Marduk vs Tiamat | Order & Chaos

Tiamat is the god of saltwater and Apsu the god of freshwater, they mixed together in the Tigris and Euphrates to create the first world, the great civilization of Mesopotamia. Tiamat was the mother of all things and the goddess of Chaos.

As time went by the descendants of Tiamat and Apsu became troubling and annoying. They disturbed Apsu’s sleep and he decided to kill them off , Tiamat protested at having to destroy what they themselves had created, Apsu agreed, but the word had already got out.  Ea the all-knowing god of sweet water learned of Apsu’s plan and sent him into an endless sleep, killing him.

Tiamat was enraged. She created an army of the most deadly monsters to avenge the death of Apsu. She made Qingu their leader and together they were ready to destroy everything.

Marduk the son of the sun and commander of the four winds, who could see everything, hear all and could speak magic words (the truth(2) convinced the other gods to go to war against Tiamat. He was strong, brave and was the only one willing to go to battle with Chaos herself. They made him their king and prepared for battle.

Marduk and Tiamat went to war. Marduk threw lighting bolts at her and a net to grab her, but she kept coming, stronger and more monstrous than ever, breathing fire and destroying everything in her path. Marduk pressed on, not giving up. After a long battle, Tiamat finally fell.

Marduk cut her body in half, from the upper half, Marduk created the sky, and from the lower half, the earth, from the blood of Qingu, Ea created the first man to be a helper to the gods in their eternal task of maintaining order and keeping chaos at bay.1

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This tale is told in the form of a poem called the Enuma Elish (also known as The Seven Tablets of Creation), it is the oldest story in the world, said to be the first creation myth that greatly influenced the stories and religions that evolved over the course of human history. The poem was written in Akkadian Cuneiform (script on the top and bottom of the illustration reading tiamat and marduk) on clay tablets and recited on the New years Day in Babylon.  Marduk, the god of Babylon was hailed as the ideal man, “he who aims for the highest good and goes forth into the world to battle chaos”2.

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References / Interesting books to read.

Inspired by Maps of Meaning –  The Architecture of belief by Jordan B Peterson 

1-  Joshua J. Mark , Enuma Elish- The Babylonian Epic of Creation, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 02 March 2011

2 Jordan B Perterson, Maps of meaning – The architecture of belief, Youtube 

Stephanie Dalley, Myths from Mesopotamia : creation, the flood, Gilgamesh, and others ,Revised ed., Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2008

Benjamin R. Foster (Benjamin Read), From distant days : myths, tales, and poetry of ancient Mesopotamia, Bethesda, Md. : CDL Press, c1995

To read the entire translation of the Enuma Elish go here.