Tales of the Storm God Zu
by Estéban Trujillo de Gutiérrez
“The scribes of Assur-bani-pal have preserved for us the mutilated copy of a bilingual poem, or part of a poem, which recounted the flight of Zu to the mountain of ‘Sabu or Kis. It begins thus:
“Lugal-tudda (fled) to the mountain a place remote
In the hill of ‘Sabu he (dwelt).
No mother inhabits it and (cares for him).
No father inhabits it and (associates) with him.
No priest who knows him (assists him).
He who (changed) not the resolution, even the resolution of his heart,
in his own heart (he kept) his resolution.
Into the likeneas of a bird was he transformed,
into the likeness of Zu the divine storm-bird was he transformed,
His wife uplifts the neck.
The wife of Zu, the son of Zu, may he cause them to dwell in a cage,
even the god of the river-reeds (Enna) and the goddess the lady of the basket of river-reeds (Gu-enna).
From his mountain he brought (her),
as a woman fashioned for a mother made beautiful,
the goddess of plants, as a woman fashioned for a mother made beautiful.
Her paps were of white crystal;
her thighs were bathed in silver and gold.
[Here follow many mutiliated lines]
On (his) head he placed a circlet;
….on his head he set a coronal
(when) he came from the nest of the god Zu.
(In a place) unknown in the mountain he made his tomb.”
It will be seen that the identity of the god Zu with a bird is explained in accordance with the ideas of a modern time. It has become a transformation voluntarily undergone by the deity, for the sake, as it would seem, of securing a beautiful bride.
The old faith of totemism is thus changing into a fairy-tale. But there were other stories which remembered that the transformation of the god was not the voluntary act it is here represented to have been.”
A.H. Sayce, Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as Illustrated by the Religion of the Ancient Babylonians, 5th ed., London, 1898, pp. 295-7.