtar’s Imprisonment In Hades (Part 31); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The Curse Of Ishtar (Part 29); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The Curse Of Ishtar (Part 29); Assyrian

( And Rejoicing of Erech Over the Victory)

The monarch and his seer have cleft the head
From Anu’s bull prone lying on the mead.
They now command to bring it from the plain
Within the city where they view the slain.
The heart they brought to Samas’ holy shrine,
Before him laid the offering divine.

Without the temple’s doors the monster lays,
And Ishtar o’er the towers the bulk surveys;
She spurns the carcass, cursing thus, she cries:
“Woe! woe to Izdubar, who me defies!
My power has overthrown, my champion slain;
Accursed Sar! most impious of men!”

Heabani heard the cursing of the Queen,
And from the carcass cleft the tail in twain,
Before her laid it; to the goddess said:
“And wherefore comest thou with naught to dread?
Since I with Izdubar have conquered thee,
Thou hearest me! Before thee also see
Thine armored champion’s scales! thy beast is dead,”
And Ishtar from his presence furious fled,
And to her maids the goddess loudly calls
Joy and Seduction from the palace halls;
And o’er her champion’s death she mourning cries,
And flying with her maids, sped to the skies.

King Izdubar his summons sends afar
To view the monster slain by Erech’s Sar.
The young and old the carcass far surround,
And view its mighty bulk upon the ground.

The young men eye its horns with wild delight,
And weigh them on the public scales in sight
Of Erech. “Thirty “manehs” weighs!” they cry;
“Of purest “zamat” stone, seems to the eye
In substance, with extremities defaced.”
Six “gurri” weighed the monster’s bulk undressed.
As food for Lugul-turda, their Sar’s god,
The beast is severed, placed upon the wood.

Piled high upon the altar o’er the fires.
Then to Euphrates’ waters each retires
To cleanse themselves for Erech’s grand parade,
As Izdubar by proclamation bade.
Upon their steeds of war with Izdubar
The chiefs and warriors extend afar
With chariots, and waving banners, spears,
And Erech rings with their triumphant cheers.

Before the chariot of their great Sar,
Who with his seer rides in his brazen car,
The seers a proclamation loud proclaim
And cheer their Sar and seer; and laud the name
Of their great monarch, chanting thus his praise,
While Erech’s band their liveliest marches play:

“If anyone to glory can lay claim
Among all chiefs and warriors of fame,
We Izdubar above them all proclaim
Our Izzu-Ul-bar[1] of undying fame.
“Sar gabri la isu, Sar-dannu bu-mas-lu!”[2]

“He wears the diadem of Subartu,
From Bar-ili[3] he came to Eridu;
Our giant monarch, who of all “barri”[4]
Can rival him, our Nin-arad “rabi?”[5]
“Sar-dannu ina mati basi,
Sar bu-mas-la e-mu-ki, nesi.””[6]

Through the grand halls of Erech far resounds
The feast their Sar proclaimed through all the grounds
Of Erech’s palaces; where he now meets
His heroes, seers and counsellors, and greets
Them in his crowded festal halls.

Grand banquets far are spread within the walls,
And sparkling rarest wines each freely drank,
And revels ruled the hour till Samas sank,
And shadows sweep across the joyous plain,
And Samas sleeps with Hea ‘neath the main.
The jewelled lamps are lit within the halls,
And dazzling glory on the feasters falls.

The rays o’er gems and richest garments shone
Upon the lords and ladies round the throne;
While troops of dancing girls around them move
With cymbals, harps and lutes, with songs of love.

Again the board glows with rich food and wines,
Now spread before them till each man reclines
Upon his couch at rest in the far night,
And swimming halls and wines pass from their sight.

[Footnote 1: “Izzu-Ul-bar,” the fire of Bel’s temple.]–[Footnote 2: “The King who has no rival. The powerful giant King.” The royal titles of Izdubar.]–[Footnote 3: “Bar-ili,” temple, or country of the gods.]–[Footnote 4: “Barri,” chieftains, army, soldiers.]–[Footnote 5: “Nin-arad rabi,” “the servant of Nin, the King.”]–[Footnote 6: “Who is the great king (in the land) of all countries, the powerful giant king, the lion!” The royal titles of Izdubar.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet V (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Ishtar’s Descent To Hades (Part 30); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The Fight With The Winged Bull Of Anu (Part 28); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The Fight With The Winged Bull Of Anu (Part 28); Assyrian

The gods appear above to watch the fight,
And Erech’s “masari” rush in affright
To Izdubar, who sits upon his throne,
Before him fall in speechless terror prone.
A louder roar now echoes from the skies,
And Erech’s Sar without the palace flies.
He sees the monster light upon the plain,
And calls Heabani with the choicest men
Of Erech’s spearsmen armed, who fall in line
Without the gates, led by their Sar divine.

And now the monster rushed on Izdubar,
Who meets it as the god of chase and war.
With whirling sword before the monster’s face,
He rains his blows upon its front of brass
And horns, and drives it from him o’er the plain,
And now with spreading wings it comes again,
With maddened fury; fierce its eyeballs glare.
It rides upon the monarch’s pointed spear;
The scales the point have turned, and broke the haft.
Then as a pouncing hawk when sailing daft,
In swiftest flight o’er him drops from the skies,
But from the gleaming sword it quickly flies.
Three hundred warriors now nearer drew
To the fierce monster, which toward them flew;
Into their midst the monster furious rushed,
And through their solid ranks resistless pushed
To slay Heabani, onward fought and broke
Two lines and through the third, which met the shock
With ringing swords upon his horns and scales.
At last the seer it reaches, him impales
With its sharp horns: but valiant is the seer–
He grasps its crest and fights without a fear.
The monster from his sword now turns to fly;
Heabani grasps its tail, and turns his eye
Towards his king, while scudding o’er the plain.
So quickly has it rushed and fled amain,
That Izdubar its fury could not meet,
But after it he sprang with nimble feet.

Heabani loosed his grasp and stumbling falls,
And to his king approaching, thus he calls:
“My friend, our strongest men are overthrown:
But see! he comes! such strength was never known.
With all my might I held him, but he fled!
We both it can destroy! Strike at its head!”
Like Rimmon now he flies upon the air,
As sceptred Nebo,[1] he his horns doth bear,
That flash with fire along the roaring skies,
[2]Around the Sar and seer he furious flies.
Heabani grasps the plunging horns, nor breaks
His grasp; in vain the monster plunging shakes
His head, and roaring, upward furious rears.
Heabani’s strength the mighty monster fears;
He holds it in his iron grasp, and cries:
“Quick! strike!” Beneath the blows the monster dies;
And Izdubar now turned his furious face
Toward the gods, and on the beast doth place
His foot; he raised his gory sword on high,
And sent his shout defiant to the sky:
“‘Tis thus, ye foes divine! the Sar proclaims
His war against your power, and highest names!
Hurl! hurl! your darts of fire, ye vile “kal-bi!”[3]
My challenge hear! ye cravens of the sky!”

[Footnote 1: “Nebo,” the holder of the sceptre of power; also the god of prophecy.]–[Footnote 2: “Around” (“tarka”), or it may mean “between.”]–[Footnote 3: “Kal-bi,” dogs.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet V (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The Curse Of Ishtar (Part 29); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Ishtar Complains To Anu, King Of Heaven, (Part 27)

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Ishtar Complains To Anu, King Of Heaven, (Part 27)

(Who Creates A Winged Bull To Destroy Ishtar)

Before the throne of Anu, Ishtar cries,
And Anatu, the sovereigns of the skies:
“O Sar, this king my beauty doth despise,
My sweetest charms beholds not with his eyes.”
And Anu to his daughter thus replied:
“My daughter, thou must crush his vaunting pride,
And he will claim thy beauty and thy charms,
And gladly lie within thy glorious arms.”

“I hate him now, O Sar, as I did love!
Against the strength of Anu let him prove
His right divine to rule without our aid,
Before the strength of Anu let him bleed.
Upon this giant Sar so filled with pride,
Let Anu’s winged bull[1] in fury ride,
And I will aid the beast to strike him prone,
Till he in death shall breathe his dying groan.”
And Anu said: “If thou to it shall join
Thy strength, which all thy noble names define
Thy glories[2] and thy power thus magnified,
Will humble him, who has thy power defied,”
And Ishtar thus: “By all my might as queen
Of war and battles, where I proudly reign,
This Sar my hands shall strike upon the plain,
And end his strength and all his boastings vain.
By all the noble names with gods I hold
As queen of war, this giant monarch bold,
Who o’er mine ancient city thinks to reign,
Shall lie for birds of prey upon the plain.
For answering my love for thee with scorn,
Proud monarch! from thy throne thou shalt be torn!”

For Ishtar, Anu from the clouds creates
A shining monster with thick brazen plates
And horns of adamant;[3] and now it flies
Toward the palace, roaring from the skies.

[Footnote 1: “Anu’s winged bull,” Taurus, constellation of the heavens.]–[Footnote 2: “Glories” (“maskhi”). This word is not translated by Mr. Sayce.]–[Footnote 3: “Horns of adamant.” Sayce translates in I. 22, col. v., horns of crystal–“thirty manehs of crystal,” etc. The meaning probably of “zamat stone,” as given by Smith, was a hard substance, such as the diamond or adamant. By some translators it has been rendered onyx, and others lazuli.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet V (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The Fight With The Winged Bull Of Anu (Part 28); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The King’s Answer And Ishtar’s Rage (Part 26) Assyrian