invokes Marduk, chief deity of Babylon, and Ishum, vanguard and
companion of Erra. Erra is restless and breaks into a
soliloquy. He is anxious to fight and campaign, but hesitates
through natural inertia. Speaking of himself in the third
person, Erra says that what he needs to stir him to action is
O king of all inhabited lands, creator of the world,
O Hendursagga, first born of Enlil [ ]
Holder of the sublime
herdsman of the black-headed folk,
shepherd of mankind,
O Ishum, zealous slaughterer, whose hands are suited to brandish
And to make his sharp spear flash,
of the gods, was restless in his dwelling,
His heart urged him
to do battle!
Says he to his weapons.
"Smear yourselves with
"To the Seven, warriors unrivalled,
"Let your weapons be girded!
He even says to you:
"You are the torch, they will see your
"You are the vanguard, the gods will [ ]
"You are the
stanchion, [zealous] slaughterer!
"(So) up, Erra, from laying
waste the land
"How cheerful your mood will be and joyful your
"Erra’s limbs are sluggish, like those of a mortal lacking
"He says to himself, ’Shall I get up or go to sleep?’
says to his weapons, ’Stay in the corners!’
"To the Seven,
warriors unrivalled, ’Go back to your dwellings!’
rouse him, he will sleep in his bedrooms,
"He will dally with Mami, his mate".
(With a second invocation, now of Ishum, the
narrator introduces the terrible Seven, who stand ready to
massacre the "black-headed folk" or Mesopotamians)
O Engidudu, who patrols at night, ever guiding the noble, Who
ever guides young men and women in safety, making light as day,
The Seven, warriors unrivalled, their divine nature is
different, Their origins are strange, they are terrifying,
Whoever sees them is numbed with fear. Their breath of life is
death, People are too frightened to approach it! Yet Ishum is
the door, bolted before them.
When Anu, the king of the gods, sowed his seed in the earth, She
bore him seven gods, he called them the Seven. They stood before
him, that he ordain their destinies, He summoned the first to
give his instructions,
"Wherever you go and spread terror, have
He said to the
second, "Burn like fire, scorch like flame". He commanded the third, "Look like a lion, let him who sees
you be paralyzed with fear". He said to the fourth, "Let a mountain collapse when you
present your fierce arms". He said to the fifth, "Blast like the wind, scan the
circumference of the earth". He said to the sixth. "Go out everywhere (like the deluge)
and spare no one". The seventh he charged with viperous venom," Slay whatever
After Anu had
ordained destinies for all of the Seven, He gave those very ones
to Erra, warrior of the gods, saying:
"Let them go beside you,
when the clamor of human habitations becomes noisome to you,
"And you resolve to wreak destruction,
"To massacre the
black-headed folk and fell the livestock,
"Let these be your
fierce weaponry, let them go beside you".
The Seven offer the encouragement that
Erra needs. . In a
rousing call to arms, they extol the heroic excitement of the
campaign, the honor, prestige and gratification it brings.
The Seven claim vaguely that they are not respected enough, that
others are growing more important than they.
They bring up the old charge that men make too much noise for
the gods to sleep, although this was not the cause Erra had
given for his own lack of sleep.
The Seven claim further that there are too many wild animals on
the loose. Their final claim no doubt the most important one, is
that they are bored and out of training.
These are the ones who are in a fury, holding their weapons
aloft, They are saying to Erra,
"Up, do your duty!
"Why have you
been sitting in the city like a feeble old man,
"Why sitting at
home like a helpless child?
"Shall we eat woman food, like
non-combatants? Have we turned timorous and trembling, as if we
"Going to the field for the young and vigorous is
like to a very feast,
"But the noble who stays in the city can
never eat enough.
"His people will hold him in low esteem, he
will command no respect,
"How could he threaten a campaigner?
"However well developed is the strength of the city dweller,
"How could he possibly best a campaigner?
city bread, it holds nothing to the campfire loaf,
sweet fine beer, it holds nothing to water from a skin,
"The terraced palace holds nothing to the wayside sleeping spot!
off to the field, warrior Erra, make your weapons clatter,
loud your battle cry that all around they quake,
"Let the Igigi-gods
hear and extol your name,
" Let the Anunna-gods hear and flinch at
the mention of your,
"Let all the gods hear and bend for your
" Let sovereigns hear and fall prostrate before you,
countries hear and bring you their tribute,
" Let the lowly hear
and perish of their own accord,
"Let the mighty hear and his
" Let lofty mountains hear and their peaks
" Let the surging sea hear and convulse, wiping out her
" Let the stalk be yanked from the tough thicket,
reeds of the impenetrable morass be shorn off,
" Let men turn
cowards and their clamor subside,
" Let beasts tremble and return
" Let the gods your ancestors see and praise your valor!
"Warrior Erra, why do you neglect the field for the city?
very beats and creatures hold us in contempt!
"O warrior Erra,
we will tell you, thought that we say be offensive to you!
the whole land outgrows us,
"You must surely hear our words!
a kindly deed for the gods of hell, who delight in deadly stillness,
"The Anunna-gods cannot fall asleep for the clamor of
humankind, Beasts are overrunning the meadows, life of the land,
"The farmer sobs bitterly for his field,
"Lion and wolf are
felling the livestock,
"The shepherd, who cannot sleep day and
night for the sake of his flocks, is calling upon you,
who know the mountain passes, have forgotten how to go,
are spun over our field gear,
"Our fine bow resists and is too
strong for us,
"The tip of our sharp arrow is bent out of true,
"Our blade is corroded for want of a slaughter!"
The warrior Erra heard them, What the Seven said pleased him
like finest oil.
He made ready to speak and said to Ishum:
"Why, having heard,
did you sit by silent?
"Lead the way, let me begin my campaign!
"[ ] the Seven, warriors without rival, Make my fierce weapons
(the Seven) march by my side, But you be the vanguard and rear
When Ishum heard what he said, he felt pity and said to the
"O Lord Erra, why have you plotted evil against
"To lay waste the lands and decimate the people".
Erra made ready to speak and said to Ishum, his vanguard:
quiet, Ishum, listen to what I say, as concerns the people of
the inhabited world, whom you would spare.
"O vanguard of the
gods, wise Ishum, whose counsel is always for the best,
"I am the
wild bull in heaven, I am the lion on earth,
"I am king in the
land, I am the fiercest among the gods,
"I am warrior among the Igigi-gods, mighty one among the Anunna-gods!
"I am the smitter
of wild beasts, battering ram against the mountain,
"I am the
blaze in the reed thicket, the broad blade against the rushes,
"I am banner for the march, I blast like the wind, I thunder
like the storm,
"Like the sun, I scan the circumference of the
"I am the wild ram striding forth in the steppe,
invade the range and take up my dwelling in the fold,
gods are afraid of a fight, so the black-headed folk are
"As for me, since they did not fear my name, and I have
disregarded Marduk’s command, so he may act according to his
"I will make Marduk angry, stir him from his dwelling,
and lay waste the people!"
The warrior Erra set out for Babylon, city of the king of the
gods. He entered Esagila, palace of heaven and earth and stood
He made ready to speak, saying to the king of the gods:
your precious image, symbol of your lordship, lost its
"Your lordly diadem, which made the inner sanctum
shine like the outside tower, why is it dimmed?"
The king of the gods (Marduk) made ready to speak, saying to
Erra, these words,
"O warrior Erra, concerning that deed you
said you would do,
"Once, long ago
indeed I grew angry, indeed I left my dwelling and caused
the deluge! "When I left my dwelling, the regulation of
heaven and earth disintegrated:
"The shaking of heaven
meant: the positions of the heavenly bodies changed, nor did
I restore them,
"The quaking of netherworld meant: the yield
of the furrow diminished, being thereafter difficult to
"The regulations of heaven and earth disintegrating
meant: underground water diminished, high water receded.
When I looked again, it was struggle to get enough.
"Productivity of living offspring declined, nor did I renew
"Such that were I a plowman, I could hold all seed in my
"I built another
house and settled therein
"As to my precious image, which had
been struck by the deluge that its appearance was sullied,
commanded fire to make my features shine and cleanse my apparel.
"When it had shined my precious image and completed the task,
donned my lordly diadem and returned. "Haughty were my features,
terrifying my glare!
"The survivors of the deluge saw what was done,
"Shall I raise my
weapon and destroy the rest?
"I sent those craftsmen down to the
depths, I ordered them not to come up,
"I removed the wood and
gemstone and showed no one where,
"Now then, warrior Erra, as
concerns that deed you said you would do,
"Where is the wood,
flesh of the gods, suitable for the lord of the universe,
tree, splendid stripling, perfect for lordship,
thrust down an hundred leagues through the waters of the
vast ocean to the depths of hell,
"Whose crown brushed Anu’s
heaven on high?
"Where is the clear gemstone that I reserved
for [ ]?
"Where is Ninildum,
great carpenter of my supreme divinity,
"Wielder of the
glittering hatchet, who knows that tool,
"Who makes it shine like
the day and puts it in subjection at my feet?
"Where is Kunig-banda, fashioner of god and man, whose hands are
"Where is Nin agal, wielder of the upper and lower millstone
"Who grinds up hard copper like hide and who forges tools?
"Where are the choice stones, created by the vast sea, to
ornament my diadem?
"Where are the seven sages of the depths, those sacred fish,
who, like Ea their lord, are perfect in sublime wisdom, the ones
who cleansed my person? The warrior Erra heard him..... [ ] He
made ready to speak, saying to noble Marduk, "[ craftsmen ],
"Clear gemstone [from] its place will I bring up."
When Marduk heard this,
he made ready to speak, saying to the warrior Erra:
"(When) I rise from
my dwelling, the regulation of heaven and earth will
disintegrate, "The waters will rise and sweep over the land,
"Bright day will turn to darkness, whirlwind will rise and the
stars of heaven will be... "Ill winds will blow and the eyesight
of living creatures will be darkened, "Demons will raise up and
seize [ ], "They will .... the unarmed one who confronts them!
"The gods of hell will rise up and smite down living creatures,
"Who will keep them at bay till I gird on my weaponry once more?
When Erra heard this, he
made himself ready to speak, saying to noble Marduk:
"O noble Marduk,
while you enter the house, fire cleanses your apparel and you
return to your palace, "For that time I will govern and keep
strong the regulation of heaven and earth,
"I will go up to
heaven and issue instructions to the Igigi gods,
"I will go down
to the depths and keep the Anunna gods in order.
"I will despatch the wild demons to the netherworld,
"I will brandish my
fierce weaponry against them,
"I will truss the wings of the ill
wind like a bird’s.
"At that house you shall enter, O noble Marduk,
"I will station Anu and Enlil to the right and left,
Noble Marduk heard him, the words which Erra spoke pleased him.
from his dwelling, an inaccessible place, He set out for the
dwelling of the Anunna-gods. He entered that house and stood before them.
Shamash looked upon him and let his protective radiance fall...
Sin looked everywhere, and did not leave the Netherworld,
Ill winds rose and the bright daylight was turned to gloom,
clamor of the peoples throughout the land was stilled,
gods were terrified and went up to heaven,
The Anunna gods were
frightened and went down to the pit of hell,
[ ] the entire
circumference [ ] [ ] in the dust [ ] let us see".
[ ] its
doors. [ ] like the stars of heaven.
The gods convene to discuss the situation. Ea, intent upon
restoring Marduk to his place, reasons that, even though the
original sublime craftsmen cannot return, Marduk authorized
reproduction of them to be made that are endowed with wondrous
powers by Ea at Marduk’s command.
The repairs are proceeding well.
Erra, while standing guard at the hour where the work is being
done lest harm approach, is taking the opportunity to usurp
Marduk’s power by keeping everyone away from him.
So vainglorious is Erra’s shouting that Ea resolves to see him
"The diadem [ ] "His heart [ ] "The governor’s [ ] "The
awe-inspiring radiance of his divine splendor [ ] his days [ ],
"[ ] like rain,
"Let Ea in the depths [ ] his springs,
"Let Shamash see .... [ ] and let the people [ ]
"Let Sin behold, and at his sign, let him [ ] to the land.
"Concerning that work, Ea [ ] is expert".
"The warrior Erra became very angry,
"Why, because of foam on
the waters, the .... of mankind,
"Which I myself created to
bring offerings to he Anunna gods,
"Did noble Marduk give up,
not at the appointed time?
"He plotted to lay waste the lands
and destroy their people!
"Ea the king considered and said these words,
"Even now that
noble Marduk has arisen from his dwelling, he did not command
those craftsmen to come up.
"How can images of them, which I
made among mankind,
"Approach his sublime divinity, where no god
"He himself gave those same human craftsmen great discretion and
"He gave them wisdom and perfect dexterity,
"They have made his precious image radiant, even finer than
"Warrior Erra has stationed himself before him, night and day
"Besetting the house for making radiant the
precious image for the sovereignty of the king and saying, ’
Don’t come near the work! ’ [He who draws] near it - I will cut
short his life and prolong his death agony.’
"[ ] let him hasten
at the work,
"[ ] has no equal.
"[ ] Erra was speaking like a
"[ ] was trying to rival the noble one,
"[ ] may he be
The images of the craftsmen made his precious image radiant, [ ]
..... They set the.... at his door, [ ] king Shamash girds it
on, [ ] he reoccupied his dwelling, [ ] brilliance was
re-established, [All the gods....] were gathered, Erra [ noble]
"Noble Marduk,[ ]
"Godlike, you [ ]
"Small to great [ ]
[ ] Erra.... [ ] ... his uproar was terrifying,
"[ ] ... the
"[ ] of your lordship are raised up and established".
The king of the gods made ready to speak and said,
"[ ] and went
up to heaven.
" [ ] he commanded,
"Return to your dwellings!
" [ ]
... his sign,
"[ ] upon your face,
"[ ] their peoples.
"[ ] you
did not turn your back.
"He heard him, ... said to the king of the gods,
"The word of Marduk [ ] of the day
". He said to him [ ]
"Come now, [ ]
destroy the lands [ why did you plot?]?
Erra heard him [ ] ... He entered [ ].
Anu heard in heaven [ ], He bowed his lofty head [ ], Antu,
mother of the gods, was aghast [ ], She entered her chamber,
Enlil’s [ ]
[ ] father of the gods [ ] [ ] Enlil [ ] Among the beasts, all
of them [ ] Erra among all the gods [ ] Among the stars of
heaven the Fox Star [ ] Was shining bright and its radiance [ ]
for him, The stars of all the gods were dazzling [ ], Because
they were angry with each other, and noble Marduk [ ] put [ ],
"The star of Erra is shining bright and its radiant.... of
"His awe-inspiring brilliance will..... and all people