Cosmology and Worldview:
The Babylonian and Assyrian empires covered large swathes of land from the Caspian Sea to Egypt, at different times in history. When the Assyrians conquered a new people, they did not enforce worship of their gods. Rather, they suggested to the people that their own gods must have forsaken them, and let people make up their own minds.
Ea was the chief god, who taught humans how to build canals and houses and to cultivate crops. It was believed that the gods needed human worship to survive and would not be able to fulfil their duties if people did not sacrifice to them and observe the proper rituals.
Babylonian Creation Myth
The Babylonian Creation Myth comes to us in a series of seven tablets from the library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh from the 7th Century BC. This myth begins at a time before there was firm ground or sky or moon or before anything had a name. There was water, the primordial element and specifically there was Apsu, the sweet water and Tiamat, the salt water. These two waters mingled to create the gods Lahmu and Lahamu and this mating created the great gods. Anshar (male), Kishar (female). And they in turn created the generation of the mighty Ea and his many brothers.
These newcomers were restless and noisy and neither Apsu nor Tiamat could get any rest. Apsu argued for destroying this generation of gods. Tiamat disagreed “why should we destroy all that we have made?”, she asked. Meanwhile, Ea, of the vast intellect and powerful perfections learned of Apsu’s plans and with magical powers was able to seize Ea and strike him down.
Tiamat was enraged at her consort’s death. She began producing enormous serpents, terrible dragons, savage dogs, scorpions and hurricanes. These were to slay Ea and his brothers. She chose Kingu to command the army of monsters, giving him the tablets of fate. None of the brothers felt able to confront Tiamat’s army so Ea and the goddess Danuika created the great god, Marduk with four eyes and four ears so he could see and hear everything. He was mightily powerful.
Marduk rode forth to challenge Tiamat and her monsters on his flaming chariot with his four steeds, killer, Crister, Unyielder and Fleet plus his chief weapon, a hurricane. As Tiamat formed a vast and terrifying dragon Marduk cast a hurricane into her mouth which burst her apart. One of his arrows cut her in half. It was her dismembered body that was used to create the earth. In this way Marduk was victorious and the undisputed King of the land.
He then created mankind. Their role was to serve the gods and bear the burden of hard work. The gods were freed from eternal labour because humans did the hard work.
After ten years on the Nile, Cesaire spent twenty days on the Caspian Sea, and then twelve days on the Cimmerian Sea, before visiting Asia Minor for one day.