"Let this poem stand forever, let it endure till eternity.
"Let all lands hear it and praise my valor,
"Let all inhabitants witness and extol my name,"
|Image nicked from Sannion's blog:|
When Marduk saw what war had done to Babylon, he wept...
And as he lamented the destruction..
Watched the people of Babylon turning upon each other...
The Seven warriors unrivalled left the city
Only when Syria was destroyed did the Lord of War stop.
For now the people and gods remembered who he was...
who he still is.
The poem, 'Erra and Ishum' was a dream transcribed by Kabti-ilani-Marduk. The words were copied out many times and kept, perhaps placed on shrines, as a sign of respect for the Lord of The Great City, the God of War.
Erra and Ishum.
From the dream transcribed by Kabti-ilani-Marduk of the Dabibi clan.
Circa 765 BC.
The Lord of the Great City
Was sleeping in Mami's arms..
He heard The Seven talking to him.
The Seven warriors unrivalled.
It had been a long time
The Seven were restless..
Still half asleep..
The Lord listened...
Lord Irri-Gal called Ishum Lord of Fire
Ordered him to lead the way through the darkness.
The Seven to follow
To The Seven he gave orders:
'Rub yourselves with poison- arm yourselves!'
Yet Lord Irri-Gal felt as weak as a kitten.
Like a man who has not had enough sleep.
He stayed in his bed.
Now armed and ready to go
Spoke to Lord Irri-Gal.:
"Up, do your duty!
War is long over due.
For the city breeds soft men..and order must be destroyed so that a better future can arise...
"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 can’t fight?
"King Marduk! His people 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?
"However toothsome city bread, it holds nothing to the campfire loaf,
"However sweet fine beer, it holds nothing to water from a skin,
"The terraced palace holds nothing to the wayside sleeping spot!
And on and on...giving the Lord no rest.
The Seven, The Sibitti..
Told Lord Irri-Gal that the world was a broken place
That order had broken down...
That the the people were crying out for a strong leader.
Lord Irri-Gal drank in their words..as smooth as the finest oil.
Lord Irri-Gal, Nergal
Brought up the Battle-Net
Lord Flame looked on in horror.
Finally he spoke:
" Lord Irri-Gal, why have you plotted evil against the gods and to lay waste the lands and decimate the people?"
Lord Irri-Gal was annoyed by this:
"Keep quiet, listen to what I say, O vanguard of the gods, wise Lord Flame, whose counsel is always for the best (sarcasm).
"All the gods are afraid of a fight, so the black-headed folk are contemptuous!
"As for me, since they did not fear my name, I have disregarded Marduk’s command. I will make Marduk angry, stir him from his dwelling, and lay waste the people!"
Lord Irri-Gal reaches Babylon
He enters Esagila, palace of heaven and earth and stands before king Marduk.
Lord Irri-Gal issues his challenge:
"Why has your precious image, symbol of your lordship, lost its brilliance?
How come no one respects you, old King!"
Marduk tells Lord Irri-Gal of how Babylon lost its brilliance.
Long ago king Marduk left Babylon.
A temporary excursion
What could go wrong?
All order, the regulation of heaven and earth disintegrated!
On his return, some order was restored.
But Marduk was old...
Everything was a struggle.
Too much effort...
"Productivity of living offspring declined, nor did I renew it,
such that were I a plowman, I could hold all seed in my hand.
So I built another house and settled therein."
"As to my precious image, which had been struck by the deluge that its appearance was sullied,
I commanded Lord fire to make my features shine and cleanse my apparel.
When it had shined my precious image and completed the task,
I donned my lordly diadem and returned.
"Haughty were my features, terrifying my glare!
The survivors of the deluge saw what was done!"
Lord Irri-Gal says:
"We are of one mind"
"Shall I raise my weapon and destroy the rest"?
king Marduk agrees, perhaps the destruction did not go far enough.
Perhaps fire is the only answer
A way to renew the good
To destroy the pestilential.
War is the answer
Marduk sets out for Heaven
Leaving kingship in the hands of Lord Irri-Gal
Who blocks the way to Heaven
Begins seeding the land with disorder and bad governance...
To Lord Flame, Lord Irri-Gal explains his method:
"I confiscate their households and cut short their lives,
"I assassinate the righteous man who intercedes,
"I set the wicked cutthroat in the highest rank.
"I estrange people's hearts so father listens not to son,
"And daughter speaks spitefully to her mother.
"I make their utterances evil, they forget their gods,
"They speak gross blasphemy to their goddesses,
"I stir up the robber and so cut off travel absolutely,
"People rifle one another's belongings in the heart of the city.
"Lion and wolf fell the livestock.
"I aggravate [Aruru ] and she cuts off birth-giving,
"I deprive the nurse of the wail of toddler and infant,
"I banish the work song of harvest home from the fields,
"Shepherd and herdsman forget their field shelters.
"I cut the clothes from the bodies of men, the young man I parade naked through the city street,
"The young man without clothes I send down to hell,
"The ordinary man has not so much as a sheep to offer up for his life,
"For the nobleman's divination lambs are few and precious.
"The patient yearns for a bit of roast to offer for his recovery,
"It does him no good, so he gets up and walks till he dies.
Lord Flame is horrified, remonstrating that this is in no way 'good governance'.
No way to restore kingship.
Lord Irri-Gal, in a frenzy, cries for more
And lets loose the Seven.
As massacres begin in Babylon
Lord Flame, demands to know the reason for it.
Lord Irri-Gal replies:
"Why are you, indeed, talking like a know-nothing?
"You are advising me as if you knew not Marduk's command!
"The king of the gods has risen from his dwelling!
"What of all lands has endured?
"He has removed his lordly diadem:
"King and prince forget their duties.
"He has undone his girdle:
"The bond of god and man is undone, it is impossible to tighten it again..."
Lord Flame speaks:
O warrior Erra (Lord Irri-Gal), you are the one who feared not noble Marduk's name!
"You have undone Dimkurkurra, the bond of the world (Babylon)
"You changed your divine nature and made yourself a mortal
"You girded on your weaponry and entered Babylon.
"Inside Babylon, you spoke like a rabble-rouser, as if to take over the city"
"The citizenry of Babylon, like reeds in a thicket, had no one in charge so they rallied around you!"
"He who knew nothing of weapons - his sword was drawn,
"He who knew nothing of archery - his bow was taut,
"He who knew nothing of fighting - set to the fray,
"He who knew nothing of wings - flew off like a bird."
"The cripple could surpass the fleet of foot, the weakling could overpower the strong.
"They give voice to gross insolence against the governor who provides for their holy places,
"With their own hands they blockaded the gate of Babylon their lifeline,
"They have torched the sanctuaries of Babylon like marauders of the land"
"You, the vanguard, took their lead!
"You aimed your shaft at the innermost wall,
'Woe! My heart!' it exclaims,
"You flung the seat of Muhra, its gatekeeper, into the blood of young men and girls,
"The inhabitants of Babylon themselves - they the bird, you the decoy -
"You snared in a net, caught and killed them, warrior Erra!
"You quit the city and have gone out to the outskirts,
"You took a lion's face and have entered the palace.
"When the troops saw you, they girded on their weapons,
"The heart of the governor, avenger of Babylon, turned to fury,
"He issued orders to his army to plunder, as if plundering enemies,
"He incited the commander to atrocities,
' You, my man, for that city I am sending you to,"The royal troops drew up and have invaded the city,
' Fear no god, respect no man!
' Do young and old alike to death!
' Spare no one, not even the baby sucking milk!
' You shall plunder the accumulated wealth of Babylon!'
"With flashing shafts and outstretched blades,
"You homed their weapons upon those under special protection, sacred to Anu and Dagan,
"You made their blood course like ditch-water in the city streets,
"You opened their arteries and let the watercourses hear their blood away."
"When the great lord Marduk saw that, he cried 'Woe!' and his heart was hardened,
"An irreversible curse rose to his lips.
"He swore that he would not drink from the watercourses,
"He was revolted by their blood and would not enter Esagila,
'Alas for Babylon, whose crown I fashioned luxuriant as a palm's,
but which the wind has scorched,
'Alas for Babylon, that I had laden with seed, like an evergreen, but of
whose delights I could not have what I hoped for!
'Alas for Babylon, that I tended like a thriving orchard, but whose fruit I
could not taste!
'Alas for Babylon, that I suspended like a gemstone on the neck of the
'Alas for Babylon, that I clasped in my hand like the tablet of destinies...!'
Now Babylon has become a wasteland and king Marduk weeps endless tears...
With no more to burn...
Lord Flame leads The Seven away from Babylon.
To make war on its enemies.
He set out for the mountain Hehe, the homeland of the Suteans.
The Seven, warriors unrivalled, fell in behind him.
When the warriors reached the mountain Hehe, he raised his hand, he destroyed the mountain,
He reckoned the mountain Hehe as level ground, he cut away the trunks of the cedar forest,
The thicket looked as if the deluge had passed over,
He laid waste cities and turned them into open spaces,
He obliterated mountains and slew their wild life,
He convulsed the sea and destroyed its increase
He brought the stillness of death upon swamp and thicket, burning like fire,
He cursed the wildlife and returned to clay.
Then and only then was Lord Irri-Gal calmed.
All the gods stood around the Lord of war..
The Igigi-gods and the Anunna-gods stood in awe.
Lord Irri-Gal spoke saying:
"Quiet, all of you learn what I have to say!
"No doubt I intended evil in the bygone lapse,
"I was angry and wanted to lay waste the people.
"Like a hireling, I took the lead ram from the flock,
"Like one who did not plant an orchard, I was quick to cut it down,
"Like a scorcher of the earth, I slew indiscriminately good and evil.
"One would not snatch a carcass from the jaws of a ravaging lion,
"So too no one can reason where one is in a frenzy.
"Were it not for Lord Flame, my vanguard, what might have happened?
"Where would your provider be, where your high priest?
"Where your food offering? You would smell no incense".
Lord Flame addressed Lord Irri-Gal:
"Quiet, warrior, hear what I have to say,
"Calm down, let us serve you!
"At a time you are angry, where is he who can face you?"
When Lord Irri-Gal heard this, his face beamed, like radiant daylight his features glowed.
He entered his palace, E-meslam and took up his abode.