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Portents of Venus

“No. 207.

Venus is appearing at sunset in the Tropic of Cancer: this is its interpretation.

When Venus appears in Siwan, there will be a slaughter of the enemy.

When Venus appears in the Tropic of Cancer, the king of Akkad will have no rival.

Five or six days ago it reached Allul. This is its interpretation.

When Venus (Uza) approaches Allul, there will be obedience and welfare in the land: the gods will have mercy on the land.

Empty . . (?) will be full and the crops of the land will prosper; the sick in the land will recover. Pregnant women will perfect their offspring. The great gods will show favour to the sanctuaries of the land, the houses of the great gods will be renewed. ( Uza = Venus.)

From Šumaï.”

Reginald Campbell Thompson, The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon, Vol. II, London, 1900, pp. lxix-lxx.

Martian Portents of Evil

“No. 195.

When Jupiter stands in front of Mars, there will be corn and men will be slain, (or) a great army will be slain.

When Jupiter and Mars . . . the god will devour (or) rains will be given upon the land. (Ustaddanu šutadunu resolved?)

When Mars approaches Jupiter, there will be a great devastation in the land.

When Jupiter and a planet, their stars face, evil will befall the land.

When Mars (Lubad-dir) and Jupiter (Rabú) approach, there will be a slaughter of cattle. (Lubad-dir is Mars, Rabú is Jupiter.)

Mars has approached Jupiter. When Mars (Šanamma) approaches Jupiter, in that year the king of Akkad will die and the crops of that land will be prosperous.

This omen is evil for the lands; let the king, my lord, make a Nambulbi-ceremony to avert the evil.

From Nabû-ikiša of Borsippa.”

Reginald Campbell Thompson, The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon, Vol. II, London, 1900, pp. lxvii-lxviii.

A Star as a Portent of Slaughter

“No. 187

(Obv. 1-6). When Jupiter (Sagmigar) passes to the place of sunset, there will be a dwelling securely, kindly peace will descend on the land. (It appeared in front of Allul.)

When Jupiter (Sagmigar) assumes a brilliance in the tropic of Cancer and (becomes?) Nibiru, Akkad will overflow with plenty, the king of Akkad will grow powerful.

(Rev. 5 ff.) When a great star like fire rises from sunrise and disappears at sunset, the troops of the enemy in battle (or) the troops of the enemy in slaughter will be slain.

At the beginning of thy reign Jupiter was seen in its right position; may the lord of gods make thee happy and lengthen thy days!

From Asaridu, the son of Damka.”

Reginald Campbell Thompson, The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon, Vol. II, London, 1900, p. lxvi.

A Magician and a Handmaiden

“No. 183.

When a bright star appears in the ecliptic (?), there will be a slaughter of Elam with the sword.

When the Sun reaches its zenith in a parhelion (?), the king will grow angry and raise the sword. (Explanation of ideograph.)

Jupiter has stood for a month over its reckoned time. When Jupiter passes to sunset, the land will dwell peacefully. Jupiter has stood for a month over its reckoned time.

Marcheswan is the month of the king, my lord.

(Rev. 5 ff.). The handmaiden of the king, my lord, has gone (?) to Akkad; I cannot tarry, [for] she has run away; let the king, my lord, [send and] fetch her and give her to me.

From Bil-li’, son of Igibi, the magician.”

Reginald Campbell Thompson, The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon, Vol. II, London, 1900. pp. lxiv-lxv.

Politics Among the Magicians and Astrologers

“No. 124.

When the Moon reaches the Sun and with it fades out of sight, its horns being dim, there will be truth in the land, and the son will speak the truth with his father. (On the fourteenth the Moon was seen with the Sun.)

When the Moon and the Sun are invisible, the king will increase wisdom; the king of the land, the foundation of his throne will be secure. (On the fourteenth day the Moon was seen with the Sun.)

When the Moon and Sun are seen with one another on the fourteenth, there will be silence, the land will be satisfied; the gods intend Akkad for happiness. Joy in the heart of the people. The cattle of Akkad will lie down securely in the pasture-places.

When a dark halo surrounds the Moon, it gathers clouds, that month will bring rain. When its horns are dim, a flood will come. (On the fourteenth the Moon was seen with the Sun.)

About the people concerning whom I sent to the king, my lord, the king does not say ‘Why ?’ but has said ‘let them bring them hither.’

Now the king knows I hold no land in Assyria: I, what is my family to them, or what my life? Who is my god, who is my lord, to whom and how are my eyes turned?

Now let my lord king, lor whose life I pray Samas, send it unto Ahisa, by royal authority, and let his messenger bring the people: let the governor of Babylon cause him to leave.

Let Nabu-itir-napsati, my son, the king’s servant, come, that with me he may visit (?) the king.”

Reginald Campbell Thompson, The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon, Vol. II, London, 1900. pp. lvi-lvii.

Zodiacal Portents

“No. 117.

When the greater halo surrounds the Moon, that land will be enlarged, destructions will surround men.

When it surrounds and Cancer (Alhit) stands within it, the king of Akkad will prolong life.

When Regulus stands within it, women will bear male children.

When the greater halo surrounds the Moon and is thin, there will be a giving of years to the king.

(A great halo has surrounded it and has remained for many nights and is uninterrupted.)

From Sapiku, of Borsippa.”

Reginald Campbell Thompson, The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon, Vol. II, London, 1900. p. lv.

On the Tower of Babel and the Confusion of Tongues

“Many attempts have been made to attach the legend of the confusion of tongues to certain ruined towers in Babylonia, especially to that of E-Sagila, the great temple of Merodach, and some remarks upon this most interesting tale may not be out of place at this point. The myth is not found in Babylonia itself, and in its best form may be discovered in Scripture. In the Bible story we are told that every region was of one tongue and mode of speech.

As men journeyed westward from their original home in the East, they encountered a plain in the land of Shinar where they settled. In this region they commenced building operations, constructed a city, and laid the foundations of a tower, the summit of which they hoped would reach to heaven itself.

It would appear that this edifice was constructed with the object of serving as a great landmark to the people so that they should not be scattered over the face of the earth, and the Lord came down to view the city and the tower, and he considered that as they were all of one language this gave them undue power, and that what they imagined to themselves under such conditions they would be able to achieve.

So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence over the face of every region, and the building of the tower ceased and the name of it was called ‘Babel,’ because at that place the single language of the people was confounded.

Of course it is merely the native name of Babylon, which translated means ‘gate of the god,’ and has no such etymology as the Scriptures pretend,—the Hebrews confusing their verb balal, ‘to confuse or confound,’ with the word babel.

The story was no doubt suggested by one of the temple towers of Babylon. Over and over again we find in connexion with the Jewish religion that anything which savours of presumption or unnatural aspiration is strongly condemned. The ambitious effort of the Tower of Babel would thus seem abhorrent to the Hebrews of old.

The strange thing is that these ancient towers or zikkurats, as the Babylonians called them, were intended to serve as a link between heaven and earth, just as does the minaret of the Mahommedan mosque.

The legend of the confusion of tongues is to be traced in other folk-lores than that of Babylon. It is found in Central America, where the story runs that Xelhua, one of the seven giants rescued from the deluge, built the great pyramid of Cholula in order to besiege heaven.

The structure was, however, destroyed by the gods, who cast down fire upon it and confounded the language of its builders. Livingstone found some such myth among the African tribes around Lake Ngami, and certain Australian and Mongolian peoples possess a similar tradition.”

Lewis Spence, Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria, 1917, pp. 47-9.

Comparative Myths of the Deluge

“It is interesting to note that Sisuthrus, the hero of this deluge story, was also the tenth Babylonian king, just as Noah was the tenth patriarch. The birds sent out by Sisuthrus strongly recall the raven and dove despatched by Noah; but there are several American myths which introduce this conception.

Birds and beasts in many cosmologies provide the nucleus of the new world which emerges from the waters which have engulfed the old. Perhaps it is the beaver or the muskrat which dives into the abyss and brings up a piece of mud, which gradually grows into a spacious continent; but sometimes birds carry this nucleus in their beaks. In the myth under consideration they return with mud on their feet, which is obviously expressive of the same idea. Attempts have been made to show that a great difference exists between the Babylonian and Hebrew story. Undoubtedly the two stories have a common origin.

The first Babylonian version of the myth dates from about 2000 b.c. and its text is evidently derived from a still older tablet. It seems likely that this was in turn indebted to a still more archaic version, which probably recounted the earliest type of the myth.

This perhaps related how the earth and its inhabitants were not to the liking of the Creator, and how he resolved to recreate the whole. The great ocean-dragon was therefore called in to submerge the world, after which the Creator re-moulded it and set the survivor and his family upon it as the ancestors of a new human race. It is possible also that the great sea-dragon, or serpent, which was slain by the Creator, may have flooded the earth with his blood as he expired: there is an Algonquin Indian myth to this effect.

In an old cuneiform text, in fact, the year of the deluge is alluded to as “the year of the raging serpent.” The wise man who takes refuge in the ship or ark is warned by a dream of the forthcoming deluge. In some North American Indian myths he is warned by friendly animals. The mountain, too, as a place of refuge for the ark, is fairly common in myth.

We have dealt in Chapter II with the creation myth found in Berossus, and with this ends the part of his history which is of any importance.”

Lewis Spence, Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria, 1917, pp. 45-6.

Signs in the Heavens

“No. 94.

Last night a halo surrounded the Moon, and Jupiter (Sagmigar) and Scorpio stood within it.

When a halo surrounds the Moon and Jupiter (Sagmigar) stands within it, the king of Akkad will be besieged.

When a halo surrounds the Moon and Jupiter (Nibiru) stands within it, there will be a slaughter of cattle and beasts of the field.

(Marduk is Umunpauddu at its appearance; when it has risen for two (or four ?) hours it becomes Sagmigar; when it stands in the meridian it becomes Nibiru.)

When a halo surrounds the Moon and Scorpio stands in it, it will cause men to marry princesses (or) lions will die and the traffic of the land will be hindered.

(These are from the series ‘When a halo surrounds the Moon and Jupiter stands within it, the king of Aharru will exercise might and accomplish the defeat of the land of his foe.’ This is unpropitious.)

From Nabu-mušisi.”

Reginald Campbell Thompson, The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon, Vol. II, London, 1900. p. lii.

Omens and Gossip From the Royal Fortunetellers

“No. 90.

To the king of countries, my lord, thy servant Bil-ušizib (?)

May Bel, Nebo and Samas bless the king, my lord.

When the Sun stands within the halo of the Moon, in all lands they will speak the truth, the son will speak the truth with his father.

(Saturn has stood within the Moon’s halo.)

When a halo surrounds the Moon and Allul stands within it, the king of Akkad will prolong his life.

When a “river” surrounds the Moon, there will be great inundations and rains. (Allul has stood within the Moon’s halo.)

(Obv. 10-Rev .5 mutilated, Re 6v (iff.).

Arad-Gula . . . Bi’l-ikisa (?) in my presence I heard . . . this . . . which Mardia heard …. the chief: Yadi’, the chief, and the chieftainess of all the land of Yakimanu before the general in Van they appointed, and now they say ‘the murderer of our lord shall not grow great before us.’

Let the lord of kings ask the general (that he may hear the health of the king), how it troubles (?) me: and Mardia, who is chief of the servants of the household of the general, his lord, when I had left, entered under Nérgal-ašarid: the interpreter (?) and the chief officers he brought before Nirgal-asarid.

They entered into agreements and carried away to their homes a talent of silver with them ….”

Reginald Campbell Thompson, The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon, Vol. II, London, 1900. p. li.

Berossus on the Babylonian Account of the Deluge

“More important is his account of the deluge. There is more than one Babylonian version of the deluge: that which is to be found in the Gilgamesh Epic is given in the chapter dealing with that poem. As Berossus’ account is quite as important, we shall give it in his own words before commenting upon it:

“ After the death of Ardates, his son (Sisuthrus) succeeded and reigned eighteen sari. In his time happened the great deluge; the history of which is given in this manner. The Deity, Cronus, appeared to him in a vision; and gave him notice, that upon the fifteenth day of the month Dsesius there would be a flood, by which mankind would be destroyed. He therefore enjoined him to commit to writing a history of the beginning, procedure, and final conclusion of all things, down to the present term; and to bury these accounts securely in the City of the Sun at Sippara. He then ordered Sisuthrus to build a vessel, and to take with him into it his friends and relations; and trust himself to the deep. The latter implicitly obeyed: and having conveyed on board every thing necessary to sustain life, he took in also all species of animals, that either fly, or rove upon the surface of the earth.

Having asked the Deity whither he was to go, he was answered, To the gods: upon which he offered up a prayer for the good of mankind. Thus he obeyed the divine admonition: and the vessel, which he built, was five stadia in length, and in breadth two. Into this he put every thing which he had got ready; and last of all conveyed into it his wife, children, and friends. After the flood had been upon the earth, and was in time abated, Sisuthrus sent out some birds from the vessel; which not finding any food, nor any place to rest their feet, returned to him again. After an interval of some days; he sent them forth a second time: and they now returned with their feet tinged with mud.

He made trial a third time with these birds : but they returned to him no more: from whence he formed a judgment, that the surface of the earth was now above the waters. Having therefore made an opening in the vessel, and finding upon looking out, that the vessel was driven to the side of a mountain, he immediately quitted it, being attended with his wife, children, and the pilot. Sisuthrus immediately paid his adoration to the earth: and having constructed an altar, offered sacrifices to the gods. These things being duly performed, both Sisuthrus, and those who came out of the vessel with him, disappeared. They, who remained in the vessel, finding that the others did not return, came out with many lamentations and called continually on the name of Sisuthrus.

Him they saw no more; but they could distinguish his voice in the air, and could hear him admonish them to pay due regard to the gods; and likewise inform them, that it was upon account of his piety that he was translated to live with the gods; that his wife and children, with the pilot, had obtained the same honour. To this he added, that he would have them make the best of their way to Babylonia, and search for the writings at Sippara, which were to be made known to all mankind. The place where these things happened was in Armenia. The remainder having heard these words, offered sacrifices to the gods; and, taking a circuit, journeyed towards Babylonia.”

Berossus adds, that the remains of the vessel were to be seen in his time upon one of the Corcyrean mountains in Armenia; and that people used to scrape off the bitumen, with which it had been outwardly coated, and made use of it by way of an antidote for poison or amulet. In this manner they returned to Babylon; and having found the writings at Sippara, they set about building cities and erecting temples; and Babylon was thus inhabited again.”

Lewis Spence, Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria, 1917, pp. 42-5.

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