The Myth of Enki and Eridu
Enki And Eridu

The Journey Of The Water-God To Nippur

 

'Sumerian Mythology'
by Samuel Noah Kramer

from SacredTexts Website

 

 

One of the oldest and most venerated cities in Sumer was Eridu, which lies buried to-day under the mound Abu-Shahrain; a thorough excavation of this significant site would in all probability immensely enrich our knowledge of Sumerian culture and civilization, especially in their more spiritual aspects. According to one Sumerian tradition, it was the oldest city in Sumer, the first of the five cities founded before the flood; our myth, on the other hand, implies that the city Nippur preceded it in age.

 

In this city, which in ancient times must have been situated on the Persian Gulf, the water-god Enki, also known as Nudimmud, builds his "sea-house": 

After the water of creation had been decreed,
After the name hegal (abundance), born in heaven,
Like plant and herb had clothed the land,
The lord of the abyss, the king Enki,
Enki, the lord who decrees the fates,
Built his house of silver and lapis lazuli;
Its silver and lapis lazuli, like sparkling light,
The father fashioned fittingly in the abyss.

The (creatures of) bright countenance and wise,

coming forth from the abyss,
Stood all about the lord Nudimmud;
The pure house be built, he adorned it with lapis lazuli,
He ornamented it greatly with gold,
In Eridu he built the house of the water-bank,
Its brickwork, word-uttering, advice-giving,
Its... like an ox roaring,
The house of Enki, the oracles uttering.

Follows a long passage in which Isimud, the messenger of Enki, sings the praises of the "sea-house." Then Enki raises the city Eridu from the abyss and makes it float over the water like a lofty mountain. Its green fruit-bearing gardens he fills with birds; fishes, too, be makes abundant. Enki is now ready to proceed by boat to Nippur to obtain Enlil's blessing for his newly-built city and temple.

 

He therefore rises from the abyss:

When Enki rises, the fish... rise,
The abyss stands in wonder,
In the sea joy enters,
Fear comes over the deep,
Terror holds the exalted river,
The Euphrates, the South Wind lifts it in waves.

And so Enki seats himself in his boat and first arrives in Eridu itself; here he slaughters many oxen and sheep. He then proceeds to Nippur where immediately upon his arrival he prepares all kinds of drinks for the gods and especially for Enlil.

 

Then:

Enki in the shrine Nippur,
Gives his father Enlil bread to eat,
In the first place he seated An (the heaven-god),
Next to An he seated Enlil,
Nintu he seated at the "big side,"
The Anunnaki seated themselves one after the other.

And so the gods feast and banquet until their hearts become "good" and Enlil is ready to pronounce his blessing:

Enlil says to the Anunnaki:
"Ye great gods who are standing about,
My son has built a house, the king Enki;
Eridu, like a mountain, he has raised up from the earth,
In a good place he has built it.

Eridu, the clean place, where none may enter,
The house built of silver, adorned with lapis lazuli,
The house directed by the seven "lyre-songs," given over to incantation,
With pure songs . . . ,
The abyss, the shrine of the goodness of Enki, befitting the divine decrees,
Eridu, the pure house having been built,
O Enki, praise!"