Marduk, literally meaning ‘bull calf of the sun’ and son of Ea, apparently was a god of magic and incantations from early times. This double-headed sun god was given the epithet Bel, «lord» and identified with Enlil. Especially he assumed the leadership of the Babylonian pantheon during the cosmic struggle with Tiamat, the sea-dragon of the salt-water ocean.
Therefore, he naturally became the telary god of the city of Babylon. After defeating Tiamat he split her in two halves, one half from which he formed the heaven and the other half the earth.
After doing this he fastened the badge of destiny upon his breast, creating a new world order including humankind. This is a paradoxical creation myth: for the chaos-monster, though slain and dismembered remained the body of the universe and was manifest in her children, the gods and goddesses from whom Bel-Marduk received homage.
In the mythology of the creation epic, Marduk wages a primordial cosmic battle with Tiamat, the power of the ocean. He kills her, splitting her in half, and uses her body parts to make heaven and earth. Tiamat fought him in revenge for the death of Apsu, the deep, and is reported to have created an exact replica of Apsu, the Esarra.
The mar, a Mesopotamian agricultural tool, triangular shaped, is the symbol of Marduk. His main festival, the akitu, also was celebrated at New Year till about 200 BCE; the Persian rule Cambyses performed it around 538 BCE. In Babylon Marduk’s sanctuary is at the Esagila and the E-temen-anki ziggurat.
His consort was the goddess Tasmetu(m) with whom his marriage was reenacted as an annual New Year festival. Others say his consort was Sarpanitu. With the changing of the imperial reigns Marduk lost prominence and eventually regained it by taking over the role of An and replacing Enlil. In the Assyrian takeover Marduk was replaced with Ashur. A.G.H.
Marduk: The Bull Calf of the Sun
Marduk, a prominent figure in Mesopotamian mythology, held a name that carried profound significance. Delve into the etymology and early associations of this god, whose name literally translates to ‘bull calf of the sun.’ As the son of Ea, Marduk’s divine identity was intertwined with magic and incantations, attributes that would shape his role in the pantheon.
Transformation into Bel
Explore the evolution of Marduk as he assumed the epithet «Bel,» signifying «lord,» and became identified with Enlil, another significant deity in Mesopotamian mythology. Uncover the pivotal moment when Marduk emerged as the leader of the Babylonian pantheon, marked by a cosmic struggle against the formidable Tiamat, the sea-dragon representing the salt-water ocean.
Marduk’s Triumph Over Tiamat and Creation of the World
Dive into the epic tale of Marduk’s cosmic battle against Tiamat, a primordial force of chaos and the ocean. Discover how Marduk emerged victorious, slaying Tiamat and dividing her body into two halves. Learn how these body parts became the building blocks for the creation of the heavens and the earth, setting the stage for a new world order that included humankind.
Paradoxes in the Creation Myth
Delve into the intriguing paradoxes within Marduk’s creation myth. Despite defeating and dismembering Tiamat, the chaos-monster, her essence continued to permeate the universe through her offspring—the various gods and goddesses who paid homage to Bel-Marduk. Uncover the complex relationship between creation and destruction in this ancient Mesopotamian narrative.
Symbol and Festivals
Explore the symbolism associated with Marduk, symbolized by the mar, a triangular-shaped Mesopotamian agricultural tool. Learn about his main festival, the akitu, traditionally celebrated at New Year, and how it evolved over time under different rulers, including Cambyses during the Persian rule. Discover the significance of Marduk’s sanctuary at the Esagila and the E-temen-anki ziggurat in Babylon.
Consort and Changing Roles
Delve into the complexities of Marduk’s divine relationships. Some sources suggest his consort was the goddess Tasmetu(m), with their marriage reenacted annually during the New Year festival. Others propose Sarpanitu as his consort. Examine how Marduk’s prominence shifted with changing imperial reigns, as he temporarily lost ground but later regained influence by taking on the roles of An and replacing Enlil. Understand the dynamics of this divine power shift within Mesopotamian mythology.
Legacy and Transformation
Uncover the enduring legacy of Marduk within the pantheon of Mesopotamian deities. Explore how he transformed and adapted over time, eventually yielding his position to the Assyrian deity Ashur during the Assyrian takeover. Witness the ebb and flow of divine authority and the ever-evolving narrative of Marduk’s role in the ancient world.
Cotterell, Arthur, A Dictionary of World Mythology, New York, G. P. Putman’s Sons, 1980, p. 38
Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, pp. 157-158