University of Pennsylvania Press, West Port, Connecticut.
Myth that tells how
Enki built a house (temple) for himself in Eridu,
the oldest city in Sumer according to tradition, the first of five
cities founded before the Great Flood.
The temple, decorated with
silver, lapis lazuli, carnelian and gold, was established on the bank of
a river, where its foundations reached deep into the underground sweet, fertilising waters, called the apsu. The temple had magical qualities:
the brickwork gave Enki advice, while the surrounding reed fences
roared like a bull. The roof-beam was shaped like the bull of heaven,
and a lion gripping a man formed the gateway. The overall effect was
described as a lusty bull.
The bustle of activity there was compared to the drama of a river rising
during a flood, Enki filled the building with lyres, drums and
every other kind of musical instruments. Surrounding the temple was a
delightful garden full of fruit trees, with birds singing all around and
frolicking carp playing among the reeds in the streams.
After finishing the construction of the E-engurra, the temple, Enki called up the beat of the ala and the uh
drums and set out by barge to Nippur, in order to receive
the other gods' blessings. The fish danced before him on the way to Nippur, and Enki slaughtered several oxen and sheep
for the feast to come.
Once in Nippur, Enki started preparing the feast.
Paying attention to protocol, Anu was at the head of the group,
with Enlil beside him and the goddess Nintu in a seat of
honour nearby. In the happy celebration that followed, all the great
gods pronounced blessings on Enki's new home, and Anu
My son Enki
has made his temple.... grow from the ground like a
After the water of creation had ben 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 countenances and wise, coming forth from
Stood all about the lord Nudimmud;
The pure house he built
He ornamented it greatly with gold,
In Eridu he built the house of 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, Enkiīs counsellor/prime
minister, sings the praises of the sea-house. Then Enki raises
the city of 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 he makes abundant. Enki is now
ready to proceed by boat to Nippur, where he will obtain Enlilīs
blessings 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.
Enki seats himself in his boat and first arrives in Eridu
itself. In Eridu, he slaughters many oxen and sheep before
proceeding to Nippur. Upon his arrival, a feast is prepared for
all gods and Enlil in special:
Enki in the shrine Nippur,
Gives his brother Enlil bread to eat,
In the first place he seated Anu (the Skyfather),
Next to Anu he seated Enlil,
Nintu he seated at the big side,
The Anunnaki seated themselves one after the other.
Enlil says to the Anunnaki:
" Ye great gods who are standing about,
My brother 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
With pure songs....
The abyss, the shrine of the goodness of Enki, befitting the
Eridu, the pure house having been built,
O Enki, praise!