His limbs were immaculate, the making a fearful mystery beyond comprehension; with four eyes for limitless sight, and four ears hearing all; when his lips moved a tongue of fire burst out. Titanic limbs, standing so high he overtopped the tallest god; he was strong and he wore the glory of ten, and their lightnings played round him.

'My son, my son, son of the sun, and heaven's sun!'

Then Anu begot winds and brought them from the four quarters, to be the van and to command the ranks; and he brought the tornado, a wild surf to worry Tiamat.

But now the other gods had no rest anymore, tormented by storms, they conspired in their secret hearts and brought to Tiamat the matter of their plot. To their own mother they said,

'When they killed Apsu you did not stir, you brought no help to him, your husband. Now Anu has called up from the four quarters this abomination of winds to rage in your guts, and we cannot rest for the pain;

'Remember Apsu in your heart, your husband, remember Mummu who was defeated; now you are all alone, and thrash around. In desolation, and we have lost your love, our eyes ache and we long for sleep.

'Rouse up, our Mother! Pay them back and make them empty like the wind.'

Tiamat approved it, she said,

'I approve this advice; we will make monsters, and monsters and gods against gods will march into battle together.'

Together they jostle the ranks to march with Tiamat, day and night furiously they plot, the growling roar rout, ready for battle, while the Old Hag, the first mother, mothers a new brood.

She loosed the irresistable missle, she spawned enormous serpents with cutting fangs, chock-full of venom instead of blood, snarling dragons wearing their glory Iike gods. (Whoever sees this thing receives the shock of death, for when they heave those bodies up they never turn them back.)

She made the Worm
the Dragon
the Female Monster
the Great Lion
the Mad Dog
the Man Scorpion
the Howling Storm

There was no pity in their weapons, they did not flinch from battle for her law was binding, irrevocable.

Poems of Heaven and Hell from Ancient Mesopotamia, translated by N.K. Sandars, Penguin Books, 1971, p. 76-77.

PLACE: Babylon

TIME: prehistory

CIRCUMSTANCE: from 'The Creation'

mms. dates from ca. 1000 B.C.