ITS ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT
BAGSTER & SONS
|CHAP. I.||The Magic and Sorcery of the Chaldeans||1|
|CHAP. II.||The Chaldean Demonology||23|
|CHAP. III.||Chaldean Amulets and their Uses||39|
|CHAP. IV.||Chaldean Sorcery and its Dual Nature||58|
|CHAP. V.||Comparison of the Egyptian with the Chaldean Magic||70|
|CHAP. VI.||Contrasts between Egyptian and Chaldean Magical Systems||78|
|CHAP. VII.||The Magic of the Ritual of the Dead||89|
|CHAP. VIII.||Contrasts between Accadian and Egyptian Magic||107|
|CHAP. IX.||The Chaldaio-Babylonian religion and its doctrines||111|
|CHAP. X.||Development of the Chaldean Mythology||125|
|CHAP. XI.||The religious System of the Accadian Magic Books||136|
|CHAP. XIII.||The Origin of the Myth of the Zi||143|
|CHAP. XIII.||The Mythology of the Underworld||177|
|CHAP. XIV||The Religions and the Magic of the Turanian Nations||210|
|CHAP. XV.||The Early Median Mythology compared with that of the Chaldeans||216|
|CHAP. XVI.||Finno-Tartarian Magical Mythology||241|
|CHAP. XVI.||Further Analysis of Finnish Demonology||253|
|CHAP. XVII.||The Accadian People and their Language||263|
|CHAP. XIX.||The Accadian Language||268|
|CHAP. XX.||Differentiation of the Accadian and its allied Languages||283|
|CHAP. XXI.||Altaic affinities of the Accadian Language||292|
|CHAP. XXII.||Accadian and Altaic affinities||299|
|CHAP. XXIII.||Phonology of the Accadian Language||309|
|CHAP. XXIV.||The origin of the Kushito-Semitic religion||318|
|CHAP. XXV.||The two Ethnic elements in the Babylonian nation||331|
|CHAP. XXVI.||The Origin of the Chaldaio-Babylonian Cosmologies||336|
|CHAP. XXVII.||The Priority of the Accadian Population of Chaldea||350|
|CHAP. XXVIII.||The Sumirian Influence in Chaldean and Babylonian Civilization||356|
|CHAP. XXIX.||The Influence of the Kushite Mythology in Chaldean Faith||367|
|CHAP. XXX.||The Turanians in Chaldea and Ancient Asia||371|
|CHAP. XXXI.||The Archaic Legislation of the Accadians||378|
|APPENDIX||Sumir and Accad||387|
THE AUTHOR’S PREFACE.
THIS book came out in France three years ago. Since that time science has been making rapid strides, and in prosecuting my studies I have found a confirmation of many of my opinions. I could not therefore allow a translation of my studies relating to "Chaldean Magic" to appear without making a new edition of it, subject to various corrections and additions. To this end I have carefully revised all the translations of Cuneiform texts contained in this volume, and in some cases slight modifications have been necessary to bring them into harmony with the latest discoveries. I have added a translation of several interesting fragments which were not comprised in the French [p.viii] edition, and entirely rewritten some of the Chapters. The book which I now offer the English public may, therefore, be regarded as an almost entirely new work, which alone represents the present state of my opinions and studies.
THE EDITOR’S PREFACE.
"LA MAGIE CHEZ LES CHALDEENS," of which this present volume
is an enlarged edition, was issued by M. Lenormant in the autumn of 1874; it was
preceded by Les Premieres Civilisations, and closely followed in 1875 by
La Divination et la Science des Présages; all these works possessing the
same characteristic feature: the exposition of Assyrian thought, as evidenced by
the language of the Cuneiform inscriptions themselves, compared with the
traditions and usages of other contemporary and descended races, both Semitic
The interest excited in the philosophical world by these treatises was still further increased, by the publication in England, almost immediately afterwards, of the late George Smith's Chaldean Genesis, [p.x] in which for the first time since the era of Assurbanipal, the myths of the ancient Accadians were read in the light of day. By the additional texts thus recovered for the use of students, the premises of M. Lenormant were to a great extent confirmed; and the interest of Biblical scholars in Assyrian mythology showing every sign of increasing, it was deemed advisable to present the general public with an English edition of La Magie. This task was at once undertaken by Messrs. Bagster and Sons, and on the MSS. being sent to the author, he in the most generous manner offered to recast the earlier Chapters of the work, and to rewrite some of the latter. While this was being done, the researches of Prof. Sayce and other Assyriologists elucidated new facts, and discovered fresh parallels between the Accadian and Ugro-Finnic theologies. These discoveries had all to be considered and incorporated with the original text of M. Lenormant, and the result was, in the end, an almost entire remodelling of the French edition. To the editor was assigned, with the consent of the author, the office of adding references from English authorities to the citation already given from Continental writers, especially as [p.xi] La Magie was, in its new form, designed for a larger circulation than that of scholars alone. The various texts issued in the Records of the Past, and the Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, had to be cited wherever it was possible to do so; and further, such various readings noted as had been adopted by English translators. These numerous emendations, while they increased the value of the work, delayed its progress through the press far longer than was anticipated, and even now, at the last moment, it has been judged expedient by M. Lenormant to add an Appendix bearing upon the ethnographical meaning of the term "Sumirian," in reply to a pamphlet by Dr. Oppert, which has become the centre of a controversy, the waves of which have begun to reach our shores.
These circumstances will account for one or two apparent discrepancies in the present translation: viz., the use of the syllable "dug" for "khi," in the ideograms composing the name of the god Marduk, from p. 19 to p. 64, and its subsequent abandonment by the author in favour of the older reading in p. 108, et seq. The expansion of the note from Berosus on p. 157, regarding the deity Oannes into [p.xii] an Appendix to Chapter XIII., at p. 201, is another example of the progressive revision which this translation has undergone.
These revisions and corrections, both of the original work and the present translation, as passed by M. Lenormant, are only such as from the nature of the theme, and the advancing condition of Assyrian philology might be expected. Of Assyriology it may truly be written, "day unto day uttereth knowledge." There is probably no section of the science of comparative mythology of which, till recently, less has been known, or of which, at present, more authentic materials remain, than the subject of "Chaldean Magic: its Origin and Development."
The Magic and Sorcery of the Chaldeans.
GENERAL, but tolerably complete idea of the magic conjuration of the Chaldeans,
its processes and its principal applications, may be obtained from a document
which Sir Henry Rawlinson and Mr. Edwin Norris published "in facsimile" in 1866,
in the second volume of their collection of the Cuneiform Inscriptions of
Western Asia. This document is a large tablet from the library of the royal
palace at Nineveh, containing a succession of 28 formulae of deprecatory
incantations, unfortunately partly destroyed, against the action of evil
spirits, the effects of sorcery, disease, and the principal misfortunes which
may attack man in the course of his daily life. The whole forms a litany of some
length, divided into paragraphs, which all finish with the same solemn
invocation. It would seem, judging from the concluding paragraph, that the
intention was not
to use the detached formulae of this litany on special occasions, but to recite
the whole as a protection [p.2] from all the fatal influences against which it provides. This tablet, however,
like all the other works on magic from Assyria and Chaldea, is written in
Accadian, that is, in the Turanian language, which was related to the Finnish
dialects spoken by the primitive population of the marshy plains round the lower
Euphrates. An Assyrian translation accompanies the ancient Accadian text, and is
placed opposite to it. Centuries ago, when Assurbanipal, king of Assyria, of the
VIIth century before our era, had the copy made which has been handed down to
us, this kind of document could be understood only by aid of the Assyrian
version, which may be traced to a much earlier date. The Accadian was already a
language; but the Assyrians attributed so much the more mysterious power to the
incantations expressed in this language, because the script had become
In order to place the reader at once in the midst of the strange world into which I ask him to follow me, I shall now reproduce in its entirety the formulae of this tablet, those at least which it is possible to interpret, for there are still some phrases which defy explanation, and I shall accompany my translation with short notes. I have been preceded in this undertaking by M. Oppert, with whom in most cases I agree perfectly. Should anyone, however, wish to compare our two translations, he will find some differences, which almost all result from the fact, that the learned Professor of the College of France has translated from the Assyrian version, while I [p.3] have preferred to adhere to the original Accadian text. The Assyrian version is by no means always a literal one; and of this the reader may judge for himself, as I have annotated all the passages in which it differs from the earlier original. The Accadian text appears to he divided into rhythmical verses, each of which forms a separate line upon the tablet; I have marked these divisions carefully.
1 1The wicked god, the wicked demon,
the demon of the desert, the demon of the mountain,
the demon of the sea, the demon of the marsh,
the evil genius,2 the enormous urukir3
the bad wind by itself,
the wicked demon which seizes the body(?), which disturbs the body.
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it
2 The demon who seizes man,4 the demon who seizes man,
the Gigim5 who works evil, the production of a wicked demon,
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it
3 6The consecrated prostitute with the rebellious heart, who abandons the place of prostitution,
the prostitute of the god Anna,7 who does not do his service,
to the evening of the beginning of the incomplete month,
the sacred slave8 who fails to go to his place,
who does not lacerate his chest,9
who does not ... his hand,
making his chest resound, completing ....10
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!
4 That which does not go away, that which is not propitious,
that which grows up,11 ulcers of a bad kind,
poignant ulcers, enlarged ulcers, excoriated ulcers, ulcers ....12
ulcers which spread, malignant ulcers,
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!
5 Disease of the bowels, the disease of the heart,
the palpitation of the diseased heart,
disease of the vision, disease of the head, malignant dysentery,
the tumour which swells,
ulceration of the reins, the micturation which wastes,13
cruel agony which never ceases, nightmare,
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!
6 He who forges images,14 he who bewitches
the malevolent aspect, the evil eye,
the malevolent mouth, the malevolent tongue,
the malevolent lip, the finest sorcery,
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!
7 15The nurse.
The nurse whose breast16 withers,
the nurse whose breast is bitter,
the nurse whose breast becomes ulcerated,
the nurse who dies of the ulceration of her breast,
the woman with child who does not preserve her offspring,
the woman with child whose embryo splits,
the woman with child whose embryo grows rotten,
the woman with child whose embryo does not prosper,
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!
8 Painful fever, violent fever,
the fever which never leaves man,
the lingering fever, malignant fever,
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!
9 Painful plague, violent plague,
plague which never leaves man,
the lingering plague, malignant plague,
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!
10 17Painful disease of the bowels,
the infirmity which makes gloomy and cuts,18
the never-ceasing infirmity, the infirmity of the veins,
the infirmity which does not go away, the malignant infirmity,
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it
11 That which acts in the mouth, the poison noxious to the voice,19
the expectoration of the consumption which noxiously prostrates,20
scrofula, pustules, falling off of the nails,
purulent eruptions, inveterate tetters,
shingles causing pits and scars,21
leprosy covering the skin,
food which reduces the body of man to a skeleton,
food which eaten is returned again,
liquids which make the drinker swell,
fatal poison which does not ...22 the earth,
the pestilential wind which comes from the desert and returns not,
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!
12 The frost which makes the earth to shiver,
the excess of heat which makes the skin of man to crack, evil destiny.
which unexpectedly cuts off a man's career,
parching thirst which aids the Spirit of the plague,
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!
The XIIIth formula is too much effaced for me to attempt to translate it; but,
judging from what remains, it was destined to avert the action of a demon
dwelling in the desert.
The XIVth is in the same condition; its object was to ward off a misfortune which might attack a man at any time, eating, drinking, sleeping, or standing at his own fireside; possibly sudden death. Only the Accadian text remains of the four following formulae, the Assyrian Version is destroyed.
15 He who in the gaol dies of hunger,
he who in the gaol dies of thirst,
he who being hungry in a pit (?)
beseeching (is therefore reduced to eat) dust.
he who in the earth or in the river,
perishes and dies,
the female slave who possesses no master,
the free woman who has no husband.
he who leaves an infamous memory of his name,
he who leaves no memory of his name,
he who in his hunger cannot recover,
he who falls ill and cries at the beginning of an incomplete month,23
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it
16 The protecting god of man,
who (guarantees) the prolongation of man’s life,
may he fortify him to the sight of the Sun!24
The genius, the favourable giant,
may he penetrate into his head
for the prolongation of his life!
He will never depart from him!
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!
The XVIIth formula presents difficulties which cannot be explained in the present state of our acquaintance with the Accadian language; we can only discern that it was the prescription of a protective and conjuring rite.
18 Two double bands of white cloth25
upon the bed on the platform26
as a talisman if he binds on the (right) hand,
two double bands of black cloth
if he binds on the left hand,27
the bad demon, the wicked Alal, the wicked Gigim,28
the bad Telal, the wicked god, the wicked Maskim,
the phantom, the spectre, the vampyre,
incubus, succubus, nightmare,
wicked sorcery, the philter, liquid poison,
that which gives pain, that which hurts, that which is evil,
their head upon his head,
their foot upon his foot,
they never seize him, they will never return.29
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!30
A great gap occurs here, occasioned by a fracture [p.9] of the tablet, in which at least two formulae, and the beginning of a third, have disappeared. I discovered in the British Museum a small fragment, which is not in the published text, and which, finding here its proper place, shews the end of the XIXth formula.
........31 May the wicked demon depart!
May they seize one another!
The propitious demon, the propitious giant,
may they penetrate into his body!
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!32
The first line of the XXth formula, which is found upon the same fragment, shows
that its object was to cure some disease of the bowels.
The remainder of the XXIst contains an enumeration of all the parts of the house from which the magical words were to exclude demons. All this portion is extremely obscure, and its translation is rendered almost impossible by the multiplicity of the architectural terms employed, to which we have no key, particularly as the Assyrian version is here wanting.
22 The phantom, child of heaven,
which the gods remember,
the Imin,33 prince
of the lords.
which produces painful fever,
the vampyre which attacks man,
the Uruku multifold
may they never seize him
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!
The tablet, in its present state, gives only the beginnings of the lines of the
XXIIIrd and XXIVth incantations in the Accadian version; it is therefore
impossible to try and translate them. All that can be discovered is, that in the
first the god Silik-inulu-khi34 is invoked, to whom texts of the same kind
generally attribute the role of a mediator, and who is compared further on to
the Marduk of the official religion of the Assyrian period; the second is
addressed to the god of fire, Izdubar, which we shall describe later with more
The XXVth formula only exists in the Accadian; and that only as far as the first fourteen lines. These show, however, that it begins with an invocation to the water god, Nin-a-zu; it then treats of diverse maladies, and ends thus:
the desert without water,
the waters of the Tigris, the waters of the Euphrates,
the mountain of the west, the mountain of the east,
the agitated mountain,36
may they close their chasms,
Spirit of the heavens, conjure!
Spirit of the earth, conjure!
26 Nin-ki-gal,37 spouse of the god Nin-a-zu,
may she cause him to turn his face toward the place where she is!
May the wicked demons depart!
May they seize one another!
The favourable demon,38 the favourable giant,
may they penetrate into his body!39
Spirit of the heavens, conjure!
Spirit of the earth, conjure!
27 The god Ztak,40 the great messenger, the supreme ensnarer
amongst the gods, like the god of the heights.41
May he penetrate his head
for the prolongation of his life!
He will never depart from him
Spirit of the heavens, conjure!
Spirit of the earth, conjure!
28 The man passing (on the earth), who makes sacrifices,
may pardon and peace flow for him like molten brass!
May the sun enlighten the days of this man!42
Silik-mulu-khi,43 eldest son of the ocean,44
strengthen in him peace and happiness
Spirit of the heavens, conjure!
Spirit of the earth, conjure!
But the rich and varied information contained in [p.12] this text, which has now been placed for
many years at the disposal of scholars, is extended and confirmed in the most
happy manner by some new documents, which are soon to be presented to the
public. Amongst the many thousand fragments of clay tablets discovered by M.
Layard in the hall of the library in the palace of Kouyunjik on the site of
Nineveh itself, and which are preserved at present in the British Museum, are
the fragments of a vast work on magic, which, in its perfect state, formed a
series of not less than two hundred tablets, and which was for Chaldea what the
Atharva-Veda was for ancient India. This was such a collection of the
formulae, incantations, and hymns of the Chaldean magi as the classical writers
speak of, and of whom Diodorus Siculus says: "They try to avert evil and procure
good, either by purifications, sacrifices, or enchantments."45
The fragments of
this work have been patiently collected from the chaos of rubbish of all kinds
in which they were buried; and they have been prepared for publication as the IVth volume of The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, by Sir Henry
Rawlinson. This eminent Orientalist from the other side of the Channel has
laboured more than any one else to decipher the Cuneiform Anarian text, in which
work he has been assisted by his young colleague Mr. George Smith, who has since
taken for himself a prominent place in science. To give an idea of the material
extent of the fragments under consideration, suffice it to say, that they are
more than fifty in number, and contain many perfect tablets covered with from
three to [p.13] four hundred lines of writing, and that they
fill almost the whole of thirty folio copper plates. With a scientific
generosity seldom seen, of which I cannot better show my appreciation than by
proclaiming it, Sir Henry Rawlinson kindly sent me the proofs of the fac-simile
plates of this publication, before they were brought out. It is one of the most
precious works which has ever enriched Assyriology; and from it I have taken
greater part of the data of the present treatise.46
The great work on magic, many copies of which had been executed by the scribes of Assurbanipal, according to the pattern placed centuries since in the library of the famous school for priests at Erech in Chaldea, was composed of three different books. We know the title of one of the three, "The Wicked Spirits," for we find at the end of each of the tablets, which come from it and which have been preserved entire, "Tablet No.—of the Wicked Spirits."47 As the title shows, it was filled exclusively with formulae of conjurations and imprecations, which were designed to repulse demons and other wicked spirits, to avert their fatal action, and to shelter the invoker from their attacks. Portions of a second book exist, and, judging from what remains of it, it would seem to be formed of a collection of these incantations, to which was attributed the power of curing various [p.14] maladies.48 Lastly, the third book contained Hymns to certain gods. A supernatural and mysterious power was attributed to the chanting of these hymns, which are, however, of a very different character from the regular liturgical prayers of the official religion, a few of which have been preserved to us. It is curious to notice that the three parts composing thus the great work on magic, of which Sir Henry Rawlinson has found the remains, correspond exactly to the three classes of Chaldean doctors, which Daniel49 enumerates, together with the astrologers and divines (Kasdim and Gazrim), that is, the Khartumim or conjurors, the Chakamim or physicians, and the Asaphim or theosophists. The further we advance in the knowledge of the Cuneiform texts, the greater does the necessity appear of reversing the condemnation much too prematurely pronounced by the German exegetical school against the date of the writings of the fourth of the greater prophets. The language of the Book of Daniel, interspersed as it is in various places with Greek words, proves without doubt that the definitive translation50 as we possess it, is posterior to the time of Alexander. But the foundation of the work dates much further back; it is tinged with a very decided Babylonian tint, and certain features of the life at the court of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors are there pictured with a truth and exactitude, to which a writer a few centuries later could hardly have attained.
The formulae, hymns, and incantations in
this triple collection are in the Accadian language, but they are accompanied by
an Assyrian translation, placed according to the usual interlinear method.
There are, however, some rare hymns, the original of which was no doubt already lost, since such a long period had elapsed since the first collection was made; and of these an Assyrian version only is given, of which the style bears the mark of a remote antiquity, and the syntax, by certain constructions contrary to the genius of the Semitic dialects, indicates the real character of the entirely different language in which the original was drawn up, and which has been lost to us for so many centuries. The different sections are separated by a deep mark, upon the tablet, and the beginning of each is preceded by the word en51 "incantation," which indicates still more clearly the commencement of a new formula. All the hymns of the third book finish by the Accadian word kakama, which is translated in Assyrian by "amen" (amanu).
The style of the conjurations to be used against the malevolent spirits is very monotonous, as they are all cast in the same mould. They begin by enumerating the various kinds of demons whom the conjurations are to subdue by their power, and then describe the effects of the charm. The desire to see them repulsed, or to be delivered from them, follows; and this is often expressed in the [p.16] affirmative form. The formula finished by the mysterious invocation from which they derive their efficacy: "Spirit of the heavens, conjure! Spirit of the earth, conjure!" This part alone is necessary, and is never wanting, but sometimes similar invocations of other divine spirits are joined to it.
I shall as an example now quote one of these conjurations, which was intended to combat different demons, diseases, and fatal influences, such as the evil eye.52
The plague and the fever which scourge a country,
the disease which devastates a country,
bad for the flesh, fatal for the entrails,
the wicked demon, the wicked Alal, the wicked Gigim,
the malevolent man, the malevolent eye, the malevolent mouth, the malevolent tongue
—of the man, son of his god,53 may they depart from his body, may they depart from his entrails.
They shall never take possession of my body,54
they shall never do any evil in my presence, they shall never walk in my train,
they shall never enter my house,
they shall never step over my timbers,
they shall never enter into the habitation of my house.
Spirit of the heavens, conjure!
Spirit of the earth, conjure!
Spirit of Mul-ge,55 lord of countries, conjure!
Spirit of Nin-gelal,56 lady of countries, conjure!
Spirit of Nin-dar,57 powerful warrior of Mul-ge, conjure!
Spirit of Nusku, sublime messenger of Mul-ge, conjure
Spirit of En-zuna,58 eldest son of Mul-ge, conjure!
Spirit of Tiskhu,59 mistress of the armies, conjure!
Spirit of Mermer,60 king whose impetuosity is beneficent, conjure!
Spirit of Udu,61 king of justice, conjure!
Spirits Anunna-ge,62 great gods, conjure!
Here is another, in which the final enumeration is less detailed.
The day of mourning, the wind which brings misfortune,
the day of misfortune, the fatal wind which makes itself felt,
the day of misfortune, the fatal wind which precedes it,
the children of vengeance, the sons of vengeance,
the messengers of loss,
the ravagers of Nm-hi-gal,63
the lightning which ravages the country,
the seven gods of the vast heavens,
the seven gods of the great earth,
the seven gods of the igneous spheres,
the seven gods, these are the seven gods,64
the seven malevolent gods,
the seven malevolent phantoms,
the seven malevolent phantoms of the flames, in the heavens seven, on the earth seven,
the wicked demon, the wicked Alal, the wicked Gigim,
the wicked Telal, the wicked god, the wicked Maskim,
Spirit of the heavens, conjure!
Spirit of the earth, conjure!
Spirit of Mul-ge, king of the countries, conjure!
Spirit of Nin-gelal, lady of the countries, conjure!
Spirit of Nin-dar, son of the zenith, conjure!
Spirit of Tiskhu, lady of the countries, which shines in the night, conjure!65
But more generally there is no mythological enumeration at the end. As a type of the most simple formula I shall quote a conjuration against the seven subterraneous demons, called Maskim, which were considered to be amongst the most formidable of the spirits:66
They are seven! they are seven!
in the depths of the ocean, they are seven!67
in the brilliancy of the heavens, they are seven!68
They proceed from the ocean depths, from the hidden retreat.
They are neither male nor female,
those which stretch themselves out like chains.
They have no spouse, they do not produce children;
they are strangers to benevolence;
they listen neither to prayers nor wishes.
Vermin come forth from the mountain,
enemies of the god Hea,
they are the agents of the vengeance of the gods,
raising up difficulties, obtaining power by violence.
The enemies! the enemies
they are seven! they are seven! they are twice seven!69
Spirit of the heavens, may they be conjured!
Spirit of the earth, may they be conjured!70
We see that the Chaldean exorcist did not spare the use of
invective against the demons he wished to repulse. The poetical imagination of
the authors of the Accadian conjurations indulged itself in these accumulations
of withering epithets, in descriptions of the sinister effects produced by the
spirits of evil and of darkness, and further by an assemblage of images of a
varied character, possessing often great brilliancy and remarkable power.
Sometimes also the formula of exorcism is extended, and partakes of a dramatic character. After having described the ravages made by the demons, it supposes that the complaint has been heard by the benevolent god Silik-mulu-dug,71 who watches over man, and acts as a mediator between him and the superior gods.72 But his power and science are not sufficient to conquer the more powerful Spirits whose action must be averted. Silik-mulu-dug then addresses himself to his father Hea,73 the divine intelligence which penetrates the universe, the master of the eternal secrets, the god who presides over theurgical action; he it is who reveals to his son the mysterious rite, the formula, or the all-powerful hidden name, which shall thwart the efforts of the most formidable powers of the abyss.
The incantations against diseases describe a great variety of cases, as may easily be seen from the long litany which we translated at the beginning of this chapter. But the most numerous are those which [p.20] aim at the cure of the plague, fever, and "disease of the head;" this latter, judging from the indications which are given of its symptoms and its effects, appears to have been a sort of erysipelas, or cutaneous disease. It would be interesting if a traveller who was also a physician could discover whether there is now an affection of this kind which is peculiar to the marshes of the Lower Euphrates, as the elephantiasis is to Damietta. These are the principal passages of a long incantation against "the disease of the head:" the tablet on which we find it bears six other long formulae against the same evil.74
The disease of the head exists on man,
The disease of the head, the ulceration of the forehead exists on man.
The disease of the head marks like a tiara,75
the disease of the head from sunrise to sunset.
In the sea and the vast earth
a very small tiara is become the tiara,
the very large tiara, his tiara.76
The diseases of the head pierce like a bull,
the diseases of the head shoot like the palpitation of the heart.77
The diseases of the head, like doves to their dove-cotes,
like grasshoppers into the sky,
like birds into space may they fly away.
May the invalid be replaced in the protecting hands of his god!
This specimen will give the reader an idea of the uniform composition of these
incantations against [p.21] diseases, which filled the second book of
the work under consideration. They all follow the same plan throughout,
beginning with the definition of the disease and its symptoms, which occupies
the greater part of the formula; and ending with a desire for deliverance from
it, and the order for it to depart. Sometimes, however, the incantation of the
magician assumes a dramatic form at the end, as we have just pointed out in
certain conjurations against the evil spirits. An example is that dialogue in
which the god Hea points out the remedy to his son, who has consulted him about
I have found another very remarkable illustration of this characteristic in a long formula, which required a whole tablet to itself.78 The beginning is unfortunately very much effaced, and the gaps, which occur continually, prevent my giving a connected translation of this part. The text begins thus:
The disease of the forehead proceeds from the infernal regions, it is come from the dwelling of the lord of the abyss.
In what remains of the verses which described in the most precise manner the effects of this malady; Lit treats of "the tumour which swells;" of "the suppuration which begins;" of the violence of the pain which "makes the sides of the head crack like those of an old ship." The text then relates that the invalid has tried the effect of purifying rites, which have not succeeded in subduing the scourge of the infernal regions: "He has purified himself, and has not conquered the bull; he has purified himself, and has not brought the buffalo under the[p.22] yoke; the pain continues to gnaw him like swarms of crickets." Here therefore the gods intervene, and from that point the narrative is consecutive.
Silik-mulu-dug has helped him he has gone to his father Hea into his dwelling, and has called him;
"My father, the disease of the head is gone forth from the infernal regions."
Twice he speaks to him thus—
"Prepare the remedy; this man is not acquainted with it he submits to the remedy."
Hea has replied to his son Silik-mulu-dug
My son, thou dost not know the remedy; let me teach it to thee.
Silik-mulu-dug, thou art not acquainted with the remedy allow me to teach thee the remedy.
What I know, thou knowest.
Come my son, Silik-mulu-dug.
Take a sieve;
draw some water from the surface of the river.
Place thy sublime lip upon this water
make it shine with purity from thy sublime breath
Help the man, son of his god
cover his head
Let the disease of his head depart.
May the disease of his head be dissipated like a nocturnal dew."......
May he be cured by the command of Hea
May Davkina79 cure him
May Silik-mulu-dug, the eldest son of the ocean, form the relieving image!
It is evident that in uttering these words, the magician is understood to do the things prescribed by the god.
THE documents of which I have just spoken, and to which we
must add the numerous talismanic inscriptions to be found in our museums,
engraved upon all kinds of Babylonian and Assyrian objects, show that there
existed amongst the Chaldeans a demonology as refined and rich as the
imagination of Jacques Sprenger, Jean Bodin,80 Wicrus,81 or Pierre de Lancre82 ever
pictured. There is a complete world of malevolent spirits, the distinguishing
characteristics of which are strongly marked, and their attributes determined
with precision; while the hierarchy to which they belong is classed in a most
learned manner. At the top of the scale are placed two classes of beings, which
partake more nearly than the others of the divine nature; and are genii or demi-gods,
a sort of inferior deities. The first bear the [p.24] Accadian name of
Mas "soldier, warrior,"
which is substituted in the Assyrian by Sed "genius;" the second, the
Accadian name of Lamma "giant," translated in Assyrian by Lamas. In the religious texts
these names often designate propitious and protecting genii, under whose shelter
people placed themselves;83 but at other times, wicked and hurtful genii, whose
power had to be charmed away. Whether the Chaldeans believed that there were
opposing parties of good and bad Mas or Alap, of good and bad Lamma, or whether
they supposed them to possess, like certain gods, a double character, and to
show themselves according to circumstances, now beneficent, now malevolent,
sometimes protectors, and sometimes adversaries; is a question which must be
left undecided until new researches have thrown more light on the subject.
We are better acquainted with all that relates to the spirits of an inferior and decidedly malevolent order, the demons properly so called. Their generic name is Utuq, which has passed from the Turanian Accadian into the Semitic Assyrian. This term comprises all demons, and may also sometimes be well employed as a general appellation for all spirits of an inferior rank to those of which we have just spoken. The name Utuq, however, further takes the more limited and special signification of a particular kind of demons. The other species are the Alal or destroyer, called in the Assyrian Alu; the Gigim, in the Assyrian Ekim, the meaning of which is not known; the Telal or [p.25] warrior," in the Assyrian Gallu; and lastly the Maskim or "layer of ambushes," in the Assyrian Rabits. As a general rule each class is divided into groups of seven, that most important magical and mysterious number.
We have at present no light on the respective hierarchical rank of the five classes of demons which have just been enumerated, the only faint ray upon this subject comes from the following fact, that speculations upon the value of numbers held a very important place in the Chaldaic ideas of religious philosophy.84 In consequence of these speculations, each god was designated by a whole number of the series between one and sixty, corresponding to his rank in the celestial hierarchy. One of the tablets in the library of Nineveh gives the list of the principal gods, each with his mystic number. Now it seems that in connection with this scale of whole numbers applied to the gods, there was a scale of fractional numbers applied to the demons, and corresponding in the same way to their reciprocal ranks.
The Utuq, the Gigim, and the Maskim, were all three designated in writing by a complex group of ideographic signs, in which only the alteration of the first element effects a distinction, the others remaining the same; this variable clement is always one of those signs which serve to note one of the most important divisions of unity in the sexagesimal [p.26] system of numerations of fractions, one of the essential bases of Chaldean arithmetic. For the Utuq it is 1/2 or 30/60, for the Gigim 2/3 or 40/60, and lastly, for the Maskim 5/6 or 50/60.85 I state this fact without undertaking to explain the odd speculations which gave birth to it, and I shall only remark that the hierarchical classification corresponding to the indication of these fractional numbers, placed each order of demons in a rank so much the more elevated, according as its numbers had a greater numerator. Of the three classes whose figures are known to us, the Maskim belonged to the highest, and the Utuq to the lowest.
The demons of the Babylonians were of two kinds. The most powerful and formidable were those which had a cosmical character, whose action was exercised upon the general order of nature, and whose wickedness had power to trouble it. In one of the formulae which we quoted earlier, we saw that seven had spirits were placed in the heavens: "seven phantoms of flame;" seven demons "of the ignited spheres;" forming an exact counterpart to the seven gods of the planets Who were invested with the government of the universe.86 Unfortunately the [p.27] conjuration which speaks of these spirits does not give their name, we do not know whether they belong to one of the different classes of demons whose appellations we have seen, or whether they constituted a seventh group of genii distinct from the others.
We have more information about the seven spirits of the abyss, which are mentioned in the same way without giving their names, in another formula, which has been already quoted. These were certainly the seven Masim or "ensnarers:" demons which dwelt in the bowels of the earth, and which surpassed all the others in power and in terror. I have found a long incantation in six verses,87 which depicts their ravages, and was to be pronounced in order to stop a great convulsion in the economy of the world which was attributed to their action, probably in the case of an earthquake. It is in fact erected against the Seven, the malevolent Maskim, who ravage heaven and earth, who trouble the stars of the sky and interrupt their movements.
They, the Seven, proceeding from the western mountain,
they, the Seven, increasing the eastern mountain.
Acting thus contrary to the normal course of nature, and the regular movement of the stars, these spirits inhabited the depths of the earth, they caused its tremblings, "they are the terror of its mass," "they are without glory in heaven and earth." Their antagonist was "the god Fire88 who elevates himself, [p.28] the great chief who extends the supreme power of the god of heaven, who exalts the earth, its possessions, its delights," and who tried vainly to oppose their ravages. Having stated this, the incantation directs the god Fire to address himself to Silik-mulu-dug, the mediator before Hea.
Approach Silik-mulu-dug, explain this prayer to him,
to him, the command of whose mouth is propitious, the sublime judge of heaven.
The god Fire has approached Silik-mulu-dug and explained the prayer to him;
the latter in the dead of night has heard the prayer.
He has gone into the house to his father Hea, and has called him:
"Father, the god Fire has come and explained his prayer to me.
Thou that understandest the movements of the Seven tell us in what places they dwell.
Listen, son of Eridu!"89
Hea has replied to his son Silik-mulu-dug; "My son, the Seven dwelling in the earth,
they, the Seven, proceeding from the earth;
They, the Seven going from the earth,
they, the Seven which are born in the earth,
they, the Seven which unfold themselves in the earth,
shaking the walls of the watery abyss.
Come, my son Silik-rnulu-khi."
The indications given by Hea as to the means of conquering the terrible Seven follow, and are again also very obscure. He mentions some coniferous tree, cypress or cedar,90 which is to break the power [p.29] of these Maskim; and also the supreme and magic name,91 "the memory of which Hea keeps in his heart." The god reveals this name, before which all the powers of hell must bend, to his son. Other divine personages guided by the orders of Hea, Nin-kigal, goddess of the earth, Nin-akha-quddu, a goddess whose attributes are not well known, alternate with the god Fire to finish conquering and binding the Maskim. The whole inscription concludes by an invocation to Hea, master of the abyss of waters and lord of Eridu. These demons had a general cosmical power, attacking mankind, and producing "the evil command which comes from the midst of heaven; the evil destiny which issues from the depths of the abyss;" fatal spells against which the following conjuration is directed in which their effects are described:92
From the four cardinal points the impetuosity of their
invasion burns like fire.
They violently attack the dwellings of man,
They wither everything in the town or in the country.
They oppress the free man and the slave.
They pour down like a violent tempest in heaven and earth.
The malevolent spirits were however pretty closely related to certain elementary spirits which do not belong to the order of demons, but which were considered, to quote the text, as "bad in themselves." Such were the spirits of particular winds, whose burning and unhealthy breath in the original state of [p.30] the climate of Chaldea favoured the development of diseases. The other demons were more directly connected with the ordinary incidents of terrestrial life; but these operated habitually upon man, spread snares incessantly for him, and were the cause of all his evils.
They, the productions of the infernal regions,
says a conjuration,93
On high they bring trouble, and below they bring confusion.
Falling in rain from the sky, issuing from the earth, they
penetrate the strong timbers, the thick timbers; they
pass from house to house.
Doors do not stop them,
Bolts do not stop them,
they glide in at the doors like serpents,
they enter by the windows like the wind.
They hinder the wife from conceiving by her husband94
they take the child from the knees of the man
they make the free woman leave the house, where she has borne a child.
They, they are the voices which cry and which pursue mankind.
And in another:95
They assail country after country.
They take away the slave from his place.
They make the free woman to leave her house and desert her child
they make the son quit his father’s house.
they make the dove from his dove-cote to fly away
they force the bird to lift himself up on his wings;96
they make the swallow fly from his nest into space
they cause the ox to run away; and the lamb to escape,
the wicked demons, who lay snares.
The habitual residence of these evil beings was in uncultivated wilds and deserts, from whence they wandered into inhabited places to torment mankind. This long litany, which I have already cited, enumerates the demons according to the places where they dwelt, as the desert, the bleak summits of mountains, the pestilential marshes, and the sea. In another place it is said that97 "the Uluq inhabits the desert, the Mas dwells on the heights, the Gigim wanders in the desert, the Trial steals into towns." But their principal home was the desert, we read constantly in the magical texts of demons which watch man from the depths of the desert and the object of the exorcisms was to send them back to those dreary solitudes, it was the general belief in Syria, as well as in Chaldea, and Mesopotamia, that demons inhabited the desert, and the Israelitish prophets appear to have countenanced the popular opinion. Isaiah, in describing the destruction of Edom says:
And thorns shall come up in her palaces,
nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof;
and it shall be an habitation of dragons,
and a court for owls.98
The wild beasts of the desert99 shall also meet with the wild beasts100 of the island,
and the satyr shall cry to his fellow
the screech owl101 also shall rest there,
and find for herself a place of rest.102
Among the fatal effects exercised by these demons upon mankind, one of the most formidable was possession. There exist some special formula for exorcising those who were thus afflicted, and many passages in other incantations also allude to it. For example, the demons which might attempt to possess themselves of the body of the king, were repulsed by an incantation which finished with these words:103
They shall not enter into the palace, they shall not seize upon the king.
This singular belief, common to the Egyptians, and all people to whom the
influence of the Chaldaio-Assyrian civilisation extended, gave rise to one of
the most curious episodes in the relations of Egypt with the nations on the
borders of the Euphrates. This event happened at the commencement of the 12th
century B.C., when the Egyptian suzerainty founded by the great conquests of the
XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties still extended to the eastern part of Mesopotamia
and it is related upon a famous Egyptian stele which is now preserved in the
National Library of Paris. The Theban king, Rameses XII,104 made a journey
throughout his domain to receive tributes, and on the borders of Egypt met the
daughter of the chief of the country of Bakhtan,105 who pleased him so much that
he married her. Some years later, when Rameses was at Thebes, he was told that a
messenger from his father-in-law was waiting to beg the king to send a
physician, [p.33] by himself, to the queen's sister, the
princess Bintreschit,106 who was attacked by some unknown malady and was possessed
with a demon.107 So a renowned Egyptian physician,108 belonging to the sacerdotal
class, departed with the messenger. He tried in vain all the resources of his
art; "the spirit refused to obey," says the obelisk, and the physician was
obliged to return to Thebes without having cured the king's sister-in-law. This
happened in the 15th year of Rameses' reign. Eleven years later, in the year 26,
another messenger arrived. The chief of Bakhtan did not desire a physician this
time, as it was his opinion that only the direct intervention of one of the gods
of Egypt could cure the princess. As on the first occasion, Rameses consented to
the request of his father-in-law, and the sacred ark of one of the great Theban
gods, Khonsu, departed to work the required miracle.109 The journey was long,
lasting one year and six months. At last the Theban deity arrived in
Mesopotamia, and the conquered spirit was expelled from the body of the young
princess, who recovered immediately. A god whose presence alone was sufficient
to work such miraculous cures was indeed precious, and at the risk of
quarrelling with his powerful ally, the chief of Bakhtan resolved to keep him in
his palace. So during three years and nine months the ark of Khons was detained
in [p.34] Mesopotamia. But at the end of this time the
Asiatic chief had a dream. He thought he saw the captive god flying away to
Egypt under the form of a golden sparrow-hawk, and at the same time he was
attacked with sudden pains. The father-in-law of the Theban king accepted the
dream as a heavenly warning; and immediately gave orders for the ark to be sent
back, and the god returned to his temple at Thebes in the 33rd year of the reign
of Rameses XII.110
When once these possessing demons were expelled from the body, the only guarantee against their return was to obtain by the power of incantations, an opposite possession by a favourable demon. A good spirit must take their place in the body of the man; we have already had an instance of this in the XIXth and XXVth formulae of the long litany translated in Chapter I.
May the bad demons depart! May they seize upon one another!
The propitious demon
The propitious giant,
may they penetrate into his body!
This beneficial possession was sometimes desired as the most happy of the supernatural effects of magic, even when it was not required to prevent the return of possessing demons. Such is the idea in a hymn for the prosperity of the king, which asks that he may be like the gods, and become the dwelling of good spirits.111 This hymn is so curious that it is worth[p.35] while for us to translate what remains of it, in spite of the deplorable state of mutilation in which it is found: we must fill up the gaps to the best of our ability, so as to give a general idea of the meaning.112
upon the thrones and the altars
The marble sceptre
May the network of canals .... (be in his possession); may the mountain, which produces tributes, (be in his possession)
may the pasturage of the desert, which produces tributes, (be in his possession);
may the orchards of fruit trees, which produce tributes, (be in his possession).
The king, the shepherd of his people, may he (hold) the sun in his right hand,
may he (hold) the moon in his left hand.
May the favourable demon, the favourable giant, which governs the lordship and the crown, penetrate into his body!
In the creed of the Chaldean all diseases were the work of demons. Hence the fact, which attracted the attention of Herodotus, that in Babylon and Assyria there were, correctly speaking, no physicians. Medicine was not with them a rational science as with the Greeks; it was simply a branch of magic, and was practised by incantations, exorcisms, the use of philters and enchanted drinks. Nevertheless, in the composition of these drinks certain ingredients [p.36] were employed, which experience had shown to possess a healing power. But their ideas upon the nature and origin of diseases were not very different from the medical incantations which we possess. Sometimes the disease was treated as an effect of the wickedness of different demons, and sometimes it seems to have been considered as a personal and distinct being, which exercised its power upon man. This personal character is particularly attributed to the two gravest and most fatal diseases with which the Chaldeans were acquainted,113 the plague and fever, the Namtar and the Idpa.114 They were represented as two demons, which were always distinguished from the other evil beings. They possessed very marked personal characteristics, and were considered as two of the strongest and most formidable of the demons who afflict mankind.115
The execrable Idpa,
says one fragment,116 acts upon the head of man,
the malevolent Namtar upon the life of man,
the malevolent Utuq upon the forehead of man,
the malevolent Alal upon the chest of man,
the malevolent Gigim upon the bowels of man,
the malevolent Telal upon the hand of man.117
In the train of these active demons, to whose agency all evil was attributed, were those other beings which, without having so direct an influence, manifested themselves by frightful apparitions, and bore a close resemblance to the shades of the dead, who were confined under the earth in the sombre dwellings of the infernal country, which corresponded exactly to the size of the ancient Hebrews. Such were the Innin and "the enormous Uruku," a species of hobgoblins and larvae. But the three principal beings of this class were the Phantom,118 the Spectre,119 and the Vampire.120 The two first alarmed by their appearance only, but the vampire "attacked man." The belief that the dead rose from the tomb under the form of vampires existed in Chaldea and Babylon. In a fragment of the mythological epopée which is traced upon a tablet in the British Museum,121 and relates the descent of the goddess Ishtar into Hades, we are told that the goddess when she arrived at the doors of the infernal regions, called to the porter whose duty it was to open them, saying:
Porter, open thy door; open thy door, that I may enter.
If thou dost not open the door, and if I cannot enter,
I will attack the door, I will break down its bars,
I will attack the inclosure, I will leap over its fences by force
I will cause the dead to rise and devour the living122
I will give to the dead power over the living.
The enumerations of the conjuring formulae mention
afterwards, as a distinct class, the demons who induced nocturnal pollution, and
who abused sleep to bring men and women into their embraces, the Incubus, and
the Succubus or the Lilith.123 This Lilith plays a great part in the Talmudic
demonology; the cabalistic rabbis forged a whole legend in which this spirit is
stated to have taken a feminine form to deceive Adam and to have united herself
to him. As we saw just now in the quotation from Isaiah the prophets even
counted the Lilith amongst the number of demons. To the Incubus and Succubus Was
joined the Nightmare, in the Accadian Kiel-udda-harra, in the Assyrian Ardat.
I know of no text which defines exactly its nature and its action; but it is
probable, judging from its name, that it was one of those familiar spirits which
make the stables and the houses the scene of their malicious tricks; spirits
whose existence has been admitted by so many people, and which are still
believed in by the peasants in many parts of Europe.
To this picture of the superstitions which alarmed the minds of the Chaldees must be added their firm belief in the evil eye, which is often mentioned in the magical conjurations, and in the fatal effects produced by certain unlucky words pronounced even involuntarily, and without any intention to injure; this last accidental augury was called "the malevolent mouth," "the malevolent word," and it is mentioned almost always in conjunction with "the evil eye."
Chaldean Amulets and their Uses.
THE Hindoos have to do with so many demons, gods, and demigods, that it is no wonder they live in constant dread of their power. There is not a hamlet without a tree, or some secret place, in which evil spirits are not believed to dwell. Hence the people live in constant fear of those spirits of darkness, and nothing but the most pressing necessity will induce a man to go abroad after the sun has gone down. See the unhappy wight who is obliged to go out in the dark; he repeats his incantations, and touches his amulets, he seizes a firebrand to keep off his foes, and begins his journey. He goes on with gentle steps; he listens, and again repeats his prayers. Should he hear the rustling of a leaf, or the moaning of some living animal, he gives himself up for lost. Has he worked himself up to a state of artificial courage, he begins to sing and bawl aloud 'to keep his spirits up.'124 But, after all his efforts, his heart will not beat with its wonted ease till he shall have gained a place of safety."125
This description of the modern Hindoo is in every way
applicable to the ancient Chaldees, and may give a good idea of the state of
superstitious terror in which they were kept by the beliefs which have been
mentioned in the foregoing Chapter. We will now inquire what was the aid offered
to them by the arts of sacred magic against the demons and evil influences of
all kinds, by which they believed themselves continually surrounded. There were
first of all incantations like those we have already quoted. These incantations
dated from the most remote antiquity, and were placed in collections like those
of which we possess the remains. The complete knowledge of them could only
belong to the priests of magic, who made of it a regular science. But every man
had to know a few relating to the most common occurrences of life, and the most
frequent dangers, in the same way that every Hindoo learns by heart a certain
number of precatory mantras.
Acts of purification and mysterious rites also lent their aid to augment the power of the incantations. In one formu1a,126 we read of a man who is to be preserved from injury:
He has purified his hand; he has done the work for his hand;
he has purified his foot, he has done the work for his foot;
he has purified his head, he has done the work for his head,
and with this the evil spirits were supposed to have been put to flight.
We must add to the number of those mysterious rites, the use of certain enchanted drinks, which, doubtless, really contained medicinal drugs, as a cure for diseases, and also of magic knots, the efficacy of which was so firmly believed in, even up to the middle ages. Here is a remedy which one of the formulae supposes to have been prescribed by Hea against a disease of the head:127
Knot on the right and arrange flat in regular bands, on the left a woman's diadem;128
divide it twice in seven little bands;.........
gird the head of the invalid with it;
gird the forehead of the invalid with it;
gird the seat of life with it;129
gird his hands and his feet;
seat him on his bed;
pour on him enchanted waters.
Let the disease of his head be carried away into the heavens like a violent wind;............
may the earth swallow it up like passing waters!130
Still more powerful than the incantations were conjurations wrought by the power of numbers. In this way, the supreme secret which Hea taught to his son, Silik-mulu-khi, when he consulted him in his distress, was always called "the number."131 In a collection of metrical proverbs, and old popular Accadian songs,132 we have these two couplets, which were to be sung [p.42] at some rustic fête, that was considered to exercise a happy influence upon the growth of the crops.
The corn which stands upright
shall come to the end of its prosperous growth
the number (to produce that)
we know it.
The corn of abundance
shall come to the end of its prosperous growth
the number (to produce that)
we know it.
Unhappily, although in the magic documents which we possess, frequent mention is
made of conjuration by numbers; and, although we know that the number seven had
its particular functions, no single formula of these conjurations has been
handed clown to us, and the indications which remain upon this subject are not
But the highest and most irresistible of all the powers dwells in the divine and mysterious name, "the supreme name," with which Hea alone is acquainted. Before this name everything bows in heaven and in earth, and in Hades, and it alone can conquer the Maskim and stop their ravages. The gods themselves are enthralled by this name, and render it obedience. In the story of the descent of Ishtar into Hades, the celestial goddess is taken captive by the infernal goddess Allat.133 The gods of heaven are much agitated about her fate, and try to deliver her; the Sun goes to find Nuah (the Assyrian equivalent for Hea), to whom they always had recourse when spells were to be broken, and relates to him what has happened to Ishtar:
Nuah in the mysterious sublimity of his heart, has magic a resolution:
he has formed the phantom of a black man,134 in order to deliver her.
Go to her deliverance phantom at the door of the immutable country present thyself.
Let the seven doors of the immutable country open before thee!
May the great Lady of the earth (Allat) see thee and rejoice before thee!
She will calm herself from the bottom of her heart,
and her anger will be appeased.
Utter the name of the great gods.135
Bearing thy head high, attract her attention by miracles
for the principal miracle produce the fishes of the waters
in the midst of dry land.
And, in fact, Ishtar was immediately delivered. The great name remains the
secret of Hea; if any man succeeded in divining it, that alone would invest him
with a power superior to that of the gods. Sometimes also in that part of the
incantation before us which takes a dramatic character, it is supposed that Hea
is teaching it to his son Silik-mulu-khi. But, even then it is not uttered, it
is not written in the formula, and they think that the mention of it alone is
sufficient to produce a decisive effect when the incantation is recited.136
Everyone knows to what a pitch the belief in the all-powerful and hidden name of God has grown amongst the talmudical and cabalistic Jews, and how [p.44] general it still is amongst the Arabs. We now see clearly that it came from Chaldea. After all, such a notion ought to have taken rise in a country where they considered the divine name, the Sehem,137 as endowed with properties so special and individual that they succeeded in making of it a distinct person. We can but quote the celebrated axiom of Varro, "nomen numen."
Side by side with the incantations, the Chaldeans, and later, the Assyrians following their example, made great use of talismans.138 A formula which was to be recited over one of these talismans for preventing the demons from stealing into the different parts of the house, and which was supposed to give to it its efficacy,139 extols the power of it in magnificent terms, and shows the gods themselves as subject to it.
Talisman, talisman, boundary that cannot be taken away.
boundary that the gods cannot pass,
boundary of heaven and earth, which cannot be displaced,
which no god has fathomed,
which neither god nor man can explain,
barrier that cannot be taken away, disposed against malevolence,
barrier immoveable, which is opposed to malevolence!
Whether it be a wicked Utuq, a wicked Alal, a wicked Gigim, a wicked god, a wicked Maskim,
a Phantom, a Spectre, a Vampire,
an Incubus, a Succubus, a Nightmare,
or else the bad plague, the painful fever, or a bad disease he who raises his head against the propitious waters of the god Hea,
may the barrier of the god Hea (stop him)!
He who attacks the barns of the god Serakh,140
may the barrier of the god Serakh hold him imprisoned!
He who crosses the boundary (of property,) the (talisman)
of the gods, boundary of heaven and earth, will never
let him go again! He who does not fear the ........
may the (talisman) retake him a prisoner
He who lays ambushes against the house,
may they imprison him in the dungeon of the house
Those who hold each other in an embrace, may he repulse
them together into desert places!
He who works mischief at the door of the house,
may he be imprisoned in the house, in a place from which there is no outlet
He who endeavours to injure the columns and the capitals,
may the column and the capital stop his way!
He who slides into the young oak and under the roofing,
he who attacks the sides of the door and the grates,
may he (the talisman) make him weak like water! may he make him tremble like leaves
may he grind him like paint!141
May he leap over the timber, may he cut his wings
The talismans were of different kinds. First of all there were those which consisted of bands of cloth, covered with certain written formulae, and were fastened to the furniture or the garments like the phylacteries of the Jews.142 There were also the amulets in different materials, which were worn round the neck, as a safeguard against diseases, demons, and misfortunes. Amulets of this sort, in [p.46] hard stones,143 occur frequently in museums. They are often engraved with images of divinities or genii, and always have a talismanic formula. Here is one which was to be worn by a woman with child. There are two such specimens in the collections of the British Museum. It is quite an exceptional case that it should be written in the Semitic-Assyrian language.
I am Bit-nur, the servant of Adar, the champion of the gods, the favourite of Bel.
Incantation. O Bit-nur, remove far from us all pains strengthen the germ, develop the head of man.144
The greater number of the formulae which are inscribed in this manner upon amulets are in the Accadian language. I shall now quote one of them, which was evidently intended to preserve a man who was already cured of the plague, from experiencing any relapse.
Incantation. Wicked demon, malignant plague, the Spirit of the earth has made you leave his body. May the favourable genius, the good giant, the favourable demon, come with the Spirit of the earth. Incantation of the powerful, powerful, powerful,145 god.
The legends in which the Mussulman writers delight each time that they speak of
the heathen antiquity, and of the ancient Asiatic empires, whose
[p.47] history they have forgotten, but the
monuments of which still strike them with astonishment, and seem to them the
work of a supernatural power; these legends, I say, are filled with stories of
talismanic statues, composed according to the rules of magic, to which are
attached the destinies of empires, cities, or individuals. The narratives are
only worthy of the Arabian Nights; nevertheless, they often contain a confused
tradition of a true fact, for, at the present time, we can prove by texts and
original monuments that the Chaldeans, and their disciples the Babylonians and
Assyrians, believed in these talismanic images, and used them frequently.
When M. Botta searched the palace of Khorsabad, he discovered under the pavement of the threshold, a number of statuettes in biscuit pottery, which may be seen in the Louvre.147 They are some rather rough images of the gods: Bel with a tiara ornamented with many rows of bulls' horns; Nergal with a lion's head; Nebo bearing a sceptre. In the inscription preserved at Cambridge, Nergalsarossor, the Neriglissor of the Canon of Ptolemy, one of the Babylonian successors of Nabuchodorossor, speaking of his restoration of the doors of the sacred pyramid of Babylon, says that he had had placed there "eight talismanic figures in solid bronze, which were to keep all wicked and antagonistic people at a distance by the fear of death."148 The use of these images, and the power attributed to them, are minutely explained by a mutilated magic formula, which orders that a [p.48] number of such little figures shall be placed in the house in order to protect it.
Place the image of the god Nergal, who is without an equal, in the enclosure of the house.
(Place) the image of the god, showing courage, which is without an equal,
and the image of the god Narudi, lord of the great gods, on the ground near the bed.
In order that no evil may happen, (place) the god N.....149
That his god ....N150 that his goddess ......
and the god Latarak at the door.
In order to repulse all evil (place) as a scarecrow at the door.
the fighting hero (Nergal) who cuts in pieces, inside the door.
(Place) the fighting hero who cuts in pieces, who rules
the hand of rebels on the threshold of the door,
right and left. Place the guardian image of the god Hea and the god Silik-mulu-khi, inside the door, right and left.
the lip of the god Silik-mulu-khi, who inhabits the image ...151
That his lips may grant to him a (joyous) regeneration like the coming in and going forth of young animals.152
O ye, offspring of the ocean, sublime children of Hea .....
eat well, drink freely in order to be on your guard; that no harm (may penetrate)
.... before the face of seven images who bear ... who bear arms.153
The last paragraph seems to indicate very clearly [p.49] that it was the custom to place in some part of the house, food and vessels of drink for the gods and genii whom people called upon to guard their houses by covering themselves with their images, as protecting talismans. I think amongst no people do we find the idea that the gods obtained material sustenance and new strength from the offerings made to them, expressed in more set terms than in the Accadian magical documents. Thus I read in an incantation to the Sun:154
Make a ray of peace shine upon him, cure the disease.
The man, son of his god,155 is burdened with the load of his shortcomings and his transgressions,
his limbs are diseased, his disease pollutes him painfully.
Sun, at the lifting up of my hands, come at my call,
eat his food, absorb his sacrifice, strengthen his hand
By thy command, may his iniquities be pardoned, may his transgressions be put away!
A formula which Sir Henry Rawlinson has not inserted in his collection, and which I have copied from an unpublished tablet in the British Museum, bearing the number K 142, relating to the enumeration of the demons, and the diseases from which it was to preserve the possessor; ends with these words:
Feast, sacrifice, and draw near all of you.
May your incense ascend to heaven,
may the Sun absorb the meat of your sacrifice,
may the son of Hea, the warrior (who combats) witchcraft and sorcery, prolong your life!
And, lastly, in a small fragment of a magical hymn,156 it is said to a god:
In sublime dishes eat sublime food.
From sublime cups drink sublime waters.
May thine ear be disposed to judge favourably of the king, son of his god.
Talismanic figures of quite another kind, but inspired by a much more original idea, were also employed. The Chaldeans represented the demons under such hideous forms that they believed that it was sufficient for them to be shown their own image, to cause them to flee away alarmed. The application of this principle is illustrated in an incantation against the plague, followed by a prescription for curing it, which is not in Sir Henry Rawlinson's collection.157
The malevolent Namtir158 burns the country like fire;
Namtar attacks man like fever;
Namtar spreads over the plain like a chain
Namtar like an enemy takes man captive;
Namtar burns man like a flame;
Namtar has no hand, no foot, he comes upon man like a snare
Namtar bends the invalid like a bundle
he pollutes his ....
he shuts his ...
he seizes ....
His god ... oppresses him (the invalid)
His goddess (expels) the good from his body.
Silik-mulu-dug (has accorded to him) his (propitious) favour;
to his father, the Lord of the earth,159 into the dwelling he entered and said to him:
"My father, the malevolent Namtar is burning the country like fire."
For the second time he said to him:
"He has tried the remedy; he does not know the remedy; he is submissive to the remedy."
The Lord of the earth made answer to his son Silikmulu-dug:
“My son, thou dost not know the remedy; let me prepare the remedy. Silik-mulu-dug, thou dost not know the remedy, let me prepare the remedy for thee.
"What (I know, (now) thou knowest it also).
Come, my son,160 (Silik-mulu-dug).
Mould the ... of the ocean,
make of it an image in his likeness (Namtar).
Lay the man ...
Apply (the image) to the living flesh of his body;161
instil into him the regenerative grace of Eridu turn his face towards the setting sun.162
May the malevolent Namtar who possesses him pass into the image!"
The image in his likeness is all powerful.
The museum of the Louvre has lately bought a very curious bronze statuette of
Assyrian workmanship. It is the figure of a horrible demon in an
[p.52] upright posture, with the body of a dog, the
feet of an eagle, the claws of a lion, the tail of a scorpion, the head of a
skeleton but half decayed, and adorned with goats' horns, and the eyes still
remaining, and lastly four great expanded wings.163 This figure was originally
suspended by a ring behind the head. On the back there is an Accadian
inscription, which informs us that this hideous creature was the demon of the
south-west wind, and by placing this image at the door or the window, its fatal
influence might be averted. In Chaldea, the south-west wind comes from the
deserts of Arabia, and its burning breath which dries up everything causes the
same havoc as the Khamsin in Syria, and the Simoom in Africa. This particular
talisman was an example of one of the most numerous species of amulets. The
British Museum alone possesses two specimens of the repulsive head of this demon
of the south-west wind, one in a yellow, and the other in a red, stone, each
bearing the same magical formula as the bronze one of the Louvre; there is also
a third specimen in bronze but without any inscription.
The collections of the various museums contain many similar images of demons, which were made in order to serve as talismans, and to keep at a distance the wicked spirits which they were supposed to represent. Some have the head of a ram upon a neck of immense length, others the head of a hyæna with an enormous open mouth, the body of a bear, and [p.53] the claws of a lion. The imagination of the sculptors of the middle ages was not more fertile than that of the Babylonians and Assyrians in forming, by means of odd combinations, horrible types of demons. Unhappily, as a rule, we do not know the exact name to give to these singular representations.
The monstrous forms thus assigned to the demons, which were composed of parts borrowed from the most different animals, were also, according to Berosus, characteristic features of the first rudimentary beings born in the darkness of chaos, before Bel-Marduk the demiurgus began his work. The Assyrian and Babylonian artists, as Mr. Smith lately proved,164 even represented by a figure of this sort the mother and queen of these monstrous beings, Tiamat, the personification of the primordial sea, the source of all things, the Tauthe of Damascius, the Thavath-Omoroca of Berosus. In fact certain legends, like the one of which Mr. Smith has discovered the fragments, described the labours of Bel-Marduk, as organizing the still chaotic mass under the figure of a struggle between the god and the mystical Tiamat, who is represented by a monster in whom all the disorder of the primitive creation was reflected. This struggle is depicted upon some cylinders and in a large bas-relief of Nimrod (at present in the British Museum); on which Tiamat has the body the head and the fore-paws of a lion, the wings the tail and the hind claws of an eagle, while the neck and [p.54] upper part of the body are covered with feathers or scales.
The magical documents however throw much light, which we might elsewhere seek in vain, upon the interpretation of these figures.
There are in the sculptures of the Assyrian palaces, side by side with historic scenes and religious representations, many bas-reliefs incontestably of a talismanic character, which were intended to avert fatal influences on the principle that an image has the same value as an incantation, and like it, acts in a direct manner upon the wicked spirits.
The winged bulls with human heads, which flanked the entrance gates, were genii which kept real guard, and were tied to the post all the time that their image dwelt there without being disturbed. This is expressed as follows by the king Esarhaddon in one of his inscriptions:
May the guardian bull, the guardian genius, who protects the
strength of my throne, always preserve my name in joy and honour until his feet
move themselves from their place!165
At Koyunjik, in the magnificent residence which Assurbanipal had constructed in the heart of Nineveh itself, there were represented in many of the chambers numbers of monstrous figures having the body of a man, the head of a lion, and the feet of an eagle.
These were arranged in groups of two figures fighting with daggers and clubs. There were other (lemons also, and the sculptures were only a pictorial translation of the formula which we have already met with in many incantations.
May the bad demons depart, may they seize (upon) each other!
Evidently therefore the Chaldeans believed that to sketch upon the walls of the
palaces the combats of these demons was one way of repeating for ever under
another form the imprecation which condemned them to conflict and defeat.
Nothing is more common than to see upon the small cylinders of hard stone, which were used as seals by the Babylonians and Assyrians, representations of combats of monsters of various singular forms, with one of the two gods Adar or Nergal,166 the Hercules and Mars of the religion of the countries bordering the Euphrates and the Tigris. In the monsters which are being attacked we recognize the evil demons, and indeed according to the magical texts the two gods in question were specially charged with a mission to struggle against malevolent spirits. A whole hymn of the magical collection is dedicated to the celebration of the warlike exploits of Nin-dar,167 and in an incantation against numerous demons one of the final wishes is, "May they come before Nergal, the powerful warrior of Mul-ge."
Sometimes instead of wrestling with fantastic monsters, the gods we have just mentioned struggle with one or many bulls or bull-headed men whom they [p.56] assail with their swords. In the earlier days of Assyriology some students sought in this subject to find some astronomical significance in connection with the presence of the sun in the sign of Taurus, and a very estimable scholar has even discovered in these conflicts an indication of the Babylonian origin of the Mithriac mysteries, as also the connecting link of a complete theory of the Asiatic religion. These theories were however vain attempts to discover many mysteries where really there was nothing so sublime. Subjects of this kind never represented anything but Adar or Nergal as warlike gods triumphing over demons of the kind called by the Accadians Telal, and the Assyrians Gallu, demons in the form of a bull, which, as we learn by this fragment of conjuration, were particularly hurtful to man:168
Devastator of heaven and earth, devastator of the earth,
the genius who devastates countries.
the genius who devastates countries and whose power is very great,
whose power is very great, whose trampling is formidable,
Telal, the bull which pierces, the very strong bull, the bull which passes through dwellings,
(it is) the indomitable Telal, there are seven of them.169
They obey no commands,
they devastate the country like .....170
they know no order,
they watch men,
they devour flesh; they make blood flow; they drink blood;
they (injure) the images of the gods
they are the Telal which multiply hostile lies,
which feed on blood, which are immovable.
The figure of the Celestial gods conquering the demons could nowhere find a
better place than upon the cylinders. By the mysterious and protecting virtue
attributed to it, this representation made them into talismans for those who
wore them, and preserved the secrets or treasures which bore its imprint from
The discovery by Mr. Smith of the epic legend of Izdubar, suggests a new and probable interpretation of some of the representations on the cylinders, in which the gods and heroes are fighting against a bull. It signifies the struggle of Izdubar and his companion Heabani against the bull created by Ann at the request of Ishtar, who desires to revenge herself upon the hero of Erech for his disdain, and this struggle is related in the VIth tablet of the poem. But we must not, I think, generalize this application too much. The representation of the episode which occurs in the legend of Izdubar seems to me particularly distinguished by the fact that the heroes combating the bull are two in number; one, Heabani, who is holding the animal by the head and tail, while the other, Izdubar, is piercing it with his sword, in accordance with the details of the epic recital. But when, as often happens, two persons are combating two bulls, or creatures which are half men half bulls, I consider it quite a different subject, and I think the interpretation here proposed must be adopted.
Chaldean Sorcery, and its Dual Nature.
AMONGST all nations the belief in that magical power, which,
by means of certain words and rites, commands the evil spirits and constrains
the gods themselves to obey him who knows all their powerful secrets, has
produced in the natural order of things a dual system corresponding to that of
the good and bad spirits. The supernatural power by which man succeeds in
conquering the spirits may be in its nature either divine or diabolical,
celestial or infernal.171 In the first case it is confounded with the power that
the priest derives from the superior gods; it is exercised in a beneficent
manner to avert misfortunes, to conjure diseases, and to combat demoniacal
influences. In the second case it becomes perverse and impious, constituting
sorcery or witchcraft with all their criminal aberrations. This distinction was
made by the Chaldeans, and it exists [p.59] everywhere, except perhaps amongst some
positively barbarous tribes, by whom the priest of magic is more feared for his
sorcery than blessed for his beneficent conjurations.172 Of course the sacred
books, the remains of which we possess, only contain the formulae and
incantations of the divine magic, of the conjuring and propitious art; the
diabolical and malevolent magic is excluded with horror, and its practices are
Nevertheless, the Chaldean tablets do not leave us without any insight into witchcraft, as their formulae were destined to counteract the effects of the sorceries of this impious art, as well as the spontaneous action of demons. Witches and wizards figure largely in them, and we see that they were numerous in ancient Chaldea, amongst the Accadian people. Sometimes the spells were mentioned together with demons and diseases in the enumeration of the plagues to be averted; sometimes they were attacked by special incantations. Of the latter class was one which cursed the sorcerer by calling him "the malevolent evil-doer, this malevolent man, this man, malevolent amongst men, this bad man;" and which spoke of "the terror which he spreads," of the "place of his violent aggressions and of his wickedness," of "his spells which are driven away from men." In these tablets Hea, as the chief protector against all infernal powers, and with him the Sun, were the gods invoked for protection from the sorcerer.173 For as the evil magi [p.60] prepared their sorceries in the dark, the Sun was their great enemy. A hymn in the magical collection174 addresses Hea in these terms:
Thou that dispellest lies, thou that destroyest the evil influence
of the prodigies, auguries, vexatious prognostications, dreams, evil apparitions,
thou that frustratest wicked plots, thou that condemnest men and countries to perdition
which abandon themselves to witchcraft and sorcery.
As a rule the sorcerer was called "the evil-doer, and the malevolent man" in the
old Accadian conjurations. The expressions describing his practices had always a
mysterious character impressed with the terror which he inspired; they did not
dare to describe his secrets explicitly, and the Assyrian translations alone
gave a more exact meaning to these expressions. The spells were generally
indicated by the words "that which acts, that which is bad, that which is
violent;" the rites of sorcery were called "the work," the incantations "the
word," and the poisonous philters "the mortal thing." M. Pictet
has recorded exactly parallel facts in the language of the different Aryan
There was no evil which the sorcerer could not work. He ordered at will the fascination of the evil eye or of unlucky words; his rites and formulae for enchantment subjected the demons to his orders; he let them loose upon the person he wished to injure, and made them torment him in every way; he sent ill-luck alike to countries or individuals, and caused [p.61] demoniacal possession and other terrible diseases. He could even take away life with his spells and imprecations, or else by the poisons of which he had learnt the use, and which he mixed in his fatal potations. In this latter case, the conjuration by which his intended victim opposed his acts was designed to turn upon the sorcerer or sorceress the effects they tried to produce. "May she die and may I live" is the phrase which terminates an unpublished formula against the enchantments of a sorceress, who had undertaken to cause the death of an unknown person by her spells.176
An incantation, of which we only possess the Assyrian version,177 enumerates divers kinds of operations used by the Chaldean sorcerers.
The wizard has charmed me with the charm, has charmed me with his charm;
the witch has charmed me with the charm, has charmed me with her charm
the sorcerer has bewitched me with the spell, has bewitched me with his spell
the sorceress has bewitched me with the spell, has bewitched me with her spell
He who enchants images has charmed away my life by image;
he has taken the enchanted philter, and has soiled my garment with it,
he has torn my garment and dragged it in the dust of my feet.178
may the god Fire, the hero, dispel their enchantments.
formula179 averted the effect of "the image
[p.62] which holds up its head,"
and which was resisted by the use of purified and enchanted waters; of him "who
by the strength of his plans causes disease," of the philter which spreads in
the body (desiring that it may run off like clear water) of "the charm concealed
in the philter," and lastly "of the lip which utters the enchantments."
We have here then a spell, which by means of the words recited by the sorcerer,180 by the use of "works" of mysterious rites, and of enchanted objects, had an irresistible effect; amongst those rites may be noticed the charming away of a person’s life by means of a wax figure,181 and the casting of spells, and lastly of the concoction of philters from certain herbs known to the magician, who increased their power still more by pronouncing incantations over the potions.
The Chaldeans, however, like the ancient Greeks, made no distinction between the enchanted philter and poison, designating both by the same name; this may throw some light upon the character of these drinks, the effect of which was so much feared.
The VIth formula of the long litany is directed against him "who makes the image," and indeed charming away life by means of a wax figure seems to have been one of the most frequent practices of Chaldean sorcerers. The magical documents often allude to it. It is the more curious because, according to the Arabian writer Ibn Khaldun, who lived in the XIVth century of our era, and writes as an [p.63] eye-witness, this practice was still very common amongst the Nabathean sorcerers of the Lower Euphrates, who have inherited many traditions, more or less corrupted, from the ancient inhabitants.
"We saw with our own eyes one of these individuals making the image of a person he wished to bewitch. These images are composed of things, the qualities of which bear a certain relation to the intentions and the projects of the operator, and which represent by means of symbols the names and the qualities of the unfortunate victim, in order to unite and disunite them. The magician afterwards pronounces some words over the image which he has just placed before him, and which is a real or symbolical representation of the person whom lie wishes to bewitch; then he blows and emits from his mouth a little saliva which had collected there, and at the same time makes those organs vibrate which are used in the utterance of this malevolent formula; next he holds over this symbolical image a cord which he has prepared with this intention, making a knot in it to signify that he is acting with resolution and persistence, that at the moment when he spat he made a compact with the demon who acted as his associate in the operation, and to show that he is acting with a determined resolution to consolidate the charm. To these processes and malevolent words a wicked spirit is united, which comes forth from the operator's mouth covered with saliva. Many evil spirits then descend, and the result of all is that the magician causes the victim to be attacked by the desired evil."182
But the most powerful of all the means which "the malevolent man," who seeks to injure, can employ, were imprecations. The formula of imprecation not only unloosed the demons, but it acted upon the celestial gods themselves, and, by binding their [p.64] action to its words, turned them to evil purposes; it also commanded the gods attached to each man according to the Chaldaic ideas, and changed him from a protector into a malevolent enemy. This belief is indicated in set terms by a long conjuration, which describes by means of truly poetical images, the effects of the imprecation it is to avert.183
The malicious imprecation acts on man like a wicked demon,184
the voice which curses has power over him;
the voice which curses has power over him
the malicious imprecation is the spell (which produces) the disease of his head.
The malicious imprecation slaughters this man like a lamb;
his god oppresses him in his body;
his goddess creates anguish in him by a reciprocal influence,
the voice which curses covers him and loads him like a veil.
Silik-mulu-dug has accorded to him his protecting favour;
to his father, the Lord of the earth,185 into the dwelling, he entered and said to him:
"My father, the malicious imprecation acts upon man like a wicked demon."
For the second time he said to him
"He has tried the remedy; he does not know the remedy; he is submissive to the remedy."
The Lord of the earth has made answer to his son Silik-mulu-dug:
"My son, thou dost not know the remedy; let me prepare the remedy for thee.
Silik-mulu-dug, thou dost not know the remedy; let me prepare the remedy for thee.
What I know (now) thou knowest it wholly.
Come, my son Silik-mulu-dug.
.............. from the high dwellings stretch out thy hand to him.
Avert the evil fate, deliver him from the evil fate,
may the evil which upsets his body
be an imprecation from his father,186
an imprecation from his mother
an imprecation from his eldest brother,
or else an imprecation from an unknown person."
The evil fate, by the command from the lips of Hea,
may it be destroyed like a plant,
may it be divided into pieces like a fruit!
may it be torn and plucked up like a twig!
The evil fate, Spirit of the heavens, conjure it
Spirit of the earth conjure it!
The latter expressions of this formula are explained by the following portion of the same document. It contains a series of conjurations which were supposed to be uttered by the person who was anxious to be delivered from the effects of the spells. Whilst he was pronouncing these conjurations, he had to perform certain rites strongly resembling those described in the Pharmaceutria of Theocritus, and in Virgil's VIIIth Eclogue.
1 As this plant withers, so shall also the spell.
The burning fire shall devour it.
It shall not be arranged on the lines of a vine-arbour;
It shall not be trained into an arch and an ......
the earth shall not receive its root;
its fruit shall not grow, and the sun shall not smile upon it
it shall not be offered at the festivals of kings and gods.
The man (who has cast) the evil fate, his wife,
the violent operation, the indigitation,187 the written spell, the curses, the sins
the evil that is in my body, in my flesh, in my bruises,
may (all that) be withered like this plant
May the burning fire devour it this clay!
May the evil fate depart, and may I behold the light again!
2 As this fruit is divided into pieces, so shall also the spell be.
The burning fire shall devour it
it shall not return to the supporting branch from which it is cut off;
it shall not be offered at the festivals of kings or gods.
The man (who has cast) the evil fate, his wife,
the violent operation,188 the indigitation, the written spell, the curses, the sins,
the evil that is in my body, in my flesh, in my bruises,
may (all that) be divided in pieces like this fruit
May the burning fire devour it this day!
May the evil fate depart, and may I behold the light again!
3 As this twig is plucked up and broken to pieces, so shall also the spell be.
The burning fire shall devour it
its fibres shall not again unite themselves to the trunk
it shall not arrive at a perfect state of splendour.
The man (who has cast) the evil fate, his wife,
the violent operation, the indigitation, the written spell, the curses, the sins,
the evil which is in my body, in my flesh, in my bruises,
may (all that) be broken in pieces and plucked up like this twig
May the burning fire devour it this day!
May the evil fate depart, and may I behold the light again
4 As this wool is rent, so shall also the spell be.
The burning fire shall devour it;
it shall not return to (the back of) its sheep
it shall not be offered for the garments of kings and gods.
The man (who has cast) the evil fate, his wife,
the violent operation, the indigitation, the written spells,
the curses, the sins,
the evil which is in my body, in my flesh, in my bruises,
may (all that) be rent like this wool
May the burning fire devour it this day!
May the evil fate depart and may I behold the light again!
5 As this banner is rent, so shall also the spell be.
The burning lire shall devour it
it shall not return to the top of its staff;
it shall not float in its splendour.
The man (who has cast) the evil fate, his wife,
the violent operation, the indigitation, the written spells, the curses, the sins,
the evil which is in my body, in my flesh, in my bruises,
may (all that) be rent like this banner
May the burning fire devour it this day!
May the evil fate depart, and may I behold the light again!
6 As this fulled stuff is rent, so shall also the spell be.
The burning fire shall devour it;
the fulling mill shall not dye it (to make it into) a covering;
it shall not be offered for the garments of kings and gods.
The man (who has cast) the evil fate, his wife,
the violent operation, the indigitation, the written spell, the curses, the sins,
the evil which is in my body, in my flesh, in my bruises,
may (all that) be rent like this fulled stuff!
May the burning fire devour it this day!
May the evil fate depart, and may I behold the light again!
The formulae of imprecation were really terrible. They called upon all the gods of heaven and of the abyss to display their power by overwhelming with misfortunes the person against whom they were directed. I shall quote as an example those upon the celebrated monument of our national library, which is known by the name of Caillou Michaux, after the traveller who brought it from the suburbs of Baghdad. It is an ovoid boulder of black basalt, fifty centimetres high, upon the lower part of which are sculptured some sacred symbols; the rest of the stone is covered with a long inscription in the Assyrian tongue, containing the law concerning landed property as a dowry for a woman on her marriage, and giving the whole measurement of the land to which the stone served as a boundary. After the copy of the act passed in an authentic manner, come the imprecations against any one who displaced the boundary, or troubled in any way the peaceable possessor of the lands.
They (the imprecations) shall precipitate this man into the water; they shall bury him in the ground; they shall cause him to be overwhelmed with stones; they shall burn him with fire; they shall drive him into exile into places where he cannot live.
May Anu, Bel, Nouah, and the Supreme Lady189 the great gods, cover him with absolute confusion, may they root up his stability, may they efface his posterity! May Marduk, the great lord, the eternal chief, fasten him up with unbreakable chains!
May the Sun, the great judge of heaven and earth, pronounce his condemnation, and take him in his snares!
May Sin, the illuminator, who inhabits the elevated regions,190 catch him in a net like a wild ram captured in the chase; like a buffalo whom he throws to the ground by taking him in a noose!
May Ishtar, queen of heaven and earth, strike him in the presence of gods and men, and entice his servants to perdition.
May Adar the son of the zenith, the child of Bel, the supreme, destroy the limits and the boundary of his property!
May Gula, the great lady, the spouse of the winter Sun, pour inside him a deadly poison; may she cause his blood and sweat to flow like water!
May Bin, the captain of heaven and earth, the son of Anu, the hero, inundate his field!
May Serakh destroy the first fruits of his harvest ....... may he enervate his animals!
May Nebo, the supreme intelligence191 overwhelm him with affliction and terror, and lastly may he hurry him into incurable despair!
And may all the great gods whose names are mentioned in this inscription curse him with a curse from which he can never be released! may they scatter his race until the end of time!
It will be easily understood that nothing short of the direct intervention of the god Flea could deliver a man from the weight of imprecations such as these.
Comparison of the Egyptian with the Chaldean Magic
ALL magic rests upon a system of religious belief, and upon a
fixed conception of that supernatural world, the innate consciousness of which
is experienced by every man, making him seek to pierce its secrets with his
intellect, even in a state of utter barbarity. If we consider the elementary
ideas of mankind with the magic superstition arising from them, and the
religious beliefs of which the latter is the corruption, we must divide them
into three classes, according as the diversity of their origin imparts to them
different tendencies and different characters.
First of all comes primitive magic, connected with the worship of elementary spirits. "The religion of a savage or very barbarous man is," says M. Maury, "a superstitious naturalism, an incoherent fetichism, in which all phenomena of nature and all created beings become objects of adoration. Man places everywhere personal spirits made in his own image, sometimes representing the objects themselves, [p.71] and sometimes having a different signification. Such is the religion of all the black nations, of the Altaic tribes, the Colonies of Malacca, and the other primitive populations of Hindostan, of the red races of America, and the islanders of Polynesia; such was at first that of the Aryans, Mongols, Chinese, Celts, Germans, and Slavonians." In a system of this kind magic is at first of all only a part of the worship, or indeed the worship itself. The supreme end of magic was to conjure the spirits, for the savages feared their malevolent influence more than they expected benefit from their goodwill. As the worship amongst these people was reduced to little more than the conjuration of spirits and the veneration of animals, their priests were only sorcerers, whose mission it was to communicate with the demons they so much feared. In other words, their worship was almost entirely limited to magical ceremonies. Such is even now the character of the priesthood amongst many barbarous nations and demoralized tribes. The professors of magic are found in all countries where fetichism takes the place of religion. These priests combine the functions of diviners, prophets, exorcists, thaumaturgists, physicians, and makers of idols and amulets. They teach neither morals nor good works; they are not devoted to the practices of a regular worship, or to the service of a temple or an altar. They are only sought for in cases of necessity, but they exercised nevertheless a considerable sway over the populations with whom they take the place of more sacred ministers.
In the beginning, and in a state of complete [p.72] barbarity, there is no distinction between favourable and fatal magic, just as there is none between magic and worship, at least not more than the radical difference which exists between good and bad spirits. The priest of magic is the same as the sorcerer; following the caprices of his will, he exercises his mysterious power or good or evil, according as he has been made a friend or a foe. But the first result of progress towards a more regular social state, and of the development of the morals, is to bring to light in this coarse and primitive naturalism an idea of the dual system, which is more or less marked, and may become, as with the Persians, the foundation of a very lofty and entirely spiritual religion. These distinguish by contrasting them, the world of light from that of darkness, and good, from physical, if not yet from moral, evil. They then proceed to separate into two classes the spirits spread all over the universe, regarding some as good, and the others as had, both essentially so and so by nature. All pleasant things are attributed to the action of the former, and all fatal and painful things to that of the latter. The priest is still a magician, but his power is exercised henceforth in an exclusively beneficent manner; he holds no communication with the bad demons, except to combat and repulse them; his rites and incantations are all powerful in expelling them, while, at the same time, they act upon the good spirits, and ensure their co-operation and protection. He is no longer to be confounded with the sorcerer, who keeps up an intercourse with bad spirits and demons, taking part in their wickedness, and subjecting them to his [p.73] orders for evil purposes. The acts of the sorcerer are from that time cursed and condemned as impious, whilst the power of the favourable magician, or the thaumaturgic priest, is respected and considered as holy and divine.192
This is the second phase of the primitive magic, founded upon the belief in the elementary spirits. But in spite of this important modification, which somewhat purifies it, the principle remains essentially the same, and the dual system which is thus established is often more conspicuous than real. Magic built in this way upon the coarse naturalism of a state of barbarity, sometimes survives the adoption of a more noble and philosophic religion, with a higher conception of divinity and a perception of its fundamental unity. The new religion accepts and tolerates it, recognizing its existence, while excluding it from the official worship. The priests of magic still exist, but they form an inferior class of the priesthood. The elementary spirits, at first the only objects of worship, are not admitted into the supreme ranks of the pantheon, unless some of the more important are identified, purposely or by force, with certain gods of the official religion; but a place is found for them amongst the dii minores, the inferior personifications to whom no public worship is addressed. In this way they manage to legalize the use of the old magic formulae which seem to take no notice of the great gods, and to preserve, still bearing intact the imprint [p.74] of the ancient system from which they arose, its hierarchy of gods and demons concealed underneath the exterior and entirely different covering of the prevailing religion: we shall prove this fact in a very clear manner when we analyse the religious beliefs of Chaldea.
Entirely different from the preceding in principle, and consequently in the nature of its rites and incantations, although putting forth the same pretensions, is theurgical magic; the superstitious contortion of a philosophic religion, which would make to issue from an infinite and universal, but vaguely conceived god, by a peculiar system of emanation, a whole hierarchy of supernatural powers, each bearing a closer resemblance to nature than the last, and at the same time participating, though in different degrees, in the divine perfections and in human weaknesses. In a system such as this, man, by the power of purificatory rites, and above all by the possession of science, succeeds in rising towards divinity, approaching it indefinitely near, and becoming like it, so that in consequence he is enabled to govern the powers of the inferior emanations, and to make them obey his orders. Enchantment becomes again an important part of the worship; it is the holy and legitimate intercourse established by the sacred rites between man and the gods. Magic of this kind is essentially a divine work, as the name theurgy, given to it by the Neoplatonists, clearly shows. Its action is entirely beneficent, and if some perxxrse creatures abuse the power given them by divine science over [p.75] the spirits and inferior gods in order to satisfy a guilty Covetousness, and to do evil, it is an odious sacrilege, the effects of which are paralysed by certain invocations of the divine power.
The theurgical system attained perfection amongst the Neoplatonists of the Alexandrian school, particularly amongst those of the last epoch, and the propensity to demonological rites which is already marked in the time of Porphyry,193 triumphs completely under Proclus.194 From this time the worship of the Neoplatonists consists in the rendering of homage and thanks to the good deities, and the use of conjurations, exorcisms, and purifications against the wicked. In other words, their religion becomes exclusively a theurgy, in which all the magic rites of the different nations of antiquity have a place, those of the Chaldeans as well as those of the Egyptians. The magic of ancient Egypt was quite theurgic in origin and doctrine, and we cannot deny that the reveries of the later Neoplatonists are in a great [p.76] measure due to its influence,195 although it had not attained to such a degree of systematic development, as to take the place of all other worship indeed it still retained its character of inferiority in relation to the official religion, and was not formally recognised as a rite.196
There is finally a third species of magic, thoroughly diabolical in character, and openly acknowledging itself as such. This kind helps to perpetuate, by still believing in their power and transforming them into dark practices, the rites of adoration of the ancient gods, considered as demons after the triumph of a new religion, the exclusive spirit of which repudiates all association with the remains of the old worship. The enchanter in this case, far from considering himself an inspired and divine personage, consents, provided he reaps all the benefit of his magic practices, to be nothing more than the tool of the bad and infernal powers. He himself sees devils in the ancient gods evoked by his spells, but he nevertheless remains confident of their protection; he engages himself in their service by compacts, and fancies himself going to a witch-dance in their company. The greater part of the magic of the middle ages bears this character, and perpetuates the popular and superstitious rites of paganism in the [p.77] mysterious and diabolical operations of sorcery. It is the same with the magic of most Musulman countries. In Ceylon, since the complete conversion of the island to Buddhism, the ancient gods of Sivaism have become demons, and their worship a guilty sorcery, practised only by enchanters.197
We shall be obliged however to return to this last species of magic in another work198 in order to find how much of the Chaldean traditions has been preserved in the rites and beliefs of the sorcerers of the middle ages. But as it possesses nothing ancient, and only appears long after both the others, we need here only mention it in passing without going into details.
Contrasts between Indian and Chaldean Magical Systems.
EGYPT and Chaldea are, as we have already said, the two
sources of all learned magic for Greek and Latin antiquity, as well as for
Jewish and Arabian tradition. But without exactly defining the doctrines of
either, we must distinguish, as quite different in their principles and
processes, the Egyptian from the Chaldean school. This is almost a truism, and
the study of the original documents on either side confirms it. Chaldean magic,
as we have explained it, and as it appears to us so closely united in every
part, is like the last words and the most learned system of the ancient magic of
the primitive ages founded upon the belief in the spirits of nature. Egyptian
magic is a theurgy arising from the doctrines of a theological philosophy which
had become already somewhat refined.199 The one began by being the sole worship of
a naturalistic and coarse [p.79] religion, and preserved the imprint of it in
spite oi the learned appearance that it sought to give to its systematic
development; the other is the superstitious conception of a religion higher and
purer in its tendencies, and retaining in its subtleties the impress of a higher
It is very important to define well this difference, and to make it more clear I think it will be best to glance at the Egyptian magic, giving an outline of its doctrines, and quoting some of its formulae in order to compare them with the Accadian formula that we have already mentioned. This will require some explanation of the fundamental religious beliefs of Egypt out of which magic arose. But such a digression does not appear to me out of place in the study which I am pursuing, for it will make the character of Chaldean magic stand out more distinctly, without reference to the conceptions upon which it rests. These conceptions differ as much from the Chaldaic-Assyrian religion of the entirely historical centuries as from the religion of Egypt, and belong consequently to another heathen source.
However far we go hack in the documents relating to the Egyptian religion, we find there, as a foundation, the grand idea of a divine unity. Herodotus affirms that the Egyptians of Thebes recognized a single god, who had no beginning, and was to have no end of days.200 And this assertion of the father of history is confirmed by the reading of the sacred texts in hieroglyphic characters, in which it is said of this god "that he is the sole progenitor in heaven [p.80] and earth, and that he himself is not begotten ...201 that he is the sole god existing in truth, begotten of himself... who exists from the beginning ..... who has made all things, and was not himself created."202 But this sublime notion, if it was retained in the esoteric doctrine, soon became obscured and disfigured by the conceptions of the priests and the ignorance of the people. The idea of God became confounded with the manifestations of his power; his attributes and qualities were personified as a crowd of secondary agents arranged in a hierarchical order, co-operating in the general organisation of the world, and in the preservation of created beings. In this way that polytheism was formed which in the truth and peculiarity of its symbols, ended by embracing the whole of nature.
The Egyptians were interested above all in the fate which awaits man in another life. They fancied they could see in many natural phenomena images and symbols of this future existence; but it seemed to them more particularly announced by the daily course of the sun. According to them, that planet reproduced each day during its progress the transformations reserved for the human soul. It was not a strange idea, however, on the part of a people who had no knowledge of the true character of the heavenly bodies. The sun, or Ra, as the Egyptians [p.81] called it, passed alternately from the region of darkness or death into the region of light or life. Its beneficent fires give birth to, and nourish existence; the sun plays then in relation to the universe the part of a progenitor or father; it gives life, but is not itself begotten; existing by itself it is its own progenitor. This symbolism once accepted it increased more and more, and the imagination of the Egyptians sought in the succession of solar phenomena an indication of the divers phases of human existence. Each point in the course of this luminous planet was regarded as corresponding to the different stages of that existence.203
But Ra the sun was not considered merely as the celestial prototype of the man who is born, lives, and dies to be born again; the Egyptians, like all the other heathen people of antiquity, regarded it as a divinity, as the supreme divinity, because it was the most brilliant and the greatest of the planets, and its beneficent influence vivified the world. The theological conception of the Egyptians did not stop there, for it subdivided this one supreme divinity, so to speak, into many other divinities. Considered in its different positions and its diverse aspects the sun became in each phase a different god, having its peculiar name, attributes, and worship; this trait of Egyptian mythology is common to all other mythology. Thus the sun during its nocturnal existence was Tum, when it shone in the meridian it was Ra, when it produced and nourished life it was venerated as Kheper. Those were the three principal forms of the solar divinity, but there [p.82] were also many others. Since, according to the Egyptians, the night precedes the day, Turn was considered to have been born before Ra, and to have issued alone from the abyss of chaos.204 Theology reunited the three manifestations of the solar power in a divine trinity, which became the prototype of many other trinities composed of divinities personifying the various relations of the sun with nature, and its varied influence upon the cosmic phenomena.
Anthropomorphism, from which no ancient religion was ever entirely free, gradually intruded itself into these first sabeistic data, and the Egyptians came to consider that the race of the gods was perpetuated in the same way as amongst human beings. They were therefore obliged to divide the divine existence into a male and active principle, and a female and passive principle, and they transported into their theogony their ideas about the respective office of the sexes in the mysterious act of nature by which the species is perpetuated. At the same time their ideas about the sun were extended also to the divinity, which was conceived in a vaguer and higher way; each of its acts was personified as a separate god, as a new divine personage. Of this origin are the deities of a more abstract and philosophic conception, and less closely allied to a fixed phenomenon of nature, as Amen, Nun, or Pthah.
Since navigation upon the Nile was the usual mode of transport in Egypt, the solar trinity, as also the trinity of the inferior hemisphere, the emblem of the other life, was always represented in its progress as [p.83] being Carried in a bark.205 The sun of the Lower Hemisphere took more especially the name of Osiris. Its companions and deputies were the twelve hours of the night personified as so many gods, at the head of which was placed Horus, the rising sun itself; and mythology stated that this god pierced with his dart the serpent Apophis or Apap, the personification of the crepuscular vapours which the rising planet dissipated with its fires. The struggle of Osiris, or Horus his son, with darkness, according to a symbolism found in all mythologies, naturally resembled that of good with evil. This gave rise to a very popular Egyptian fable which is alluded to by several monuments, and which was the starting point for a great religious development. Evil was personified in a particular god, Set or Sutekh, called also sometimes Baal, who was the supreme god of the neighbouring Asiatic populations, and at a later period of the shepherd kings; the Greeks considered him the same as their Typhon, and it was said that Osiris had succumbed to his blows.206 Having been [p.84] resuscitated by the prayers and invocations of his wife, the good god found an avenger in his son Horus. The death of Osiris, the grief of Isis, and the final defeat of Set furnished mythology with an inexhaustible fund of fables, which recall those of the various Eastern religions, particularly the history of Cybele and Atys, of Venus and Adonis.207
When once the course of the sun was regarded as the type of existence in the infernal regions, the reproduction of the same symbolism was all that was needed amongst the Egyptians to constitute the doctrine of the other life, according to which man descends into the tomb only to rise again, and after his resurrection he will lead a new life by the side or in the heart of the luminous planet.208 The soul immortal like Ra accomplishes the same pilgrimage. We see upon the covers of certain sarcophagi the soul (Ba) figured as a sparrow-hawk with a human head, holding in its claws the two signet rings symbolising eternity, and also, as emblem of the new life reserved for the dead, the rising sun attended in his course by the goddesses Isis and Nephthys.209 This explains why the solar period, represented as the bird bennu, the lapwing, which the Greeks called phœnix, was the symbol for the cycle of human life; the mysterious bird was reported to accompany man during his earthly race. The dead revived after their pilgrimage in Hades, and the soul re-entered into the body in [p.85] order to give it back movement and life, or, to use the language of Egyptian mythology, the deceased arrived finally at the bark of the Sun, where he was received by Kheper Ra, the scarabæus god, and became illuminated with the splendour which he bestowed upon him. The tombs and the coffins of mummies abound in paintings representing the various scenes of this invisible existence. A vignette of the Ritual of the Dead210 represents the mummy lying upon a funeral couch, while the soul, or the sparrow-hawk with the human head, is flying towards it with the handled cross, the emblem of life.211
This doctrine may be traced in Egypt to the remotest antiquity; it conduced necessarily to the inspiration of a great respect for the remains of the dead, since they were some day to be recalled to life, and it was the origin of the custom of embalming corpses. The Egyptians made a point of preserving intact, and protecting against all destruction, this body which was destined to enjoy a more perfect existence. They thought also that the mummies thus enveloped were not entirely deprived of life, and the Ritual shows us that the deceased was supposed still to use his organs and members; but, in order better to insure the preservation of the vital warmth, they had recourse to the use of mystic formulae, pronounced at the time of the funeral, and to certain amulets placed upon the mummy.212 In general, most of the funeral ceremonies, the various envelopes, the [p.86] subjects painted inside and outside of the coffin bear reference to the different phases of the resurrection, such as the relaxing of muscles, the new function of the organs, the return of the soul.
The belief in immortality has never been separated from the idea of a future reward for the acts of the present, and this may he particularly observed in Egypt. Although the bodies of all men descended into the infernal regions, the Ker-neter213 as it was called, they were nevertheless not all sure of the resurrection. To obtain it they must have committed no grave fault either indeed or thought. The deceased was to he judged by Osiris and his forty-two deputies his heart was placed on one side of the scales held by Horus and Anubis; the representative scenes of psychology show the image of justice; the god Thoth registered the result of the weighing. Upon this judgment, given in the "hall of double justice," the irrevocable fate of the soul depended.214 If the deceased was convicted of unpardonable faults, he became the prey of an infernal monster with the head of an hippopotamus,215 and he was beheaded by Horus and by Smu, one of the forms of Set, upon the nemma or infernal scaffold. Final annihilation was received by the Egyptians as being the punishment of the most wicked. The just, purified from his venial sins by a fire, which was guarded by four [p.87] genii with monkey's faces,216 entered into the pleroma or state of beatitude; and having become the companion of Osiris, the chief of all good creatures (Unnefer),217 he was nourished by him on delicate food. Nevertheless, the just himself did not arrive at the final state of beatitude without having passed through many trials, because as man he was naturally a sinner. The deceased, descending into the Ker-neter, was obliged to pass through fifteen pylons or porticoes guarded by genii armed with swords;218 he could only get through by proving his good deeds and his knowledge of divine things, that was his initiation, and he was condemned to the rough work which is the subject of a good part of the sacred Ritual. He had to enter into terrible combats with monsters and fantastic animals raised up by Typhonian power and bent on evil, and he could only triumph by arming himself with sacramental forms and exorcisms which fill eleven chapters of the Ritual.219 Amongst other means to which the deceased had recourse in order to conjure these diabolical phantoms, was that of assimilation of his members to those of the various gods, and thus deifying in a manner [p.88] his own substance.220 The wicked in his turn, before being annihilated, was condemned to suffer thousands of tortures, and under the form of a malevolent spirit he returned to this world to disturb men and to bring about misfortune; he entered into the body of unclean animals.221
The sun, personified as Osiris, furnished then the subject of all Egyptian metempsychosis.222 From the god who bestows and nourishes life he became the remunerating and saving god. The myth even went so far as to assert that the sun Osiris accompanied the deceased during his infernal pilgrimage, that he led him to his descent into the Ker-neter, and conducted him to the eternal light. Himself the first to rise from the dead, he raised the righteous in their turn, after having aided them to triumph in all their trials. Indeed the deceased finished by identifying himself completely with Osiris, and by blending himself, So to speak, with his substance, so that he lost all personality; his trials became those of the god he adored, and from the moment of his death every deceased person was called "Osiris himself."223
The Magic of the Ritual of the Dead.
EGYPTIAN magic was closely connected with eschatological doctrines, and with the development of the Osirian myths which were founded upon them. The soul of the deceased had to assist him during this pilgrimage through the other world, where he was subjected to those trials and exposed to those enemies over which Osiris has already triumphed, on his behalf were sacred rites celebrated near his tomb, and liturgical prayers recited, and it was the operation of these conjoined together with a clear conscience, which finally obtained for him a favourable sentence. The efficacy of these invocatory prayers was considered to be extraordinary. They not only rendered Osiris and the gods of his cycle favourable to the soul of the deceased, but they had also the power of applying to it directly the merits of the labours and sufferings of the god of the dead, and of establishing the complete identity expressed by the phrase "The Osirian." Certain chapters of the [p.90] Ritual of the Dead are accompanied by formulae relating to their spiritual efficacy in the sudden changes of the life beyond the tomb, and by directions regarding their use as talismans, which give them at once the character of magical incantations. Such an one follows the chapter which was engraved on all the scarabei wrought in hard stone which were laid upon the breasts of the mummies:224
Pronounced over the beetle of hard stone which is to be overlaid with gold and to take the place of the individual's heart. Make a phylactery of it anointed with oil, and say magically over this object: "My heart is my mother; my heart is in my transformations."225
At the end of another chapter, one of the most obscure and mysterious of the whole book, we read:
"If this chapter is known, he (the deceased) will be pronounced veracious in the land of the Ker-neter he will do all that the living do. It was composed by a great god. This chapter was found at Sesennou226 written in blue upon a cube of blood-stone under the feet of this god;227 it was found in the days of the king Mycerinus the veracious by the royal son Hartatef, when he was travelling to inspect the accounts of the temples. He repeated a hymn to himself, after which he went into ecstacies; he took it away in the king’s chariots as soon as he saw what was written upon it. It is a great mystery. One sees [p.91] and hears nothing else while reciting this pure and holy chapter. Never again approach a woman; eat neither meat nor fish. Then make a beetle chiselled in stone, and overlaid with gold, put it where the individual's heart was; after having made of it a phylactery steeped in oil, recite over it magically My heart is my mother, etc."228
We see from these examples, to which we might add many more, that some of the
most important chapters of the Ritual of the Dead, when written upon
certain objects placed on the mummy, converted them into talismans which
protected the deceased with a sovereign efficacy during the perils which awaited
him in the other world, before he attained the resurrection of the blest. Others
were destined to the consecration of certain symbols made of substances
prescribed in the liturgies, and suspended round the neck of the mummy; rubrics
were added to them ordering the manufacture of these protecting amulets, and
defining the nature of their influence. Lastly, many chapters of the Ritual are
in themselves regular magical exorcisms for repulsing the monstrous beings229 in
whom the power of Set was manifested, and who strove to ruin and devour the soul
of the deceased.
There is really no essential difference between these chapters of the great hermetical book concerning the destiny of man in the other world, which was supposed to be of divine origin, and certain magical [p.92] formulae written upon leaves of papyrus which are sometimes found attached to the mummies or phylacteries. The texts are of the same kind, but the former only were admitted into the collection of divine writings and the official liturgy for the dead, whilst the latter were probably composed more slowly, and have no place there. We must however remark that the incantations and exorcisms adopted in the Ritual have reference to the protection of the deceased during his subterraneous pilgrimage, whilst the single magical formulae, which were not so highly regarded, were intended to shelter from malevolent beasts, and all possibility of destruction, the mummy itself while resting in the vault, the preservation of which was so important to the destiny of the soul. These formulae also kept the body from becoming, during its separation from the soul, the prey of some wicked spirit which would enter, reanimate, and cause it to rise again in the form of a vampire. For, according to the Egyptian belief, the possessing spirits and the spectres which frightened or tormented the living were but the souls of the condemned returning to the earth before undergoing the annihilation of the "second death."
Here is one of these formulae translated by M. Chabas:230
"O sheep, son of a sheep! lamb son of a sheep, that suckest the milk of thy mother the sheep, do not [p.93] allow the deceased to be bitten by any serpent male or female, by any scorpion, by any reptile; do not allow their venom to overpower his members. May no deceased male or female penetrate to him! May the shadow of no spirit haunt him! May the mouth of the serpent Am-kahou-ef have no power over him! He, he is the sheep. Oh thou which enterest, do not enter into any of the members of the deceased! O thou which killest do not kill him with thyself! O thou which entwinest do not entwine thyself round him.
Do not allow the influences of any serpent male or female, of any scorpion, of any reptile, of any deceased male or female to haunt him. O thou that enterest, enter not into him! O thou that breathest, do not blow upon him the things of darkness! Let not thy shadow haunt him when the sun has set and is not yet risen.
I have pronounced the words over the sacred herbs placed in all the corners of the house; then I have sprinkled the whole house with the sacred herbs and the liquor hak231 in the evening and at sunrise. He that is extended will remain extended in his place."
We find as a rule in the chapters of the Egyptian Ritual bearing the character
of incantations, and in the other magic formulae for the protection of the dead,
that the words are put into the mouth of the deceased, and his chief means of
defence against the attacks of the principle of evil bent on his destruction is
to deify, as I mentioned above, his own substance, by assimilating his whole
person, or [p.94] certain of his members, to the celestial
gods, pro claiming that he himself is one or other of these gods. There was
indeed a formal belief in ancient Egypt, which is attested by numerous passages
from the religious texts, that the knowledge of divine things elevated man to
the height of the gods, identified him with them, and ended by blending his
substance with that of the divine. Certain mysterious words and formulae, which
were hidden from the comprehension of the vulgar, and revealed only to the
initiated, brought about this identification or fusion of substance, by an
innate or irresistible virtue, the revelation of which was attributed to Thoth,
the god of intelligence. It was only necessary to pronounce these formulae in
the name of the deceased over his mummy, and to place a copy of them by his side
in the coffin, to ensure for him the benefit of their influence in the dangers
which he had to combat in the lower regions.
When so much power came to be attributed to certain formulae and sacred words in the other world, it followed necessarily that the same power must be recognized in the terrestrial existence. Since the life after death was but a continuation of the earthly life, and was designed to prepare for a subsequent renewal of it, the ideas which were formed of the one condition were extended to that of the other also. If the type of one was the nocturnal course of the sun in the lower hemisphere, the diurnal course of the same luminary was the type of the other. The trials and dangers of the two states were therefore similar; they were connected with the same hostile power, and explained by the same [p.95] symbolism, which necessarily led to the use of the same magical rites in opposing them. In Set was personified all the evil to be found in nature. He was the god of disorder, disputes, and violence, and all destructive scourges; savage animals and venomous reptiles were considered as subject to him. There was a custom of repelling him and his fatal train of evils by recalling the events of the heroic struggle, in which, after having first succumbed, the principle of order and the preservation of life, symbolised as Osiris, finally triumphed. We see this for instance in an incantation against the bite of venomous serpents, which was written upon a small papyrus now in the Louvre collection,232 which papyrus was rolled up in a case, and worn as a talisman.
"He is like Set, the asp, the malevolent serpent whose venom burns. He who comes to enjoy the light, may he be hidden. He who dwells in Thebes approaches thee, yield, remain in his home! I am Isis, the widow broken with sorrow. Thou wilt rise against Osiris he is lying down in the midst of the waters where the fish eat, where the birds drink, where the nets take their prize, while Osiris is lying down in pain.
Tum lord of Heliopolis,233 thy heart is contented and triumphant, Those in the tombs are full of acclamations, those in the coffins give themselves up to rejoicing, when they see the son of Osiris overthrowing his father's enemies, receiving the white crown from his father Osiris and seizing the wicked.234 Come! Arise, Osiris, for thine enemies are vanquished.
The primary idea of all the magic formulae which were designed to repel the torments of life and the attacks of malevolent animals (the latter are very numerous) was always assimilation to the gods, an assimilation which sheltered man from danger, and was effected by the power of the words of the enchantment. The virtue of the formulae lay not in an invocation of the divine power, but in the fact of a man’s proclaiming himself such or such a god, and when he, in pronouncing the incantation, called to his aid any one of the various members of the Egyptian Pantheon, it was as one of themselves that he had a right to the assistance of his companions. This is very clearly related in the formulae of the celebrated Harris papyrus, the object of the studies of M. Chabas,235 a manuscript of the epoch of the XIXth dynasty, which is perhaps a fragment of the magical collection of tracts which were supposed to be composed by the god Thoth, and were therefore included amongst the hermetical books. Here is one of the incantations of this papyrus which was destined to afford protection from the attacks of crocodiles:—
Do not be against me I am Amen.
I am Anhur,236 the good guardian.
I am the great master of the sword.
Do not erect thyself!237 I am Month.238
Do not try to surprise me! I am Set.
Do not raise thy two arms against me! I am Sothis.239
Do not seize me! I am Sethu.
Next those that are in the water do not go out;
those that have come out, do not return to the water;
and those that remain floating on the water;240
are like corpses on the waves;
and their mouths are closed,
as the seven great secrets are closed,
with an eternal closing.
In another incantation, which was directed against various noxious animals, the man who wished to obtain shelter from their attacks invoked the aid of a god, as being himself a god.
Come to me, O Lord of Gods!
Drive far from me the lions coming from the earth,
the crocodiles issuing from the river,
the mouth of all biting reptiles coming out of their holes
Stop, crocodile Mako, son of Set!241
Do not wave thy tail;
do not work thy two arms;
do not open thy mouth.
May water become as a burning fire before thee!
The spear of the seventy-seven gods is on thine eyes;
the arm of the seventy-seven gods is on thine eye,
thou who wast fastened with metal chains to the bark of Ra,
Stop, crocodile Mako, Son of Set!
For I am Amen, who makes his mother fruitful.242
In the third formula the same thing also occurs, for Horus identifies himself with the enchanter, by entreating the support of Isis and Nephthys in all the perils which could possibly menace an Egyptian in a desolate country house.
O thou that bringest back the voice of the guardian,
Horus has pronounced in a low voice the incantation "Country!"
(At this word the animals which threatened him retired.)243
May Isis, my kind mother, pronounce the invocation for me, as well as my sister Nephthys,
May they remain in the act of greeting,
on the south of me,
on the north,
on the west,
on the cast
In order that the jaws of the lions and hyenas may be sealed,
the head of all the animals with long tails,
who eat flesh and drink blood
that they may fascinate (me)
to lift up their hearing
to hold me in darkness
to make me avoid light;
to render me invisible,
instantly in the night.
These magical words did not communicate divine virtue alone to man; animals also could participate in them for the protection of man, as they caused an [p.99] invincible power to dwell in an inanimate object when it had been charmed as a talisman. Thus we have the formula to be pronounced on a watch-dog, to increase his strength by the power of the enchantment.
Stand up! wicked dog!
Come! that I may direct thee what to do to day:
Thou wast fastened up, art thou not untied?
It is Horus who has ordered thee to do this
May thy face be open to heaven
May thy jaw be pitiless!
May thy strength slay like the god Har-sheft!244
Massacre them like the goddess Anata!245
May thy mane be like bars of iron
Be like Horus for this, and like Set for that!
Go to the south, to the north, to the west, to the east
the whole country is given into thy hands
nothing shall stop thee.
Do not turn thy face against me
turn it against the savage beasts.
Do not bring thy face in my way
I invest thee with a fascinating virtue; raise up thy hearing.
Be thou a courageous formidable guardian. Safety! Word of safety...
In these quotations there appear two facts that have been pointed out by the
Greek writers, and which give [p.100] quite a distinct character to Egyptian
magic. In the first place, there is the absence of demonological development.
The Egyptians only admitted into the world of spirits a certain number of genii,
who were divided into two antagonistic parties, the one being the followers and
servants of Osiris, the other composing the train of Set. On the earth they were
merely the natural scourges, the injurious animals that, with the souls of the
condemned which returned as vampires, served as instruments to the power of the
god of evil. The magic exorcisms did not, properly speaking, combat demons. In
the same way the power of the propitiatory incantations was not exercised on the
favourable spirits which were inferior to the gods. It was placed at the service
of mankind to protect him from the action of the gods themselves.
As to the connection which these formulae established between man and the gods, that is also expressed in a manner which belongs exclusively to the Egyptian theology. Among other nations the power of magic commanded secondary spirits, and had a coercive action on bad demons alone. The exorcist laid an imperative command on the latter when he told them to retire; but towards the gods, even in the operations of magic, only prayers and supplications were used. In Egypt it was otherwise. Since they admitted that the use of certain sacramental formulae raised a man to the height of the gods and identified him with each of them, they went on, as an inevitable consequence, to consider these formulae as containing a force exercisable even upon the most powerful [p.101] gods, obliging them to obey its commands. The Alexandrian writers also tell us that the Egyptian pretended to constrain the gods by means of evocations and magic formulae, to obey their wishes, and to manifest themselves to their sight. The god could not resist the effect of the invocation if he were called by his true name. One of the Harris papyri gives the text of an evocation of this kind which is addressed to no less a personage than Amen, the supreme god of Thebes:
Descend Descend! to the left of heaven,
to the left of the earth Amen makes himself king,
life, health, strength;246 he has taken the crown of the whole world.
Close not thine ear.
The serpents with the oblique walk, may they shut their mouths.
And (may) all reptiles be confounded in the dust by thy power, O Amen.
The thoroughly Egyptian opinion which is here indicated continued to be held till the later periods of the Pharaonic religion. It is expressed in the writings of Chaeremon, who composed under the Ptolemies a treatise upon the sacred science of the Egyptians. "They not only called the god by name," says M. Maury, "but if he refused to appear they threatened him." These formulae of compulsion of the gods were named by the Greeks "[Greek]." Porphyry in his letter to the philosopher Anebon, expresses his indignation at such a pretension on the part of the Egyptian magicians, and so blind a faith in the power of mere words.
"I am much disturbed," writes the philosopher, "at the idea
that those whom we invoke as omnipotent (beings) should receive injunctions like
the weakest; and that while exacting from their servants the practice of
justice, they should nevertheless appear disposed to do unjust acts if they are
so commanded and that whilst refusing to grant the prayers of those who have not
abstained from the pleasures of love, they should act as guides to any immoral
man in unlawful and sensual pleasures."247
This power of magical incantation to compel obedience from the gods themselves became, however, formidable, even to him who exercised it, if he did not show himself worthy to possess it by moral purity and a knowledge of divine things. The romance of Setnau, a curious text of the period of declining Empire, which has been translated by M. Brugsch in the Revue Archeologique of 1867, is founded in a great measure,248 upon the supernatural catastrophes which assail any one who takes possession of the magic book composed by the god Thoth, before he has been sufficiently prepared for initiation into its mysteries.
It is clear, in consequence of this idea which we are considering, that the use of names would naturally have a great importance both in magic and religion.
The Egyptian gods were essentially myrionymous, as the Greeks termed Isis. Two whole chapters of [p.103] the Ritual of the Dead249 are devoted to the instruction of the deceased in the numerous titles of Osiris, as a help during his travels in the lower world.250
The formulae of the Harris magical papyrus contain constant allusions to the supreme importance which was attached to the names of the gods.
I, I am the elect of millions of years,
proceeding from the inferior heaven,
of which the name is unknown.
If his name were pronounced on the border of the river,
yes! he would consume it.
If his name were pronounced on the earth,
yes! he would strike out sparks from it.
I am Shu under the form of Ra,251
seated in the middle of his father’s eye.
If he who is in the water opens his mouth or snatches with his arms,
I will cause the earth to fall into the water,
putting the south in the place of the north,
in the whole world.
And this one containing a formal evocation:—
Come to me, come to me! O thou who endurest for
millions and millions of years,
O Num, only son,252
conceived yesterday, born to-day!
He who knows thy name
is he who has seventy-seven eyes and seventy-seven ears,
Come to me! May my voice be heard as the voice of the great goose Nadak253 was heard during the night.
I am the great Bah.254
I have, I think, already sufficiently proved the importance in Chaldean magic of
the doctrine of the efficacy of the supreme and mysterious name of the gods, but
this idea assumed a very different character on the banks of the Nile from that
which it held on the borders of the Euphrates. In the Chaldean religion, as well
in all the religions of ancient Asia, the mysterious Name was considered a real
and divine being, who had a personal existence, and therefore exclusive power
over the other gods of a less elevated rank, over nature and the world of
spirits.255 In Egypt the traces of an idea attributing such an individual power to
the divine name are but rare, and when they occur it is under the influence of
the contact with the Semitic religion.
The true and original Egyptian idea was that the mystic name exercised a power upon the god himself to whom it belonged, and that when called by this name he was obliged to obey the incantation. He therefore kept it secret for fear of its being abused, so that only the truly initiated succeeded in learning it.
In the Egyptian magic of early times, as it is explained by the Neoplatonicians, "they considered it necessary," says M. Maury, "even when the magician did not understand the language from which the name was borrowed, to preserve the primitive form of the name, as another word would not have had the same virtue. The author of the Treatise on the Egyptian Mysteries, which is attributed to Iamblichus, maintains that the barbarous names taken from the dialects of Egypt and Assyria have a mysterious and ineffable virtue on account of the great antiquity of these languages, and the divinely revealed origin of the theology of these nations." The use of odd names which were unintelligible to the vulgar, and had been taken, not from their own, but from other dialects, or else composed from imagination, may be traced in Egypt to a much earlier date than might at first sight be supposed. We shall meet with many names of this kind designating Set and Osiris, no one of which is Egyptian, in a magical imprecation of a funereal character which is written upon a papyrus in the Louvre of the date of Rameses II.:—256
O, Ualbpaga! O, Kemmara! O, Karnalo! O, Karkkenmu! O, Aamagoaa! The Uana! The Remu! The Uthun (enemies) of the Sun! This is to command those who are adversaries amongst you.
He is slain by the violence of the assassin of his brother.257
He has devoted his soul to the crocodile. No one pleads for him. But he takes his soul to the tribunal of double justice258 before Mamuremukababu259 [p.106] and the absolute lords who are with him."260
The latter replies to his enemy: "O, black-faced lion, with bloody eyes and poison in thy mouth, destroyer of his proper name......
of his father, the power of biting shall not again arise in them."
The mystic and magic names, seemingly of a barbarous origin, which are used to designate the gods, hold a very important place in the four last chapters of the Ritual of the Dead, in more perfect copies such as those of the Museum of Turin. Dr. Birch considers these chapters to have been composed about the time of the XXVIth dynasty, and we can clearly discern in them some Semitic roots. We are expressly told that those of the CLXVth chapter are taken from the language of the Aru of Nubia.261 I have also found in a letter of the late lamented Viscount de Rouge some names of a similar kind mentioned as being derived from the dialect of the Negroes (Nahasi) in the country of Pount, namely, southern Arabia. This proves that the magic of the African populations must have exercised some influence upon the magic of the Egyptians at a certain time, and within certain limits. The latter in its principle differed greatly doubtless from that of the surrounding nations in doctrine and origin, but in practice it must have borrowed a few rites and names from the customs of the Nubian sorcerers.
Contrasts between the Accadian and Egyptian Magic.
AFTER having put the reader in the way of comparing, for
himself the Egyptian and Chaldean magical formulae, there is no need for me to
pursue further the marked difference between the two systems, for this is
evident to all students. The fundamental beliefs and ideas of magic superstition
in Egypt and Chaldea were as different in their character as were the forms of
In the Egyptian documents we perceive no trace of those elementary spirits, some good and some had, endowed with a distinct personality, which Chaldeans believed to have been spread all over the world, the objects either of propitiatory incantations or the most terrible exorcisms. On the other hand, the Chaldeans in no way entertained the idea of being able to elevate a man into a kind of demigod by means of their formulae, and of identifying him with the greatest personages of the celestial hierarchy. Neither did they pretend that those formulae had any power to command the gods or to compel them [p.108] to obey. Their magic belonged to the intermediate spiritual state, and there its powers were displayed. If they required the help of the supreme gods, that was to be obtained by means of prayers and supplications, and not by compulsion; indeed, and we shall refer to this idea again, even their prayers were not all powerful to accomplish the desires of the suppliant unless they were presented to the gods by a mediator. True indeed there was a supreme name which possessed the power of commanding the gods, and exacting from them a perfect obedience, but that name remained the inviolable secret of Hea. The initiated need never hope to attain to such an awful height of knowledge as he might in the Egyptian system. In exceptionally grave cases he besought Hea, through the mediator Silik-mulu-khi, to pronounce the solemn word in order to re-establish order in the world and restrain the powers of the abyss. But the enchanter did not know that name, and could not in consequence introduce it into his formulae, even although they were destined to remain for ever concealed in mystery. He could not obtain or make use of it, he only requested the god who knew it to employ it, without endeavouring to penetrate the terrible secret himself.
The primitive simplicity of the incantations of Chaldean magic strikes us forcibly when we compare them with those of the Egyptian magic, and this fact gives to them a stamp of greater antiquity. Every thing is expressed very clearly and simply without any attempt at obscurity, or premeditated complications.
The belief in spirits is seen there in its most ancient [p.109] and perfect form, without any philosophical refinement as to the divine substance, without a single trace of mysticism, and above all without any allusions to the vast number of mythological legends which fill the Egyptian formulae, and render them perfectly unintelligible without a voluminous commentary.
It is easy on the contrary to understand the magical formulae in the Accadian language, which were preserved in Chaldea until the breaking up of the sacerdotal schools on the borders of the Euphrates, and which Assurbanipal had copied for the royal library in Nineveh about the VIIth century, B.C. They contain no mysteries, and the sacerdotal secret, if there were one, consisted in the precise knowledge of the exact terms of the incantations, sacred from their antiquity, and no doubt also from the idea that they were of divine origin. The formulae were the work of a people who possessed as yet no esoteric doctrines and no mystical initiations; amongst whom the science of magic consisted simply in a practical acquaintance by the priests with certain rites and words, by means of which they fancied themselves able to establish a communication with the world of spirits, whilst at the same time their conception of those spirits differed from the popular superstitions only by a little more systematic regularity in their position, hierarchy and privileges.
It is for this reason that the Accadian magic preserved, even during the centuries of the greatest splendour of Babylon and Assyria, the appearance of extreme antiquity and the spirit of the earliest ages, by the side of the learned religion which sprang [p.110] up later in the same places, and which accepted the existence of this magic by placing in the canon of its sacred books the old Accadian incantations, and giving a place, though indeed an insubordinate one, in its theological system to the genii who were invoked in these incantations. At the bottom, as we shall see, magic was not separated in Chaldea from the religion of the historical centuries; it was a new twig from an entirely different plant which was grafted for good or for evil upon the trunk from the time that its existence was recognized, and tolerated instead of being annihilated. But facts oblige us to see in it also the remains of an earlier religious system, of a still rudimentary and coarse naturalism, which arose from the ideas of a primitive population belonging to a race entirely different from that among which the Chaldaic-Assyrian religion existed. In the civilization which gradually spread over the borders of the Tigris and Euphrates from the fusion of the Sumirians, and the Accadians, the Semito-Kushites and the Turanians, religion and magic were peaceably united, although they originated in the two opposing elements of the people. This I think will be made evident by placing the doctrines of the magic books which were originally written in the Accadian language, and the discovery of which we owe to Sir Henry Rawlinson, in comparison with those of the later official religion arni of the public worship, as they appear in many documents.
The Chaldiao-Babylonian Religion and its Doctrines.
IN order to be able to compare, with a full knowledge of the
matter, the information given us by the magic Accadian texts and the Babylonian
religious system, let us begin by examining the latter at the time of its most
complete development, namely, during the whole of the historical period termed
the Assyrian era, when it received an impulse from the sacerdotal schools which
were in full activity under Sargon I. and Hammurabi. I shall only need here to
resume and complete what I have more minutely explained with quotation and
proofs in my Commentaire des fragments cosmogoniques de Berose (Paris, 1872).
The Babylonian religion, adopted by the Assyrians with only one important modification, was, in its essential principles, and in the spirit which guided its ideas, a religion of the same kind as that of Egypt and nearly all other great heathen religions. Underneath the exterior garb of a coarse Polytheism with which it had been invested by popular superstition, were the conceptions of a higher order from [p.112] which it had originated; and foremost amongst them the fundamental idea of a divine unity, although disfigured by the monstrous illusions of pantheism, which confounded the creature with the Creator, and transformed the Divine Being into a multitude of derivative gods who were manifested in all the phenomena of nature. Below this sole and Supreme God, since he was the All in which every thing becomes absorbed, were ranged in an order of emanation corresponding to their order of importance, a company of secondary gods, which were no other than his attributes and his manifestations personified. In these secondary divine personages and in their reciprocal nature, may be particularly seen the differences between the chief heathen religions, the first principle of which is always the same. The imagination of the Egyptians was, as I said before, especially struck by the successive stages in the daily and yearly course of the sun; they saw in them the most imposing manifestation of the Divinity, revealing most clearly the laws of the order of the world, and they sought in them their divine personifications. The Chaldaic Babylonians on the contrary devoted almost exclusively to astronomy, read in the whole sidereal and planetary system, the revelation of the Divine Being. Like the Syro-Phoenician nations, to whose religions theirs was very closely allied, they considered the stars as the true exterior manifestations of this Divine Being, representing them in their religious system as sentient persons proceeding from the substance of the Absolute Being, whom they identified with the world which [p.113] was his great work. Only, in its definitive form, their religion classed these emanations in a learned and philosophical scale, which must have been the result of deep thought, and which found no counterpart in the religion of Syria and Phoenicia.
The Supreme God, the first unique principle from which all the other gods took their origin, was Ilu262 whose name signifies "the god" pre-eminently. He is the One and the Good whom the Neoplatonician philosophers announced as the common source of every thing in Chaldean theology;263 and indeed the first principle is mentioned as "the god One"264 in documents of the later epoch, which tell us,265 the philosophic language having been completely formed in the sacerdotal schools, that in the beginning the Existing Being (Auv Kinuv) was begotten of the Abyss (Apsu), and the primordial sea (Tiamat) and was worshipped under this name by Nebuchadnezzar.266 But this belongs to a philosophical development of quite recent date.267 In the religion of the classical ages of the basin of the Euphrates, the idea of Ilu was too comprehensive [p.114] and too vast to receive a very definite exterior form, and consequently the adoration of the people; the Greeks found in him on that account a certain analogy with their Cronos, to whom they likened him. It seems that in Chaldea no important temple was especially dedicated to him, although to him Babylon owed its name of Bab-Ilu268 or in the Accadian Ka-Dingira. The personality of un was not clearly defined for a long time; his office and title as "God One" were at first given to Anu, "the ancient god," and the first person of the supreme trinity, which was afterwards held to emanate from Ilu; the priests did not distinguish the primordial principle from the chief of this trinity. It was only amongst the Assyrians that the worship of a "dens exsuperantissimus," the source and principle whence all the others originate, took almost as important a place as in that of Ahuramazda amongst the Persians, in the person of their national god Assur, from whom the country itself derived its name.
Next to Ilu, the universal and mysterious source of all things came a trinity composed of his three first exterior and visible manifestations, which were placed at the summit of the scale of the gods in the popular worship; Anu, the primordial chaos, the god of Time and the World, (both χρόνος and χόσμος) uncreated matter issuing from the fundamental and unique principle of all things; Hea, the intelligence, or we would willingly say "the Word," which animated matter and rendered it [p.115] fertile, which penetrated the universe, directed and inspired it with life; being, at the same time, the king of the element of water, in one word, "the Spirit which moved upon the face of the waters;" and, lastly, Bel the demiurgus and ruler of the organized universe. Damascius269 describes this great trinity among the Chaldeans, and designates the personages by the Accadian appellations of Anna (Άνός), Hea (Άός) and Anu (Ίλινός). These three coequal and co-substantial divine persons were not of the same degree of emanation, but they issued on the contrary one from the other: Hea from Anu, and Bel from Nuah.270
Corresponding with each of the gods of the supreme trinity was a feminine divinity, his second half, the passive form, or, to use the expression in many inscriptions, "the reflection." Thus, in India, the great Trimurti271 of the male gods is reproduced in the feminine trinity, or the Sakti-Trimurti. And so in Chaldean mythology Anat or Nana answered to Ann, Belit to Bel, and Davkina to Hea; but the [p.116] distinction between these three female personages was much less clear than that existing between the three male gods. They were often confounded one with the other, and in reality they ultimately become but one, Belit, who was almost always mentioned to the exclusion of the other two in the incantations to the cycle of the great gods. Belit was the principal feminine element of nature, the humid, passive and fertile matter which perpetuates the race of the gods and human beings.
In an Assyrian inscription of Sargon II. Belit is said to grind to powder the elements of the world like paint. Her principal functions are those of "The sovereign goddess," "Lady of the lower abyss," "Mother of the gods," "Queen of the earth," "Queen of fertility." As the primordial humidity from which everything proceeds, she was Tamti, "the sea;" as the chthonian and infernal goddess, Allat or Um-Uruk, "the mother of the town of Erech," the great necropolis of Chaldea. Lastly, in the astronomical world she revealed herself as Istar; but in this last manifestation she took a more distinctly personal character than in the others, and was allotted a special place in the hierarchical system of the pantheon.
After the first Trinity, which represented the genesis of the material world, and issued from the substance of the Divine Being himself, the series of emanation was continued, and thus produced a second trinity. The three personages composing it abandoning henceforth the general and undefined character of those forming the first, and assuming a decidedly [p.117] sidereal aspect; they represented those celestial bodies in which the Chaldaic-Babylonians saw the most remarkable exterior manifestations of the Divinity, namely, to quote them in their hierarchical order, Sin, the god of the moon, the son of Bel; Samas, the sun, the son of Hea; and lastly, Bin, the god of the atmosphere and its phenomena, of the winds, of the rain and thunder, the son of Anu.
These were the three trinities, "each composed of a father or first principle, a power, and an intelligence," pater, potentia et mens, which the philosophers of the Neoplatonician school, who thoroughly understood the Asiatic religions, tell us were regarded by the Chaldeans as emanating from the One and Good "unum et bonum," and as constituting the foundation of their religion.272 And further, since the Chaldaic Babylonians, like the Syro-Phoenician nations, never recognised a god without dividing his substance into a male and female principle, each of the deities forming the triad of the most important celestial bodies was thus assisted by his spouse. With Sin was united "the supreme lady," whose name we are not yet sure of pronouncing correctly; with Samas the goddess Gula, triform as personating the moon,273 and who was sometimes replaced by a group of three spouses of equal rank, Malkit, Gula, and Anunit; and, lastly, the companion of Bin was the goddess Sala.
In the descending scale of the emanations, and the supreme
hierarchy of the pantheon, the gods of the five planets had the next place:
viz., Adar (Saturn), Marduk (Jupiter), Nergal (Mars), Istar (Venus), and Nebo
(Mercury). As the planets Venus and Mercury each have different aspects in the
morning and evening, the Chaldeans admitted later into their astro-mythology a
double Istar, and divided the god Nebo into two persons, Nebo and Nusku. The
four who were considered as male gods, Istar being a goddess, had each a
feminine companion to complete their powers by a conjugal union: Zarpanit being
the consort of Marduk; Laz of Nergal; and Tasmit of Nebo; as to Adar, he was
represented as both the son and spouse of the great goddess Belit.274 Istar also
possessed a mysterious spouse, Duzi or Dumuzi,275
who was stolen from her in the flower of his youth, and whom she goes to seek in
the depths of the infernal regions into which the dead descend; this, however,
does not hinder him from indulging in many other passions, of which the
mythological legends do not scruple to give some scandalous details.276
With these planetary personages ends the series of the twelve great gods who constituted the true Chaldaic-Babylonian Olympus, the superior order of that divine hierarchy, the twelve who were called by [p.119] Diodorus Siculus277 in a very correct explanation of the astronomical theological Chaldean system, "masters," or "lords of the gods," and who were said by him to preside over the twelve months of the year and the twelve signs of the zodiac.278 They were generally mentioned alone as objects of a public, official, and universal worship throughout the country, and their titles form part of most proper names; but beneath these great gods, the theology and mythology of Babylon and Assyria recognized legions of du minores which represented inferior orders of emanation, but which do not appear to have been arranged as regularly as were the chiefs of the hierarchy; they formed quite a nation of gods which always remained rather confused, and were worshipped only in certain places. Minor divinities of this kind are mentioned in the cosmogonic story of Berosus in company with Bel they are said to execute his orders, and to aid him in his work as demiurge. The mythological and astrological tablets give a great number of divine names which must be referred to this class. Those above all should be studied which contain the genealogies of gods, and particularly that precious fragment of a cuneiform text in which the divinities subordinate to the great gods in the principal sanctuaries of Babylon and Assyria are enumerated temple by temple.279
Many names which were given in the inscriptions [p.120] as belonging to distinct personages were, no doubt, found upon the other mythological tablets as titles of the great gods. Popular worship only gave them a distinct existence, and, in the general and scientific system of religion, they were considered as diverse forms of the same divinity. But some of the dii minores have a right to be considered distinct personages, as they perform functions of a certain importance. Such were Serakh, who was also called Nirba, the god of harvests; Manu the great, who presided over fate, as also the goddess Namit Papsukul, the messenger of the great gods; Bau, the personification of chaos; Martu, the west, the son of Anu; Asmun; Samila; Usu; and many more that it would take too long to mention. Together with them were some local gods of rivers or towns, the adoration of whom never became general in the country, and to whom, in the definite classifications of the pantheon, no higher place was assigned, Subulat, the god of the Euphrates, and Ztak, god of the Tigris, Serrakh of Kis, Kanissura of Cutha; some of the latter being even of foreign origin, and therefore we find certain gods belonging to the Elamite frontier worshipped in the eastern provinces, such as Laguda at Kisik, and in other places Susinka, and Lagamar or Lagamal.280 The ancient gods of the purely Accadian age were also consigned to the confused crowd of dii minores, and their worship consequently abandoned; but they continued to be mentioned in the magical books [p.121] which are preserved, traditionally the remains of another religious phase to be examined shortly.
We must distinguish the long series of stellar personifications, representing "the celestial mansions and the whole army of heaven,"281 namely, constellations or stars viewed singly; from the gods grouped beneath the supreme cycle as inferior powers and emanations. These corresponded with the astrological and apotelesmatical conceptions, with which the Chaldaic-Babylonian religion had been imbued from the earliest ages in a higher degree than any other religious system of the ancient world. These personifications were distributed into classes and arranged according to their importance and their attributes in a systematic hierarchy, the construction of which is very clearly explained by Diodorus Siculus,282 and of which we shall hereafter give a detailed account in our book on astrology. They were not all counted amongst the gods properly so called, many stars being regarded only as animated by supernatural beings under the orders of the great gods, thus continuing the chain of emanations in a lower degree; and while they still participated in the divine essence, approaching near to humanity, and consequently interesting themselves pre-eminently in the human race.
In this new sphere were ranged the four principal classes of protecting genii the Sed, Alap, or Kirub, who was represented as a bull with a human face the Lamas or Nirgal, as a lion with a man's head the Ustur, after the human likeness; and the Nattig [p.122] with the head of an eagle; the emblems of these four classes were adopted by the prophet Ezekiel283 as those of the four symbolical creatures which supported the throne of Jehovah in his wondrous visions by the river Chebar. Next above them were the angels or spirits, divided into two groups: the Igili or celestial spirits, and the Anunnaki or terrestrial spirits. A tablet from the library of Nineveh gives the names of seven supreme and magnificent gods,284 fifty great gods of heaven and earth, three hundred spirits of the heavens, and six hundred spirits of the earth.285 The admission of these choirs of angels and genii beneath the gods, justified the people of that epoch in admitting the demonology of the ancient Accadian books into their religious system, and in placing amongst the sacerdotal sciences the magic of the ancients, who, knowing nothing of the supreme gods of the Assyrian hierarchy, were contented with an earlier religious system, and whose only theology was a system of gods and elementary spirits, of which some were good and others bad.
Tablet I. of the Creation Series.
1 When the upper region was not yet called Heaven,
2 and the lower region was not yet called Earth,
3 and the Abyss of Hades had not yet opened its arm,
4 then the chaos of waters gave birth to all of them.
5 And the waters were gathered into one place.
6 No men yet dwelt together, no animals yet wandered about,
7 none of the gods had yet been born,
8 their names were not spoken, their attributes were not known.
9 Then the eldest of the gods,
10 Lakhmu and Lakhamu, were born,
11 ... and grew up
12 Assur and Kissur were born next,
13 And lived through long periods.
14 Anu ...... —H. Fox Talbot.
Extract from a letter to The Academy, March 20, 1875, by the Rev. A. H. SAYCE, on the creation Tablet.
"Now the story of the Deluge discovered by Mr. Smith has so fully demonstrated the good faith of Berosus in transcribing the early legends of Chaldea, we may accept without hesitation his account of the Babylonian cosmogony in all its details, even though monumental corroboration of it were still wanting. The cosmogony however belongs to a period of reflection and systematisation.
* * *
Sigé it is stated, was the primitive substance of the universe from whom came Apason and his wife Tavthe, "the mother of the gods." She bore her firstborn, Moumis, "the intelligent world," and afterwards Dakhe and Dakhos, together with Kissaré and Assôres, of whom were born the triad Anos, Illinos and Aos, Bel, the demiurge, being the son of Anos and Davke. Now Sigê is the Accadian Zicu or Zigara, "the heaven," "the mother of gods and men," while Apasôn is Ap'su, "the deep," and Tavthe, Tihamtu, "the sea." Similarly, Moumis is Mami, "the waters," Assôros being Assur with his wife Seruá. The triad, as well as Davke and Bel are familiar personages in the inscriptions.
Dr. Ewald has shown that the basis of the Phoenician cosmogony (or rather of the various cosmogonies, which a syncretising account fused into one) is the Trinity of Baau (or Chaos) Spirit (or Desire) and Môt. Môt is interpreted "slime" and is elsewhere termed Ulamos, or Time, and also the "Egg," out of which heaven and earth have been produced. The Trinity corresponds exactly to the old Accadian Trinity of Na or Anu "the sky," Ea or En-ci, "the earth," and Mul-ge, "the lord of the under world." Mul-ge is the Bel of Semitic Babylonia, and to him were assigned the functions of a demiurge or creator. Hea was "the lord of life" and "knowledge," as well as "of the deep." He too was "the spirit of wisdom" that brooded over the abysmal waters, and penetrated through the universe, understanding all secrets, and presiding over all theurgic action. His wife, Davkina or Davke, "the female earth," was identified with Bahu; and herein we have a curious analogy, not only to the passage of Genesis which states that "the earth had been waste and desolate, and darkness upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters," but also to the Phoenician system with its spirit Mot and Baau. Baau is said to have been the wife of the wind Kolpia, and we thus get a striking resemblance to the Chaldean Triad of the Demiurge, the sky and the earth whose spirit broods over the abyss and is wedded to Baau. Even the language of the Biblical account, in which Elohim "carves" the heaven and the earth out of a primeval chaos, his spirit brooding over the deep and wasteness of the earth, shows a similar colouring. The likeness is increased when we recollect that the week of seven days originated among the Accadians, and that each seventh day was one of "rest," on which certain works appear to be done."
Development of the Chaldean Mythology.
THE perusal of such an explanation of this learned and
cleverly contrived system as we have just given, following closely the
indications of the texts, and giving no play to conjecture or imagination, will
suffice to show that it could not have been a very primitive one, and that it
must have exacted an immense effort of religious and philosophical thought,
which was probably the work of many ages in the sacerdotal schools. And
although, through a deficiency of documents, much is still required to complete
our knowledge of the ancient history of Chaldea before the development of the
Assyrian power, it is sufficient to justify us in affirming that the definitive
system of the Chaldaic-Babylonian religion, with its divine hierarchy, and its
series of successive emanations, was the result of a great sacerdotal movement.
It nearly approached a religious revolution, and corresponded in more than one
particular with the transformation which the early [p.126]
Vedic religion underwent in India under the influence of the Brahmin
colleges. Like the latter it was the work of a firmly constituted priesthood,
accustomed to the most abstract speculations of thought, and to meditation on
the great religious problems, as they presented themselves to minds imbued with
pantheistic prejudices; we shall examine later the origin of this priesthood,
which was also the source of its religious supremacy. We can even fix the date
of 2000 B.C., at the commencement of the dynasty of Agane in Babylon proper, of
which Sargon I. was the chief, as about the time when the religious evolution
which we are considering, having nearly arrived at perfection, definitely
triumphed, and extended its empire over the whole country. The establishment of
the same rule in the northern and southern provinces, in Chaldea and in Babylon,
first under the dynasty of Agane, and then under the new family which Hammurabi
placed on the throne by his conquests, very much facilitated its triumph.
There are many monuments still remaining of the earlier state of the religion. In the numerous inscriptions of the first dynasty of the ancient Chaldean empire which have been handed down to us, we find no trace of the learned system of the Olympus286 mentioned in the books which are supposed to have been written during the epoch [p.127] of Sargon I. The names of the gods are the same as they were later; but these divine personages were not as yet connected with each other by the bonds of the theological system we have just explained, or grouped and arranged according to degrees of importance and emanation from a regular hierarchy. Their attributes were much less definite and distinct than they afterwards became; there was more resemblance amongst themselves, and, above all, they were of an almost exclusively local character.287 Each of them was worshipped alone with his wife in a town, where he continued to have his principal sanctuary even to the end, and in that town he was looked upon as the first of the gods. Anu288 reigned thus in Erech with Nana;289 Be1290 with Belit291 in Nipur; Sin with Nana, in Ur; Samas292 in Larsa of Chaldea, and Sippara of Babylon, where he was united with Anunit; Marduk and Zarpanit were the special deities of Babylon; Nebo of Borsippa, where, as an exception, Nana was his spouse; and Nergal and Laz were worshipped at Cutha. When the dynasty of Ur exercised an actual supremacy over the whole of Chaldea, this supremacy was represented in the religious hierarchy by its giving the pre-eminence to Sin,293 the patron god of the town; but the same pre-eminence passed to Samas when the power belonged to the king of Larsa. No inscriptions [p.128] of those distant ages (between 3000 and 2000 B.C.) unite the cycle of the great gods in the same worship, as was so often done in later times. The collections of Accadian liturgical hymns, accompanied by an interlinear Assyrian translation, which we have given elsewhere,294 belongs to the same state of things and the same historical period. The able researches of the Count de Vögué295 have proved that the religions of the nations of Syria and Palestine always remained in this state, and were never exposed like those of the lower Euphrates to the influence of the work of a sole and powerful sacerdotal corporation.296 The formula belonging to them, and given by the eminent Academician (now unfortunately for science made an ambassador) could be applied without any modification to the form of the Chaldaic- Babylonian religion previous to its classification, which was really very artificial in many ways. They constituted a group of religions closely connected with each other which may be termed Kuschito-Semitic or Euphratico-Syrian, and they all show the same fundamental data, and have many of the names of their gods in common. This family is one of the most distinctly marked which we can find in the science of the religions.
We see the idea of a sole and universal Divine Being, manifested in the natural world, which is really himself, emanating from his substance and not [p.129] created by him, spread everywhere as the foundation of all religion, and it certainly was the primordial notion of it. But the nature of this god, as in all the ancient pantheisms, was to be at the same time one and many. He was a divine nature working in all the universe, the author of all physical life, destroying his work each year, to renew it afterwards, at the change of the seasons; and following out the pantheistic idea of his nature, he was considered to perform these operations of destruction and renovation not in a world distinct from him, but in his own substance, by a reaction upon himself. A divine name and a distinct person, which became in its exterior form a special personification, corresponded with each phase of these operations. Hence a primitive development of mythology which had taken a local character even upon the borders of the Euphrates and Tigris, until the time of the great work of unification and classification which neither Syria nor Phoenicia experienced. Each tribe and town contemplated the Divine Being under one particular aspect, as a certain phenomena of nature or as one of the principles admitted by the coarse philosophy of the time. The result was a corresponding number of gods all different in appearance; but any one who studies them attentively will find that they soon blend one with the other, and return to the primordial unity of the divine substance.
This nature-god had necessarily a double essence, since he was the cause and prototype of the visible world, and united in himself and possessed the two principles of all terrestrial generation, the active and [p.130] passive, or male and female principles; this conception of duality in unity necessitated the duplication of the symbols, and thus gave rise to the idea of of feminine divinities. In the religions of the Euphratico-Syrian group, the goddess was termed the "manifestation" of the male divinity with which she corresponded. She did not differ from him in any essential point; she was, so to speak, a subjective form of the primitive divinity, a second divine person, distinct enough from the first to be able to form a conjugal union with him, yet at the same time no other than the divinity himself in his exterior manifestation. This general conception of the feminine divinity was subdivided, like the male divinity, into a number of local or attributive personifications. In Chaldea and Babylon, as in Syria and Palestine, every god was necessarily accompanied by a goddess who corresponded to him. The divine personages were not generated separately, but in couples; and each of these couples constituted a complete unity, a reflection of the primitive unity, the two personages which formed it were therefore reciprocally complemental one to the other. When the god had a solar character, the goddess had a lunar nature: if one presided over the day, the other presided over the night: if one personified the active elements, fire and air, the other represented the passive elements, water and earth.
In this common foundation of the Euphratico-Syrian religions, the divine forms were somewhat vague, undecided and wavering. The gods of Chaldea and Babylon, as they come before us in the[p.131] most ancient inscriptions, and in the collection of Accadian liturgical hymns, before the great work which defined their respective rank and attributes, resembled those Syrian gods of whom it has been justly said that they had "no firmness of outline, no perceptible determination, nothing to recall the life and personality of the homeric gods; that they were more like those gods of the infant Aryan race, like the feeble divinities of the Vedas, amongst whom Varuna, Indra, and Agni were so often confounded with one another, and the god invoked, be he Indra, Savitri, or Varuna, was always regarded as the highest and most powerful of the gods."297 By distributing them later into the learned hierarchy of emanations which we have examined; by giving to each a more distinct personality with a clearly defined office; by, so to speak, localising each of them in one of the great heavenly bodies, their primitive nature was sometimes much modified in a way that we can in certain cases thoroughly appreciate. This I think I have proved;298 and, indeed, it is a generally admitted fact that Adar Samdan, the Chaldaio-Assyrian Hercules, who was considered then as the god of the planet Saturn, was originally a solar personification; he retained even in his new character the features of his first physiognomy, and the mythological tablets still called him "the Sun of the South." In general one may say that in the earliest state of the Chaldaic-Babylonian religion, as also in the [p.132] Syrian, the great majority of the male gods were solar deities, although, in many cases, their physiognomy was much changed in order the better to individualise them, and to make them agree with the newly formed hierarchical system. By way of compensation, the planetary point of view which plays so important a part in the next stage of the religion, hardly appeared during the first epoch, and the influence of the astrological ideas with which it was connected did not begin to predominate in religion until the time of the evolution already mentioned, and then it grew in a great measure out of the new ideas. The only divinity who showed a very decided planetary physiognomy from the earliest times was Istar. In like manner nothing is clearer nor better established than the solar character of her spouse Duzi or Tammuz: he was early recognised in the religion of Phoenicia, and had a much more important part there than in the Babylonian mythology. Gods who died and revived periodically belonged to the worship of ancient Asia, and were personifications of the sun in the successive phases of his daily and yearly course. Such was originally Marduk, the tutelary god of Babylon, who was afterwards localized in the planet Jupiter, for he also died to return again to the light, and his tomb was shown in the pyramid of Babylon. His ancient Accadian name of Amar-utuki, changed in the Semitic language to Marduk, signified "the light of the Sun." Bin himself was still termed in some astrological documents the "Sun of the South Upon Elam." The principal Epopee of Babylon was [p.133] composed on a like basis; Izdhubar or Dhubar, its principal hero, was a solar personification, and his twelve great adventures corresponded with the twelve signs of the zodiac.299
Some male gods, however, were from the remotest times of the Chaldaio-Babylonian religion exceptions to this common solar character. Sin was the moon, and he bore her name in the Assyrian; he was regarded as both masculine and active, that is to say, in connection with the earth, for the moon was considered to be feminine in connection with the sun, as we saw in the couple Anunit or Gula and Samas. In his great sanctuary of Ur, Nana was his spouse; she was a chthonian goddess personifying the earth, and this connection is clearly expressed by her Accadian name of Hur-ki, peculiar to the worship of the town of Ur, meaning "that which illuminates the earth."300 On account of the double aspect assumed by the moon according to the point of view from which it is observed, it was represented in many mythological legends, the most important of which has been preserved by Ctesias, as an androgynous god like Men the lunar god of the religions of Asia Minor, whom he very nearly resembles.
In Ann was realised during the earliest period of the religion of the Euphrates, the idea of a cosmic and uranic god, who was at once heaven, earth and time, a deity termed by the Greeks an Aeon, in speaking of [p.134] the Asiatic worship, and by the Romans Sceculum; he was the same as Ulom or Eschmun of Phoenicia, Mama of Gaza, Baal-haldim of the other parts of Palestine, and lastly, the Arabian god Audh or Hobal.301 He was "the Ancient of days," and of all the divine personifications admitted into the Euphratico-Syrian religions he was the most comprehensive and the most nearly allied to the notion of primordial unity, but at the same time also the most vaguely defined; he was a little like the Vedic Varuna302 and the Ouranos of the more ancient Greeks. From the time of the oldest Chaldean dynasties, as also at the beginning of that stage which saw the complete classification of religion, he was made the first principle in connection with other gods, and the author of all emanations; indeed he possessed all the qualities which were afterwards given to Ilu, when that deity was distinguished from Anu by a new effort towards the abstract conception of the divine being, and this is the reason why Anu was called pre-eminently "the Ancient," "the Progenitor," and "the Father of the gods."
I could apply these observations also to the personages Bel and Hea, and pass all the gods of the Chaldaio-Babylonian pantheon successively in review, seeking the most ancient idea of each which it is possible to obtain. But to do this would require a regular treatise on the mythology of the basins of the Euphrates and Tigris, which I have not undertaken in this book, and therefore I can only now examine [p.135] such questions incidentally and as they are connected with my subject. The foregoing examples suffice, I think, to show the nature and spirit of the Chaldaio-Babylonian religion in its ancient form, and its identity with the religions which continued to predominate in Syria, Phoenicia, and other countries inhabited by the same race.
The Religious System of the Accadian Magic Books.
NOW that we have, by means of numerous documents, thoroughly
studied and mastered the system of the religion which was imported into Assyria
from Babylon and Chaldea in its two distinct stages, first after the great
sacerdotal reform had introduced into it a learned and philosophical hierarchy,
and also in its earlier and ruder state; an examination of the ancient Accadian
magic books seems to transport us into an entirely new world.
We no longer hear of the same gods, some of the names, which afterwards disappear entirely from the invocations and the mythology,303 which have not even a settled and generally received equivalent in the Assyrian versions, play an important part in the magic texts. Certain gods, whose titles were to be found in the pantheon of the public and official [p.137] religion, or whom the Assyrian translators had likened indifferently to some of the personages of that religion, appear as a rule, in these texts under an entirely different form, and with entirely different attributes; and further what is particularly remarkable, the sidereal personifications, with the exception of the sun who holds so high a rank in the regular and well organized system of the theology of the great sacerdotal schools, and to whom that theology attributes the government of the world and the ordering of events, have no place in the incantations and hymns of the magic collections.304 At the most we only find a passing mention of the sidereal deities in a very small number of formulae amongst the invocations at the end after the sacramental words:
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth conjure it!
While lastly, it is a remarkable fact, which we shall endeavour to explain
further on, and which gives a peculiar character to these passages, that not the
sidereal gods themselves are invoked, but their spirits,305 which are imagined to
have a distinct existence.
So at the end of an incantation against the plague [p.138] (Namtar),306 diseases, demons, and witchcraft in general, we read:
Spirit of the heavens, conjure it! Spirit of the earth, conjure it!
Spirit of Mul-gelal,307 lord of the countries, conjure it!
Spirit of Nin-ge-lal,308 lady of the countries, conjure it!
Spirit of Nin-dara,309 powerful warrior of Mul-gelal, conjure it!
Spirit of Nusku, sublime messenger of Mul-gelal, conjure it!
Spirit of Eni-zuna,310 eldest son of Mul-gelal, conjure it!
Spirit of Tiskhu,311 lady of the armies, conjure it!
Spirit of Mermer,312 king whose voice313 is beneficent, conjure it!
Spirit of Utu,314 king of justice, conjure it!
Spirits, Archangels (Anunna), great gods, conjure it!315
In other invocations of the same kind, these spirits of the sidereal gods are associated with those of gods who were no longer known to the public religion of Babylon and Nineveh, and also with other spirits of an elementary character as beings of the same kind and rank; as, for instance, in this enumeration, which is one of the fullest to be found [p.139] in the great magic collection copied by Assurbanipal's orders:
Fever, Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!
Male Spirits, lords of the earth, conjure it!
Female Spirits, ladies of the earth, conjure it!
Male Spirits, lords of the stars, conjure it!
Female Spirits, ladies of the stars, conjure it!
Male Spirits, lords of hostilities, conjure it!
Female Spirits, ladies of hostilities, conjure it!
Spirits Eni-dazarma,316 conjure it!
Spirits Nin-dazat-ma,317 conjure it!
Male Spirits, lords of the sublime covering, conjure it!318
Female Spirits, ladies of the sublime covering, conjure it!
Male Spirits, lords of the light of life, conjure it!
Female Spirits, ladies of the light of life, conjure it!
Male Spirits, lords of the inferior region, conjure it!
Female Spirits, ladies of the inferior region, conjure it!
Spirits, lords of the mother and father319 of Mul-gelal, conjure it!
Female Spirits of the mother and father of Mul-gelal, conjure it!
Spirit of Hur-ki320 who makes his talismanic321 ship cross the river, conjure it!
Spirit of Utu, the king, umpire of the gods, conjure it!
Spirit of Tiskhu, who directs the Archangels of the earth (Annuna-ge) conjure it!
Spirit of the goddess Ziku,322 mother of Hea, conjure it!
Spirit of Ninuah,323 daughter of Hea, conjure it!
Spirit of Nin-si-ana,324 ..... conjure it!
Spirit of the god Fire, supreme pontiff on the face of the earth, conjure it!
Spirit of Nin-gis-zida,325 who upheaves the face of the earth, conjure it!
Spirits of the seven doors of the world, conjure it!
Spirits of the seven locks of the world, conjure it!
Spirit Khusbi-kuru,326 wife of Namtar, conjure it!
Spirit Khi-tim-kur-ku,327 daughter of the Ocean, conjure it!
These long litanies are, however, very rare. Up to the present time we possess
no Criterion which might enable us to judge of the respective antiquity of the
different fragments in the great magic collection; but it is clear that, like
those of the Vedic collection, they belong to very different epochs, and that
the composition of these incantations, formulae, and hymns might be referred to
different centuries far anterior even to the early date at which they were
collected and reduced to writing. But it would need careful and deep study,
assisted by all the most delicate arts of criticism, to determine the chronology
of these fragments, and we are not as yet in a posi- [p.141] tion to undertake this difficult task. We may however, gather, from the
simplicity of the formulae, which characterises those of a very early date, that
the texts containing invocations or litanies, like that we have just quoted,
together with two others; the only two of their kind, which have been cited
earlier as specimens of long epic stories should be classed amongst the most
recent, since they include the idea of punishment of sin by means of disease,
and the necessity of repentance, dogmas of a later school. These litanies
represent a last phase in the formation of magical documents, a time when the
fusion of the Kuschito-Semitic and Turanian elements of the nation had given
birth to those religious conceptions which finally predominated exclusively in
the exterior and public worship. The old religion of the spirits, upon which
Chaldean magic was originally founded, still existed quite independently at this
time, and became the peculiar doctrine of the priests of magic, who continued to
compose incantations and to add them to the traditional fund which they had
received from their predecessors, although this practice seems afterwards to
have ceased. But while their doctrine had not changed, and had kept its place
side by side with the new religion, the priests perceived plainly the popularity
of the gods of this rival religion, and found for them a place accordingly in
their infinite world of spirits.
These surmises may seem on a first consideration rather far-fetched, and we shall perhaps be told that the hypotheses we have just advanced rest on no sufficient foundation, but I think anyone who has [p.142] studied attentively the great collection of magical tablets discovered by Sir Henry Rawlinson must grant that we have in them sufficient and convincing proofs to support our conjectures.
The Origin of the Myth of the Zi.
WE will now endeavour to give an idea of the religious system explained in the
Accadian magic writings, by means of quotations taken principally from the hymns
of the third book of the great collection, of which up to this time we have made
but little use.
This system was actually that of an adoration of the elementary spirits, as undisputed, as marked, as it ever was amongst the Altaic nations, or in ancient China. Accadian magic was founded upon the belief in innumerable personal spirits distributed in every part throughout nature, sometimes blended with the objects that they animated, and sometimes separate from them. This was certainly one of the rudest conceptions of the supernatural and of the unknown power which governs the world, as it was also one of the most primitive, for it bordered on fetichism and even adopted some of its principles, by confiding [p.144] blindly in talismans and in their mysterious power.328 Spirits everywhere dispersed produced all the phenomena of nature, and directed and animated all created beings. They caused evil and good, guided the movements of the celestial bodies, brought back the seasons in their order, made the winds to blow and the rain to fall, and produced by their influence atmospheric phenomena, both beneficial and destructive; they also rendered the earth fertile, and caused plants to germinate and to bear fruit, presided over the birth and preserved the lives of living beings, and yet at the same time sent death and disease. There were spirits of this kind everywhere, in the starry heavens, in the earth, and in the intermediate regions of the atmosphere; each element was full of them, earth, air, fire, and water; and nothing could exist without them.329 There were particular ones for each element, each celestial body, each creature, and each object in nature. A very distinct and definite personality was ascribed to them, and we see no trace of the idea of a Supreme God, of a first principle with which they were connected and from which they derived their existence, ruling over this vast number of beings who were superior to man, but inferior to the [p.145] notion of the gods cherished by religions of a higher tendency. This feature distinguishes this naturalism, as also that of the Tartar and Mongol nations, from that of the move noble races, such as the ancient Aryas,330 amongst whom there was always a fundamental idea of a supreme deity, although sometimes very vague and indefinite, besides the adoration of the cosmic phenomena personified in the gods.
As evil is everywhere present in nature side by side with good, plagues with favourable influences, death with life, destruction with fruitfulness; an idea of dualism as decided as in the religion of Zoroaster, pervaded the conceptions of the supernatural world formed by the Accadian magicians, the evil beings of which they feared more than they valued the powers of good. There were essentially good spirits, and others equally bad. Their opposing troops constituted a vast dualism, which embraced the whole universe and kept up a perpetual struggle in all parts of creation. The bad spirits were, like the good, spread everywhere: in heaven, earth, and in the atmosphere, they were in opposition to each other and contended together furiously. Their successive triumphs and defeats caused plagues and benefits to alternate in nature, and they interrupted the regular course of terrestrial things by the intervention of sudden catastrophes. There was a bad as well as a good spirit attached to each celestial body, each element, each phenomena, each object and each being, and [p.146] these were ever trying to supplant each other. Thus discord reigned everywhere in the universe, nothing was free from this continual struggle between evil and good regarded principally from a physical point of view; the moral side of dualism remains quite in the background and hardly appears in the magic writings, or even in the hymns, where it might have been developed more easily. Such writings seem hardly to have recognized any other sin than that of neglecting the propitiatory rites, and entering into communication with the evil spirits by the practices of sorcery, instead of applying to the particular god by means of rites which were considered holy and pious, and through the mediation of the authorized magicians.
Upon this dualistic conception rested the whole edifice of sacred magic, of magic regarded as a holy and legitimate intercourse established by rites of divine origin, between man and the supernatural beings surrounding him on all sides. Placed unhappily in the midst of this perpetual struggle between the good and bad spirits, man felt himself attacked by them at every moment; his fate depended upon them. All his happiness was the work of the former, all the evils to which he was subject were attributable to the latter. He needed then some aid against the attacks of the bad spirits, against the plagues and diseases which they sent upon him. This help he hoped to find in incantations, in mysterious and powerful words the secret of which was known only to the priests of magic, in their prescribed rites and their talismans. By these means [p.147] the fatal demons were sent away, and the favourable spirits rendered propitious and called to the help of man. The Chaldeans had such a great idea of the power and efficacy of these formulae, rites, and amulets, that they came to regard them as required to fortify the good spirits themselves in their combat with the demons, and as able to give them help by providing them with invincible weapons which would ensure success. Thus the supernatural power of the magician was not only a protection for man, it also arrested the greatest catastrophes in nature, it influenced the course of the phenomena, and intervened with a decided efficacy in the discords of the world of spirits.
These fundamental data are visible at every point in the great magical collection, and in the formulae of the same kind which may be discovered elsewhere. They seem to me to stand out so clearly in the quotations which I have already made, as to need no confirmation from other examples.
As the magical doctrines developed and approached nearer to the constitution of a system to which it pretended to give a scientific exactness, it introduced an order and a hierarchy into the crowd of spirits whose existence it admitted. The good spirits were assigned to classes like those we have already noticed amongst the demons. Unhappily the indications of the texts are still less precise as to the distribution and relative rank of the favourable spirits than they are concerning those of the diabolical groups. We can only djscern that, in the good as well as in the bad army, were recognized [p.148] genii, classes called Alad, and Lamma, and demons termed Utuq. The "favourable Alad," the "favourable Lamma," and the "favourable Utuq," are very frequently opposed in the incantatory formulae to the "evil Alad," to "evil Lamma," the "evil Utuq." Spirits properly so called (Zi) are also mentioned, especially elementary spirits, or those attached to beings and definite objects, and angels, more independent, with distinct natural forms, amongst whom we may see the Anunna, who are almost always terrestrial spirits, and the Idede, who have their dwelling in the heavens.331
A certain number of gods even (ana, dingir, or dimmer) were admitted into the higher regions of the hierarchy. But they did not differ essentially in their nature from the other spirits, and this name (Zi) was given to them as well as that of gods. They were beings of the same kind, possessing a distinct title only because their power was thought to be greater and to have a wider scope than that of the other spirits. As far as we can see, the god differed from the simple spirit in that he was less strictly localized, and that he was regarded as animating and directing a great part of the world, many phenomena, and a class of similar beings or objects, each of which individually possessed a spirit. These were then, if they may be so called, the spirits of categories of natural beings or phenomena, considered as distinct from and superior to the individual spirits. Their personality was however as definite as that of the[p.149] inferior spirits, and we find amongst them no bond of unity of substance, and no common primordial principle. Two of the greatest gods, two holding the first place amongst them, Ana and Hea, had no higher titles than "Spirit of the heavens" (Zi ana) and "Spirit of the earth" (Zi kia). Therefore the most solemn invocations were addressed to them, and this clearly characterises their original and fundamental nature.
The gods thus conceived appear to have been very numerous. Many such are named in the incantations against demons and diseases and in the magical hymns. But several of these are only mentioned once, and that singly and under such circumstances as to give no precise information about the office and attributes of the god; the more so because the imperfect state of our acquaintance with the Accadian language prevents us from explaining his name, which is sure to have some meaning, and which the Assyrian translator has simply copied without trying to assimilate it to that of a god in his own excessively rich pantheon. What indeed were the gods Nin-akha-quddu, Nin-gur, and many others, whose names are scattered over the magic documents? Fresh texts only can furnish us with the desired information. Some of the names may be nothing but attributes of divine personages better known under other titles. For instance, we know positively that Nin-kasi, "the Lady with the horned countenance," was another name of Nana the wife of Ana; Nin-asu "the Lord of the numerous waters," and Nin-si-Idu were titles of Hea, as also Eni-kiga [p.150] Mul-kiga, "the Lord of the earth;" whilst Nin-giszida, "the Lady of the magic wand," designated the goddess Nin-kigal.
Although we are not yet able to decide precisely on the character and domain of some of the gods, this is only the case with regard to divine personifications of the second rank, who are noticed but rarely. We possess, on the contrary, a great deal of information about the principal gods, owing to the constant mention made of them in the incantations, and particularly by the hymns addressed to them. We can describe them perfectly and this task we are now about to undertake, but we ought first to notice the peculiar conception of the world with which they were connected.
"The Chaldees," says Diodorus Siculus,332 "have quite an opinion of their own about the shape of the earth they imagine it to have the form of a boat turned upside down, and to he hollow underneath." This opinion remained to the last in the Chaldean sacerdotal schools, their astronomers believed in it, and tried, according to Diodorus, to support it by scientific arguments. It is of very ancient origin, a remnant of the ideas of the purely Accadian period and if we did not clearly understand this conception of the earth, we should find all that the magic texts say about the form and economy of the universe perfectly unintelligible, as also their division of the principal parts of the universe under the dominion of different gods.333
Let us imagine then a boat turned over, not such an one as we are in the habit
of seeing, but a round skiff like those which are still used, under the name of
Kufa, on the shores of the lower Tigris334 and Euphrates, and of which there are
many representations335 in the historical sculptures of the Assyrian palaces; the
sides of this round skiff bend upwards from the point of the greatest width, so
that they are shaped like a hollow sphere deprived of two thirds of its height,
and showing a circular opening at the point of division. Such was the form of
the earth according to the authors of the Accadian magical formulae and the
Chaldean astrologers of after years. We should express the same idea in the
present day by comparing it to an orange of which the top had been cut off,
leaving the orange upright upon the flat surface thus produced. The upper and
convex surface constituted the earth properly so called, the inhabitable earth
(ki) or terraqueous surface (ki-a), to which the collective name of kalama, or
the countries, is also given. The interior concavity opening from underneath was
the terrestrial abyss, ge, where the dead found a home (kur-nu-de, kigal, arali)
The central point in it was the nadir, or, as it was called, "the root" (uru),
the foundation of the whole structure of the world; this gloomy region witnessed
the nocturnal journey of the sun.
Above the earth extended the sky336 (ana) spangled with its fixed stars (mul), and revolving round the [p.152] mountain of the East (χarsak kurra), the column which joined the heavens and the earth, and served as an axis to the celestial vault. The culminating point of the heavens, the zenith (nuzku), was not this axis or pole;337 on the contrary, it was situated immediately above the country of Accadia, and was regarded as the centre of the inhabited lands, whilst the mountain which acted as a pivot to the starry heavens was to the north-east of this country. Beyond the mountain, and also to the north-east, extended the land of Aralli, which was very rich in gold,338 and was inhabited by the gods339 and blessed spirits.
The Chaldean astrologers imagined in later times a spherical heaven completely enveloping the earth; but it seems, from many characteristic expressions, that at the period when the greatest part of the fragments of the magic collection were composed, the firmament was regarded as a hemispherical skull-cap, the lower edges of which, "the foundations of the heavens," rested upon the extremities of the earth, beyond the great reservoir of waters (abzu)340 surrounding the continental surface, and corresponding exactly to the ocean of Homer. We also must give to it the name of ocean in addition to that of reservoir of waters, designating the subterraneous [p.153] cavity or ge as the abyss, which word was sometimes used as a translation of the Accadian abzu. and its Assyrian equivalent apsu.341 The periodical movements of the planets (lu-bat), which were assimilated by their Accadian name to animals endowed with life,342 took place in a lower zone of the heavens, which was called ul-gana, underneath the firmament e-sara343 of the fixed stars; astrology afterwards ascribed to them seven concentric and successive spheres, above which the firmament extended, but we can perceive no trace of a similar idea in the magical documents. The firmament supported the ocean of the celestial waters, ziku, viewed under the form of a river,344 as was frequently the terrestrial ocean, which even assumed the name of "river," arra or aria.
Between the earth and the heavens was the zone in which the atmospheric phenomena were produced, where the winds (imi) blew, and the storms (imi-dugud) raged, where the clouds (imi-dir) were spread, and at length, rent asunder by the lightning (nun-gir) and the hot whirlwind of the thunder-bolt (amatu) from the planets, poured forth rain (sur)345 through their gutters (ganul).
There were then three zones of the universe; the heavens, the terrestrial surface with the atmosphere, [p.154] and the lower abyss. The three greatest gods, Ana, Hea, and Mul-ge or Elim, answered to and presided over those three zones. They corresponded to the gods of the supreme triad of the Chaldaio-Babylonian religion, Ann, Hea, and Bel, the two first of which retained their Accadian names.
But in truth the early conception of these deities with the exception of Hea, as expressed in the magic fragments, is very different from what it afterwards became. Anu certainly preserves some features belonging to the Accadian Ana, but if we compare Bel with the ancient Mul-ge of the magic books we see that a purely artificial assimilation had been made between the Accadian god and a Semitic god of an entirely different character, and, as we have already remarked, probably of a solar origin.
In those parts of the collection which have been handed down to us, there is no special hymn addressed to Ana, but he is invoked in the sacramental formula of all the incantations under the name of Spirit of the heavens (Zi-ana). As his name indicates he was the same as the material-heaven, he was heaven itself, whilst also the soul of it; and he was more completely one with the object to which he was attached than was any other of the supernatural deities.
Ana as described in the most ancient Accadian documents resembled closely the Thian of the early Chinese. But in the oldest religion of China, Thian, "the heavens," was also Chang-ti, "the supreme lord;"346 [p.155] he soared above the spirits of nature as sovereign master and first principle, crowning the edifice of the worship of spirits by a thoroughly monotheistic idea. It was perhaps so at the beginning amongst the Accadians; and this supposition is supported by two important arguments, namely, (1) that in their language one of the two words expressing the absolute idea of divinity, ana, is the same word which means "heaven;" (2) that the ancient hieroglyph of the sign which, in the cuneiform writing invented by the Accadians renders the idea of "god," is the figure of a star.347 But although this notion must have existed originally amongst the Accadians, and reappears in the Chaldaio-Babylonian religion, no trace of it is to be found in the fragments composing the magic collection. Ana was in nothing superior to the other two great gods of the two other zones of the universe; he was not even represented as the primordial principle from which they issued.
The name of Hea in cans "dwelling;"348 this name then was manifestly connected with the time when the god was first imagined to be the same as the zone over which he presided, the zone which served as a home for men and animated beings; but he was afterwards regarded as much more separate from the material object than Anna. He was the lord of the earth’s surface (mul-ki), and this title [p.156] is applied to him quite as frequently as Hea. In the sacramental formula of the incantations he was invoked as Spirit of the earth, or more exactly still, of the terraqueous surface (zi-ki-a). He was also lord of the region of the atmosphere. The spirit of this zone of the universe, he was also the soul which animated everything, penetrated into everything, and made everything which existed in the universe live and move. The Accadians (and they transmitted this idea to the Chaldaio-Babylonians of more recent ages) considered the humid element as the vehicle of all life, and the source of all generation;349 they saw this element circulating everywhere in the zone which embraces the terrestrial surface and the atmosphere. Hea was the soul and spirit of it, and therefore, according to them, closely connected with the humid element. It was specially his dominion the waters (a), were worshipped in their material reality, and the spirits presiding over them were his children. He had no father assigned to him but as he was eternally begotten in the bosom of the humid element, he was said350 to have issued from the celestial ocean personified as a goddess Ziku.351 His usual dwelling was in the great reservoir (abzu or ara), which, as we have already said, surrounded the earth. From this point but One step was necessary to represent him under the ostensible form of a fish-god, and this step was taken; for one of his most usual titles was "the [p.157] great fish of the ocean" (gal-χana-abzu), or "the sublime fish" (χan maχ).352
As the spirit of the inhabited world and the soul directing its phenomena, Hea is the repository of all science. And here we see the chain of ideas which led to this odd notion, that the learned god should also be an ichthyomorphous god. It passed into the Chaldaio-Babylonian religion with the god Hea himself, and he appeared under this form in the cosmogonic legend, where he was the Oannes of Berosus,353 revealing religious and social laws to men.354 According to extracts from the Grecian historian of Chaldea, he had the body of a fish entire, but underneath his fish’s head there was a second human head, while human feet appeared under his tail, and he possesses a human voice. This monster spent the whole day amongst men without taking any food, while he taught them letters, science, and the principles of every art, the rules for the foundation of towns, the building of temples, the measurement and boundaries of lands, seed-time and harvest, in short, all that could advance civilization, so that nothing new has been invented since that period. Then at sunset this great Oannes regained the sea, and passed the night in the vast region of waves, for he was amphibious."355 [p.158] A representation of the fish-god as its legislator and protector, corresponding exactly with the legend of Berosus, has been found in the sculptures of the Assyrian palaces356 and on the Babylonian cylinders.357
As the soul of that zone of the world inhabited by living beings, of the "dwelling" pre-eminently, Hea was the god who "sees that all is in order," and who defended the frame of nature against the incessant ravages of the wicked spirits. Since he was the god acquainted with science, he knew all their ruses and was able to baffle them; and therefore he alone was possessed of the magic secrets by means of which they could be conquered and repulsed.
Hence the exceptional importance of the position of Hea in the arts of conjurational magic, of which he was the great god. The quotations we have already placed before the reader show clearly his character as supreme protector of men and of nature in the struggle caused by the antagonism between good and evil, as deus averruncus, or as the annuller and averter of fatal influences, and as the author of theurgic action. Help was sought from him when neither word, rite, talisman, nor even the intervention of any other of the gods had availed to destroy the demons' power.
The magical texts attributed to Hea the spouse who was afterwards assigned to him in the later mythology, Damkina or Davkina, whilst on the rare occasions when the companion of Aria is mentioned, it was never under the name of Ana, but always as [p.159] Nin-ka-si. From her name, which can only be exactly translated by the Latin uxor et terra (damkina), she appears to have been originally a personification of the earth's surface, which the god rules and fertilizes. From the union of Hea and Davkina proceeded the material waters which flowed over the earth.358 Still, as has been before stated, Hea was the only god of the ancient Accadian mythology who was adopted without modification into the Chalclaio-Babylonian religion, whilst he, with his spouse Davkina, never received any Semitic appellation, but kept their Accadian names without any alteration even as far as Nineveh.
In the epic recital of the deluge Hea played the part of protector and saviour of Khasisatra, the Chaldean Noah, the Xisuthrus or Sirithrus of the fragments of Berosus. After having related how the vessel of the just was saved in the flood and rested upon a high mountain, Berosus adds,359 connecting with this tradition magic and talismanic rites, "A part of this vessel still exists on the Gordyœan heights of Armenia; the pilgrims bring back the asphalt they have scraped from the ruins and use it to avert the influence of sorcery." An extract from Abydenus360 says also, "The inhabitants of the country make themselves amulets from the wood of the ship and hang them round their necks as a charm against sorcery." The legend has been applied to the shin of Khasisatra, the pretended remains of which were shown to the devotees, the ideas formerly attached [p.160] to the symbolic vessel in which the god Hea was supposed to traverse his humid empire, when he was not represented as a being in part man, in part fish.361
One of the hymns of the magic col1ection,362 which is extremely difficult to understand because we have only the Accadian text, without the Assyrian version, and that is filled with inexplicable technical terms, treats solely of this vessel of Hea's, "rejoicing the heart at break of day." The planks are ornamented with "seven times seven lions of the desert." The ceiling which covers the inner apartment and the mast are of cedar, the wood which counteracts sorceries. In this vessel are "Hea, who decides destinies, with Davkina, whose word gives life Silik-mulu-khi, who utters the beneficent name; Munu-abge,363 who guides the lord of the earth, and Nin-gar,364 the great pilot of heaven." This hymn enumerates all the parts, points out their magic meaning, and ends by the wish:
May the ship in front of thee sail upon the canals
May the ship behind thee sail upon the face (of the waters)
May the joy of the heart be developed in thee in all its fullness!
A fragment of a tablet in the British Museum365 gives us the remains of a special little collection of prayers, partly of a liturgic, partly of a magical character, and each of them relating to one of the insignia of royalty for which it invokes the protection [p.161] of the gods. One has reference to the tiara, and has been already mentioned as requesting that the king might be possessed by beneficent spirits; another relates to the precious stones, "which are upon the breast of the king as insignia;" a third to his weapon of war.
The weapon which causes terror, which wounds, for majesty; the weapon which is raised, which projectile, beside majesty; the immense force of its blow confuses, none dispute its power, it devastates the rebel country, it crushes its enemies.
This weapon is compared to that of "Hea, king of the ocean," and they invoke in favour of the king who hears it the pilot of the god, called in this case, with a variation of name, Nm-si-gar.
Come, Nm-si-gar, great pilot of heaven, thrusting forward thy sublime tree, thy lance!
Hea was therefore sometimes represented as an armed warrior, surrounded by other
warlike companions, when he was dividing with his ship the waters of the great
reservoir (apsu), making them a guard round about the earth.
It was probably to Hea,366 regarded under this warlike aspect, that the ancient poet dedicated another dithyrambus,367 proud in its style, and peculiarly curious on account of its mythological allusions. A god is celebrating the power of his weapons, particularly his disk with fifty points and [p.162] seven concentric rays, like the tchakra of the Indian heroes, and the "fiery sword" with which the cherub who kept the gate of the garden of Eden was armed, as we read in the Book of Genesis.368
Who holds his head high before the tremendous terror which my immense strength causes
I am master of the steel mountains which tremble whilst their summits reach to the firmament.
The mountain of alabaster, lapis, and onyx, in my hand I possess it.
Archangel of the abysses .... like a bird of prey which pounces upon the sparrows,
in the mountain, by my heroic courage, I decide quarrels.
In my right hand, I hold my fiery disk;369
in my left hand, I hold my murderous disk.
The sun with fifty faces, the raised weapon of my divinity, I hold it.
The valiant one who breaks the mountains, the sun from whose influence none can escape, I hold it.
The weapon which, like a waterspout, stretches in a circle the corpses of the combatants,370 I hold it.
That which breaks the mountains, Ana’s powerful weapon, I hold it.
That which bends the mountains, the fish with seven fins, I hold it.
The flaming blade of battle, which devastates and afflicts the rebel country, I hold it.
The great sword which overthrows the ranks of the brave, the sword of my divinity, I hold it.
The hand of the powerful men of battle, from the attacks of which the mountain cannot escape, I hold it.
The joy of heroes, the lance which does harm in battle, I hold it.
The club which crushes the dwellings of the rebel country, and the shield of battle, I hold them.
The thunder of battle, the weapon with fifty points, I hold it.
Like the enormous serpent with seven heads, shaking its heads, the ......... with seven heads, I hold it.
Like the serpent which scours the waves of the sea, (attacking) the enemy in front, the destroyer in the shock of battle, extending its power over heaven and earth, the weapon with (seven) heads, I hold it.371
The burning god of the East, who makes his glory shine like that of the day, I hold him.
The creator of heaven and earth, the god whose power has no rival, I hold him.
The weapon which (spreads) great terror in the country by its immense power, in my right hand powerfully, the projectile of gold and onyx .... strengthening by miracles the god, the minister of life, I hold him.
The weapon which like ................combats the rebel country, the weapon with fifty points, I hold it.
While Hea passed into the Chaldaio-Babylonian mythology without changing either
his office, his character, or his name, Mul-ge, on the contrary, bore no
resemblance in the documents of the magic collection to Bel, the demiurge and
god of the organized universe, with whom he was afterwards assimilated, in order
to find him an equivalent in [p.164]
the religion by which he was adopted. One cause of this assimilation lay no
doubt in the fact that the Semitic name Bel had the same meaning as one of Mul's
Accadian titles, Elim, "the Powerful, the Dreaded Being, the Lord." His
Nin-ge could better be likened to Belit, regarded as a chthonian deity. Indeed Mul-ge and Nm-ge (or Mul-gelal and Nin-gelal,
as they become by adding the
second part of a casual suffix, which can he equally well written or omitted)372
were, as their names indicated, lord and lady of the lower abyss and the bowels
of the earth. The Accadian formulae do not recognize them under any other
aspect. We find there the name of Nin-kigal, "the lady of the gloomy pit," used
indifferently as a second appellation for Nin-ge, and as the title of a distinct
goddess; and she is identified in the bilingual lists with the Semitic goddess
In some mythological documents the infernal lady Nin-kigal was associated with a god who was called pre-eminently Anunna-ge, "the archangel of the abyss;" he was doubtless another form of Mul-ge although once in the long incantation which we translated at the beginning of Chapter I, Nin-kigal is called the wife of Nin-a-su, a title of Hea, which would assimilate her therefore with Davkina.
Since Mul-ge and Nin-ge were rulers of the terrestrial mass, the possession of the interior was sometimes considered to entail also the possession of the surface, and they were called "the lord" and "the lady of the countries;" on this account the boundary [p.165] of the empires of Hea and Mul-ge was not very strictly defined. As previously stated the dead were supposed to descend into the lower abyss (ge), the undisputed domain of Mul-ge; this place was called "the country whence none return" (ur-nu-de), the "tomb" (arali), or as a euphemistic expression, the "temple" (e-kur), which was sometimes replaced by the plainer name of "temple of the dead" (el-ur-bat), with which arali is synonymous.373 At the time when the Chaldaio-Babylonian Epopee was composed, the story of Istar's descent into Hades described the country whence none return, designated in the Assyrian by the name mat-la-tayarti, in as sombre colours as were used in Hebrew poetry to depict the scheol.
The daughter of Sin (Istar) has turned her mind towards the place of decomposition, the seat of the god Irkalla,
towards the home which one may enter, but never leave,
towards the road from which there is no return,
towards the dwelling where those entering find blindness (instead of) light,
where the multitude has nothing but dust to appease its hunger,
nothing but mud for food,
where they see no light and dwell in darkness,
where shades, as birds,
press towards the vault,
where dust thickens upon the door and its wings.374
In the Accadian magical documents the picture of this land is not less gloomy. A
hymn,375 in which
unfortunately the ends of all the lines are wanting, so that it is impossible to
give a connected translation of it, describes this region as "the temple, the
place where no feeling exists .... the foundation of chaos (gi umuna), the place
where there is no blessing .... the tomb, the place where no one can see ...."
and announces as its ruler, "Nin-ge upon her raised altars," with her spouse
Mul-ge. In this conception of hell, or Hades, according both to the mythological
documents of the Chaldaio-Babylonian epoch and to the magic documents of the
purely Accadian period, there is no moral idea of remuneration, no difference of
rewards or punishments; the sorrows of the country whence none return, were the
same for all, whatever may have been their conduct during life the only rewards
they believed in for piety and virtue were purely terrestrial. However, we read
in the epic recital of the descent of Istar, that at the bottom of the country
whence none return there was a spring of the waters of life, guarded by the
infernal powers with jealous care; which could only be reached by a special
permission from the celestial gods, and then he who has drunk the water of the
fountain returns alive to the light.376 The same idea must have existed in the
conception of Hades [p.167] which was current at the time when the magical fragments were composed, for we
shall see later, that a hymn addressed to the mediator Silik-mulu-khi377
attributes to him the power "of bringing the dead back to life." But we do not
know under what conditions this resurrection was supposed to take place; it was
perhaps only admitted in order to justify the pretensions of the priests of
magic to work similar wonders by the power of their incantations. We may
observe, however, that Diogenes Laertius378 explicitly attributes to the Chaldean
philosophical schools a belief in a final resurrection, after which man was to
become immortal. This was the last stage of development reached by the idea of
which the first germ appears here.
In the epic narrative of the adventures of Istar, the country whence none return is divided into seven zones, like those of Dante's infernal regions,379 upon the model of the seven planetary spheres. This resulted from the influence of the astrological doctrines upon religion, and nothing of the same kind can be traced in the mere ancient date of the magic books. They mention, however, "seven doors and seven fastenings of the world,"380 which were probably those leading from the surface of the earth into the lower regions; but they seem to have been considered as scattered around the circumference of the earth.
However that may be, the principal entrance to the infernal regions, the one to which the god Negab was appointed, "the great porter of the world,"381 was situated in the west, near the great mountain which matched, on that side, "the mountain of the east," or more precisely of the north-east, the cradle of the human race, "father of the countries," the pole of the celestial revolutions, where the Babylonian mythology established the place of the assembly of the gods. The mountain of the west, where the sun set, was a pre-eminently funereal place from whence arose the god Mul-ge. One fragment of a hymn382 speaks of it in these terms:
The great mountain of Mul-gelal, the glory of the mountains, the crest of which reaches unto the heavens, the sublime reservoir of water washes its base; between the mountains (it is) like a powerful buffalo in repose its summit shines like a ray of the sun, like the prophetic star of heaven383 perfecting its glory.
The entrance to Hades was then near this mountain of the west, or rather of the
south-west, for just as the the mountain of the east inclined towards the north
in the direction of the blessed country which was occupied by the septentrion,
so that part which is directly opposite it must incline to the south, which they
imagined a region of death and desolation. This was the result of the Accadian
nomenclature for the four cardinal points, which differed fundamentally from
that adopted by the Semitic nations. Whilst for the Assyrians the east was sadu
"the rising," the west akkarru, "the point placed behind" the observer, the
north iltanu (for istanu), "the direction of winter," for the Accadians the east
was mer kurra "the cardinal point of the mountains," the west
mer mar-tu, "the
point of the road of sunset," the north mer sidi, "the point of prosperity, the
propitious point," and lastly the south, mer urulu, "the funereal point." We
shall have to refer later to some of the consequences which seem to flow from
attributing this favourable character to the north instead of the south.
The entrance to Hades was also situated beyond the waters of the great reservoir of the ocean. This too was recognized at the time when the poem about the descent of Istar into Hades was composed; for the porter of the gloomy dwellings is there spoken of once as "porter of the waters;" and when he repeats to Allat Istar's request for admittance, he expresses himself thus:
These waters thy sister Istar has crossed them.
We also find this in one of the most curious and strangest fragments from the
third book of the magic collection.384 This fragment, which, like so many others,
has been handed down to us in a deplorable state of dilapidation, for both the
beginning and the end are missing, contains a series of invocations which recall
those of the Egyptian Ritual of the Dead, and which have reference to all the
stages of a descent into the infernal regions. Were they employed as a sort of
funereal liturgy [p.170] or in rites of evocation?385 We do not know; but the information they contain is
none the less precious.
One of the first invocations, the greater portion of which is now destroyed, is addressed to the "seven gods, sons of the lord of the infernal region (Eni-me-sara), who dwell in the flame,"386 and to the "twelve gods of bronze placed inside the bronze inclosure, sustaining the bronze inclosure." The invocation which follows is addressed to the cars of the bull placed "on the right of the bronze inclosure," because they imagined the gate of hell to be flanked by human headed bulls like those which guarded the gates of the Assyrian palaces; only these bulls were living genii:—
O great bull, very great bull, which stampest high,387
which openest an access388 to the interior, which openest the canals considerably,
which serves as a foundation to the god Ul-sara,389 reaper of the fields,390
my brilliantly pure hands have sacrificed before thee.
The bull on the left of the bronze inclosure391 is invoked in his turn:—
Thou art the bull engendered by the god Ungal-turda,392
the entrance to the tomb is thy act the lady with
the magic wand fashioned thee for eternity
The great .... the boundaries, the limits,
fixing the division between heaven and earth
.....may he watch.
The fourth deity is connected with an act which takes place "in the interior of the bronze enclosure." He is invoked as a personal and active god, as the living mountain, in fact, which commands the entrance:—
O thou who shadest the plain,
lord who givest shade by spreading thy shadow on the plain.
pastor who rulest destinies, who shadest the plain.
The two following verses are destroyed, an invocation to Mul-ge and other gods associated with him follows. In consequence of a fracture the ends of all the lines have disappeared, and it is impossible to replace them in full.
Veritable pastor, (sublime) pastor,
Mul-gelal, (veritable) pastor,
Lord of all the countries, (veritable) pastor,
Lord of all the celestial archangels, (veritable) pastor,
Lord of all the .... 393 (veritable pastor),
Lord who guards his country, (veritable) pastor,
Lord who guards his country
establishing the riches .....
establishing the possess ...
the lofty residence ....
the lofty place......
the place of lofty repose ...
exalting the town
Lord, Master of the earth, Hea, king
Lord Silik-mulu-khi ...
Lord, Father, Mermer
Brave Lord, Utu ...
Lord Uras394 ...
Sublime Lord, Dun-kun-uddu395
Direct the hand, (strengthen) the hand, [p.173] direct the hand,
(direct) my steps, direct this invocation, (make) this invocation (succeed).
Of the last invocation we have only the ends of the lines containing but two or three characters, which allow us to see that most of the verses finish with the word "purify," and that the two last contain a request to open the gate. This is followed, by the enigmatical phrase:—
Then the bull is led into the dwelling of the state of chaos.
Whatever may have been the object of these prayers and the ceremonies with which
they were connected, the allusions to the entrance of things are very clear,
particularly those addressed to the two bulls. My opinion is, that the numerous
mythological allusions which are contained in this piece, thus marking it as so
different from the ancient incantations, should decide us to attribute it to a
later epoch, as compared with many other parts of the magical collection in
which it is contained. But the data with which it furnishes us are nevertheless
only a development of ideas that existed in embryo at the most ancient period.
The demons and the spirits of diseases "came forth from hell;"396 they were "the productions of the arali,"397 "the children which were born of the earth."398 One of the most formidable of them, Namtar, the plague personified, was described as the "favourite son of Mul-ge, by Nin-ki-gal."399 Here was a god then not belonging essentially to the bad principle, who was[p.174] sometimes invoked as favourable; yet he was the father of one of the most wicked demons, to whom the greater number of the others were subject. In the same way, the seven bad spirits which devastated the heavens and made war on the moon, were sons of the god of this zone of the world, of Ana, as well as of the god Fire, who was one of the most powerful adversaries of the powers of darkness.
We may add that the spouse of Namtar was also invoked amongst the good spirits,400 and that this characteristic is even seen in her name, Khusbi-kuru "an encounter with her is of good omen, is propitious." This dissipates entirely the idea of any moral symbolism in the dualism of the religion of the Accadian magic books. The good and had spirits were not connected with different principles; for they could issue from or be united to one another. If some were good and others bad, it was by a sort of blind fatality, and the eternal contest between them more apparent than real, was only the struggle of the elements in their own breast a condition which was necessary to the life of the universe.
As a logical consequence from this point of view, also it was not only demons who were placed in the gloomy empire of Mul-ge; since amongst the protecting spirits, we find mentioned "the male and female spirits, lords of the infernal regions."401 The master of the lower abyss had begotten, besides Namtar, one of the warrior gods whose special mission it was to combat demons, monsters, and plagues, like a true Hercules. This was Nin-dara, who is called [p.175] also Uras, and was afterwards assimilated to the Chaldaio-Babylonian deity Adar, and indeed furnished many characteristic traits of the original physiognomy of this god in the new religion.
Nindara was the nocturnal sun, the sun hidden in the lower world during half his course. Naturally luminous, although plunged in the regions of night, he combated the darkness which surrounded him, and ended by triumphing over it at his rising.402 He was therefore pre-eminently the warrior god. He regulated the times and hours in his daily course, exercised an imminence over life and movement throughout nature, and, like Utu the diurnal sun, he was regarded as an arbitrator, a judge, and a regulator of destiny. There exists a long magical hymn to Nindara,403 which repeats from time to time, as a refrain, this invocation,
Nin-dam, lord, son of Mul-ge, measure and judge.
Nm-dora, lord, son of Mul-ge, decide the fate.
And in another place,
The command of the sun is thy command like a judge, rule the lands.
Everything that exists recognizes his command.
The hymn, which is very majestic in its style, is in the form of a dialogue between the god and the person by whom he is invoked. It turns upon the exploits of Nin-dara, whose war-like power is forcibly depicted:
Thou, during thy action, roarest like a hear.
He is represented covered with his armour:
Thou, thou (coverest) solid copper like a skin.
He is invited to come "from the mountains of the high Country," namely from
Elam, and from the "mountains of Makan," the country whence they obtain
metals for armour, the peninsula of Sinai, so celebrated for its copper mines,
which the Egyptians had worked from the time of the fourth dynasty.404
This hymn makes frequent mention of certain precious stones which the god possessed, and of which he was the master; their talismanic power was exercised "against the rebel countries." Antiquity always referred to Chaldea the origin of the superstitious belief in the magic power of gems. Pliny405 points out a book on this subject by a certain Zachalios of Babylon, which was dedicated to the king Mithridates. It was evidently a writing belonging to that Greco-Babylonian literature which was so widely developed during the centuries bordering on the Christian era, and which had the same connection with the real Chaldean doctrines as the Grecian literature of the Hermetical books had with the doctrine of ancient Egypt.
The Astrology of the Underworld.
WE have seen in the preceding chapter that the sun of the lower hemisphere was
also the god of the hidden metallic and mineral treasures, which, like him, were
only waiting to come out of the earth to shine with a luminous splendour; and
this shows an order of ideas of a peculiar nature, and very characteristic of
the nations of the Turanian race, namely, the adoration of the spirits which
kept in the bosom of the earth the riches concealed there, and who were the gods
of metallurgy. As Baron Eckstein has very justly remarked,406 "There are some
nations, like the Pelasgic races, who worship the gods of the abyss, in their
connection with the fertility of the soil and agricultural products. There are
others, and these are the Finnish, Turkish, Mongolic, and Tungusic races, who
worship them from a different point of view, since they do homage to the
splendours of a metallic world, connecting this adoration with the magic worship
and talismanic superstitions." Traces of these notions are not wanting in the
Accadian magical books, and therefore we see invoked407 in them as protectors, side
by side with Silik-mulu-khi;408 the god of gold, "who purifies gold," the god of
silver, of copper, the lord god of the east in his mountain of precious stones,
with the god of the cedar, to which tree was ascribed a peculiar power to avert
fatal influences and sorcery.
The demons issuing from the lower abyss had, like the sorcerers who held intercourse with them, a particular preference for the darkness in which they originated. They liked to profit by the gloom, and so to slip into the world and to work evil there. Darkness was itself a visible manifestation of the evil principle, as light was a manifestation of the good. The primitive Accadians appear to have had the same terror of the night as the Aryas of the Vedic ages; in this idea they were very different from the Chaldaio-Babylonians of earlier times, who delighted in the sight of the starry firmament, and knew no higher, no more splendid expression of the divinity than those starry hosts to which their worship was addressed.
According to the magical hymns, the diurnal sun, shining in the highest regions of the heavens and dissipating the darkness, was one of the most active protecting gods, a great enemy of demons and sorcerers. One hymn409 addressed to him begins thus:—
O thou, who causest lies to disappear, thou who dissipatest the bad influence of wonders, of auguries, of evil prog- [p.179] nostications, of dreams, of wicked apparitions, thou who defeatest wicked plots, thou who leadest men and countries to perdition who abandon themselves to sorcery and witchcraft, I have shut up before thee their images (of the bad spirits)410 in the raised heaps of corn ... Do not allow those who cast spells and are hardened, to rise.
May the great gods, who have created me, take my hand! Thou who curest my face, direct my hand, direct it, lord, light of the universe, Sun.
The sun was not one of the highest gods of the religious system which had served as a foundation for Accadian magic, his power did not approach that of the three great spirits of the zones of the universe. But it was just his lower rank that made him more accessible to the prayers of man; and the fact that his influence upon man and the phenomena of life was so sensibly felt, made them assign to him the office of arbiter of events and of fate; while lastly, as he dissipated darkness, and consequently was engaged in a struggle with the bad spirits, he became one of the supernatural personages to whom the magical invocations were most frequently addressed. The collection contained many hymns addressed to him. These have often a touch of real poetry, like the following, the opening portion of which has unfortunately disappeared:411
Sun, thou shinest in the deepest heavens;412 thou openest the bolts which close the high heavens; thou openest the gate of heaven.
Sun, thou raisest thy head above the countries.
Sun, thou stretchest the vast heavens above the countries,413 like a covering.
Cite we also the beginning of another hymn, the mythology of which was very fully developed:414
Great lord, from the centre of the high heavens thou
(comest) into our sight.
Sun, valiant hero, from the centre of the high heavens
thou (comest) into our sight.
At the opening of the high heavens, at the door, thou appearest.
The bolts of the high heavens ......
In the great door of the high heavens, in the opening,
which belongs to thee, in the highest summits of the
high heavens, high in thy rapid course (the celestial
spirits) respectfully and joyfully approach thee ..........
they exalt thy crown, they raise thee up rejoicing.
In ..... in the repose of thy heart the days fly.
The (spirits) of all countries greatly surround thee.
The (spirits) of heaven and earth turn towards thee.
This hymn was composed for the cure of some malady, as the text shows from the place where it recommences, on the original tablet, after a gap of about a dozen lines. The priest addresses the god, speaking of the invalid in the third person; and he pretends that his power is of divine origin, which gives him the right to command the sun.
As for me, the lord has sent me, the great lord, Hea, has sent me.
.. . . . . . . . . . . . . 415
Thou, at thy coming, cure the race of man, cause a ray of health to shine upon him, cure his disease.
The man, son of his god, is burdened with the load of his omissions and transgressions.
His feet and his hands suffer cruelly, he is painfully exhausted by the disease.
Sun, at the raising of my hands, come at the call, eat his food, absorb his victim, turn his weakness into strength.
By thy orders may his omissions be forgiven! may his transgressions be blotted out!
Break his chains ..... may he recover from his illness!
May the king live!
May thy majesty protect him during the remainder of his days!
Confirm thy sentence upon the king!
The invalid for whose sake they uttered the invocation was then the king. I have
already spoken of the peculiar idea of penitence which it expresses, and which
does not bear a very primitive stamp.
In this hymn we come upon a new and important idea which we have not encountered before, but of which the hymns already cited have suggested indications. The idea is this, that diseases were oftentimes sent as chastisements for sin, and by the permission of the celestial and benevolent deities, one of the chief of whom was the pre-eminently propitious deity Hea. But Hea could not cause evil by himself, and therefore, if he chastised, it could only be by suspending for the time his protecting influence, and by abandoning the doomed man to the action of evil spirits, and to the demons of disease. Man could also obtain a cure for the evils which Hea had allowed to come upon him, through the help of a god less high in rank than Hea, such as the sun, which would not be [p.182] possible if this evil were the direct personal work of Hea.
The beneficent office of protector attributed to the sun, the facility with which men could hold intercourse with him, so much more easily than with the three superior gods, was also the peculiar property of the deities of the pure elements of the atmospheric zone, intermediate between heaven and earth. They were worshipped either in their material reality, or in the persons of the spirits which animated them.
As amongst the Vedas the winds present themselves sometimes as a single god Vayu, and sometimes as an assemblage of gods, the Maruts, so the fragments of the Accadian magical collection recognized, besides the special spirits for each wind, some of which were good and some bad,416 one god or spirit of the winds in general, Imi or Merrner,417 who is often mentioned, but always in an incidental manner, in the fragments which have been handed down to us; and they represent him chiefly as producing the fertilizing rains, he was afterwards identified with the Chaldaio-Babylonian deity Bin or Ramanu,418 whose attributes were of a wider scope since they embraced all the atmospheric phenomena, and who indeed appears to have originally personified one of the aspects of the solar system.
One of these hymns is addressed to the waters which flow over the earth:419
Sublime waters (waters of the Tigris), waters of the Euphrates, which flow in their place, abundant waters which dwell together permanently in the great reservoir, children of the ocean which are seven, the waters are sublime, the waters are brilliantly pure, the waters glisten.
In the presence of your father Hea, in the presence of your mother, the spouse of the great fish,420 may he be sublime! may he be holy and pure! may he shine may the malevolent and destructive mouth have no effect! Amen.
Another tablet invokes the river as a special and personal god:421
River god, who pushes forward like the beak of a ship,422 drives before him the evil fate like a formidable deer.
. . . . . .
May the sun rising dissipate the darkness! they will never again prevail in the house.
The evil fate, Spirit of the heavens,
conjure it! Spirit of the earth, conjure it!
Amen. The evil fate, which stretches over the earth.
River god, break it.
This river god (Aria) reappears later in the lists of gods of the second rank,423
with various Accadian names, amongst others, that of Aria-mulu-rutik, "River which rushes forward like a spike, a spur;" and the same lists mention his
spouse, Ki-kuru-nir, his son Sazi, and his messenger; they occur side by side
with Hea's six sons. The same lists424 notice several other divinities of the humid
element which have purely Accadian names and belong to the ancient Accadian
elementary mythology: Ungal-a-abba, "the king of the sea;" Ungal-ariada, "the
king of the river;" and Ungal-aba, "the king of the wave."
Amongst the magic fragments we have one more hymn425 to the wave of the ocean, personified as a protecting divinity, whose waters are celebrated as "the waters shining with purity," the "sublime waters, holy waters, vivifying waters," collected in "the holy and pure ocean."
Amongst the personifications of the waters we must place "Khi-tim-kur-ku, daughter of the ocean," since her name appears to mean, "the Spring which surrounds the sublime mountain;" and it was therefore the paradisiacal spring celebrated in the traditions of so many different nations.
The theological importance of fire was very different to these deities. He was worshipped in his material reality as a god superior even to the sun, under the very same name which is used to designate the element of fire in the ordinary language, iz-bar, or rather bar, for the first sign seems to be simply a silent determinative which is the equivalent of the ideographic character "god." He, or rather it, is still more frequently called Bil-gi (indeed that seems to have been the first title assigned to it), which must be translated as "the fire of the rushes," the fire issuing from an instrument analogous to the [p.185] arani426 of the primitive Aryas, which was made out of a ligneous reed. This conception of him and the attributes assigned to him connect him evidently with the Agni of the Vedas.
A hymn says:427
Fire, supreme chief rising high in the country!
hero, son of the Ocean, rising high in the country;
Fire, with thy pure and brilliant flame,
thou bringest light into the dwellings of darkness,
thou decidest the fate of everything which has a name.
Thou mixest copper and tin,
thou purifiest gold and silver.
Thou art the offspring of the goddess Nin-ka-si.428
May the works of the man, son of his god, shine with purity
May he be high as heaven!
May he be holy and pure as the earth
May he shine as the midst of heavens!
In the formula quoted above enumerating the different kinds of sorceries, we have already seen fire invoked as the great agent in dissipating spells, the hero who puts the demons to flight. So also he is represented in this fragment of a hymn.429
(Thou) who chasest the wicked Masrim,
who (developest)430 the blessing of life,
who strikest terror into the heart of the wicked,
guardian of the Oracle of Mul-gelal.
Fire, destroyer of enemies,
terrible weapon which chasest the plague,
Universal peace and shelter from the attacks of the malevolent were due to the protection of this god:—
Repose of the god Fire, the hero,
may countries and rivers rest with thee
May the Tigris and (the Euphrates) rest with thee
May the sea ..... rest with thee
May the road of the daughter of the gods rest with thee!431
May the interior of the productions (of nature) rest with thee!
May the hearts of my god and goddess, spirits ... rest with thee
May the hearts of the god and goddess of my town, spirits rest with thee
In this day ... may the interior of the hearts of my god and goddess open,
and may the evil destiny be expelled from my body.432
The last verses, which are very much mutilated, call upon the god Fire to act as
a judge and saviour.
Hymns to the deity Fire abound in the magic collection. He was worshipped principally in the flame of the sacrifice, and therefore he was called "the supreme pontiff upon the face of the earth."433 But this god was also recognized in the flame which burnt on the domestic hearth, and protected the house against evil influences and demons; hence arose the titles he sometimes received of "god of the house" (dimmer ea), "protector of the house" (uru ta), "protector of the family" (uru suχar)
This god, who resided in the flame of the sacrifice [p.187] and in that of the hearth, was also the cosmic fire, distributed throughout nature, which was necessary to her existence, and which shone in the stars. Regarded in this light, he was adored as the son of Ana, the heavens personified, and addressed as "the god who rises high, the great chief who commands by the supreme power of Ana," and this was the reason why we have seen him struggling vainly to prevent the ravages made by the terrible Masrim throughout the economy of nature.434 Another hymn,435 addressed to him in his highest and widest office, begins thus:—
Lord with the exalted heart, owner of the wealth of the great gods,
........ of Mul-ge, who exaltest the heart upon the earth,
owner of the wealth of the great gods.
Lord of the immense space,
who exaltest the heart in the heavens,
owner of the wealth of the great gods,
hero, Fire, heroic male, who risest,436
who risest like a garment, who clothest space.
Powerful Fire, who raisest437 the high mountains,438
who deliverest from maledictions, who illuminest the darkness.
I think these quotations show clearly enough how great was the importance of the
god Fire in the religious system of the Accadian magic books. He belonged
exclusively to them; in the documents of the Assyrian period he is only
mentioned once amongst the dii minoires, and then as a symbolical
[p.188] personification rather than a god, when
Sargon calls the month of Ab439
of the descent of the Fire chasing humid clouds."440 The Assyrian translators of
the magic hymns generally simply transferred his name in their versions. But at
other times they tried to assimilate him to the gods of the Chaldaio-Babylonian
religion, likening him sometimes to Nebo, and sometimes to Bin. His character
changed with his rank; from the beneficent and protecting god that he was at
first, he became a terrible and formidable king. For in my opinion he is to be
recognized, under the name of Isuv (and not Itak), in the personage mentioned in
a tablet lately discovered by Mr. George Smith,441 as walking before Nitara or
Lubara the god of epidemics, to herald his destructive approach.
But although the old Accadian god Fire lost his place in the Pantheon, he was frequently mentioned in epic poetry. Assuming a solar character, he became, under the name of Izdhubar, or rather Dhubar (dhu-bar, mass of fire),442 the hero of one of the principal epic histories, the one containing the narrative of the deluge. No one who is endowed with a critical mind can doubt that Izdhubar or Dhubar is a god transformed in epic poetry into a terrestrial hero, and not an historical king, as Mr. Smith would have him considered. His solar [p.189] nature comet out clearly in his exploits in epic poetry, in twelve great enterprises corresponding to the signs of the zodiac, as also in his position as son of Samas. At the same time his primeval character of an elementary god, his identity with the Fire, Bar or Bilgi of the Accadian magic books, seems to me strongly marked in an invocation in the Assyrian tongue against the spells of sorcerers,443 which is addressed to him in con- junction with the earth.
Earth! Earth! Earth and Dhubar! O ye masters of talismans!
A fragment of a tablet brought back by Mr. Smith from his first journey into
Assyria contains the beginning of a prayer to this god,444 who is described there
by the Assyrian titles of gitmalu, "generous," gitmalu emuqi, "generous in his
Fire was naturally the greatest and most active of the gods with whom man could hold direct communication by means of sacred rites and magic incantations; an intercourse of the most intimate nature might be established with him, since man himself produced him, or at least placed him at will upon his altar, by lighting on it the sacrificial flame. As to Hea, the chief averruncus, the soul of the superterrestrial zone, the supreme protector, the god to whom they had recourse when all else failed, he was too high and too far from humanity, in spite of all the power attributed to sacramental words and magic operations, for the prayers of man to go straight to him and influence his will. They imagined therefore a [p.190] god specially charged with the office of mediator between man and Hea, who does not appear to correspond with any phenomena of nature, and who had no other office but that of mediator. This was Silik-mulu-khi, whose name means "he who distributes good amongst men."445 He says, according to one hymn,446
I am he who walks before Hea,
I am the warrior, the eldest son of Hea, his messenger.
The insignia of his office was a reed, which took the place both of the royal sceptre and of the magical wand, and which was transmitted later to Marduk of Babylon, as a consequence of the assimilation by which he obtained the attributes of Silik-mulu-khi. A magical formula447 describes the divine sceptre itself, and assigns the following words to it:—
Golden reed, great reed, tall reeds of the marshes, sacred bed of the gods,
. . . . . .
I am the messenger of Silik-mulu-khi,
who cause all to grow young again.
This formula seems, however, to identify it with the reed of the utensil resembling the arani, the reed which serves to kindle the sacred fire, because after the words supposed to be spoken by the divine attribute, the invocator says in his own name
May the god of the house be installed in the house!
May the favourable demon, the favourable god enter the house!
The wicked demon, the wicked (Alad), the wicked Gigim, the wicked Telal, (the wicked god,) the wicked Maskim, the phantom, the spectre, the vampire,
Spirit of the heavens, conjure them!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!448
The title of "god of the house" was as we have seen peculiar to the deified
Fire. We may suppose, therefore, that this formula in question was to be
pronounced during the act of kindling, by means of Silik-mulu-khi's reed, the
flame of the domestic hearth, the protecting god who banished demons and evil
influences from the house.
Silik-mulu-khi revealed to man Hea's will and knowledge. We have seen him a prominent figure in all the incantations of a dramatic character; he was there represented as carrying to Hea the appeals of men who were tormented by malignant spirits and diseases, he explained their sufferings to him and asked his help; it was to this divine personage that Hea unfolded the secret which had power to ensure the defeat of the demons, imposing upon him the duty of carrying out the rites of liberation. Further, when gods such as the Sun or the Fire desired to implore the aid and supreme intervention of Hea, they also first had recourse to the mediation of Silik-mulu-dug.449 After the quotations in the first chapter, however, we do not need to develop this conception more fully or to add any new proofs of its truth.
It was to Silik-mulu-khi that this beautiful fragment is addressed, in which the language bears a strong [p.192] resemblance to that of the 147th Psalm,450 and which expresses in forcible terms the power of the command imposed upon the whole of nature in the name of the god:
Who can escape thy hail?451
Thy will is the sublime scimitar with which thou rulest heaven and earth.
I commanded the sea, and the sea became calm.
I commanded the flower, and the flower ripened its grain;452
I commanded the girdle of the river453 of Sippara,454 and by the will of Silik-mulu-khi I overturned its course.
Lord, thou art sublime, what transitory being is equal to thee?455
Silik-mulu-khi, amongst all the gods who are named, thou art the remunerator.
Hero, amongst the gods who ... the enemy ....
Silik-mulu-khi, the enemy ...
Lord of battles ....
A hymn composed posterior to the assimilation which was afterwards made between Silik-mulu-khi and the Babylonian Marduk, explains his benevolent office in terms worthy of attention:456
(Great lord) of the country, king of the countries, eldest (son) of Hea who bringest back (into their periodical movements) heaven and earth,
Silik-mulu-khi (great lord of the country, king of the countries, God amongst the gods,
Director of Ana and Mul-ge,457
Merciful one amongst the gods,
Generator458 who bringest back the dead to life,
Silik-mulu-khi, king of heaven and earth,
King of Tin-Tir,459 king of E-saggadhu,460
King of the E-zida,461 king of the E-makh-tila,462
to thee are heaven and earth
To thee are heaven and earth round about
To thee is the lip of life
To thee are death and life
To thee is the sublime bank of the pit of the ocean
All men belonging to the human race,463 all who breathe,464 all who bearing a name exist on the surface of the earth,
the whole of the four regions of the world, the archangels of the legions of heaven and earth, how many soever they are,
Thou art the (propitious god;)
thou art the (favourable giant;)
thou art he who gives life
thou art lie who saves,
the merciful one amongst the gods,
Here taken in the sense of heaven and earth.
the regenerator465 who bringest back the dead to life.
Silik-mulu-khi, king of heaven and earth,
I have invoked thy name, I have invoked thy sublimity.
May the gods (celebrate) the glories of thy name
May they (bless) his submission unto thee
May the invalid be delivered from his disease
Cure the plague, the fever, the ulcer
The wicked Utuq, the wicked Alal, the—
wicked Gigim, the wicked Telal,
the wicked god, the wicked Maskim
the phantom, the spectre, the vampire,
incubus, succubus, nightmare,
the bad (plague), painful fever, the bad malady,
he who causes (evil), he who produces evil,
. . . . . . . .. . .
the wicked sorcery, the philter ....
(Spirit of the heavens, conjure it!
Spirit of the earth, conjure it!)
Silik-mulu-khi is thus very clearly identified in this hymn with the Marduk of
the Chaldaio-Babylonian religion, and the Assyrian translators of the magic
texts have always rendered his name as such. But this assimilation does not
correspond precisely with the primitive conception of him, for we see yet
nothing which attributes to Silik-mulu-khi the planetary character which was
assumed by Marduk in the definitive organization of the Chaldaio-Babylonian
system, nor the solar character which he had originally. This assimilation was
probably made when Marduk had become decidedly the god of the planet Jupiter,
"the Great Fortune" of the astrologers, which justified them in connecting with
his other attributes the [p.195] favourable and
protecting office of Silik-mulu-khi. Or perhaps it is still more likely to have
taken place before this, and to have had its foundation in the cosmogonic
legend, which represented Marduk as the champion of the celestial gods, lighting
and conquering "the scaly Tiamat." In fact this exploit agreed perfectly with
the usual role of Silik-mulu-khi, and on the other hand, the struggle with the
powers of darkness was also very naturally attributed to a solar god, which
character Marduk originally possessed. Here then, according to all appearances,
lies the analogy between the myths, which produced the assimilation. But we must
also remark that the old Accadian orthography of the name of this god was never
used in the documents of the Chaldaio-Babylonian or Assyrian religion as an
ideographic or allophonic notation for the name of Marduk. The identification is
only to be found in the lists of gods, like the Assyrian versions of the magic
formulae; while other fragments of those mythological tablets seem to admit a
distinction between Silik-mulu-khi and Marduk.
No one can fail to be struck by the close connection between the earliest conception of Silik-mulu-khi, in the Accadian magic books, and that of the archangel Çraoscha, "the holy and strong," in the most ancient texts of the religion of Zoroaster; and particularly with the office of mediator attributed to Mithra,466 probably under the ever increasing influence of the Median Magism, which tended at that [p.196] time to deeply corrupt the ancient purity of Mazdeism.467 Any one well versed in the science of comparative theology will at once perceive the striking points of resemblance which exist between the doctrine of ancient magic and that of the religion of Zoroaster, principally in its latest books, namely, a fundamental dualism, fire-worship, and the existence of a god who acted as a special mediator between man and the pure and supreme spirit Ahuramazda.468 These are very striking analogies, which need to be examined by the light of a deep study of the Accadian documents, and which, from henceforth, open new fields for research. Already several learned men, who have devoted their vigils to the study of the sacred books of the Iranian religion, like M. Spiegel, have sought at Babylon the source of some of the data found in the writings attributed to Zoroaster, but which do not belong to the older traditions. This opinion should without doubt be somewhat modified, because the influence, thus introduced into the ancient fund of pure Aryan traditions, was rather that of the true Accadian system than of the Chaldaio-Babylonian religion, the sister of the religions of Syria and Phoenicia. We must also keep in mind an important point in this question, Mithra, and particularly his office as mediator (since the name itself was already applied amongst the Vedas to a solar personification), is nowhere mentioned in the most ancient portions of the collection of the Avesta, that is, in the hymns called Gathas. The [p.197] analogies we have just pointed out appear most prominently in those parts of the collection which bear reference to a development posterior to Mazdeism, and scholars are now unanimous in admitting that these portions of the Avesta belong to a new phase of the Persian religion, when its original spirit had been already much modified by the influence of Median Magism. This Magism itself, which long remained at variance with the orthodox Mazdeism resulted from a mixture of the old Iranian doctrines expressed in the Gathas, with extraneous doctrines, as, for instance, those of the religion belonging to the ancient Turanian people of Media, who were nearly allied to the Accadians of Chaldea, and thus ultimately foreign ideas predominated in Magism over its Iranian notions. All that can be gathered of the fundamental data of Magism from the classical writers, its worship of the elements and their spirits, added to the importance it attributed to the magic rites, recalls very forcibly to our minds the religion of the Accadian tablets. It is possible then that these analogies indicate an original community of doctrine and race between the Accadians and the Turanian foundation of the Medic nation, rather than a direct influence of the beliefs of the most ancient Chaldean inhabitants upon Mazdeism. Sir Henry Rawlinson469 has clearly demonstrated the fact that fire-worship, the permanent and principal rite of Mazdeism, was borrowed by Magism from the ancient Turanian religion, which was a thing un- [p.198] known to the primitive system of Zoroaster, and that it originated in Atropatine. At first I myself opposed this idea, by dwelling principally upon the importance of the worship of Agni amongst the Vedas but I must confess that now I am less positive, considering the part played by the god Fire and his worship in the primitive Accadian religion, whilst the Gathas contain nothing similar to the worship of Agni in the Vedic hymns. It seems to me indeed that the subject must be considered again, and the explanation of it will henceforth partly depend upon the results of further study of the Accadian books. Henceforth we ought to place amongst the allowable hypotheses that one which supposes that fire-worship was at first common to both the Turanians and the Aryans, and therefore of an extremely ancient origin, and that it may have been repudiated by the Zoroastrian reform, and then afterwards restored in Mazdeism, itself already somewhat changed by the influence of the Medic magic.
How many new and important questions in religious history arise from these Accadian magic books, which we have as yet only begun to examine, and which still necessitate long and patient study! Many are the questionable points which rise up before the mind of the scientist, definite answers to which cannot be expected for many years to come. But much has been gained when a problem is clearly stated, since that is the first step towards its solution; and among the most striking analogies existing between the beliefs of our magic documents and certain points in the secondary [p.199] development of the Mazdean religion, we have not yet mentioned the most important of all, the doctrine of the Mazdean Fravishis, or the Fervers of the modern Parsees.
The Fravishis of the religion of Zoroaster were the simple essences of all things, the celestial creatures corresponding with the terrestrial, of which they were the immortal types. Stars, animals, men, angels themselves, in one word every created being, had his Fravishi, who was invoked in prayers and sacrifices, and was the invisible protector who watched untiringly over the being to whom he was attached. These were obviously the Chaldean personal spirits of each being and each object of nature thus introduced into the Mazdean theology, and taking a place in the inferior rank of the celestial hierarchy of the Good Principle.470 The prototype of the human Fravishi was as clearly established as those of the Fravishis of other beings in the system which served as a foundation for Chaldean magic. In the same way that every man had his Fravishi according to the most recent books of the Avesta, so also, according to the Accadian magical tablets, and this doctrine was continually brought out in them, had every man from the hour of his birth a special god attached to him, who lived in him as his protector and his spiritual type; or, as they also expressed the same idea, a divine couple, "a god and a goddess, fire spirits," for they liked to divide every supernatural being into a conjugal duality. Hence the [p.200] expressions so frequently repeated, "the man, son of his god, the king, son of his god," meaning, the pious man, the pious king; as also in the incantations, when the one speaking says to the god Fire, for instance, "May he be given back to the favourable hands of his god." The god attached to each man, whether he were regarded as single or divided into a divine couple, was a god of a peculiar character, partaking of human nature, its imperfections and its foibles. He was not indeed as entirely good, powerful, and protecting as we might imagine from the formula which have just been quoted. Like the man to whom he was united, he could be conquered by demons or by spells, and thus become their servant; and therefore he himself being bound by the power of the imprecation, worked in the man's body the evil commanded him.471 When Namtar, the plague personified as a goddess, seized upon an individual, his god and goddess, as well as his body, were at the mercy of the spirit of the disease; and we have already referred to the texts which prove this idea. We may say, in conclusion, that the god and goddess belonging to each man were a part of his soul, as also were the Fravishis, according to the Mazdean books, only in these latter the conception arose to a higher degree, detaching itself from the materiality and imperfections of the terrestrial marl.
The purely spiritual beings, like the Amshaspands, the Yazatas, and even the supreme god, Ahuramazda, had their Fravishis, which may be distinguished from themselves, and is not that exactly [p.201] the strange and subtle distinction made in the magical texts of the Chaldeans, in the quotations at the beginning of this chapter, between such and such a god, and his spirit who was regarded as a separate entity? The idea itself was a complicated one, and presupposed a great nicety of speculation upon the nature of spiritual beings, but it was nevertheless explicitly expressed, and it allowed, at one time, the admission into the incantatory litanies of the spirits of the planet gods belonging to the Chaldaio-Babylonian religion, which yet were not accepted as national gods.
This system of beliefs, as we have just shown it, without affirming anything that was not supported by a passage from the texts, has left its mark in the great Accadian collection discovered by Sir Henry Rawlinson, and it is clear that it must necessarily have given birth to an entirely magical worship. It merits a place by itself in the history of religions, where it will remain the type of the richest and most perfect development to which the exclusive worship of the spirits of nature and the elements, which was characteristic of the Turanian race, has ever attained.
The Relationship between Hea and Oannes.
I CANNOT possibly continue to maintain the assimilation which
I, in common with many others, established many years ago between the Oannes of
[p.202] Berosus and the Ana of the Accadians, or as
he is in the Assyrian Anuv. The form described as that of this personage in the
fragments of the Chaldean historian is found resembling that of a god, both in
the sculptures472 and upon the cylinders.473 But there is positively nothing in the
cuneiform texts to indicate that Anu possessed the double character of a
fish-god and a god of science and government which is ascribed to Oannes in the
narrative of Berosus. It is on the contrary an exact representation of the
physiognomy and office which these same texts assigned to Hea.
Now there is a very precious story preserved by Helladius,474 which corresponds exactly with that of Berosus except in the name of the god referred to. He relates the fable of a man named Oes, who came forth from the Erythrean Sea, with the body of a fish, and the head, feet, and arms of a man, and who taught astronomy and letters. "Some say that he issued from the primordial egg, whence his name of Oes, and that he was wholly human while he seemed to he a fish, having clothed himself in a cetaceous skin." The name here is [Greek], which is not more different from Hea than the [Greek] of Damascius, who must also be identified with him.
But if Hea is the subject of the narrative of Berosus, how are we to explain the origin of the form [Greek], [p.203] which his name has assumed? I think the answer is to be found in this passage from Hyginus,475 "Euahanes, qui in Chaldea de man exiisse dicitur, astrologian interpretatus est." Euahanes is a more correct and fuller form than Oannes, and explains its origin, for it is clearly the Accadian Εα χαn, "Hea the fish."
Another fragment of Berosus476 terms this divine personage [Greek]. I proposed to substitute [Greek] for [Greek], which appeared to be impossible; C. Muller wrote [Greek]. All these conjectures are now known to be needless, a capital μ only was needed, for [Greek] is one of the god's surnames simply copied from the Assyrian. It is really musiru (participle of the Aphel of אשר) or musaru, "he who ordains justice, law." As to [Greek], I also recognize in that a surname of Accadian origin, with the meaning of which we are not yet acquainted, but which is written in the lists of those belonging to this god,477 and which, like many others, preserved its ancient pronunciation, Nin-dutur, in the Assyrian tongue.
A third fragment478 enumerates the five successive theophanies or avatars of Oannes posterior to Annedotus, between the creation and the deluge. In almost all the titles which he gives them we can easily recognize the Accadian surnames of Hea with a slight alteration:
[Greek]= Dunga,479 U-Dunga;480 correct [Greek].
[Greek]= Nukimmut,481 Nakimmut;482 corr. [Greek].
[Greek] = Eni-bubu,483 a variation of Nin-bubu;484 corr. [Greek].
[Greek] = Ana-Amman.485
[Greek] ... the rest is yet to be discovered.
I think these various coincidences will not allow any one to doubt that the
Oannes of Berosus is the same as Hea, and not as Anu.
We must notice, however, that all the mythical names of the narratives translated into Greek by the Chaldean priest which have been found as yet in the fragments of the epic cycle, are purely Accadian, and therefore contradict the idea of a Semitic etymology, as at first proposed, both for themselves and for those of which the original form is still wanting.
These names, besides those already mentioned, are:—
[Greek] = Adiuru; corr. [Greek].
[Greek], [Greek] = Mulu-urugal; corr. [Greek].
[Greek] = Ubaratutu; corr. [Greek].
[Greek], [Greek] = Xasisatra.
[Greek] = Eta-ana.
The War of the Seven Wicked Spirits against thee Moon.486
In the beginning, they were the wicked gods,487 the rebellious genii who were formed in the interior of the heavens.
They, they were the agents of violence.
... ...... ........ ......488
They were seven: the first ...
the second, the hurricane ...
the third, a leopard ...
the fourth, a serpent ...
the fifth, a watch-dog which ...
the sixth, a rebellious giant who submits neither to god nor king;
the seventh, the messenger of the fatal wind who ...
They were seven, messengers of Ana, their king;
from town to town they directed their steps.
They were the tempest which rages violently in the heavens;
they were the floating clouds in the sky,
the rainy clouds which are driven onward,
the gale of wind which blows violently and causes dark ness on a brilliant day.
With the violent winds, in violent winds they rose;
the tempest of Mermer489 was the result of their war-like power,
to the right of Mermer, they advanced
from the foundations of the heavens like lightning they
flowing like rivers they march forward.
In the vast heavens, dwelling of Ana, their king,
they had established evil (they had no rival).
Behold Mul-ge heard this news,
and he meditated a resolve in his heart.
He took counsel with Hea, the supremely wise amongst the gods,
and they placed Uru-ki,490 Utu,491 and Tiskhu492 in the lower
part of the heavens to govern there,
they established them with Ana in the government of the legions of heaven.
These three gods, his children,
them, he commanded them
to watch day and night without fail.
Behold the seven wicked gods who rose from the lower part of the heavens
effectually obscured the light of Aku.493
The noble Utu and Mermer the warrior, passed by them
Tiskhu with Ana494 rose from the higher seats
and installed himself in the kingdom of the heavens.
. . .. . . .. .. .. 495
Behold these seven ...
at the head ...
the evil ....for the drink of his sublime mouth ...
Aku, the pastor of mankind ... of the earth ... was overturned and stopped in the midst (of his course),496
fearing night and day, and sitting no more on the throne of his power.
The wicked gods, messengers of Ana their king
. . . .. . .. . 497
from the midst of the heavens like the wind they came down upon the earth
Mul-ge saw the anguish of the noble Aku in the heavens
Master, he spoke to his servant Aku
"My servant, Nusku, carry this message for me to the Ocean,
the news that my son Aku is in great trouble in the heavens,
tell it to Hea in the Ocean."
Nusku obeyed tile command of his king,
to Hea as a quick messenger he went.
To the lord, the supremely wise, the unchangeable master,498
Nusku gave the message of his king.
Hea, in the Ocean, listened to this message
he opened his lips and his mouth was filled with wisdom,
Hea called his son Silik-muiu-khi499 and said these words to him
"Go, my son Silik-rnulu-khi,
(here is) news of my son500 Aku who is in great trouble in the heavens,
his anguish in the heavens is evident.
These seven wicked and murderous gods, who know no fear,
these seven wicked gods (destroy) like lightning (devastate) the life of the earth
they came down upon the earth like an angry whirlwind,
they effectually obscured the light of Aku
tile noble Utu and Mermer (passed) by them."501
A fracture of the tablet has unfortunately deprived us of the rest of the
narrative, and we have nothing left of the verses which related the defeat of
the seven malevolent spirits as well as the deliverance of Aku
[p.208] the god of the moon. This struggle about
the origin of things was supposed to break out afresh each time that the star
was eclipsed; so we read in an astrological document,502 that when certain
phenomena are produced "the gods of heaven and earth reduce men to dust and ruin
them; there will be an eclipse, a deluge, diseases, death; the seven great and
wicked spirits will exercise their powers of oppression before the moon."503
The incantation containing the narrative of this war of the seven demons of heaven against the moon was destined to cure the king of a disease caused by the wicked spirits. The god Aku, in the Assyrian Sin, was considered as the type of royalty, the first divine monarch who had reigned upon the earth; the sufferings of the king were then assimilated to his, the remembrance of his deliverance became an augury for that of the prince; the formulae which had chased away from him the demons eager to extinguish his glory were repeated to procure the safety of the sovereign. This intention of the deprecatory formulae is plainly shown in the fragments which remain to us of the conclusion of this text:
In the dwelling of government and justice ...
at the gate of the palace the cry ...
A dyed wool of various colours, the skin of a ...
which has never known the male, the skin of a ...504
which has never known the male, fashion them
cover the feet and hands of the king, son of his god.
The king, Son of his god, like the light of Aku, will cause
the country to live again; like the brilliancy of the
flame he raises his head.
Then after a new gap of ten verses:
the .... on his head
may he be pure and holy; may he shine
The wicked demon, the wicked (Alal), the wicked Gigim, the wicked Telal,
the wicked (god), the wicked Maskim,
they shall never enter (the palace)
they shall never approach (the gate) of the palace,
they shall never attack the king
... they shall never follow
... they shall never enter.
The Religions and the Magic of the Turanian Nations.
I HAVE already spoken of the coarse naturalism manifested in the worship of the spirits of nature, which is professed up to the present time by the Ugro-Finnic tribes of the regions about the Ural and Altai mountains, and which exists amongst the Mongols, as a popular superstition under the Buddhism which they have now for some centuries adopted. This variety of religious beliefs appears in its most rudimentary form with a confused demonology, in which the good are not clearly distinguished from the evil, and no one of the spirits is sufficiently elevated above the rest to become a god. Things remained in this primitive state, without making any progress in the development of belief, without any effort towards a more philosophical, a more reasonable classification, amongst those tribes who preserves from the earliest times their nomadic and barbaric character, and who dwelt apart in unfertile and uncivilized countries.
The nations under consideration know no other worship than
the magical rites, no priests but their sorcerers. The Ugric and Altaic tribes
have their Shamans;505 the Mongols, with the Buddhist Lamas, keep the priests of
magic from their ancient worship, which they call abysses.506 As I said before,
these magicians, who take the place of the priests, are at once diviners,
exorcists, and physicians, thaumaturges, and fabricators of amulets. They do not
perform the functions of a minister of worship as a permanent and settled thing.
"They are only called upon in cases of necessity," says M. Maury,507 but they
exercise, none the less, a considerable power over the nations whom they govern
as sacred ministers. Their power, particularly their resentment, is much feared,
while their knowledge is as blindly trusted. These enchanters have, as a rule,
something in their look and attitude that inspires fear and acts upon the
imagination. This results no doubt from the care which they take to give to
their physiognomy an imposing or savage look, but this particular expression is
perhaps still more often the effect of the over-excited state in which they are
kept by the rites to which they have recourse; they make use of various
stimulants to excite their faculties and produce an artificial muscular force,
and to cause hallucinations, convulsions, and dreams, which they consider to be
a divine enthusiasm, for they are [p.212] the dupes of their own delirium but even if they perceive the worthlessness of
their prehctiolis, they still all the same claim to be believed."
Amongst all nations, of whatever race, disease is always regarded as a possession and as the work of a demon.508
"The Baschkirs," says M. Maury again,509 "have their Shaitan-kuriazi, who expel devils and undertake to treat the invalids regarded as possessed510 by means of the administration of certain remedies. This Shaitan, whose name has been borrowed from the Satan of the Christians, since the Baschkirs have come into contact with the Russians, is held by the Kalmuks to be the chief author of all our bodily sufferings. If they wish to expel him they must resort not only to conjurations, but also to cunning. The abyss places his offerings before the sick man, as if they were intended for the wicked spirit it being supposed that the demon, attracted by their number or their value, will leave the body which he is tormenting, in order to seize upon this new spoil.511 According to the Tcheremisses, the souls of the dead come to trouble the living, and in order to prevent them from doing so, they pierce the soles of the feet and also the heart of the deceased, thinking that being thus nailed into their tomb, the dead could not possibly leave it ...512 The Kirghis tribes apply to their sorcerers, or Baksy, [p.213] to chase away demons, and thus to cure the diseases they are supposed to produce. To this end they whip the invalid until the blood comes, and then spit in his face. In their eyes every disease is a personal being.513 This idea is so generally received amongst the Tchuvaches also, that they firmly believe the least omission of duty is punished by some disease sent to them by Tchemen, a demon whose name is only an altered form of Shaitan.514 An opinion strongly resembling this is found again amongst the Tchuktchis; these savages have recourse to the strangest conjurations to free them from disease; their Shamans are also subject to nervous states, which they bring on by an artificial excitement."515
There is therefore it will be seen a close connection between this sorcery, which takes the place of all other worship in the beliefs in which it originated, and that which is enunciated in the Accadian magical books.
Among the Turanian nations the system is still rudimentary, coarse and confused, as must necessarily be the case amongst tribes which have never got beyond a state of barbarity. Nevertheless we see plainly the germ which was developed, under more favourable circumstances, upon the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris, before the ethnic element from another stock became incorporated with the Accadian [p.214] nation. But if the comparison could only be established with the beliefs and rites of these half savage tribes, who have no literature, and who are only known to us from the imperfect stories of travellers, and who dwell moreover in the distant regions of Siberia, the demonstration would be very poor and of no great weight, the analogies too vague and far-fetched to be accepted by the critic. Some almost as striking might be pointed out with the creeds and magic of the Red Skins of America and the Blacks of Africa, for as M. Maury judiciously remarks, "it is not only in the general features, but even in the details, that we see such a strong resemblance between the magic of all barbaric nations."
This comparison may lead us to really decisive results, if we apply it to facts which can be established in the two countries where the people of the Turanian race, in the definite and narrow sense in which we understand this word, were able, by rising to a higher degree of civilization, to establish a true system of religion from the fund of their primitive beliefs, still keeping the train of magic superstitions, while developing them and adopting more reasonable conceptions: namely, amongst the Medes and the Finns.
Median Magism is the result of the combination of an ancient Turanian religion with Mazdeism, upon which it afterwards exercised a very great influence; Finnish mythology on the contrary is a spontaneous creation from the Turanian fund, but it developed itself in the north, where nature assumed an entirely different aspect from what it did amongst the [p.215] Accadians, and we see the marks of it in their mythology. In spite of the differences which necessarily resulted from such various stages of development, I think that, after glancing at Median Magism and the beliefs of the ancient Finns, as they are expressed in the great Epopee of the Kalewala, the affinities with the system we have just explained from the remains of the Accadian magic collection, will seem so numerous and striking, that the reader will feel bound to allow with us the existence of a very strongly marked family of religions. And this family, which has been too much lost sight of up to this time, corresponds exactly with a great ethnic and linguistic division, for which henceforth a place must be found in the universal history of mankind.
The Early Median Mythology compared with that of the Chaldeans.
THE facts relating to Media have a particular importance for us. A very few of
the most distinguished scholars hesitate to admit the fact, an unexpected one I
must grant, of the existence in Chaldea of a primitive population from the same
stock as the Ugro-Finnish and Tartarian nations, which had a large share in the
Chaldaio-Babylonian civilization. I shall endeavour later, for I think it very
necessary, to answer the objections of these learned men, whose judgment is of
too great importance not to be disprited seriously and respectfully, as I have
great confidence that the new facts brought out in this book may perhaps help to
overrule their scruples. They require, indeed, formal proofs of the fact which
seems to them a priori very unlikely, and, if I am not mistaken, our researches
furnish data which are not without value. However, one of the most
[p.217] important elements of the question rests in facts showing that if the Accadians
belonged, by their language and religion, to the real Turanian race, they do not
constitute a sporadical phenomena difficult of explanation, but belonged to a
chain of nations of the same race which spread in the earliest ages from the
plain of central Asia to the Persian Gulf. I shall also need to revert to the
admirable efforts by which MM. Westergaard, De Saulcy, Norris, Oppert, and
Mordtrmann have proved that Media was originally inhabited by a people whose
language was closely allied to the Turco-Tartaric and Mongolian philological
branches on the one hand, and on the other to the Accadian of Chaldea.
This people, who for want of a better designation must be called Proto-Medic, preserved exclusively the sovereignty of the country until the establishment of the Medes proper, belonging to the Iranian race, of which event, since it is one of great importance in the history of Asia, I have endeavoured to fix the date at the eighth century B.C., in accordance with the data furnished by the Assyrian inscriptions.516 Even after the invasion, the Iranians only constituted a caste, powerful, but small in number. From the time of the Achaemenian dynasty, the mass of the people still spoke the old language, to which was granted the honour of being counted amongst the official dialects of the chancery of the Persian kings. Turanian Media kept not only its [p.218] language, but also its own religion, and only after a long time did it cease to struggle, with so many vicissitudes, against the religion of Zoroaster; its peculiar beliefs penetrated even to those of the Iranian conquerors, and produced, by their amalgamation with the religious ideas of these conquerors, the system of Magism, so called after the tribe of the Magi, who were at that time in possession of the sacerdotal privileges.517
This name of Magism has long been applied to the religion of Zoroaster, causing a confusion which must be ascribed to the Greek authors, beginning with Herodotus, who had travelled in Media and not in Persia proper: but this use of the name is a decided error, and the discoveries of contemporaneous scholars have helped to show the two systems as not only distinct from, but even at enmity with each other.518
Darius, the son of Hystaspes, who ought to know even better than Herodotus, relates in the annals of his reign, engraved upon the rock of Behistun, that the Magi, being for the time masters of the empire, with Gaumata the false Smerdis, had undertaken to substitute their religion for that of the Iranian nation, and that he, Darius, at his accession, overthrew their impious altars.519
While Cambyses was in Egypt, the people fell into impiety, and false beliefs (dranga, the lie) flourished in the country, in Persia, in Media, and in the other provinces......520
The kingdom which had been taken away from our race I regained; I re-established it. The temples which Gaumata the Magi had destroyed, I built again. I gave them back to the people; I restored the sacred songs and rites to the families from which Gaumata the Magi had taken them I re-established the state upon its original basis, Persia, Media, and the other provinces.521
In the inscription on his tomb at Nakch-i-Rustam, he says again, "When
Ahuramazda saw that this world was given up to superstition, he confided it to
me."522 The word used in the Persian text at this place is yafum, the religion of
the Yatus, a name given to the enemies of Zoroaster in the Zend-Avesta; in the
Babylonian text the expression is paraphrased thus: "When he saw that these
countries worshipped according to the doctrines of perdition."523 We understand
from the expressions of these texts, the massacre of the Magi by the Persians
directly after the false Smerdis had been killed, and the institution, otherwise
inexplicable, of the festival of the Magophonia, by which for a long time the
anniversary of this massacre was celebrated.524 In no truly Zoroastrian document
of [p.220] ancient date, and of Persian or Bactrian origin, do we find the Magi mentioned
as ministers of religion. However, the corruption of the national and primitive
doctrines of the Iranian race, that is, of the pure Mazdeism of the Gathas and
the first Fargards of the Vendidad-Sade, took place early amongst the Medes,
from their contact with the Turanian nations, even before they had conquered the
whole region to which they gave the name of Media, for the Vendidad (I.
59-66) names Ragha
and Tchakra as the places of their residence; that is to say, it considers their
residence in Ragæ and Rhorasan to have been the origin of serious religious
heresies, one of which was characterized by the practice of burning the body
after death. The same fact is proved by a curious text which M. Haug quotes.525 At
the time of the foundation of the Achaemenian empire, and under the first kings
of this dynasty, when the Persian religion still existed in all its purity,
there was a deep-rooted antagonism, both in doctrine and position, between the
Medic priesthood known as Magus, and the Persian, termed Athrava.526 This
antagonism afterwards diminished, as the Persian religion lost its purity. Txxoiled in their attempt to exalt their system above Mazdeism, which had only
succeeded for a short time under the false Smerdis, the Magi tried another plan,
more prudent and more complicated, endeavouring to enter by cunning the fortress
which they could not overthrow by strength. From the time of Xerxes,
[p.221] they began to be in favour at court,527 and this favour continued to increase. To
their influence are to he ascribed nearly all the changes which, towards the end
of the Achaemenian dynasty, corrupted deeply the Zoroastrian faith, so that it
passed into idolatry these changes have been very ably examined by Canon
Rawlinson.528 In its way pure Mazdeism was substituted for a syncretic religion,
in which the elements of Mazdeism predominated, and which recognized both the
magus and athrava. The portions of the Zend-Avesta belonging to the second
period of the composition, bear very evident marks of this introduction of
strange ideas, although they are not so far developed there as they were in the
public worship through the decrees of some of the Achaemenian kings. Many
centuries later, when the Sassanian princes undertook to restore Mazdeism in a
state of greater purity, yet without taking it back to its primitive condition,
they preserved the sacerdotal title of Magi, the heterodox meaning of which had
passed away with time. All the Greek and Latin writers acquainted with the
Persian religion at this period give to its ministers the title of Magi.529
In the great Pehlevi inscription of Nakch-i-Rajab, the Roman title Pontifex maximus is rendered magupat u aiharpat Rum.530 These two words, derived from the the Zend magupat and aethrapaiti, "chief of the Magi," and "chief of the Athravas," are used again [p.222] indifferently in other Sassanian inscriptions to express the idea of "supreme pontiff," and they have given rise to the two titles of the religious ministers of the more recent Parsism, Mobed and Herbed. The fundamental distinction existing from the beginning and during the first periods of the Achaemenian dynasty between Magism and Mazdeism explains the contradiction between the spirit and doctrine of the religion of Zoroaster, on the one hand, as it is expressed in the ancient parts of the Zend-Avesta, and as we find it in the inscriptions of Darius and Xerxes, or in the admirable refutation of Persian dualism addressed to Cyrus which forms the forty-fifth chapter of the book of Isaiah, and on the other hand the information respecting the religion of the Medes and Persians furnished by Herodotus and Dinon.
The Mazdean doctrine, so clearly and repeatedly expressed by Darius, was essentially spiritualistic. It rested upon an idea of dualism, in which the superiority of the Good Principle, Ahuramazda, shone forth in the most brilliant manner. Ahuramazda was in reality the only god, "the Lord God of the heavens," "he who has given (created) heaven and earth;" all the official decrees of the kings begin by a proclamation of the greatness of the god Ahuramazda; and they mention no other god. The princes were called sovereigns by favour of Ahuramazda; from him came victory, conquest, safety, prosperity, and all wealth. The "law of Ahuramazda" was the rule of life; his protection was [p.223] a blessing which they invoked continually in fervent prayers.531 There is nothing astonishing, consequently, in the sympathy which was manifested by the first Persian kings for the Jewish religion, and in the manner in which Cyrus identified Jehovah with his own god.532 The Persians certainly spoke of other gods, but without specially naming them, and this must have been the opening by which strange influences entered into the religion and corrupted it. Thus Ahuramazda, instead of being called exactly "the Great God," was sometimes designated as "the greatest of the gods," and after him we find that "the other gods," or "the gods who guard the house," are invoked several times. But these gods were certainly personages of an inferior order, powerful spirits created by Ahuramazda, and dependent upon him, yet having a right to the worship of men; they corresponded to the Amshaspands and the Yazatas of the Zend-Avesta. As to the adversary of Ahuramazda, the representative of the bad principle, the Angromainyus or Ahriman of the books attributed to [p.224] Zoroaster, he was "the enemy" who was regarded with horror and loaded with curses; the kings were usually represented as fighting with him or his genii, symbolized as horrible monsters.533 He is only mentioned once in the inscriptions at Behistun,534 where Darius calls him Dranga, "the lie" personified, and ascribes to him all the revolts which he had to subdue.
Herodotus and the other classical writers describe the true spirit of Mazdeism, when they represent the Persians as having a horror of idolatry and strange religions, or when they show them in their expeditions as hostile to everything bordering on paganism, burning temples,535 destroying the images of the gods or raising them as trophies,536 outraging or killing the priests,537 hindering the celebration of festivals,538 thrusting the sacred animals through with the sword,539 and even carrying their hatred of the rites of strange worship so far as to desecrate the sepulchres.540 But when the same Herodotus pretends to give exact details about the true Persian religion, he does not even know the name of Ahuramazda. He speaks of homage being rendered to the [p.225] sun, the fire, the earth, the water, and the winds,541 a worship which has nothing in common with the precepts and spirit of the Zend-Avesta, but an entirely naturalistic religion quite distinct from the Mazdean spiritualism, resembling rather the Vedic Aryas, and still more that of our Accadian magic books, it is true he says explicitly that the Magi were the necessary ministers of this worship, and this shows us that under the name of the Persian religion he is speaking of Magism, the rites of which he had seen performed in Media. Dinon542 and Diogenes Laertius543 also bear witness that the Magi worshipped the elements; but the former remarks that they honoured fire and water principally with their worship. These were exactly the same elements which were directly worshipped by the Accadian magicians in their material reality, hence we gather that their spirits were not clearly distinct from each other. If we consider attentively the terms of the passages which we point out as the chief of those relating to the elementary worship of the Median magic, the impression they leave upon us will be that of a worship of the spirits of nature, in which the personality of these spirits was confused in many cases [p.226] with the objects and elements which they were supposed to animate and govern.
I have previously mentioned the difficulty raised by the rite of a worship of the fire kept burning upon the altars. But whatever may be the solution of it, if it is proved, which is quite possible, that this rite formed an integral part of the system of Mazdeism in its primitive purity, it certainly existed also, and had a very important place in the religion of Magism, and even in the cultus of the Turanian Medes, before any Persian invasion. Sir Henry Rawlinson544 and his brother historian545 appear to me to have demonstrated this position in a most convincing manner, and also, this fact is conformable with what we have noticed amongst the Accadians. The Magi pretended to have the power of making fire descend on to their altars by means of magical ceremonies.546
The worship of the stars was very fully developed in the system of Median magic. This worship appears very seldom in the Zendic books,547 and that only in one of the most recent portions; clever modern critics have no hesitation in pronouncing it, as it appears there, to be the result of a later introduction, and due to some foreign influence.548 Towards the end of the Persian empire, on the contrary, it assumed a great importance, as it did in the Zoroastrian writings of a very early epoch.549 [p.227] Evidently it came from the Magi. The principal office of this worship amongst the Medes is made known to us by the description which Herodotus gives550 of the seven walls of Ecbatana, each with the sacred colour of one of the seven planets. The same sacramental arrangement was observed in the town of Ganzakh, the Gazaca of the classical writers, and in Atropatene, since Moses Chorenensis551 calls it "the second Ecbatana, the town with seven walls." Later, at the period of the Sassanian dynasty, the Persian poet Nizami, author of the Heft-Peiher, describes this style as prevailing in the palace of the seven planets built by Bahram-Gour or Varahran V.552 It was borrowed direct from the customs of civilization, from the Babylonian religion, for the famous tower of Borsippa had seven storeys with the colours of the seven planetary bodies,553 after its restoration by Nebuchadnezzar, and the same arrangement was observed in the zigguurat or sacred tower of the palace of Khorsabad.554 But the worship of the stars and planets must have come originally, M. Spiegel thinks, from the introduction of the religious doctrines of Babylon, in which it held such a prominent position, and the Kushito-Semitic doctrines, for we have seen that it was quite foreign to the old Accadian beliefs. Most probably, however, the Turanians of Media received it from the [p.228] Assyrians, just as they got the worship of Anat, changed into Anahita,555 from their constant contact with the civilization of the countries round the Euphrates and Tigris, and they, in their turn, transmitted it to the Magi, by whom it was afterwards introduced amongst the Persians and the rest of the Iranian races. This spirit of a peculiar naturalistic pantheism analogous to that of the Accadian magical books, which is revealed by this worship of tile elements and the stars, is the very antipodes of the spiritualism of the pure Mazdean religion in its earliest documents. The Magi adopted it into the sphere of the most elevated personages of their religious system, in which they had completely altered the fundamental conception of Mazdeism, although they still preserved the dualistic form which the old Proto-Medic religion must have admitted even before any contact with the Iranians, since we found it amongst the Accadians. There is no doubt that they placed at the top of the scale the antagonistic worship of Ahuramazda and of Angromainyus. For certainly Ahuramazda is the same as the Zeus whom Herodotus (I., 97) mentions as being worshipped by the Magi, and the same Herodotus556 represents these later, armed with the khraf- [p.229] çthragina,557 pursuing and killing the wicked animals of creation, reptiles and insects, with as much zeal as the more orthodox Mazdeans. But the Magi considered the antagonism to be only superficial, for they regarded the representatives of the two opposing principle as consubstantial, equal in power, and emanating both from one and the same pre-existent principle. I do not hesitate indeed to refer to Median Magism the origin of the personage Zarvana-akarana, "Time without limit," the common source of Ahuramazda and Angromainyus; which conception substitutes the most complete Pantheism and the greatest indifference as to morals for the dualism of Zoroaster, of which it still maintains the outward semblance. This personage, who was of great importance in the books which were composed before the time of Alexander, and the conception of whom became in the middle ages the fundamental dogma of a heresy from Mazdeism, the heresy of the Zarvanians, did not belong to the ancient fund of the Zoroastrian religion. He was not mentioned in its earliest books, and all the scholars who are best versed in these matters agree that his presence later points to a corruption of the original doctrine, attributable to foreign influences.558 Endeme, the favourite [p.230] disciple of Aristotle, describing very precisely this personage and the dualistic couple from which he proceeded, writes of this being as a conception of the Magi.559 It is interesting to remark here that, in a passage the first date of which may be ascribed to Berosus,560 this same name of Zarvana is applied to the legendary personification of the ancient Turanian race, under the form which had been assumed by the Chaldaic-Babylonian legend in Armenia about the origin of the different races.561 We discovered in the fragments of the great Accadian magic collection ideas analogous to those resulting from the conception of Zarvana-akarana; we saw odious demons, like Namtar, and propitious gods opposed to the demons, like Nin-dar, both emanating from Mul-ge. We suppose, also, that in a religion which resembled nearly that of ancient Accad, and represented the same ideas of the spirits and gods under a rather different form, the dark side of Mul-ge's character had been brought out in strong contrast to the favourable attributes of Hea; and that at the same time they attributed to Ana something of the idea of a first principle which he originally possessed, slightly modified, as was the conception of all the other gods; it will be thus seen that the three gods connected by the Accadians with the three zones of the universe were grouped in such a manner that they would naturally be represented in Iranianism by the couple of Ahuramazda and Angrornainyus with Zarvana-akarana above them.
Magic Magism however goes even further than the conception of a common
principle, from which both Ahuramazda and Angromainyus were supposed to have
emanated. Whilst in the true Mazdeism of of the Persians, Ahuramazda alone was
worshipped and Angromainyus loaded with curses, in Magism the two principles of
good and evil, Ahuramazda and Angromainyus, received equally alike the homage of
Plutarch562 relates that the Magi offered sacrifices to Angromainyus, [Greek], and describes the rites used, which consisted of an offering of grass and sedge, called [Greek], evidently the haoma, sprinkled with the blood of a wolf, and placed in an obscure spot. Herodotus563 tells us that Amestris, the spouse of Xerxes, who was entirely under the influence of the Magi, sacrificed seven children "to the god of darkness and the infernal regions." He also mentions a like sacrifice as having been offered to the same god in the passage of the Strymon, when the Persians were marching into Greece. This shocking practice of human sacrifices was entirely opposed to the fundamental principles of the Zoroastrian doctrine, as was also the worship of Angromainyus, and it never appears again in Persian history. We recognize in it, in concert with Canon Rawlinson,564 a trace of the influence of Magism.
In this worship of the bad principle placed upon a footing of perfect equality with the good, Median [p.232] Magism reveals itself as inferior, from a moral point of view, to the doctrine of Accadian magic. But we must remember the peculiar circumstances in which the people of Media had been placed by the Iranian conquest. There are very strong indications which would lead us to believe that before the conquest the form of a serpent was attributed to one of the gods.565 This worship of serpent-gods is found amongst many of the primitive Turanian tribes.566 The Accadians made the serpent one of the principal attributes, and one of the forms of Hea,567 and we have a very important allusion to a mythological serpent in these words from an Accadian dithyrambus uttered by a god,568 perhaps by Hea, as I mentioned before in quoting the whole piece;
Like the enormous serpent with seven heads,
the weapon with seven heads, I hold it.
Like the serpent which beats the waves of the sea
(attacking) the enemy in front,
devastator in the shock of battle, extending his power
over heaven and earth, the weapon with (seven) heads,
(I hold it).569
When once the Iranian traditions were fused with the ancient beliefs of the Proto-Medic religion, the serpent-god naturally became identified with the representative of the dark and bad principle, for, according to the Mazdean myths, the serpent was the [p.233] form assumed by Angromainyus, in order to penetrate into the heaven of Ahuramazda.570 In the heroic cycle, also, the serpent Dahaka,571 or Azhi-Dakaha,572 conquered by Thraetona,573 an Iranian form of the Vedic myth Trita, son of Aptya,574 was a personification of the bad principle. Moses Chorenensis (I., 29) attributes to the dynasty of the Aryan Medes and to the descendants of their subjects, who were transported into Armenia, the preservation of the ancient Turanian worship of the serpent, connecting with it the name of Astyages.575 So also the descendants of Thraetona, becoming one with those they conquered, ended by worshipping Azhi-Dahaka. And as the people of Turanian origin were inclined to honour their ancient national god rather than that of the Iranian conquerors, Angromainyus or Azhi-Dahaka certainly out-shone Ahuramazda. From this point of view, I think M. Oppert576 was right in recognizing a trace of the Magism of the ancient Medes in the odd religion of the Yezidis or "worshippers of the devil," who dwell at the present time in Irak-Adjemy and the north of Mesopotamia; for this religion professes in its doctrines the Mazdean dualism, but in its worship it only renders homage to the wicked principle.577
Herodotus (I., 131) tells us that the Magi borrowed from the Assyrians the worship of
their celestial Aphrodite, that is, of the Anahita introduced afterwards into
the Persian religion by a decree of Artaxerxes Mnemon;578 and I may here be
permitted to repeat my own words upon the place of this goddess in the Magism
The father of History, in pointing out that the Magi adopted the Chaldaio-Assyrian goddess, adds that they called her Mithra. This information from Herodotus has occasioned many conjectures and many theories of an entirely mythological character, which have disappeared before a more intimate acquaintance with the Asiatic religions. At present, the most generally received opinion amongst scholars naturally results from the study of the original Iranian sources; it decides that the view taken by Herodotus is inadmissible, that the historian of Helicarnassus has committed an error and occasioned a confusion, as he has also done in other places.580 But what was the cause of it? This question although it has not been asked as yet, still I think finds an answer in the close alliance between the worship of Anahita and Mithra in the system of Median Magism. The conception of the personage of Mithra as a form of the sun dates back to the primitive Aryan fund of religious ideas; we find in it one of the Adityas of Vedic mythology, and it is impossible that the authors of the first Mazdean [p.235] reforms should not have known this analogy. But this view of Mithra evidently did not assume in their system the importance which was afterwards attributed to it in the latest Zoroastrian books; he was a secondary personage, inferior, perhaps, even to the Ainshaspands, not a deity of the same or nearly the same rank as Ahuramazda; for Mazdeism, in its primitive purity, recognized only in the latter the supreme and perfect divine nature. And Canon Rawlinson581 has very judiciously remarked that the introduction of Mithra into the public worship took place at the same time as that of Anahita, and that the two facts point to a historical connection which must not be overlooked. Indeed, the inscription of Artaxerxes Mnemon at Susa is the first official document of the Achaemenian dynasty which mentions other gods with Ahuramazda, and these gods were Anahita and Mithra, united together and forming an indivisible group. The legal establishment of their worship in this supreme rank must therefore have been simultaneous, and must have arisen from the same source. And it was in the time of Artaxerxes that Xenophon582 began to speak of Mithra as one of the principal national gods of the Persians.
After this it is very difficult not to think that Artaxerxes Mnemon, among the innovations which during his reign modified the Zoroastrian religion so much, introduced not only a new personage, but a divine couple, that of Mithra and Anahita, which the [p.236] presence of Mithra justified them in grafting as an alien branch upon the ancient stock of Mazdeism, and which had already been grafted upon it in the system of Median Magism. In this latter system, as far as we can understand the economy of it, the worship of the sun and moon, spoken of by Herodotus, was established under the influence of the Chaldaio-Assyrian religion, with the form of the worship of the couple of a solar god and lunar goddess, Mithra and Anahita,583 placed immediately beneath Ahuramazda. Hence the mistake made by Herodotus, who confounded the two personages of this couple. Perhaps it was not after all an error, and the divine couple of which we are speaking may have been sometimes designated as a double Mithra. So also might we explain, as the remains of this state of things, the expression in a passage from the Yaçna (I., 29) which has much puzzled the commentators, Ahuracibya Mithraczbya "the two divine Mithras."584
I do not think we need to qualify this opinion since our study of the Accadian magic texts allows us to confirm it. We have noticed the close resemblance between the office of mediator, attributed to Mithra in the Persian religion from the time of Artaxerxes Mnemon, with that filled by Silik-mulu-khi between man and Hea in the Accadian system. The name of Mithra, signifying "the friend," might be taken as an Iranian equivalent or as a sort of [p.237] translation of Silik-mulu-khi, "he who sheds abroad good for men." It seems that in Magism Mithra must originally have taken the place and the attributes of some mediator-god of the Proto-Medic religion, analogous to the Silik-mulu-khi of the Accadians, who bore, no doubt, the same kind of name. He was later divided into an original couple, like the god attached to each person in the Accadian system, and with him was associated the goddess Anahita, who was borrowed from the Chaldaio-Assyrian religion.
Lastly, to complete the picture of Median Magism, and to finish the comparison of points of resemblance with the system we studied amongst the Accadians, we must mention that the practices of incantation and sorcery were greatly developed in it. These practices are formally forbidden and severely condemned by all the books of Mazdeism, which attributed the invention of them "to the Yatus, the enemies of Zoroaster."585 The name yams, used by Darius in the inscription of Naksh-i-Rustam586 to designate the religion of the Magi, would alone strongly flavour the notion that these rites were considered very important. Dinon587 also describes the incantations to which the Magi devoted themselves with their divining wand in their hand. They foretold the future by throwing little sticks of tamarisk wood; this custom is said by the classical writers to have been of Scythian or Turanian origin. The Bareçma,588 having become after a certain period an [p.238] essential part of the insignia of the ministers of the Mazdean worship, was originally nothing else than a bundle of these wands, the use of which was introduced into Persia under the influence of the Magi.589 Following the enquiries which we are going to make into astrology and divination in Chaldea and Babylon, we shall prove that the throwing of these wands was known and practised there,590 and that this was even the most ancient mode of divination used in the time of the Accadians.591
We said that the Magi pretended to have the power of drawing fire down from heaven upon their altars by means of certain words and rites.
Herodotus (I. 103) and Diogenes Laertius592 speak of the supernatural power the Magi thought they possessed. The last of these writers had particularly consulted the special treatise upon the Magi by Hermippus, where they were represented as jugglers and enchanters.593 About the time of the Median wars a book attributed to the Magus Osthanes was circulated in Greece; this book was the origin of the magic substituted by the Greeks from that time forth for the coarse and ancient rites of Goetia.594 From what we know of this book, it seems to have taught, as the [p.239] supreme secrets of the caste of the Magi, all sorts of spells and divinations, even to the invocation of the dead and the infernal spirits.595 Further, these priests who had spread from Media over the whole of Persia were regarded in the west as types of enchanters and magicians,596 hence the meaning attached by us to the word magic. Their magic was known, however, to have resembled very nearly that of Chaldea,597 which ended by causing in the minds of the Greeks an inextricable confusion between the Magi and the Chaldeans.598
It has been necessary to explain these things very fully in order to give a complete idea of our know ledge of the Median Magism, which is still after all a very obscure subject. But I think that from these explanations the reader will be able to distinguish fairly well between the three elements composing this mixed system: the Iranian and Mazdean element, which may be compared to a garment cast over the ancient conceptions of a very different origin as a result of the conquest by the Medes proper the doctrines borrowed from the Chaldaio-Assyrian religion, consisting chiefly of the worship of the stars and Anahita; and lastly, the ancient fund of the popular Turanian beliefs before the invasion of [p.240] the Iranians. Finally, these beliefs have therefore a close resemblance with the doctrines of the old Accadian magic books, a resemblance analogous to that existing between the dialects of anti-Aryan Media and Accadian Chaldea.
Finno-Tartarian Magical Mythology.
THE connection with the Finnish mythology and magic is still more striking. We have a fertile mine of information about the rites and religion of this nation in the great Epopee of the Kalevala, which M. Léouzon-Leduc has undertaken to lay before the French public, and of which, although it is translated into many European languages,599 our scholars and literary men are almost entirely ignorant; this is much to be regretted, for the poem should be placed next to the Epopees of Greece, India, and Persia, on account of its beauty and importance. The subject of it has been clearly explained in the works of Ganander, Castrèn, and other Finnish scholars.600
The ancient Finnish paganism had as a foundation the worship of the spirits of
nature, which we have already seen existing in such a primitive and coarse state
amongst the Siberian tribes. The fact that the two are closely connected, and
that the Finnish worship of spirits was derived from the Siberian, needs no
further demonstration, for it has been clearly proved by all who have written
upon the subject. But on this foundation the imagination of the Finns built up a
fine mythological structure with a numerous hierarchy of gods and genii
differing in rank, while each preserved the mark of his origin and became the
subject of various legends. Amongst the people of Suomi, first in their ancient
eastern domain, where they lived under brighter skies and of which they
preserved some vague remembrance, and then in the new homes in northern Europe
to which they gradually receded, the same thing took place as with the Accadian
nations upon the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris. The old demonological and
magical superstitions of the Turanian race gave birth to a perfect religious
system and a fertile mythology. Although the difference of countries and
climates gave a different colouring to many personifications belonging to both
mythologies, the religions of these two nations were manifestly inspired by the
same genius, derived from the common fund of ideas of one and the same race. We
may well be astonished at finding so great a resemblance, so many gods and
spirits retaining the same character under different names, and such a perfect
similarity between certain formulae of incantations in spite of the wide
both in time and space which separates heathen Finland, which did not embrace
Christianity until the middle ages, from purely Accadian Chaldea, which was
utterly annihilated fifteen centuries before the Christian era.
The Finns never had any other priests than their magicians, their worship consisted only in domestic offerings on certain fixed days, with the parents of the family as ministers, and in mysterious ceremonies to which was attributed a supernatural power, while those entrusted with the science which prescribed how these were to be performed, were called prodigies. Amongst these latter there were on the one hand the Tielajal, "the learned," Asaajat, "the intelligent," or Laulajat, "the incantators," magicians of a benevolent character who had recourse only to an artificial excitement in order to learn the future and enter into direct communication with the spirits, and to the sacred songs and rituals which act upon the latter and induce them to protect man; M. Rein, in treating on this subject at Helsingfors in 1844, attributes to them a sacerdotal character, to which the Noijat or sorcerers properly so called had no claim. These Noijat pretended to be in connection with both bad and good spirits, they used their knowledge and power for evil as well as for good, according as they were well or evilly disposed towards any person. To these incantations they added the use of philters and other strange practices; their chief rite was that which was called by the Scandinavians Seidr, which consisted in pronouncing certain words over the flame, together [p.244] with ceremonies of which only the initiated possessed the secret; by means of the Seidr a person could assume any form he wished, or become invisible, or be transported instantaneously from one place to another.601
The Tietajat and Noijat alike claimed the power to cure or rather expel diseases, which they considered as personal beings, by means of their formulae, their songs, and enchanted drinks which were really pharmaceutical ingredients; they were the only physicians of the nation.602 There existed between these two classes of persons the distinction which we have observed in the Accadian books between the priest of magic and the malevolent sorcerer, considered as an impious being. In the Kalevala, spells held a very important place; they were considered as a divine work, and the gods themselves had recourse to them continually during the course of their heroic life; but the sorcerers were depicted as perverse men, who abused these supreme secrets, and put them to a wrong use. The Finns attributed to the incantations and magic rites, whether used for a good or bad end, an absolute power over the whole of nature, and also the elements and spirits. The earth and the air, the visible and invisible regions, water and fire, were subject to the power of spells; they brought the dead back to torment the living; they even acted upon the most powerful gods, neutralized their influence, or exer- [p.245] cised a sort of constraint over them. Finnish poetry describes the effects of these sorceries under the most hyperbolical forms. Of this we will give an example:
Lemminkäinen entered the house; it was full of men talking freely; men clothed in long garments upon the benches, singers upon the pavement, runoias under the wide opened doors, instruments ranged around the walls, and upon the principal seat, near the hearth, sorcerers.
And Lemminkäinen began his spells.
He sang, and the most accomplished singers only brought forth ridiculous sounds.
Their hands became covered with stone gloves, masses of stone bent their backs, a stone hat crushed their heads, stone collars squeezed their necks.
So they mocked the most famous singers, the most clever runoias.
Lemminkäinen sang again: and the men were thrown into a sledge drawn by a discoloured cat; and the cat, in its rapid course, bore them off to the extreme limits of Pohjola,603 as far as the vast deserts of Lapland, where the horse’s footstep no longer resounds, and the mare’s foal finds no pasture.
Lemminkäinen sang again: and the men cast themselves into the great gulf of Lapland, into the strait which swallows up heroes, into those waves of which the sorcerers drink in order to quench their burning thirst.
Lemminkäinen sang again: and the men rolled into the impetuous torrent of Rutja, into the fatal gulf which swallows up trees as a prey, into which the pines fall with their roots, in which the crested firs are engulfed.
Thus Lemminkäinen mocked at young men, old men and men in the prime of life, by means of his incantations.604
But whatever the power of these spells may have been, which governed nature and supernatural beings, spirits and gods, there was a talisman more powerful even than they, for it controlled their power and protected its possessor; this was the "celestial wand," resembling the wand of the Median Magi. The gods themselves found their only protection from certain enchantments in this wand. Wäinämöinen, threatened by the great sorceress of Lapland, answers her:
The Laplander cannot hurt me with his spells, for I hold in my hands the celestial wand, and he who hates me, and would bring evil upon me, does not possess it.605
We will now proceed to enquire into the mythology and the hierarchy of the
Finnish gods and spirits.
At the head of all, we find three gods who divided the sovereignty of the universe, Ukko, Wäinämöinen, and Ilmarinen. Ukko, whose name signified "the ancient, the venerable," was "the celestial old man," Vanha taivahinen, "the god of heaven," Taivahan jumala; in his connection with the two others he had a marked superiority and appeared sometimes even as a first principle, whence his surname of ylijumala, "the supreme god." Wäinämöinen, "the friend of the waves," was the ruler of [p.247] the humid element and the atmosphere; Ilmarinen, "the eternal forger," the master of the terrestrial globe and of the treasures which it contains, which he alone had succeeded in working. The three highest gods of Finnish mythology, who together "fixed the gates of the air, established the celestial vault, and sown the stars in space,"606 Ukko, Wäinämöinen, and Ilmarinen, corresponded then almost exactly to the three superior gods who presided over the three zones of the universe in the system of the Accadian magic collection, Ana, Hea, and Mul-ge. The resemblance is particularly striking between Hea and Wäinämöinen, whose adventures form the subject of the Kalevala. Like the Accadian deity, the Finnish god was not only king of the waters and the atmosphere, he was also the spirit whence all life proceeded, the master of favourable spells, the adversary and the conqueror of all personifications of evil, and the sovereign possessor of all science. He sent the celestial fire to man, and invented music and incantations. Every one needed to invoke his protection, warriors, fishermen, magicians, all felt the effects of his protection. The sweat which dropped from his body was a balm for all diseases.607 He alone furnished efficacious assistance against the charms of the sorcerers, and an appeal to him was a last resource against the encroachments of the demons. He is also the depositary "of the Runes of science," of the [p.248] "supreme words," of the "creative words," which he discovered in the ancient Wipunen,608 words which gave life to everything that existed and which had power to bind the gods as well as the inferior beings. These words, like the mysterious name of the Accadian books were the last point in supernatural science, the spell above all spells; they had in themselves an unparalleled virtue quite independent of the agent who uttered them. When Wäinämöinen, who is continually represented in the epopee as a hero in spite of his divine nature had been wounded by the axe of Pohja, the personification of the infernal region, he sought the old man of Suorni, that he might staunch the torrent of blood flowing from the wound; and the old man replied to him:
We have staunched greater wounds, we have bound up more terrible ones, we have triumphed over greater difficulties, we have broken through sterner obstacles by the three words of the creation, by the holy and original words. The mouths of rivers, the currents of lakes, and rushing cataracts have been conquered. We have joined isthmuses to isthmuses.609
Below the three superior gods, the Finns included in their worship all the objects and beings of nature, which they peopled everywhere with personal spirits, sometimes distinct from their object, sometimes blended with it. They rendered homage to mountains, stones, trees, seas, rivers, and fountains. Fire was to them a divine being, being worshipped in the [p.249] flame on the domestic hearth; to which, at the festival of the joulu, the mother of the family offered a libation with this invocation:
Rise ever higher O my flame,
But do not become greater nor shine brighter!610
This festival of the joulu took place immediately after the winter solstice,
when the days began to lengthen; the rite of the worship of the flame seems then
to indicate that the Finns identified the fire, honoured by them in its
elementary reality, with the sun, just as we have seen the Accadian god Fire
become a solar personage in the Babylonian epopee, under the form of the hero
Izdubar, or Dhubar. However this may he, the Finns invoked the sun under the
name of Paiwa,611 to protect them from the demons of the night, and to cure
certain diseases, especially any infirmity of the brain, as the Accadians
invoked the god Utu, who personified the same planet. They worshipped in
addition Kuu, the male god of the moon, who corresponded exactly with the Aku,
Enizuna or Itu of the Accadians; and they had also many stellary divinities,
like Otava the great bear, and Tahti, or the stars in the abstract.
According to the Finnish mythology, each place had its Haltia, spirit or genius, each house its familiar gnome or Tonttu, each element and natural phenomenon a spirit belonging to that class called by the Scandinavians Dvergues, every action of man, every circumstance of life, its genius or special god. [p.250] Some particular spirits called Egres made the plants grow which the labourer cultivated, and watched over their development. Others, the Keijuiset, winged spirits, some black, and others white, some wicked, and others again beneficent, indicated their presence particularly by entering houses where a corpse was lying.
From this vast crowd of spirits scattered over the whole of creation arose the gods who were also very numerous, presiding over a class of beings, a collection of phenomena, some phase in the development of man, animals or plants, stand out characterized by a more general nature and a higher power.
Here Finnish mythology differed entirely from that of the Accadians; it assumed a peculiar idiosyncrasy, and attested the influence of the soil and climate where it attained perfection. Under the burning sun of the borders of the Euphrates and Tigris, and in the midst of the gloomy forests and icy marshes of Finland, the same principle of the personification of natural phenomena, objects, and classes of beings belonging to the animated world, necessarily produced gods of a different aspect. We need not therefore be surprised to find that all this part of Accadian mythology was represented among the Finns by mythological creations differing entirely from the popular superstition. Widely separated, both in time and space, these two nations have added, each in their own way, to the common foundation of the same conception of the supernatural world and its relation to nature, which we see plainly manifesting itself through the diverse colours and forms of the em- [p.251] bellishments. Two trees of the same kind, planted in different soils and climates, do not grow in the same way; but the botanist can recognise, nevertheless, their specific identity and their common origin. After all, there is not more difference, nay, indeed there is even less, between the Finnish mythology and that of the Accadian magic books, than there is between the mythologies of the Greek and Indian nations, which are but different branches arising from the same root, the primitive beliefs of the Aryan race.
I have not undertaken to give in this place a treatise on Finnish mythology; I desire only to show the community of spirit and the points of resemblance it has with the ancient Accadian mythology, as already pointed out by Prof. Sayce. I shall decline to enumerate the Finnish gods created by the aspects of nature in the north, who could have no counterpart in those countries where the Accadians dwelt, divinities, for instance, presiding over the great birch and fir woods, like Hiltaainen, Tapio, the shepherd of the wild beasts of these forests, "the bearded old man of the joyous forest," to whom a very poetical invocation is addressed in the Kalevala,612 together with all the minor divinities in their train, whose duty it was to propagate and distribute the different species of forest trees and the wild beasts which dwelt under their shadow. Popular imagination multiplied these indefinitely, and epic poetry ascribed to them, genealogies and histories resembling those of mankind. Not less [p.252] numerous were the gods who watched over the flocks, like Käitös, Käkri, Suvetar, and those who protected the fishermen of the Baltic, increasing the fishes and sending them into his nets, like Juolitar and his spouse Hillewo, the goddess of the otters, and so many other divinities of the second rank, presided over by Ahto, the king of the ocean and the waters.
Further Analysis of Finnish Demonology.
ALL these considerations take us back to the conceptions we observed in the
Accadian books, which were indeed the fundamental conceptions of all the
Turanian nations and a prevailing characteristic of their religion; and this was
the importance of the gods and spirits presiding over the treasures buried in
the bosom of the earth, and the works of metallurgy.613 Here was the empire of the
great Ihuarinen, the divine smith, who forged upon his anvil the celestial
vault; and it is in this connection that we meet with the genii of the rocks and
mines, the Wuorin Vaki, who worked under the guidance of Kämuläinen. However,
here again, while we notice a certain analogy, there was also an important
difference, which resulted from the diverse conditions of the two nations of
Accad and Suomi. In the Accadian books, the most important place amongst the
gods of metallurgy was given to the god of copper. In Finnish poetry, not copper
but iron held the first rank, of which the special god [p.254]
Rauta-Rekhi was surrounded by a retinue of relations corresponding with the
principal operations used in working that metal: and the legend of the birth of
iron is one of the most remarkable and original in the Kalevala.614 But this
application of all the metallurgic myths to iron was certainly not always to be
found amongst the Finns; it resulted from the peculiar conditions of their
sojourn in the country from which they were finally expelled, where iron
abounded, and the lack of copper and bronze rendered it less likely that they
would remember the ancient traditions which their Livonian brethren kept so
jealously. The Accadians, on the contrary, although they had already worked
iron, were much more abundantly supplied with bronze; it was the common metal
which they used for their instruments and utensils.615 At this point philology
draws our attention to a fact, the exact parallel of that shown in the
mythology. The word (windu) which designates copper in the Accadian, is
identical with that signifying iron amongst the Finns (rauta), and the Laps
(rude), and which passed thence to the Sclavonians and Lithuanians as the name
of the same metal (ruda). Thus in the Aryan languages a word that originally
meant "metal" in a general sense, became in Sanscrit the name of iron especially
(ayas), and in Latin that of bronze (as).
According to the Finnish creed, each man bore within him from his birth a divine spirit who was his inseparable companion for life. This spirit became [p.255] more closely united to its subject, in proportion as the latter tore himself away from earthly things to retire into the sanctuary of his soul. This was an important source of the magician's supernatural power; he aspired to a transcendental ecstasy, tulla intoon, to a great state of excitement of the soul, tulla haltiorhin, in which he became like the spirit dwelling in him, and entirely identified with it. He used artificial means, intoxicating drugs for instance, in order to attain to this state of excitement, for it was only then that he succeeded, so to speak, in deifying himself, and received the homage of the genii and spirits of nature.616 This doctrine, which M. Rein has explained very clearly, and which held a chief place in the Finnish religious ideas, as also in their magic, is just that of the special god attached to each man and dwelling in his body, which prevailed also in the Accadian magic books. This furnishes an affinity of conceptions and beliefs which is of great importance, since it is not one of those natural ideas which arise independently amongst widely differing nations. To find elsewhere a similar notion, we must go to Persia for the doctrine of the Fravaschis, which we have already decided that the Iranians obtained through the Medes, from Accadian sources. Every demonological religion, as soon as it becomes elevated and purified, leads to dualism: it lays down the doctrine that spirits are spread over all parts of nature, and to explain the spectacle of good by the side of evil, decay and destruction with regeneration [p.256] and life, which nature constantly affords, it assumes the existence of two opposing armies of good and evil spirits. This, as we have seen, was the case with the Accadians, and it was the same also among the Finns. They likewise recognized two worlds at enmity with each other; that of the gods together with the propitious spirits, and that of the demons, respectively the kingdom of light and that of darkness, the region of good and that of evil. But they placed these two worlds upon the earth, instead of adopting the Accadian view, by which the demons were supposed to issue from a subterraneous abyss; one was the blessed region of the Kalevala, situated under the direct and beneficent influence of the sun's rays, the other the Pohjolo, "which devours men and swallows up heroes," where the demons dwelt, and where the dead found their home, Tuonela, governed by the severe Tuoni. The Finns imagined the region of Pohjola to be situated amongst the uninhabitable solitudes of the poles, Lapland on one side serving it as a boundary. There the most wicked sorcerers loved to dwell, and there the demons laid in ambush to watch men. The icy plains of Lapland were to the Finns what the burning sands of Arabia were to the Accadians, an accursed country and a resort of foul spirits.
The demons who were born in the darkness of Pohjola were quite as numerous as the good spirits; they were scattered over the whole universe, and brought trouble and destruction everywhere. They misled hunters, caused diseases, disturbed the silence of the night, increased the number of wolves and [p.257] foxes; and in short, all the sufferings of the sad and desolate northern winter were attributable to their influence.
Finnish mythology invented unlimited classes of wicked spirits and demons for all kinds of misfortunes and trouble. In epic poetry we find that a more human form is given to the influences dispersed throughout the world, where they opposed and strove to destroy the work of the gods and propitious genii. In this case, the wicked principle was personified by the giant Hiisi, who had a wife and children, horses, dogs, cats, and servants, all hideous and wicked like himself; in one word, the complete household of the chief of a tribe. The bad influence of Hiisi extended everywhere: Hiisi-Hejmolãinen, his servant, reigned over the mountains; Wesi-Hiisi, another of his servants, over the waters; Hiiden-Lintu, his bird, carried evil into the air; Hiidën-Ruuna, his horse, traversed the plains and deserts; Hiidën-Kissa, his cat, spread terror around her, and forced thieves to avow their misdeeds, thus occasionally turning her wicked action to a good purpose; the Hiiden Väiki, analogous to the Furies, were his messengers. Hiisi, scouring the plains on his horse, while his bird preceded him in the air, seems to have been originally a personification of the icy and fatal north wind. The Finns considered him as one of the most terrible demons, just as the Accadians feared the personification of the west wind, which produced by its excessive heat in their country quite as fatal effects.
As we have already stated, the sorcerers held communication with these demons as frequently as, or [p.258] even more frequently than, they did with the good spirits; and to this diabolical intercourse they owed a great deal of their power. The priests of magic brought about this communication entirely by means of a spiritual frenzy and sacred words. As to the demons, they exorcised them by the power of their formulae and by the help of the spiritual beings of the good principle; many of their incantations were destined thus to repulse the wicked demons, to break diabolical spells, and to invoke in this work the aid of the pure spirits. But Finnish magic was chiefly medical, being used to cure diseases and wounds: this view of its development has been admirably explained by Lönnrot in a special treatise.617
Here we meet again the fundamental notion, which is so characteristic of certain races of mankind, that every disease was itself a personal being, or a demon, and that its invasion constituted an actual possession of the diseased person.
According to the Finns diseases were the daughters of Louhiatar, the old lady of Pohjola, just as the Accadians considered them to have issued from Ninkigal, the lady of the gloomy abyss and of the dead. They regarded pleurisy, gout, colic, consumption, leprosy, and the plague, as so many distinct personages. These had their residence at Kipiimãki, the hill of pains, situated on an island in the river of Tuonela, the river of the country of the dead, the analogue of the river Dahilla of the Accadian tablets.
The hill of Kipumäki recalls also by its conception the "mountain of the West," of the Accadian books, whence the principal demons issued to spread over the surface of the earth. This hill of Kipumãki was high: on its summit was a great flat stone, surrounded by many other large stones. In the middle one were nine holes, in which the diseases were buried with the help of conjurations. We read in one of our Accadian incantations:618
May the disease be swallowed up into the earth like passing waters.
Kivutar, or Kipu-tyto, daughter of Tuoni, went to collect the diseases in a
brazen vessel, and had them cooked upon a magic hearth.
The sorcerer or priest of magic recognized the disease from which a man was suffering by the special diagnostic faculty that the state of divine ecstasy, whether natural or artificial developed. When he had once decided what the disease was, he set about exorcising the demon, using enchanted drinks, talismans, magic knots, incantations, and occasionally, as the highest means to which he could have recourse, if he had succeeded in discovering the secret, the all-powerful words with which Wäinämöinen was entrusted.
The Finnish incantations for exorcising the demons of diseases were composed in exactly the same spirit, and founded upon the same data, as the Accadian incantations destined for the like purpose. They were formulae belonging to the same family, and they often showed a remarkable similarity of language; [p.260] the Egyptian incantations, on the contrary, having been composed by people with very different ideas about the supernatural world, assumed quite another form.
This is an incantation from one of the songs of the Kalevala:
O malady, disappear into the heavens; pain, rise up to the clouds;619 inflamed vapour, fly into the air, in order that the wind may take thee away, that the tempest may chase thee to distant regions, where neither sun nor moon give their light, where the warm wind does not inflame the flesh.
O pain, mount upon the winged steed of stone, and fly to the mountains covered with iron. For he is too robust to be devoured by disease, to be consumed by pains.
Go, O diseases, to where the virgin of pains has her hearth, where the daughter of Wäinämöinen cooks pains, go to the hill of pains.
There are the white dogs, who formerly howled in torments, who groaned in their sufferings.
This other incantation against the plague was discovered by Ganander:
O scourge, depart plague, take thy flight, far from the bare flesh.
I will give thee a horse, with which to escape, whose shoes shall not slide on ice, nor whose feet slip on the rocks.
Go where I send thee. Take for thy journey the infernal steed, the stallion of the mountain. Flee to the mountains of Turja, to the rock of iron.
Go across the sandy plains of the infernal regions, and precipitate thyself into the eternal abyss, whence thou wilt [p.261] never return. Go where I send thee, into the thick forest of Lapland, into the dark regions of Pohja.
The Accadian formulae banished the demons which they had expelled from a man's
body to the sandy desert; the Finnish runa sends the plague away to Lapland.620
Such is the different form we should expect the same idea to take with two
nations placed in such opposite geographical conditions, although originally
from the same stock.
When wounds alone were to be cured, there were no demons to exorcise. They used special incantations, words of conjuration (manous), which they pronounced over the place to stop the flow of blood. The ninth runa of the Kalevala furnishes us with a good example in the recital of the cure of Wäinämöinen's wound:
Listen, O blood, instead of flowing, instead of pouring forth thy warm stream. Stop, O blood, like a wall; stop like a hedge; stop like a reef in the sea; like a stiff carex621 in the moss, like a boulder in the field, like the pine in the wood.
When the flow of blood was staunched, the incantation called upon certain divinities, who could repair the damage which the weapon had done to the body; thus Helka closed up the wound:
Come here, come, Helka, beautiful woman, close with turf, stop the gaping wound with moss; hide it with little stones, in order that the lake may not overflow, that the red blood may not inundate the earth.
The goddess Suonetar healed and renewed the flesh:
She is beautiful, the goddess of veins, Suonctar, the beneficent goddess! She knits the veins wonderfully with her beautiful spindle, her metal distaff, her iron wheel.
Come to me, I invoke thy help; come to me, I call thee. Bring in thy bosom a bundle of flesh, a ball of veins to tie the extremity of the veins.622
These are called the runas of the synty, or of regeneration or recovery.623 But in order to complete and consolidate the work of the secondary divinities, the intervention of the ancient Ukko was needed, he being the highest personification of the divine power:
O glorious god, prepare thy chariot, put the horses to, mount to thy splendid seat, and march across bones, members, wounded flesh, severed veins. Cause silver to flow into the empty space of the bones, cause gold to flow into the wounds in the veins.
Where the flesh has been torn, may new flesh be produced where bones have been broken, may new bones be formed; may the severed veins be united; everywhere that a wound has been made, may health return complete and beautiful.
The cure of a wound needing the formation of new flesh was considered a regular act of creation, and therefore the help of the creative power himself was necessary.
The Accadian People and their Language.
THE comparisons which we drew in the foregoing chapter have obliged us to
recognize a close connection between Chaldean magic and that of the Altaic or
Turanian nations, and particularly of the Finns. The religious ideas from which
it sprang constituted a perfect and united system of mythology, which was only a
natural and logical development of that form of naturalism peculiar to all those
nations, and of the worship of the spirits of nature and the elements. It
presented striking analogies with the ancient ante-Iranian element on the one
hand, which became united with the Mazdean data in Median Magism, and on the
other with Finnish mythology, despite the peculiar colour assumed by the latter
as the result of its development in the most northern latitudes of Europe.
Having arrived at this point, we cannot fail to attach great importance to the fact that in Chaldea and the countries which come under its rule, like [p.264] Assyria, there was a special magic language, and that that is the language which is now named by both French and English scholars the Accadian tongue.624 The sacred books of the magicians, which Assurbanipal had copied again in the seventh century, for the instruction of his priests, were written in the Accadian, only a Semitic Assyrian version had been added to them at a very early epoch, in order to render the incantations intelligible to those who had to recite them, but the Accadian was clearly the only properly liturgical text. We have a proof of it in the fact that some lines which are repeated or are very easy to understand, have no translation attached to them. Thus at the present day the Coptic priests always have an Arabic version accompanying their missals, so that they may understand the words of the ritual while they recite them in the Coptic tongue. The magic formulae engraved upon the amulets of hard stone, even upon the amulets found in Assyria, evidently of Assyrian work, and belonging to the last epoch of the empire of Nineveh, are at least most of them in the Accadian language; and while more than a hundred have their legends in Accadian, I have as yet only met with three bearing Assyrian inscriptions in all the various European collections. So also in the fragments of the great magic collection copied by the scribes of Assurbanipal, there are many incantations and hymns of which the primitive Accadian text was, no doubt, lost at an early period, since only an Assyrian version exists at the present time, bearing marks [p.265] however of great antiquity. Still there are not more than ten in this condition amongst many hundred formulae in the Accadian.
Chaldea possessed, then, a special magic language which preserved this character for the Assyrian people also, and that language is the Accadian. It was regarded as having a particular power over the world of spirits, both good and evil. It seems that the idea of supernatural virtue inherent in the words of this language, increased in proportion as it ceased to be used as a spoken idiom, becoming for the priests a dead language exclusively applied to religious uses, while to the people it was an unintelligible gibberish. It was the result of the natural tendency in man to attribute a mysterious power to mysterious words, the same tendency which led the Egyptians to use names which were incomprehensible to the vulgar in their magic formulae, and even add names and words belonging to no language at all, and composed at will for theurgic operations.
Now this bond of union between the magic rites and a definitive language is an important point in determining the origin of Chaldean magic; for since we have established the relationship of the latter with the sacred sorcery of the Turanian nations, the Accadian, its language is thus a dialect of the great Ural-Altaic family. Everything concurs, therefore, to refer us to the same race of mankind, for the origin, truly at a very remote period, of the demonological and magic superstitions adopted on the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris.
It does not, however, suffice to affirm that the Accadian language had a
Turanian character; we must give the reader proofs of it. The question of the
origin of Chaldean magic leads us to a series of ethnographical linguistic
problems, which are hence forth of the greatest importance in the history of
early antiquity. They concern the elements which contributed to civilize
Babylon, the existence of a primitive Turanian civilization, extending over the
greater part of interior Asia, before the dispersion of the Semites and Aryas.
If we would not limit ourselves to assertions which are not sufficiently proved,
we must examine into these problems somewhat, and indicate at least the
principal facts which afford us the means of their solution.
Then, after having established that a close and constant connection existed in Chaldea between magic and the Accadian language, I must say a few words about this language and the ground we have for attributing it to the Turanian class. Like Dr. Hincks, Sir Henry Rawlinson, Dr. Oppert, M. Grivel, and Prof. Sayce, I have made a special study of the Accadian dialect, and have brought out also an elementary grammar of the language;625 it is a purely [p.267] philological work of a difficult nature, which is only addressed to a few special readers. With great pleasure, therefore, I seize the opportunity here afforded me of summing up, for the benefit of my readers in general, the conclusions which I arrived at by means of this special study, which was necessarily very incomplete; but I think some of the data are already firmly established, and can stand the proof of being examined by the light of a direct examination and a philological analysis of the texts. The reader must excuse my devoting this chapter exclusively to the language. Although such a theme may seem rather dry to those who do not go into it deeply, the question is important enough to make one forget that it is uninteresting for a few pages. The fact of the presence of a Turanian nation in early Chaldea once proved, it becomes quite a large branch of the human race, to which a place must be henceforth assigned in the history of civilization, although no notice has been taken of it up to the present time.
The Accadian Language.
THERE are four fundamental principles, which are now universally acknowledged by all Assyriologists to be incontestable and clearly proved.
1st. The Accadian, or Sumerian language as some would call it, exists, and no one can deny it without ignoring altogether the teaching of science.
2nd. It is the dialect of the inventors of the Cuneiform Anarian writing, a people who predominated about the lower basins of the Euphrates and Tigris, before this tract was inhabited by a nation speaking the Semitic language.
3rd. It is an agglutinative language, the genius and grammar of which are totally different from the Semitic dialects.
4th. It is closely related to the agglutinative languages of anti-Aryan Media, and Susiana, which have also become intelligible to us by means of inscriptions.
There is a fifth point, upon which the verdict of scholars is not universally
agreed, and the proofs of [p.269] which are not quite so perfect, namely the relation of this dialect to the
Turanian or Altaic languages.
Although all the Assyriologists of the English school, headed by their illustrious chief, Sir Henry Rawlinson, MM. Oppert, and Karl Eneberg agree with me in thinking this connection firmly established, yet there are others, such as M. Schrader, Friedrich Delitzsch, and Geizer, who, while they do not deny it in theory, show themselves more reserved, and even rather undecided in expressing their opinion.
We cannot be surprised at meeting with a certain degree of hesitation upon this subject. On the one hand, our acquaintance with the Accadian is as yet very imperfect; we have still much to do before completely mastering the language and especially its vocabulary. On the other hand, the Altaic dialects have not until now entered into the category of languages ordinarily studied by philologists, so they are only known to a special few; the works of the great linguistic school, founded by Castren and Schott, and brilliantly represented at the present day by such men as Schiefner, Ahlqvist, O. Donner, Yryo Koskinen, Paul Hunfalvy, and Budenz, remain for the most part unread and unstudied. Lastly, it seems rather singular, nay even imprudent and unscientific, to attempt a comparison of a language which has ceased to be spoken some three thousand years at least, with dialects in use at the present day, the most of which do not possess one single written record of an ancient date, while those which can produce a few of less recent origin, as Finnish, Magyar, [p.270] Turkish, and Mongolic, cannot trace them back further than the Middle Ages. In order to understand the feasibility of such an effort, we must remember that the object of comparative philology is to deal with a family of languages, the most striking feature of which is a singular relative immobility as compared with others, and this peculiarity preserves intact even to our days the remains of a state of language much more primitive than that which is revealed by the ancient monuments of the Aryan or Semitic languages. From those few documents of the Middle Ages which this family of languages offers for our perusal, we gather that they have undergone no visible change during the last five or six centuries.
There is consequently no ground to justify an assertion that our supposition is inadmissible, and no fundamental and valid objection to be opposed anon to an enquiry after a relationship which may also be proved between the Accadian and Altaic languages of the present day. Although this is a very delicate question still it is one from which we hope for favourable results. Having established this, I shall indicate briefly the principal facts which can be proved with relation to the affinities and grammatical differences between the Accadian and the Altaic or Turanian languages, and I think the conviction of this correspondence will justify the theory in which I become daily more and more confirmed by my own studies.
To begin with the subject of the evident affinities.
1st. The almost universal thematic harmony of the vowels, to which there are but few exceptions.
The vocal harmony in the Accadian is exclusively thematic. It is threefold; that is to say, it admits of three classes of vowels.
Strong : â, a, û.
Neuter: î, i, u.
The same root may contain both strong and neuter vowels, or neuter and weak
vowels, but not strong vowels with the weak; the great majority of the
disyllabic or trisyllabic roots show, however, a repetition of the same vowel in
all the syllables. The diphthongs au, ia, and ua harmonize with the strong
vowels, the diphthong ia would seem to have been regarded as neuter, and so to
be used indifferently with both strong and weak. There are fewer exceptions to
these laws of harmony in the Accadian than in most of the Altaic languages.
On the other hand, in the Accadian, as in Ostiac, the vowels of the suffixes of derivation are not made to agree with those of the root. It would seem, too, that there is not necessarily an agreement between the vowels of the two parts of a compound word, although we sometimes see this harmony established; it is so at the present time in the Magyar dialect. This point, however, is one of the most difficult to explain clearly, on account of the great number of Accadian roots that are expressed in writing by ideographic signs. In that case, indeed, the ideograph remains constant, whatever phonic modifications the root may have undergone in the spoken idiom; the writing does not allow of these modifications, where they otherwise exist. [p.272] Lastly, although the Accadian possesses incontestably a thematic harmony, we find no trace of a terminational concordance, and this is also the case with some of the Altaic dialects.
2nd. The formation of the greater number of derivatives by means of suffixes.
The principal and best known of these suffixes are: -Ga, which indicates dependence. It is used to form certain substantives like guga, "title, name," from gu, "to speak, to say;" kubabbarga, "a fine," from kubabbar, "silver." It is chiefly employed in the formation of adjectives, as kalaga, "powerful," from kala, "to be powerful;" ziga, "living," from zi, "to live;" sega, "happy," from se, "happiness."
-Ik, which is employed in forming the names of agents and
adjectives with an active signification, as χulik, "malevolent," from
"wicked;" nirik, "prince," from nir, "to govern;"
uddaik, "pre-eminent," from uddu, "to go out, to rise."
-Da, which serves to individualise and specialise: for instance, in muda, "renowned," from mu, "name;" tarda, "judge," from tar, "to judge;" ada, "water-course, river," from a, "water;" urda, "inclosure," from ur, "to bind."
-Ma, which expresses an idea of locality, and being joined to the name of a town characterises the surrounding district of which it is the capital.
-A, which forms ethnical words, as Mulgekia, "man of Mulgeki," the town called in the Assyrian Nibur, Urunua, "man of Ur."
3rd. The same system of declension by means of casual suffixes which are joined to the root without effecting any [p.273] change in it, and the identity of the more important of these suffixes.
We must distinguish three series of declensions amongst the fourteen which have been proved to exist in the Accadian, and of which thirteen are marked by the addition of suffixes, the nominative showing the word in its original purity. The first series consists of the primitive suffixes which belong to the most ancient type of declension in the Altaic languages, and are found in other languages of the various branches of this family; in the Accadian itself they are mere attributive roots. These suffixes are:—-na, which designates the genitive and expresses the idea of instrumentality; the formation of the genitive by means of the suffix -na, -niu- -in, -ni, is common to all the Turanian or Altaic languages without exception, in the Ugro-Finnic, the Samoyedic, the Turco-Tartaric. the Mongolic, the Tungusic, and the Corea-Japanese groups. -ta, which expresses the idea of an internal or external locative, that is to say, both the inessive "into" and the elative or ablative "from, from within;" the locative is indicated by -tt in Magyar, -daun, -tann in some of the Samoyedic dialects, -da in Turkish, -da in Buriatic, and -dur in Mongolic, -de in Mantchoo; the abessive by -ta and -tta in the various Ugro-Finnic dialects; the ablative by -dan in Turkish, -tan in Yakut lastly, we must point out the connection between the sign of the dative in the Samoyedic dialects, -d and -t, and the same sign which marks the locative and the dative in the Mongolic and Tungusic languages. -ku, is the sign of the illative; our minds naturally [p.274] turn to the Turkish datives in -ke, -ga, and -ge, and possibly to the Samoyedic locatives in -kan, -gan.
-as, -es indicates the adverbial case, by means of which adverbs are formed from substantives; the same case is shown in Tcheremissian by -s, and in the language of the Lapps by -s; then, too, some verbal adverbs are formed in Votiac by -sa, and in Mordvinian by -ź. Lastly, we may mention, in connection with it, the inessive in -ssa and -s in the Ugro-Finnic dialects.
-la is the suffix of the adessive, and this case is formed by -lla and -l in all the Ugro-Finnic languages.
-li which shows an action done by a person and seems sometimes to have a comitative signification; in Yakut we find a comitative in -lin and an adverbial case in -li; in Turkish the idea of the comitative is expressed by the postposition ilé, which is sometimes contracted into he and used as a suffix.
-bi, -b, is the sign of the absolute case where the use of the article is omitted; it is really a pronoun in the third person affixed to the word. We must place with it the accusatives in -b, -v of the dialect spoken in Lapland, in -m in Tcheremissian and the Samoyedic dialects (which also have it sometimes in -p), in -ben in Mongolic, in -be in Mantchoo. Castren recognized in these latter, "ein Ueberrest eines Pronomens tier dritten Person;" this is his own expression. The Altaistic philologists agree in admitting that the Turanian languages bad originally but one accusative of construction and position, as we find in the Accadian, and that when this case was omitted, its place [p.275] was supplied by a form possessing in its primitive use a determinative character.
Besides these casual suffixes of the first formation, there is in the Accadian a second series formed by taking attributive roots from the vocabulary of the language. Thus:
The sign of the dative, -ra, -r, is the root ra, "to bear towards."
The sign of the suppressive, -ge, "that which is below;" to express the superior position of the subject with relation to the object, the inferior position of the object is expressed: "upon the mountain" is χarsak-ge, "the mountain beneath."
The sign of the possessive, -lal, is the root lal, "to take."
The sign of the equative, -tum, is the root turn, "to produce, to reproduce."
The sign of the oppositive, -gab, is the root gab, "before, that which is in front."
This grammatical process is essentially Turanian, and is entirely foreign to the other families of languages. We find numerous instances of it in the Magyar. The word bel, "interior," is used as the illative suffix (formerly -bele, now -ba, -be); the verbal root raj, "it is above," as that of the superessive (at present -ra, -re); vel, "companion," becomes the sign of the comitative (-val, -vel); kep, "image," that of the equative (-kép); and kor, "age, time," that of the temporal (-kor).
Lastly, some of the casual suffixes of the Accadian are formed by the combination of two roots, which [p.276] are both transformed into signs of cases; such are those of the sublative, -gelal, and the delative, -lalge, consisting of the same elements ge and lal, placed in a different order. Combinations of this kind, for forming secondary suffixes, are also a Turanian peculiarity; each group of the family furnishes examples of it, which have been long noticed by grammarians.
4th. The analogous formation of the plural and the dual.
The Accadian, like Mantchoo and Japanese, possesses some rare specimens of the most ancient mode of forming the plural in the Turanian languages, by doubling the root; for instance, ana ana, "the gods," kur kur, "the countries," as in Mantchoo, jalan jalan, "the countries," and the Japanese fitobito, "men," in the singular fito. But its most common plurals are obtained by means of the suffixes -mes and -ene. The first becomes -es in the formation of verbal plurals; we must therefore compare with it suffixes of the same number in Zyriainian -jas, and in Votiac -jos, the ancient Turkish plural in -z, which is only to be seen in biz, "we," and siz, "you;" lastly, the Buriatic plurals in -s. Max Muller thinks the primitive form of the Ugro-Finnic plural was -us; but this is still a point of discussion amongst Altaic philologists, we will not therefore pursue this subject, as we wish to deal only with incontestable facts.
It is still more important to notice that the two Accadian suffixes of the plural are attributive roots meaning "much, union," and that the primitive formation of Altaic plurals by roots of this kind trans- [p..277] formed into suffixes really takes place in Mantchoo. In the Accadian, mes and ene may be employed both as suffixes and as distinct words, following the inflected noun of which they denote the plurality; just as in Mantchoo we find some plurals formed by a suffix -sa, and other cases in which the same sign under the form of sei is a separate word, which preserves a distinct existence.
The dual number is only found in a few of the Altaic languages; in the language of the Lapps it is indicated by the sign -g, in Ostiac by -han, -gan, in the Samoyedic dialects by -ha, -g, -h. Boller recognizes in these suffixes a remains of the word hat, meaning "two;" the Accadian confirms this opinion, for it forms its dual (which is only used for things which are naturally in pairs, like the duplicate members of the body) by affixing to the substantive has, "two:" si-has, "the two eyes," pi-bas, "the two ears."
5th. The absence of any distinction between the masculine and feminine genders.
This is one of the principal facts of the grammar; constituting one of the most striking features of the Altaic as compared with the Aryan and Semitic languages. It is very marked in the Accadian.
6th. In a good many words the root is only to be found in a perfect state in the oblique cases, or in the verbal moods which cause it to be followed by a suffix; this suffix has the effect of preserving the root by keeping the final part of it, which either becomes contracted or is lost in the absolute and isolated form, in the nominative of the nouns for instance.
Thus χa, "fish," becomes in the illative χanahu, [p.278] whence we conclude that the real root is χana, shortened in the absolute form. The verb "to give" takes in the third person singular of the preterite the form insi, and in the third person plural insimus; “to do good,” in the third person singular inχi, and in the third person plural inχiges; "to commemorate, pronounce, conjure," in the third person singular inpa, and in the third person plural inpanes. The roots are not therefore si, χi, pa, but simu, tila, pani; without the suffix there is an ellipsis of the last syllable. This is very often the case with the words in which the second syllable of the root contains a guttural, a liquid, an n or an m. This characteristic is also decidedly Turanian, and is peculiar to this linguistic family; the Altaistic philologists pointed it out long ago in the Ugro-Finnic dialects.
7th. The identity of the pronouns.
First person: Accadian, mu; Proto-Medic, mi (genitive); Finnic, ma; Esthonian, ma; the language of the Lapps, Inon; Tcheremissian, min; Mordvinian, mon; Zyriainian, me; Ostiac, ma; Magyar, ń; Samoyedic, man; Yakut, min; Turkish, ben; Mongolic, bi (gen. mini); Mantchoo, bi (gen. mini); Ancient Japanese, wa.
Second person: Accadian, zu; Finnic, sä; Esthonian, sa; the language of the Lapps, ton; Tcheremissian, tin; Mordvinian, ton; Zyriainian, te; Magyar, te; Samoyedic, tan; Turkish, sen; Mongolic, si; Mantchoo, si.
Third person: Accadian, na, ni; Finnic, ne (plural); Esthonian, need (plural); Zyriainiari, nja (plural); Magyar, on ("soi"); Yakut, kini (accus. [p.279] onu); Turkish, ol (gen. onun); Buriatic, ene; Tungusic, nun; Mantchoo, i, (genitive mi).
The plural pronoun of the first person is me in the Accadian. The same change of vowel in the singular pronoun marks the Ugro-Finnic, Samoyedic, and Tungusic dialects.
Finnic, me; Esthonian, meie; language of the Lapps, mi; Tcheremissian, ma; Mordvinian, min; Zyriainian, mi; Ostiac, men; Magyar, mi; Samoyedic, me, mi; Mantchoo, be.
The two other persons of the plural pronoun in the Accadian are formed by a particular process: the third person, nene, by the reduplication of the singular ni; the second, zunene, by the addition of this pronoun nene to the singular zu, zu + nene, "thou + they, you." They cannot, therefore, be subject to the same comparisons. However, it is curious to notice that the Tcheremissian dialect, which has not kept the pronoun in n for the third person singular, has in the plural a pronoun nina, like that of the Accadian nene, which must have been formed in the same way by a reduplication of the typical pronoun in n.
The Accadian has one more parallel series of singular pronouns.
First person, du; it appears again in a corrupted form in the possessive suffix -ta of the Proto-Medic.
Second person, mun; compare the Proto-Medic ni, the Ostiac nen, the Yakut an, and the verbal terminations in -n, of the second person in the Samoyedic dialects.
Third person, bi; which is also used as an enclitic [p.280] demonstrative; this is the verbal pronoun -pi in Finnic, -b in Esthonian, -be in Tcheremissian, the demonstrative by in Yakut, and bu in Turkish; lastly, the possessive suffix -ba in the Samoyedic dialect of the Yenessee.
8th. The same principle for the construction of one of the conjugations of the verb, the postpositive.
The Accadian possesses three systems of conjugation: prepositive, postpositive, and periphrastic. The last takes the place of the passive with the verb men, "to be," as its auxiliary; it is like the periphrastic conjugation of the Altaic languages; but this point of grammar is not peculiar enough to furnish a precise element of classification. I shall speak later of the prepositive conjugation, which is the most common in the texts, and constitutes perhaps one of the most striking characteristics of the Accadian language. As to the postpositive conjugation, there we get such forms as enimu, "I am master," literally, "to be master + I," from eni; garranin, "he has had made," literally, "to have made + he," from gar; it may be described, therefore, as the root + the termination of tense, and if necessary + the personal suffix; and in the derived forms the root + the formative of voice + the termination of tense, and if necessary + the personal suffix. This is precisely the mechanism of the Ugro-Finnic and Turco-Tartaric verb. Only in the Accadian, being an ancient language, the pronominal suffixes are not used as they are in the modern languages; they remain intact, and are not reduced to mere grammatical terminations.
9th. The use of the same particle in forming the causative of verbs.
This particle, added before or after the root according to the conjugation, is tan or dan in the Accadian, and corresponds exactly with the suffixes of derivation to which the same meaning is attached in the Ugro-Finnic verbal formations ta, and the Turco-Tartaric tar or dar.
10th. The existence of a negative conjugation unknown to any other family of languages.
This is one of the most important and decisive points in the classification of the Accadian. The negative verb may be formed by means of one or other of the two particles nit and me, which are prefixed also to substantives or adjectives in -ga, in order to make compounds of a negative or caritive signification. The first is certainly identical with the two negations ani or inne of the Proto-Medic, the nem of Magyar, the ent in Ostiac, it (a contraction of int) of certain moods in the Tcheremissian conjugation of the negative verb. The second is none other than the incorporated verbal negation me of the languages of the Turco-Tartaric group.
11th. The use of verbal forms instead of conjunctions.
The Accadian verb possesses a conjunctive mood, which it uses instead of placing the copulative after a verb; it also substitutes one of its indicatives for a conjunction, to express the idea of "in order that."
12th. The use of postpositions where the Aryan and Semitic languages employ prepositions.
There is no need to enter into a detailed explanation of this point, the simple statement of the fact [p.282] suffices; but it is to be remembered as another important feature.
13th. The same process in the formation of adverbs taken from substantives and verbs; the existence of an adverbial or essive case in the declension.
Differentiation of the Accadian and its allied Languages.
I SHALL now proceed to consider the differences, more or less striking and
decisive, which are observable between the grammar of the Accadian language and
the customary mechanism of the Altaic dialects.
1st. The existence of a small number of prefixes of derivation.
We have sufficient proofs of two of these prefixes which were both originally attributive roots; id, giving an idea of locality, and ki, used to form the name of the agent. This process of derivation is unknown in the Altaic languages. But the Proto-Medic, belonging to a linguistic family of which the origin has never been questioned, has also prefixes of derivation: the augmentative far, and the localizative it. The latter is manifestly identical with the Accadian prefix id-, which has the same meaning. This strange fact, this derogation from the ordinary rules, is therefore common to the two contemporary [p.284] languages spoken by the neighbouring lands of Chaldea and ante-Aryan Media. There are also some prefixes in modern Magyar, one of which is used to form the superlatives of adjectives, the others in the formation of derived verbs. Their introduction is explained to be due to foreign influence. For my part, I should have no objection to make, if any one suggested the same explanation of the origin of the rare prefixes of the Accadian and Proto-Medic.
We can, however, compare with this fact one other, which may be sometimes found in the Accadian, touching the presence of a kind of vocalic augment, which is prefixed to the root in derivatives. They form thus usar, "shore," from a root sar; enim, "act of raising," from a root nim; ugude, "act of proclaiming," from gude, "to proclaim," which was itself a compound. This peculiarity seems at first sight quite anti-Turanian; but there are evident traces of it to be found in the Ugric dialects. From a root tar, ter, Vogul has ätur, "clear, brilliant," and Ostiac eder, eter with the same meaning, whilst in Magyar we find diru; in another case Magyar has elég, "enough," (leg- being the superlative prefix); the form in Finnic is lika; in Esthonian, leg; in the dialect of the Lapps, like, "too much:" again, the word "dog" is in Finnic, penu; in Zyriainian, ton; in Votiac, isunu; in Mordvinian, pinä: but in Vogul it becomes emp; in Ostiac, amp; in Magyar, eb: these facts prove that there is in these dialects a true vocal augment analogous to that of the Accadian.
2nd. The position of the adjective or genitive generally after the word which it qualifies.
This rule is almost invariable, but there are exceptional cases of an inverse
position to be found occasionally in the texts. Besides, we may be sure that the
custom of placing the adjective or the genitive before the word which it
qualifies, according to the customary rule of the Altaic languages, was much
more common at the early period when the cuneiform writing was first invented,
than it afterwards became; at the same time, it may even have been the regular
rule. Indeed, the syllabaries and commentaries of the lexicographical tablets
display a good many complete ideographic groups formed out of compounds of
genitive and subject, or adjective and substantive, which at the time when these
documents were written used to be rendered by compounds containing the same
elements placed in an inverse order: subject and genitive, or substantive +
adjective. A change had therefore taken place in the language with regard to
this subject; this rule, which was at variance with the general rule of the
Altaic languages, triumphed finally after a period of uncertainty, perhaps owing
to the influence of the Semitic language flourishing side by side with the
We must remark, however, that the rule for the qualificative to precede the verb which it qualifies in the respective positions of the attributive genitive or adjective and the word qualified, is by no means inflexibly observed in some of the Altaic languages; to keep to the Ugro-Finnic group, we find that the rule in Tchercmissian is that the syntactical genitive (without any suffix) should precede the subject, and [p.286] the grammatical genitive (formed by means of a suffix) follow it; in ancient times there was this same rule in the Proto-Medic, thus: "son of Cyrus" was expressed as kuras sakri, or else tar kurasna. In Zyriainian, the purely syntactical genitive can follow the word which it qualifies in certain fixed cases. In Votiac, the position of the genitive, either syntactical or grammatical, and of the adjective is indifferently before or after the word described.
I have just mentioned the rule for the position of the genitive in Proto-Medic, with regard to the adjective, that it always follows the noun to which it refers. In Susian even the syntactical genitive always follows the word which it qualifies, while the adjective precedes it.
3rd. The verbal conjugation most frequently in use is prepositive, and not postpositive.
The order of conjugation is as follows: pronominal subject prefixed + root + termination of tense, etc., if necessary, + termination of number if necessary; and in the derived voices:626 pronominal subject prefixed + formative of the voice + root, and termination of tense if necessary + termination of number if necessary. The postpositive conjugation is the most original characteristic of the Accadian; it is exactly the opposite of the mechanism of the Ugro-Finnic and Turco-Tartaric verbs.
I do not however think that this last mechanism can be considered as an essential and fundamental feature of the Altaic languages.
Two of the principal groups of the Altaic family, the whole of the Mongolic
group, and Mantchoo in the Tungusic group, have an entirely different verb,
which allows of no personal suffixes, and which prefixes to the root the
personal pronoun intact in its absolute form, in order to express explicitly the
person indicated, which it cannot otherwise do. It is certainly always written
separately, whilst in the Accadian it seems more entirely incorporated with the
word; but that is simply a question of custom and orthography, which has nothing
to do with the essential process of grammatical construction, and the order
established by the mind in the elements of the post-position.
Philologists of Castren and Max Muller's standing have no hesitation in affirming that the word in Mongolic and Mantchoo represents the most ancient type of the Altaic verb, which remained intact in these two groups, whilst in others it was so modified that it assumed an entirely different aspect. Some languages have remained in the purely radical stage which always precedes agglutination, like the ancient Chinese; they have the pronoun before, and not after the verb. This is the order which presents itself most naturally to the human mind. The correctness of such an opinion is further proved in a most decisive manner by the fact that, even in our own day, Mantchoo has passed from the first stage to the agglutinative, placing the sign of the person at the end in some dialects of the Tungusic group. Castren has proved that the use of pronominal suffixes for the different persons of the verb has only [p.288] lately become general amongst the tribes round Njertchinsk, as was the case rather earlier with the tribe of the Buriates belonging to the Mongolic group; but the other Tungusic dialects, and particularly Mantchoo, remain strangers to this innovation.627
It is interesting to compare the verb in Mantchoo with that of the Accadian. In the indicative mood it is conjugated like either of the personal indicatives of the simple voice in the Accadian: pronoun + root + termination of tense. Thus, in the present: bi ara-mbi, "I write," si ara-mbi, "thou writest," ere ara-mbi, "he writes," are exactly like the Accadian, mu-sar-ri, iz-sar-ri, with the same meaning. More often the personal pronoun is omitted in Mantchoo, so that the verb seems at first to be of no person.628 That is precisely similar to the impersonal indicative of the Accadian, one of the moods most frequently used in the texts, in which there are no pronominal prefixes.
There is another construction in Mantchoo exactly like the Accadian: I refer to the practice of placing between the pronoun and the root, that is to say before the latter, a formative which has itself the meaning of a root existing independently in the vocabulary; the first concessive is an instance of this: present, bi baha-fi ara-mbi, "I can write;" perfect, bi baha-fi ara ha-bi, "I have been able to [p.289] write." Sometimes, instead of the termination of tense, a termination of the mood is placed after the root, like the gerund and supine are conjugated in the Accadian; it is so with the first optative: bi ara tchi, "that I may write," and the first subjunctive is made by the addition of a formative which is originally a conjunction: bi-aika-ara-tchi. I repeat that the division into several words is only a form of orthography; in Mantchoo we even find the casual suffixes of declension written separately. Nevertheless, the principle of construction is the same as in the Accadian, although the verbs of the two languages have taken different paths, as might be expected, considering the immense distance and length of time which separates them.
Therefore, although the prepositive conjugation of the Accadian may differ completely from the verbal mechanism of the Ugro-Finnic and Turco-Tartaric dialects, which really agrees with the Accadian postpositive, it presents striking analogies with the fundamental principles upon which the mechanism of the verb is built up in Mantchoo, a language which belongs itself to the great family of Altaic languages. And, in spite of the vast distance of time and space which extends between the Accadian and Mantchoo dialects, these analogies are worthy our serious attention, more especially since the first to notice them was no less remarkable a scholar than Prof. Sayce.
For myself I have even ventured to go farther; I suggested a connection between the construction of the Accadian verb and that of the Ugro-Finnic [p.290] negative verb, at the same time propounding a new theory about the formation of the latter. This theory has been supported by O. Donner, the learned professor of Helsingfors; but elsewhere it has met with a cool reception. The present is no fit occasion to examine its merits and defend it. I prefer adhering to the rule which I made at the beginning of this chapter, that I would only set forth certain linguistic similarities which are acknowledged to be incontestable; and therefore I must leave this conjecture, as being up to this time insufficiently proved, though I would wish to add that my own opinion has in no way changed respecting it.
4th. The other verbal voices, with the exception of the causative, are formed by means of particles peculiar to the Accadian.
It is difficult to attach any great importance to this point, because we should find great differences between the dialects belonging to the different groups of the Altaic family, and often an individual originality, quite as marked as in the Accadian, with respect to the particles used in the formation of the verbal voices or derived verbs, according to whichever designation best suits the reader’s taste. We may remark, however, that although most of the formatives of the Accadian verbal voices are without analogy, so far as we can see in the modern Altaic languages, one of them presents a striking similarity with the proto-Medic. This is the incorporation of a particle, ra, for the reciprocal and co-operative forms of the Accadian verb, and in the second edition of the trilingual inscriptions of the Ache- [p.291] menides, we find an enclitic reciprocal pronoun ir, irra. This fact seems to point forcibly to a regular relationship.
5th. The use of certain periphrastic constructions which at a cursory and superficial glance have deceived people into thinking them prepositions.
I only mention this last point on account of the discussion there has been about the so-called Accadian prepositions, and the conclusions which some would derive from them. Their presence has been regarded as a decisive disproof of any relationship between the Turanian or Altaic languages and the Accadian dialect. There need now be no more discussion about the matter. The Accadian has no prepositions, but only periphrastic constructions which may contain any words which express an idea of situation or relation. And in reality these periphrastic constructions, instead of constituting an essential and organic feature of the language, are but a fact of syntax of secondary importance, and much less remarkable than it at first appeared. They are a syntactical peculiarity, which furnishes no decisive information to guide us in the classification of the language.
Altaic affinities of the Accadian Language.
THE conclusions to be drawn from the foregoing remarks are obvious to any one who is serious in his researches, and has resolutely laid aside all prejudices. The grammatical affinities between the Accadian and Turanian or Altaic languages far outweigh the differences which might be discovered, even supposing the least of these to be reckoned. Besides, the affinities are certainly of a much more essential and organic character than the differences. The latter are by no means incompatibilities, what ever people who know nothing at all about the Accadian may affirm. They must need some degree of audacious frivolity and ignorance, who would venture upon such an assertion. Now, in each instance in which the Accadian departs from the ordinary rules of the Altaic dialects, we find a parallel peculiarity appearing sporadically in some or other of the languages of this family. Such exceptions cannot therefore be regarded as entirely foreign, and certainly not as contrary to the funda- [p.293] mental genius of the great linguistic family. We had some difficulty, I own, in finding an analogous case to the prepositive conjunction, which constitutes one of the most striking peculiarities of the Accadian, and we found it at last at the opposite extremity of the geographical tract over which the Altaic dialects extend. But our comparison with Mantchoo was justified by the opinion certain illustrious philologists had previously expressed, that this language was a monument of the most ancient type of the Turanian verbal conjugation. A knowledge of the Accadian is therefore of great use in the general philology of the Altaic languages, by confirming decisively M. Castren's opinion. We can now discern that the languages belonging to this family must have passed through three successive stages, with regard to the pronominal subject of the verb.
1st. Prepositive juxtaposition, in which the incorporation has taken place to a greater or less degree.
2nd. Simple positive juxtaposition.
3rd. Transformation of the subjoined pronoun into an affixed termination, distinct from the perfect form of the pronoun.
The Tungusic group, with the exception of the dialects spoken around Njertchinsk,
became crystallized at the first stage, and even at the very beginning of that
period, when the pronoun was entirely distinct from the verb which it preceded,
and which was itself impersonal. The Ugro-Finnic and Turco-Tartaric dialects
have all reached the third stage. As to the Accadian, it had formed its grammar
at the time of its transition from the first to the second [p.294]
stage, when the pronoun could be indifferently prefixed or suffixed to the root;
it possesses, therefore, a very rich prepositive conjugation, which is the most
generally used, and a postpositive conjugation of less frequent occurrence,
which seems to have the same number of voices and moods, but no objective or
negative forms. Altaistic scholars, such as the Professors Paul Hunfalvy of
Pest, and O. Donner of Helsingfors, concur with the author of the present work,
and the greater number of Assyriologists, in assigning the Accadian to the
family of languages that they have made their special study. In their opinion,
its philological classification is indisputable.
But although the Accadian should be ranged amongst the Turanian and Altaic dialects, and its affinities seem generally very close with the Ugro-Finnic and Turco-Tartaric groups, yet, since some of its characteristics are decidedly original, it is better to consider it as the type of a separate group of this family. At a later date, a closer examination than any that has as yet been instituted may enable us to recognize in it the most ancient form, the primitive type of one of the groups existing at the present time; but any attempts to establish such a connection now would be premature, in spite of the striking analogies with the Ugric dialects, which appear to M. Donner so remarkable.
The grammar of the Accadian language exhibits a very primitive character in its processes of agglutination. Possessive or verbal pronouns, suffixes of derivation, casual suffixes or those of number, particles forming the verbal voices, in short, all the elements out [p.295] of which the grammatical mechanism is formed, are joined together or remain separate without losing their identity by reciprocal contact, and without becoming corrupted for the purposes of incorporation. We see nothing analogous to the state of semiflexion at which some of the modern Ugro-Finnic languages have arrived; and at which it is now proved that the ancient dialects of Media and Susiana became crystallized: the latter had, therefore, attained to a further degree of development than the Accadian.
A no less important proof of grammatical antiquity is furnished by the fact that Mantchoo alone amongst the Altaic languages possesses, in the same degree, the power of dispensing with the casual suffixes of the declensions, and of expressing cases by words which indicate position, the substantive remaining uninflected. This occurs most frequently in the epigraphic style, in monumental inscriptions, for instance. Lastly, we must observe a peculiarity of the same kind, pointing to the primitive phase of the language, when it was still at the rhematical stage, in the number of words formed from simple roots without any suffixes of derivation, and used indifferently as verbs and substantives. There is not one of the Altaic languages that has not preserved a few of these forms, which remain invariable, whether used as verbs or substantives; but in the Accadian they constitute a large part of the vocabulary.
Besides these facts, which only show the Accadian grammar to be in a more ancient state than any other of the known Altaic dialects, this language exhibits, at the same time, peculiarities of syntax, [p.296] which are in reality very striking, but which are by no means contrary to the Turanian or Altaic genius, although they may appear rather exaggerated. The agglutinative tendency holds such sway there that it almost approaches polysynthetism, or a holophrastic construction. Two important and well defined instances will prove the truth of what I say.
1st. The casual suffixes and the possessive pro nouns used as suffixes of a substantive that governs a genitive, or is accompanied by an adjective, are not placed after the substantive itself, but after the genitive or adjective. Thus, kar kádingirata, "upon the quay of Babylon," reads literally, "the quay of Babylon—upon;" and sam tillabiku, "for its whole price," is also literally, "price—whole—its—for."
2nd. When there is an enumeration of things in the same case, no matter how long, and even if each word of the enumeration be accompanied by an adjective or genitive which it governs, the whole series is regarded as a single polysynthetic group, and treated as a regular compound word; instead of giving to each term of the enumeration its casual suffix, one only is used for the whole, and is placed at the end of the series. For instance: χarsak taq sirgal taq guk taq zakurna, "the mountain of alabaster, lapis, and marble," is literally, "mountain—stone—of the great light—stone—blue-stone—shining—in."
This is not polysynthetism properly so called, such as we find in the American languages; but it is a tendency towards such a principle, resulting from agglutination. In the American languages, and it is [p.297] needless to say we are merely drawing a comparison, not pointing out a relationship, all the elements of a complete proposition become one single word, and the incorporation is so perfect as to allow the different words incorporated to interpenetrate each other and otherwise assume corrupted forms. In the Accadian, on the contrary, all the elements of polysynthetic agglutination remain intact, without any alteration or corruption of form, each preserving its identity; the group of words united by a common suffix does not become one single word, it remains a proposition, a member of a sentence composed of distinct words, which become agglutinated into a new kind of unity intermediate between the separate word and the complete phrase.
This remains a fact of syntax, without reference to morphology or grammar.
There are other constructions which I have termed incapsulations, which resemble somewhat a characteristic feature in the American languages. They not only unite into one group all the elements of the most complex idea, but the words become mixed up one with the other. F. Lieber has named this peculiarity incapsulation, thus comparing the way in which the words are placed in the phrase to a box which contains another, itself containing a third, the third a fourth, and so on. There is the same tendency visible in the Accadian, though not carried to so great an extent. Just as synthetic agglutination has no power to form a single word of the elements which are thus brought together, but merely constitute a homogeneous group of a peculiar kind, in which the [p.298] words, far from being corrupted by constant contact, remain entire, and preserve their own identity to a certain extent, yet at the same time coalescing sufficiently for the whole group to be declined as one word: so incapsulation introduces into this long series, as you might insert a small box into a large one, a member of a sentence perfect in itself, or a less complicated synthetic group. Properly speaking, there is no fusion of one holophrastic word into another, but simply of a sentence complete in itself, and in the elements of which synthetical union has sometimes already begun, between a word and its casual suffix, or else in the midst of a conglomeration of words which are declined as a whole, and are joined by a common suffix. Furthermore, this fusion is not as complicated as in the American languages; I have never met with it double, triple, or quadruple, as occurs in those cases, but it is always simple.
We have in Accadian thus one example of this phenomena, which may very easily be analyzed, in the expression, egir sam nutillabiku, "after his instalment," literally, "the remainder—of the price—not complete—his—to," in which sam nutillabi is inserted between egir, "remainder," and its casual suffix, ku, forming together egirku, "after."
Accadian and Altaic affinities.
OUR knowledge of the Accadian is as yet far from perfect. The subject of the
grammatical forms has received the most attention up to the present time, and is
therefore the most clearly understood, On this point, the most essential facts
are already fully established; we possess a sure method of comparing languages,
and it is consequently easy to weigh the affinities existing between the
Accadian and the Altaic languages, as we have just done. On the other hand,
questions of pronunciations and the vocabulary have hardly been examined at all
in a scientific manner. So we ought to be much more careful in speaking of the
connection between the lexicon of the Accadian dialect and that of the modern
languages of the Turanian or Altaic family.
However, some very remarkable analogies have already been discovered between a large number of Accadian words and the corresponding words of the Ugro-Finnic or Turco-Tartaric idioms.[p.300] Such for instance, as the names of the numbers up to seven:629
I shall give some instances of analogies which present themselves at the first
1st. In the terms used to designate the parental and filial relationships.
|Accad.||ad, adda||ai||abba||umu, umma||nene||tar|
2nd. In the names of limbs and parts of the bodies of men and animals.
|Tcher.||ket, kid||jal, jol||su||sinza||ver||la|
|SKIN.||WOOL, HAIR.||TAIL.||URINE.||GERM, SEED OF ANIMALS.|
3rd. In the names of living beings.
|Accad.||gum, ku||mulu||χar||χana, χa|
|Vog.||kum, χum||kul, χul|
4th. In the designation of parts of plants.
|STALK, BRANCH.||ROOT.||LEAF.||FRUIT, SEED.|
5th. In the names of the heavenly bodies, the elements, and the great phenomena of the terrestrial surface.
|HEAVEN, GOD||SKY, TEMPEST.||SUN.||DAYBREAK.||DAY.||LIGHT.|
|Accad.||idu||ai||gig, gie||ma, mada|
6th. In a few essential verbs.
|TO BE.||TO BE FINISHED, TO COMPLETE..||TO PLACE, TO PUT.|
|TO COMPLETE, TO FINISH.||TO ADJUST, TO PLACE, TO ADD.||TO CUT.|
|TO PUT IN A LINE.||TO BIND.||TO CRY.||TO EAT.|
|Mag.||sor, sar||ko-t-ni||hir||en-ni (en-ni)|
|TO VOMIT.||TO GO TO BED, REST.||TO PUT AN END TO, DIE.|
|As. Turk.||bat-maq, bit-mek|
These are only a few examples which it would be easy to multiply, but they
suffice to give the reader an idea of the striking resemblance existing between
the words of the Accadian lexicon, so far as we can understand them, and those
of the Altaic lexicons, particularly the Ugro-Finnic and the Turco-Tartaric
groups. It is true that we ought to beware of a simple analogy between words of
different languages, for it is often deceitful; I am also quite willing to admit
that all the similitudes in the vocabulary which can be discovered at present
between the Accadian and the modern Altaic languages should be revised as our
studies progress, when some of them will very likely prove of no value. But at
the same time I must observe that many of those I have just quoted are based on
facts that would defy the most minute scientific examination, facts which refer
to the roots and not to the word as it stands, the examples being the result of
a critical analysis or dissection of the word.
From this point of view there is another circum stance of great importance referring to the grammatical peculiarity mentioned above, namely, that there are in the Accadian many propositions or roots which retain the same form without any development or modification whether they are used as substantives or verbs. This dialect exhibits, in an absolute and living state, a number of verbal or substantive roots in daily use formed from primitive roots, which it needs close examination to discover in the derivatives of the Ugro-Finnic languages. Here are a few examples:
|kat, kit, "bruise, break."||qut, "cut, cut in pieces."|
|kar, kor, kar, kir, "echo, murmur, speak."||kir, "word, murmur."|
|kor, ker, "ask, seek, collect."||kur, "to obtain, to conquer."|
|kan, kan, kun, ken, kin, "to be stiff straight, strong, solid."||gan, "to stand up, to exist, to be."|
|gin, "to stand up, to be firm, exist."|
|kam, kam, kum, kim, "to he bent, round."||gam, "to be bent."|
|tar, tor, ter, tir, "break, share, cut."||lar, "cut, separate, decide."|
|kar, kor, ker, kur, "to be bent, round, in a circle."||χal, "circle, collar, viscera."|
|sak, sok, suk, sik, "to taper, to be first, to push forward."||sak, "head, summit, point, chief."|
|sar, sor, sur, sir, "to increase, to enlarge, push forward,||sar, "push forward, grow."|
|to be long, to expand."||sur, "push, expel."|
Phonology of the Accadian Language.
HOW the comparisons which we have just drawn between the different vocabularies,
and how illustrated by examples, reveal the unexpected fact that the Accadian
roots resemble the Ugric much more than they do the Finnic. They are less full,
less developed than those of the latter language, while they resembled those of
the former in the frequent omission of the vocalic termination and the
modification of two rival consonants into one.630
Some philologists have stumbled at this fact, as they considered it necessary to the proof of the Altaic character of the language that the Accadian forms should resemble more closely those of the Finnic dialect. But in this, to my mind, they are only yielding to a preconceived idea; they should give the character of recent alterations to the differences of form which distinguish the Ugric from the Finnic roots. But really nothing justifies this [p.310] opinion, which is pretty generally adopted by Altaistic philologists. The points in question are not necessarily of any fixed date; they may have belonged to a much earlier period than is generally supposed, and constituted, perhaps long ago, the individual originality of the Ugric idioms as well as of the Accadian in comparison with the regular Finnish dialects. This is the conclusion to which I have been led by the study of the Accadian language.
But we must now examine the phonetic phenomena which are allowed to exist in the Accadian itself; and for this purpose we must study it apart from any exterior comparison. This language reveals, indeed, a very curious contrast, which is also highly important. On one hand, it is a language which was formed and crystallized at a very early epoch in the original phase of agglutination, and its grammar possesses, consequently, some forms of a most ancient stamp, to which, from this point of view, none but those of the Mantchoo can be compared. On the other hand, in the monuments we possess, it seems to be a language of long standing, spoken for centuries, the words of which are as though worn out by long use. We discover in it the effects of very powerful agents of phonetic change.
These influences, as we gather from the transformations which the roots undergo in the heart of the language, may be distributed into two classes, a tendency to omit the final vowels, and an attempt to soften the pronunciation.
The Accadian is peculiarly prone to the omission [p.311] of final vowel. For a certain number of words we find equally both forms, with or without the final vowel: for instance, dara and dar, "race;" utu and ut, "sun;" eni and en, "lord." The influence of a tendency to omit the final vowel strikes us even in words of which we discover the formation by means of suffixes ending in a vowel. Thus, ma, "country," produces mada, by means of the individualizing suffix dar, and mada becomes contracted into mad; luri, "to pass, leap over, enter," is certainly derived by the addition of the suffix ri, and the more simple root tu, "to assail, attack, enter," and it becomes tar. All the casual suffixes which do not end in a heavy vowel are susceptible of this contraction; we find ungalmur, "to my king," for ungau; nura; ennunaui, "for the guard," instead of eununeku; χilib "the splendid and magnificent," for χilibi.
This endeavour to modify the pronunciation gives rise to three principal facts, which we shall illustrate by several examples.
1st. The alteration in the root by the omission of the final vowel is not the only one made, for that often leaves a consonant at the end of the word when the consonant is in, n, or a guttural, it is often suppressed, in order to render the sound more agreeable; the parallel forms erin and eri, "servant," gig and gie, "night," etc., etc., furnish us with a proof of this modification. Hence a fact, traces of which which are now beginning to be discovered in the Accadian, and which have long been proved to exist in Finnic, Magyar, and all the Ugro-Finnic languages; we do not possess the full and perfect form [p.312] of the root in many words, except as joined to a suffix of declension or conjugation, because in the absolute forth the root is contracted through the influence I have just mentioned.
Take therefore as an example the verbs "to give" and "to accomplish;" in the infinitive and singular of the preterite they are si and sî but directly it becomes necessary to add a suffix of number or time, in the plural of the present, they assume the forms simus and simue, sigies and sigi (for sigi-e), because in reality the root is simu and sigi, and the addition of the suffix (acting here as an element of preservation, quite contrary to its usual functions in inflected languages) keeps it perfect, and arrests the contraction of the final letter, which takes place when there is no suffix to protect it.631
2nd. In its effort after euphony, the Accadian pronunciation rarely allows of two adjacent consonants. We should not be able to find more than twenty such instances among the polysyllabic roots expressed by ideograms, and explained by the syllabaries, or those written phonetically in the Accadian texts. But we can easily fathom the reason of this peculiarity. The harsh sound resulting from the juxtaposition of two consonants is avoided by con- [p.313] tracting them into one. Here is the proof. Although we seldom find two consonants in roots which allow of no further analysis, yet we often see them in the numerous compound words of the Accadian. Now, in this case, the peculiar character of the cuneiform Anarian writing, while it places the two ideograms side by side, gives no indication of the phonic modification undergone by the two roots thus brought together; but we are helped out of this difficulty by the commentaries on the pronunciation, which the Assyrian scribes so often added on the lexicographical tablets.632
From them we learn that the first consonant was almost always assimilated to the second. Thus, suppose we had the two roots ui and su represented by the ideograms χ and y; when they were united into a compound, they were written as χ-y; only the commentaries inform us that the compound became ussu by assimilation, not utsu. This modification went still further. The same commentaries inform us, by various examples, which all point to the same fact, that double letters had no effect upon the pronunciation, they were sounded like simple letters. Thus, in the compound ut-su, literally, "sun—to set," we follow the change operated by a modification of the pronunciation through the successive forms utsu, ussu, usu; in the word "while," and the substantive "break of day," we have the same series, barbar, babbar, babar. Finally, I will only remind my readers of the forms mentioned above, which are written phonetically in the texts; such as gagarra [p.314] for gargarra, nanam for namnam, ganamga for garnamga, etc., etc.; their origin is now easily accounted for.
3rd. We have just seen that there is a tendency to omit the final guttural of a root; but the initial guttural is often aspirated under the influence of different circumstances, becoming χ from k or g; then this aspirate is modified, and finally almost disappears, or loses itself in the h which is always inherent in the initial vowel. The particle which is prefixed to form the precative of verbs, exhibits the following scale of degeneration: gan, ga, χa, a (ha), in a root signifying "light, day" (compare the Finnic koi), we can follow the same progression: χu, u (hu).
Such are the principal processes of phonetic decay, which may easily be verified in the Accadian itself, as we have already pointed out. But these pro cesses are the result of certain tendencies, which have brought the Accadian roots to forms so closely resembling those of the Ugric roots, whilst the Finnic have preserved fuller, and therefore more ancient forms; at least, as a rule, for there are some exceptions as in every case: for instance, although the Accadian hidu, "moon," has the initial guttural aspirated, it is less contracted than the Finnic kuu, which rather resembles the Vepse kudai, and the form that most nearly approaches the original here seems to be the Vogul kolita (cf. Mag. hold), the fundamental root being kal, kul, kil, as M. Donner has proved.
No one can deny that an exact linguistic method [p.315] imposes upon us the duty of testing the comparisons established between the Accadian vocabulary and that of the Ugro-Finnic languages by the laws of phonetic change, which we find in this language, operating upon the roots themselves. To act otherwise would be to deviate from the paths of science. In examining the lexicon, therefore, we acknowledge these laws, and their application may be observed in those comparisons we gave above as examples. Some have seen in them also specimens of certain laws of correspondence in articulation between the Accadian and those Ugro-Finnic dialects which we can thoroughly understand, independently of the processes of phonetic change which I have just mentioned; for we are already advanced to such a point in this study, that, instead of contenting ourselves with simple approximative analogies, we begin to trace firm and unalterable laws of permutation.
1st. The Accadian soft checks, b, g, d, correspond to the Finnic hard checks, p, k, t; as a rule, they are only found when some of the languages belonging to the Ugro-Finnic group (exclusive of the dialect of the Lapps) allow also the soft check in the same word.
2nd. Whenever the Ugric languages substitute χ or h for a Finnic k, the Accadian also has χ, and sometimes even as the initial letter the simple vowel in which the aspirate h is inherent; there are very few exceptions to this rule.
3rd. If an f in Magyar is found to correspond with a Finnic p, we may be sure that the Accadian will also have p, and not the soft check, b.
4th. In the diverse forms under which the same root presents
itself, some of the Ugro-Finnic roots have a dental, others a sibilant; in such
a case, the Accadian usually gives the preference to the dental, which is
generally d, and not l.
5th. Although in the Accadian l is not so systematically changed into a dental, as is the case in Ostiac, still it is frequently done, and d is then the dental chosen.
6th. The Accadian sometimes substitutes n for l, like the Ugro-Finnic languages; but this change is only made at the end of the root.
7th. Vice versa, it allows l to be used for n before a guttural.
8th. Whenever the proto-Medic has r, and the Ugro-Finnic languages l, the Accadian has also l.
9th. If the Ugro-Finnic languages have a final sibilant, the Accadian may substitute r, and reciprocally.
10th. An Accadian k or g corresponds in certain cases to a liquid sibilant or a sonant in the Ugro-Finnic and Turco-Tartaric languages.
11th. The words beginning with ja, jo, ju, je, ji, in the Ugro-Finnic languages, have a, u, e, i in the Accadian; for the latter has no initial j, or at least it coalesces with the it inherent in the vowel.
Any one who is acquainted with the Altaic languages will see at once that these phonetic laws agree in their essential data with those of the Ugro-Finnic dialects, and especially with Ostiac, as has been already observed by M. Donner. Again, then, we find ourselves face to face with new and weighty arguments, which unite with the tendency to omit [p.317] the final letter, the rare occurrence of two adjacent consonants, several grammatical peculiarities, and the separate existence of the suffixes and the root in compounds, to prove the same fact, namely, that the Accadian bore a closer resemblance with the Ugric languages, and particularly Ostiac, than with the real Finnic languages. It exhibited in its vocabulary, at a period some thirty centuries before the Christian era, most of the changes and phonetic tendencies which characterize the Ugric tongues. It therefore bore witness to the fact that these points are not of recent date, although Finnic has remained untouched up to the present time by some of these phonetic changes, and is an example of preservation only equalled in Lithuanian amongst all the Aryan languages. So striking is the analogy, that some day, perhaps, in the progress of our study of the Accadian, it may come to be regarded as the primitive type of the Ugric languages, belonging really to this special subdivision of the great Turanian or Altaic family.
However this last conjecture may turn out, for of course it is as yet but a conjecture, we may yet confidently affirm, in spite of our imperfect acquaintance with the Accadian vocabulary, that, as regards the lexicology and grammatical morphology, the affinity of the Accadian with the Altaic languages is clearly established. New inquiries can only strengthen our opinion, and confirm this principal fact, by enabling us to judge better of the degree of relationship between the ancient Turanian language of Chaldea and certain groups which are still represented by the same linguistic family.
The origin of the Kushito-Semitic religion.
THE triumph of the Kushito-Semitic religion is still more
ancient than the triumph of the Assyrian over the Accadian language. Only in the
formulae and hymns of the magic collection which must have been gathered from
oral traditions, do we find the old religious system peculiar to the Accadians
which was so thoroughly conformable to the characteristics of their race, and so
connected with the beliefs of the Finns and other Turanians as to suggest that
it was derived from them. Although the affinity of the Chaldaio-Babylonian
official religion with that of the Syrian, Canaanitish and Arab populations,
proves that this religion must have been originally promulgated by the Kushites
of Babylon, yet it was the same religion as the old kings of Ur professed in
spite of their purely Accadian names. The Accadian inscriptions of the Likbabi
(or Likbagas, the reading of this name is still doubtful) and the Dungi633 are
dedicated to the gods who remain to the last day of Babylon the
[p.319] objects of public adoration, and whom the
great sacerdotal system of classification places in the highest ranks of the
celestial hierarchy. Even at this point the gods peculiar to the magical books
are no longer mentioned.
At the same time, the most ancient liturgical documents we possess about the Chaldaio-Babylonian religion, that collection of hymns which I called, in a first and very imperfect attempt at a translation of its principal parts, the Chaldean Veda,634 are in the Accadian tongue, although the songs are not generally addressed to the primitive gods of Accad, but to those whom I regard as having been worshipped at first by the Kushites. It seems that the priesthood of Babylon and Chaldea in the seventh century, regarded these hymns as the most ancient trophies of their own religion which had been preserved in a settled form. So the Accadian became for them the sacred language of prayer to the gods, as well as the tongue which commanded the spirits, owing to the co-existence of the liturgical collection and the magical collection forming a sort of double Veda, only with this difference from the Indian, that in Chaldea the collection corresponding to the Atharva Veda consisted of older pieces, which were more suited to the primitive doctrine of the people in whose language they were composed, than those of the collection analogous to the Rig. There was another thing that tended still more to give to the Accadian the character of a sacred language, even in a religion[p.320] which was not primarily adopted by the Accadians. As the cuneiform graphic system had been invented by the Turanian portion of the population, and according to the genius and requirements of that language, the Chaldean people wrote in Accadian long before they wrote in Assyrian; consequently the significant names which were applied in Accadian to the Kushito-Semitic divinities had a written form prior to their Assyrian names. When writing was first applied to the Semitic language, these forms were adopted in preference to the phonetic orthography of the corresponding Assyrian names as ideographic groups consecrated by custom. This point once established, the Accadian became later, in the eyes of the Chaldean priests, the language in which they wrote the names of the gods, even when they read them in their Semitic form, and therefore, Accadian pre-eminently the language of religious symbolism.
All these facts show how ancient was the diffusion of the Kushito-Semitic religion, the sister to those of Syria and Phoenicia, amongst the Accadian nation, while it still preserved its own characteristics and language. This event must have been nearly contemporary with the juxtaposition of the two races on the soil of Chaldea and Babylonia, and the Nimroditish conquest, which the book of Genesis points out to us as temporarily subjugating Erech and Accad together with Babel to the power of Kush, had no doubt some connection with it.
We must however make the best use of such knowledge as we possess, and go back further than [p.321] authentic history and the original records which have been handed down to us, in order to reach the epoch when the people of Sumir and Accad, at that time the sole inhabitants of the southern basin of the Euphrates and Tigris, whilst another division of the same race dwelt in the mountains of the east, and professed that religion of demonological naturalism, to which the other Turanian nations continued to cling, together with a hierarchy composed of the priests of magic and a worship consisting of their rites and incantations.
But there is no need to go back as far as might at first sight seem necessary for the era of the establishment of the Chaldaio-Babylonian religion, and its final triumph over the Accadian faith, in a country specially noted as the "country of Accad," the southern provinces where the Turanian language was last spoken and where the proportion of Kushites was small as compared with the Turanians. The most ancient epigraphic monuments that we possess of this reign, the empire of the old kings of Ur, may perhaps mark the establishment of the new religion. It is indeed a very striking fact which has been already pointed out by several scholars,635 that at the base of all the pyramidical temples of Chaldea proper, at Ur, Erech, Nippur, and Larsa, the name of the same king, which I have temporarily rendered Likbabi, is to be seen upon the bricks. "Although the whole of Chaldea has been thoroughly explored," says Canon [p.322] Rawlinson, "no trace is to be found of any sacred monument that could he attributed with any degree of probability to a date prior to this prince." He is the first of whom we possess any inscriptions, as yet, but he belongs to the regular historical period and does not open an era in it like a Menes in Egypt. Temples in the form of pyramids at certain distances one from the other must therefore be considered quite a recent institution in Chaldea as compared with what they were in the country of Shinar or Sumir, where national tradition, like that of the Bible, placed the construction of the first of these temples side by side with the confusion of tongues, and no one dared to attribute the foundation of the original pyramids of Babylon and Borsippa to any historical king; for they were said to be the work of a "very ancient" king, or perhaps even more correctly "of the most ancient king, the first king."636 In the land of Accad, instead of being an ancient and indigenous growth, the construction of this kind of edifice was really only an imitation of Babylonian customs, undertaken and carried out in all the cities at once by the same king, who is not lost to sight in the gloom of the times, but appears on the contrary in the full light of history. Now the pyramidical temple is the tangible expression, the material and architectural manifestation of the [p.323] Chaldaio-Babylonian religion. Serving both as a sanctuary and as an observatory for the stars, it agreed admirably with the genius of the essentially sidereal religion to which it was united by an indissoluble bond. The king Likbabi, who erected pyramidical temples in all the Chaldean towns, for up to that time they were unknown in the country, appears consequently as a sort of crowned apostle of the Chaldaio-Babylonian religion; he was particularly devoted to the god Sin, who became henceforth the god of the town of Ur, yet honouring equally Anu and Nana in Urukh, Samas in Larsa, Bel in Nipur, or rather in each town the god who was regarded from that time forward as its special protector. His works of religious architecture show the activity of his followers in favour of the religion which he embraced, and which he endeavoured, as it would seem with a certain amount of success, to substitute for the ancient Accadian magical religion which possessed no temples and no fixed public worship.
On first beginning to study these details, the mind is struck by the unity of language and civilization in Babylon and Assyria. "The only variation, it was said at the time, in the long list of the Chaldaio-Assyrian kings is the fluctuation between the centres of gravity of their power. Sometimes transplanted from the south, where it had taken root, to the north, sometimes from the north to the south, the Semitic empire of Mesopotamia was termed conformably to these changes, either the Chaldean empire or the Assyrian empire. The worship, [p.324] manners, language and extent of these two kingdoms remain exactly the same."637 But in proportion as our knowledge of the monuments and cuneiform texts has increased, the period has come, as it does in all sciences, where we detect distinctions in what appeared at first to he quite uniform; and underneath a general unity many diversities are now found to exist. It is universally agreed, and this point has been maintained chiefly by English scholars, that in spite of the adoption of Chaldaio-Babylonian cultus by the people of Assur, the Assyrians and Babylonians were two distinct nations, possessing in many things a peculiar physiognomy, special customs and opposite characteristics, almost as different the one from the other as were those of the Greeks and Romans. The spectacle of their common interests and the difference between them, the initiative part played by Babylon and the originality which Assyria managed to keep in spite of it, has an exact parallel in the reciprocal relation still existing between China and Japan. Besides we know from the most reliable documents, and from the testimony of the Assyrians themselves, that Babylon remained almost entirely independent of Assyria until the eighth century B.C., and always had its own special history.638 We must now go back still farther into the most remote antiquity and distinguish Babylonia, inhabited principally by the Kushites, from Chaldea, which retained its Chaldean or Turanian character much later. There [p.325] was originally, no doubt, a non-Semitic or ante-Kushite Babylon, using this name in anticipation, for to be quite correct we should say a town of Tin-tir, in the same way that there was an Agane and a Sippara to which we ought probably to give the title Sumirian. But the whole of this northern division of the land lost its Turanian character much more quickly than the towns of the south. Babylon and Chaldea were united for a short period, but at the time of the Kushite invasion under the legendary empire of Nimrod they quickly separated again, and their progress through many centuries was quite independent of each other, corresponding with the characteristics of the races, which predominated respectively in the two countries. During this state of things the authentic history of these two countries begins, supported by contemporary documents. From that time, even under the powerful monarchs of Ur, who united the two countries under their sway, and whose dominion seems to have extended over a part at least of the territory which was afterwards called Assyria, the difference between the races predominating in Babylon and Chaldea is plainly shown by a difference in the language most generally used in each of the countries. We have a positive proof of this fact in the official inscriptions of the vice-regents of the monarchs of Ur in the principal cities.639 In the southern towns, as Sirgilla, Is-baggi-Hea, Eridhu, these governors [p.326] generally had Accadian names, and even when they themselves bore Semitic names (as Idadu at Eridhu) their inscriptions were always in the Accadian, like those of their sovereigns in all the region of the south, from Nipur to the Persian Gulf. But at Diru in the neighbourhood of Babylon (the ancient name of this town was Bat-ana), as also at Assur, the vice-regents had Semitic names, and their inscriptions were written in Assyrian;640 in the north also the kings of Ur, Dungi for instance, used the Assyrian for their official documents. In the same way, the independent kings of Agane show by the form of their names that they were of Kushito-Semitic origin, and there were some princes, Sabu, amongst the number, who were referred back to a period of extreme antiquity by certain indications connected with the monarchs who succeeded them. From this time the predominance of the Semitic language and the ethnic element that spoke it in Babylonia is so certain, that there was no need to fear the effects of the Elamite conquest of the Kassians, which took place a little later, and their dominion during many centuries. In the inscriptions of some kings of this dynasty there is an attempt made to substitute a duality, Kassi u Akkadi for the ancient formula Sumeri u Akkadi; but these Kassi did not however succeed in making their own language predominate, although it continued to furnish their regal names; their inscriptions as kings of Babylon were written in [p.327] the Accadian or Assyrian, and it was under their supremacy that the Assyrian tongue finally supplanted the Accadian everywhere, a circumstance evidently owing to the predominating influence of their capital Babylon.
The annals of the northern and southern provinces of Babylonia and Chaldea, the countries of Sumir and Accad, became intermingled a little before the invasion of the Kassi or Cissians, about the twentieth century B.C., when for the first time a king of Agane in the north, Sargon I.,641 united the two countries under his sceptre and formed them into a single empire.
That was the time when the great work of classification and reform of the religion took place, when the text of the sacred magical and astrological books was definitely settled, in one word when the priesthood determined to unite into a complete whole, subordinate to its own religious ideas, the various institutions which the different elements of the population had founded in Babylonia and Chaldea, and which were independent of and even perhaps antagonistic to each other.
The Chaldaio-Babylonian civilization was thus fairly established; it was essentially of a very mixed character, but the contributions of the two races, the Turanian and Kushito-Semitic, were so thoroughly combined that it is now extremely difficult in many cases to distinguish them. This civilization became from that time common to the whole territory between Assyria and the sea. The [p.328] bilingual lexicographical tablets with their methodically classified enumerations of animals, plants, and minerals, natural and artificial objects, the anatomy of their different parts, weapons, utensils, all kinds of agricultural and industrial implements, food, drinks, means of transport by land and sea, diseases, professions, and classes of persons, furnish us with a complete picture of the state of civilization at the epoch when they were written, and the social state and knowledge upon which part of this civilization rested. It is the same that we see afterwards with a few changes existing at Babylon until the end of the great city's independence, and spreading all over Assyria. It was quite different from the Chaldean civilization under the ancient kings of Ur, of which Mr. George Rawlinson has given such an interesting picture in his Five Ancient Monarchies (see vol. 1), from the ruins of Mugheir and Warka; great progress has taken place since those early times.
The improved civilization which is brought before us in the lexicographical tablets possesses this striking peculiarity that it is a civilization in two languages. If all the civilization were the work of one of the two ethnic and linguistic elements of the population, while the other only borrowed such improvements, we ought to find amongst the people who instituted these reforms a complete indigenous nomenclature for everything connected with the different branches of civilization; the others on the contrary would have copied from them by translating the necessary terms into their own [p.329] language; in the same way the latter element would have had recourse to the vocabulary of the other to designate objects with which it had become familiar since intercourse had been established between the two. Now we find that this is not the case; the borrowing of designations for the most necessary objects and inventions which are essential to a perfect civilization is reciprocal, almost as many names are imported from the Accadian into the Assyrian as from the Assyrian into the Accadian. There are several utensils, instruments and institutions which must have been introduced by the population speaking a Semitic language, and have formed part of its contribution to the common fund, for they were designated by a simple word in the language; while they are expressed in the Accadian by round about phrases, compounds of an artificial nature, where the Assyrian word itself has not been boldly adopted into the vocabulary. A thorough and attentive analysis of the lexicographical tablets, with a view to ascertaining what words one language borrowed from the other, would be a most interesting and useful study. These tablets would then serve as a faithful mirror, reflecting in part the work of the formation of the Chaldaio-Babylonian civilization; my own studies have led mc to the discovery that in some branches of culture the Kushito-Semitic element took the initiative, as the Turanian did in others.
I must add that as regards political matters at the time when the great work of religious, scientific, and social organization took place in connection [p.330] with the Chaldaio-Babylonian civilization, such as it was to remain, the northern provinces, speaking even then hardly anything but a Semitic language, took the principal management, as they really possessed the supremacy under Sargon and his son. The northern sacerdotal schools, those of Sippara, Babylon, and Borsippa, played a more important part in the politics of the country than the southern schools, those of Urukh and Ur. Or at least the great sacerdotal schools both in the south and north are an institution connected primarily with the Kushito-Semitic religion, although in the latter days, about the time of Nabukuduruzur and the Achamnenides, the caste which they represented called themselves specially Chaldeans; this title would have been perhaps more correctly applied to some division amongst them, the priests of magic for instance.
The two Ethnic elements in the Babylonian nation.
THE diversity of races of men and languages is a fact which
struck all the ancients. In the interior of Babylon itself at the time of the
first Chaldean empire different languages were spoken, which were hardly
intelligible in any other part but the one where they were spoken.642 Aeschylus643
also calls the inhabitants of this town [Greek], "a mixed crowd of every
origin." And all the edicts of the kings of Babylon mentioned in the book of
Daniel644 begin with these words, "Be it known to you, O people, nations, and
languages ...." The vast commerce of Babylon and Chaldea both by sea and land,
as also the great influx of captives who were brought into the country by the
conquering kings, such as Nebuchadnezzar, was an [p.332] important influence in the
this variety in race and language.
Foreign peoples, forming as the Jews did regular colonies with their own religion, civil laws and language, had come, in consequence of successful wars, and established themselves in the lower provinces of the Tigris and Euphrates, side by side with the ancient population and the Armenian tribes which the cuneiform texts teach us were so numerous even in the eighth century before the Christian era, and the native population itself had always been of a very mixed character from the earliest times.
That two ethnically different races existed in the population of Babylonia and Chaldea at the commencement of the historical era, is an established fact which the labours of every Assyriologist have tended to confirm, although some ignorant and superficial devotees of the Semitic language have ventured to doubt this as well as the existence of the Accadian tongue. A dualism of language corresponded to this dualism of race. Around the lower basin of the Euphrates and Tigris two languages were spoken, belonging to quite different families; the Accadian, which we claim as a branch of the Turanian or Altaic family, and the language of the so-called Semitic group, to which the name of Assyrian has been given because it was used in Assyria as well as in Babylon and Chaldea. As this title of Assyrian has been universally adopted, we must fall in with the general custom inconvenient as it is in this case, though the name is by no means suitable; it is too [p.333] limited and has the misfortune to resemble that of the people by whom it was most recently spoken. We could not however venture to change it for a more correct designation, as that would render an already complicated question still more complicated by creating confusion in the terms used. I therefore continue to call the language by this name, but I would remind my readers that in Babylon and part of Chaldea, Assyrian was spoken long before the existence of the Assyrian nation, in other words, the people of Assur adopted in later times the Semitic language of Babylonia.
The most ancient of the Babylonian kings, some of whose epigraphic writings we possess, kings who can vie in antiquity with the builders of the Egyptian pyramids, Dungi for instance, had their official inscriptions engraved in the Semitic Assyrian as well as in the Accadian, although their proper names bear witness to their Accadian origin. Long after, about the date 2000 B.C., when Sargon I. had his great astrological work compiled which we shall elsewhere examine, there was no idea as yet of the Assyrians as a nation. The composers of the astrological collection knew only in that direction some mixed tribes gutium,645 the goim of the book of Genesis (xix. 1), from the midst of which rose the town [p.334] of Assur (now Kalah-Shergat), the first seat of civilization, which was by degrees to conquer these tribes and unite them into a compact whole. The god of this city was then called Ausar,646 a name which was afterwards changed to Assur, and the place itself partook of the nature of a Babylonian colony.647 We may remark by the way, what important grounds these facts furnish for translating Genesis x. ii, "Out of that land he, Nimrod, went forth towards Assyria."
In every case the existence of the two languages has been fully proved, and this leads us to believe in a dualism of race. But owing to a rather curious circumstance, we are unable to find any exact time when the domains of the two races, as well as of the two languages, were clearly defined. From the earliest era of which we possess any written records, we see the two races mingled and intermixed, although each kept its own language and distinguishing characteristics, spreading over the whole surface of the country which extends from the Assyrian frontiers to the sea. We can only make out that in the north more people spoke the Semitic language than the Turanian; in the country of [p.335] Shinar properly so-called in the south, the latter language was the more general, so also in the country called Accad, and later (from the ninth century) Kaldi. But that is a question of minor importance; the two elements existed alike in the two countries.
The Origin of the Chaldaio-Babylonian Cosmogonies.
THE Chaldaio-Babylonian cosmogonic traditions seem to have
recognized the creation of two races of men, one with a brown, the other with a
white skin.648 But our data with reference to this point are still too imperfect
to be of much use to us here, or to aid us in discovering a connection between
this belief and the two different races existing together from the earliest
times in the country where this belief arose, or to allow us to compare them
with that enigmatical account given in the sixth chapter of Genesis about "the
sons of God" (ver. 2), "the daughters of men" (ver. 4). Our study of these
things must be reserved until we are better acquainted with traditions of this
A good deal of light is thrown upon this subject by the celebrated passage of Hellanicus,649 which [p.337] informs us that the primitive dualism of the Chaldean and Babylonian nations was known to the Greeks, and was expressed by their use of the names of Chaldeans and Cephenes. A whole cycle of traditions is connected with these names by the writer and other Greek authors, some of which seem really to possess an historical character, while others, in which Perseus plays the principal part,650 are mythical; but the latter have acquired a great value since the discovery of the fragments of the Babylonian Epopee of Izdhubar or rather Dhuhar, because one of the principal episodes of the legend of Perseus, the delivery of Andromeda, resembles in every detail an episode in the Epopee of the shores of the Euphrates.651
To the Greeks the name Cephenes was synonymous with Ethiopians. The opinion which has been preserved by Hellanicus counts them as one of the two elements of the race inhabiting the countries watered by the lower course of the Euphrates and Tigris, the famous Ethiopians or Kushites of Babylon, whose existence is proved by so many passages of classical antiquity and the sacred writings.652 The Bible connects with these Kushites the name of Nimrod,653 which is used both as the name of a hero [p.338] and as the name of a place, like all those contained in the same chapter of Genesis.654 The more recent Semitic language gave to the name of Nimrod the meaning of "rebel," (from the root מרר) in consideration of the character assumed by the heroic form of this personage; but that is certainly a forced etymology of later origin. After the labours of M. Grivel655 and Prof. Sayce,656 there is no room to doubt that Nimrod was properly the Babylonian god Marduk reduced to the position of a hero, and we are ready to admit that Namarud was derived from an Accadian variation of the name of this god ana amar-utu.657 At any rate the god became here the personification of the people of his town. The other element of the nation in the dualism of the Chaldees and Cephenes consisted of the Chaldees, who are described by Diodorus Siculus4 in a very correct passage about their discipline and their ideas as "the most ancient of the Babylonians." Hellanicus said in the same way, following the example of Stephen of Byzantium that before the king Cepheus (II. 29) that is to say, before the Cephenes, "there were some Chaldees who extended beyond Babylon as far as Choche," as far as the place where Selcucia afterwards stood. In the opinion of Berosus, the kings who reigned immediately after the flood are Chaldees. Without [p.339] speaking in such exact terms of the existence of this nation anterior to the Kushites, the Bible clearly admits the fact by mentioning, as the origin of the empire of Nimrod son of Kush, four towns which where already in being long before his time.658 It also refers to the Chaldees at a very early epoch under the name of the Chasdim. Thus in the time of Abraham the great city of Ur, now Mugheir, was called "Ur of the Chaldees,"659 and before that a chief of the Semitic tribe from which the Hebrews sprang is mentioned as Arphaxad, or Arpachashd, "neighbour of the Chaldees."660 This notice of Ur in the most ancient records of the Terachites as that of the principal town of the Chaldees, whilst the same records establish no connection between them and Babel, becomes a very important point in determining the true ethnographical character of this nation. In fact Ur appears in all the numerous epigraphic monuments as the city most exclusively Turanian of them all; it is only much later that we can trace any vestige of the use of the Semitic-Assyrian language, all is in Accadian at the period of which we are speaking, and even under the Semitic kings of the dynasties of Karrak and Larsam.
In the cuneiform documents the term Kaldu or Kaldi occurs as the name of a tribe of the great Accadian nation661 which was at first very obscure, but which began to be renowned about the ninth [p.340] century before our era.662 Already under Assurnazirhabel, Salmanassar III. and Samsi-Bin, it had become mistress of the whole region bordering on the sea coast, which was then called Kaldu, and was divided into a great many small principalities governed by the chiefs of this tribe. From the eighth century the tribe of the Kaldi became important enough to furnish kings of Babylon,663 and after that period the Chaldees (using the word in a special sense) inhabited the southern part of the basins of the Euphrates and Tigris, and may be counted as the great adversaries of the Assyrian power, until by overthrowing Nineveh itself they founded the last Chaldaio-Babylonian empire under the dynasty of Nabopolassar. The tradition preserved by Hellanicus and other Greek writers substitutes, therefore, the name of Chaldees for that of Accadians, and even perhaps, as we shall see later, the indigenous traditions themselves used the double appellation of Sumir and Accad.664
But this discloses a question of great importance. We have proved the identity of the languages spoken by the Assyrians and the non-Turanian portion of the inhabitants of Babylon, but the Bible affirms that the inhabitants of the two countries were of a different race, by placing Assur amongst the descendents of Shem, while the people of Babylon are referred back to Ham for their origin. This would be no great stumbling-block [p.341] after the facts revealed to us by the civilization imparted to the Assyrian tribes by the Babylonian colony of Assur; it is quite natural that they should have adopted at the same time the language of their teachers which must have resembled somewhat the dialect they spoke before. The difficulty of our problem lies in the fact that the Assyrian, or more correctly the Babylonian tongue belonged to the family commonly called the Semitic, and neither the Scriptures nor any other tradition mention the establishment of a Semitic colony in Babylon or the neighbouring provinces. These were really the Ethiopians, Cephenes or children of Kush, which three names were given to them indifferently, who existed side by side with the Chaldeans proper; these Kushites founded the first great political power in Chaldea, the empire of Nimrod or the king Cepheus; and there is no question of a Semitic invasion having supplanted them, though we have certainly notices of a few Semitic tribes, wandering between the Kushite towns in the uncultivated tracts of land like the Terachites, who finally emigrated, doubtless before the great increase in the settled population and the Aramean tribes of later origin.665 But these may always be distinguished from the two really indigenous [p.342] elements, and as regards dualism of language, which corresponds to the dualism of race found in the ancient inhabitants of the country, we are obliged to come to the conclusion that the so-called Assyrian dialect was the one spoken by the Cephenian or Kushite portion of the population, although it belonged to the family of the Semitic languages. The Cephenian legends confirm this opinion by referring the origin of the Terachites themselves to the Ethiopian element in the nation "Aethiopu m proles quos rege Cepheo metus atque odium mutare sedes perpulerit."666
This is no isolated case either. Scholars of note whose opinion is of great weight have already remarked that the term Semitic is not suitable of application here. A large part, if not the majority, of the nations mentioned in the Bible as the descendants of Ham, particularly those of the branch of Kush, spoke languages of this class.667 Hebrew was originally none other than the dialect of the Canaanites; a nation itself profoundly Hamitic; and Isaiah even calls that tongue "the language of Canaan." The family of Abraham heard and adopted it during their long residence among the Canaanites, in place of the language they spoke previously which probably resembled the Arabian as the tribes of Heber and Joctan were descended from the same stock.
Ghez is spoken by a people of Kushite origin in whom the Semitic elements made
themselves strongly [p.343] felt, yet the latter can hardly have
furnished the language of the country, for in that case we should have expected
it to be Yemen, just as we know that this people imported the writing of
Southern Arabia. The Himyaritic or Sabaean language itself is the dialect of a
country where the Kushite nations had established themselves before the tribes
descended from Joctan, and where they always continued to form an important part
of the population. Therefore if the Joctanides of Southern Arabia spoke at the
time of their civilization a different language from the tribes of the same
stock inhabiting other parts of the peninsula, are we not justified in
attributing it to the influence of the primitive settlers in the country with
whom they mingled? Thus we arrive at the same conclusion as we did in speaking
of the Assyrian; and this is also the case with Hebrew. It is a so-called
Semitic language which was originally spoken by a people classed by the book of
Genesis among the descendants of Ham, and which that people afterwards
introduced and established by means of their superior civilization amongst the
purely Semitic tribes who were still leading a nomadic and pastoral life.
These facts form a powerful argument, from a linguistic, and, to a certain extent, historical point of view, in favour of the theory of those writers who see in the Kushite and Canaanite nations "the most ancient branch of the Semitic family of the human race spreading over the entire interior of ancient Asia, from the sources of the Euphrates and Tigris into the heart of Arabia, from the shores of the Persian [p.344] Gulf to those of the Mediterranean, and on both coasts of the Gulf of Arabia, in Africa and in Asia." Some scholars hold an opinion that this ancient branch of the Semitic family was the first to leave the common home, and having established itself in Chaldea, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Palestine, became civilized, and was thus both an object of execration and envy to its pastoral brethren. Hence they say arose the wide separation between the descendants of Shem and Ham, the latter in the south and west, the former in the east and north, although both belonged originally to the same family, speaking one language though cut up into many dialects, and professing the same religion under different symbols, which may be called as a whole the Syro-Arabic or Syro-Ethiopian family in opposition to the Judo-Persian or Indo-Germanic family, the other great section of the white races.668 This view would coincide very well with the way in which the Kushites frequently coalesced with the pure Semitic races, so that they could no longer be distinguished from them, whenever the two elements have followed each other, as in Southern Arabia and possibly in Assyria.
But, on the other hand, it would seem anthropologically evident from the figures on monuments and the skulls which have been examined so far, that there was a distinction between the descendants of Shem and Ham which is not found in the language, and which corresponded to that established by the biblical narrative; the people of Ham had also to a certain[p.345] degree peculiar characteristics, more materialistic and more industrial than those of the purely Semitic races, though they had likewise many common instincts; lastly, although a good many of the descendants of Ham spoke languages which were decidedly Semitic, others, like the Egyptians, possessed dialects which were doubtless closely connected with the Semitic family, but which possessed so far their own originality that they ought to be placed in a family apart. It is perhaps possible to explain and reconcile these contradictory data by modifying the formula thus obtained by a regard to the facts which have been ascertained by anthropology. In that case, we should have to suppose that the first branch detached from the parent stem was represented by the people of Ham, who coalesced with a Melanian race (black with smooth hair, like the Ghonds of India) which they found settled previously in the country into which they first spread, whilst the Semitic races were more behind-hand and preserved the blood of the white race in all its purity. Thus their intermixture with another people would have sufficed after a certain time to make the descendants of Ham quite a different race from those of Shem, without, however, effacing their original affinities, especially those of language. At the same time, the mixture of blood which would in this way become the distinctive characteristic of the descendants of Ham, would not be found everywhere in equal proportions; the Melanian blood would predominate more in one instance than in another. Thus the nations referred by the biblical narrative to the family of Ham, would really exhibit [p.346] a gradation of admixture with others, more or less decided, from the people who so strongly resembled the Semitic races as to be with difficulty distinguished from them, like the Kushites of Babylon or the Canaanites of Phoenicia; to the people of decidedly ethnical characteristics, like the Egyptians. And we shall discover, if we study the history of the descendants of Ham, that there was a greater or less degree of affinity between the dialects spoken by the different nations, corresponding to the degree of resemblance of the people themselves to the anthropological type of the pure Semitic races; and this is itself a most important fact in determining the question how far a stranger element entered the pure blood of the white race.
It is extremely probable that there was some mixture of a tolerably pure Melanian race with the population of Chaldea and Babylonia, and that this circumstance would have caused that portion of the people who spoke a Semitic dialect to be classed amongst the Kushites. In fact part of the region of the great marshes round the Persian Gulf appears always to have been inhabited by almost black tribes,669 who lived in a very savage state, and over whom the culture of the great cities in the neighbourhood never had much influence. These appear to have been the ancestors of the Lemluns of the present day, of whom we have heard a good deal from the French traveller Texier; they are closely allied as an anthropological type to the Bissharris of the neighbouring land of [p.347] Egypt. We meet with them again in the same marshes, where the Assyrian bas-reliefs of Sennacherib and Assurbanipal exhibit them as coalescing with other tribes of a more or less Mongolian type.670 They probably spoke "the language of the fishermen," which is mentioned in some Assyrian documents as being a different dialect from those of Assur and Accad. In my opinion these tribes were really of Ethiopian origin, and represented the first substratum of the historical Kushites of Babylon; there are even now the remains of that most ancient population of the country who dwelt there even earlier than the Turanians, and were conquered by the latter before the dawn of the historic ages. These first Kushites only remained select in the shelter of the inaccessible marshes where they had retreated; in other parts of the land they mixed with a few tribes speaking the Semitic language, who established themselves there before the Semitic race properly so-called, and thus arose the second Kushite nation of the era of Nimrod and Cepheus, the only people who belong to history and who spoke the language called Assyrian; the purely Semitic races, like the Hebrews, treated these in the same way as the Canaanites, and refused to consider them of the same race as themselves in spite of the affinity of language.
However I will not insist too strongly upon these latter conclusions, as they are at present conjectures which could not be fully examined and proved without necessitating explanations of a far too complicated [p.348] character to be introduced here. Of one fact we may be sure, namely, the existence of the Kushito-Semitic and Turanian or Altaic races following each other, and coalescing over the whole of Babylon and Chaldea, as long as we can discover from the monuments in our possession, one predominating in the north, the other in the south. An eminent anthropologist Dr. Hamy has discovered amongst the figures of kings and other inhabitants of the country represented in the ancient Babylonian sculptures, the existence of two entirely distinct ethnological types of race. One has a slender figure, the other is short and dumpy; the first was a remarkably long shaped, the second a round skull; and finally, one shows very remarkably the arched profile of the Syro-Arabic or Semitic races with its aquiline nose; whilst the other is distinguished by prominent cheek-bones and a nose with highly curved nostrils. In the words of M. Hamy, the second Babylonian and Assyrian type "differs radically from the Syro-Arabic type, in the same degree that the peasants of our central table-land do from the Jews and the Arabs;" and this second type resembles rather than any other known to us that of the Ugro-Finnic and Siberian races, to whom several anthropologists have assigned the name of Mongoloides.671
In our previous researches we have thus seen that there was a dualism of language corresponding to the dualism of race, and that one of the languages, the Assyrian, belonged to the Semitic family, while the other, the Accadian, formed a separate group of [p.349] the Altaic family, closely allied to the Ugro-Finnic dialects. It is not improbable that this ancient fusion of two entirely different dialects spoken in the same land, had much to do with the origin of the tradition which placed at a very early epoch the origin of the confusion of languages at Babylon. Lastly, the special researches we have prosecuted in the present work lead us to point out another parallel dualism that of the religions. Side by side with the Semitic and Turanian languages in Chaldea, we have seen on the one hand a religion closely related to those of Syria and Phoenicia, belonging to the same group and founded on the same conceptions; and on the other, a system of magic resulting from very different views, with its own gods and spirits, resembling forcibly the magic of the Finns and all the Altaic nations, and connected with a perfect religious system which is explained in the magic books, and which was only a normal development of that demonological naturalism which is peculiar to the Turanian nations.
All these facts combine in a most striking manner; and the fundamental difference, the first opposition of the two elements constituting the population of Chaldea and Babylonia in the most remote ages, appears in the religion as in the language. There were doubtless two races of men whose history can be traced back to the time of their divergence from each other, each having its own characteristics and possessing its own language.
The Priority of the Accadian Population of Chaldea.
THE fragments of the narrative of Berosus which we possess
begin thus: "There were (originally) in Babylon many men of a foreign race
([Greek]), who inhabited Chaldea, living in a savage state after the manner of
animals." There is no other way of translating this phrase; the word [Greek] has
only one meaning in Greek, it is synonymous with [Greek]. It has a stronger
signification than [Greek], since it gives not only the idea of foreigner, but
also that of "man of a very different nation, of another race."672 So in the eyes
of Berosus the first inhabitants of Babylonia, whom the god Oannes (Hea) came to
civilize in person, and whose first place of abode was Chaldea, were foreigners
of another race.
But with relation to whom were they foreigners and of another race? Plain common sense tells us that it was as compared with the Babylonians of the time of Berosus, namely, the people speaking the [p.351] Semitic language to whom the writer belonged. We cannot even imagine him to have had any other intention. In the same way we often find the name of the Philistines changed in the Septuagint into [Greek] used absolutely, meaning there a people of a different race from the Israelites.
From these observations we are led to conclude that the Chaldean priest who translated the annals of his native land into Greek under the first Seleucide, regarded the non-Semitic, the Accadian or Turanian people, as the first occupier of the soil. This was the national tradition. The question is, was it correct? We have at present no means of ascertaining this; and there are reasons for thinking, as we said just now, that this element which possessed a certain amount of civilization had superseded a primitive savage population, itself almost Melanian, which is to this day represented by the Lemluns. But one thing however seems certain; all the Assyriologists who have studied the subject admit unanimously that an Accadian or Turanian element furnished the first civilized inhabitants of the vast plains, of the lower part of the basin of the Euphrates and Tigris, and that from this point of view they had decidedly the priority over the Semitic or Kushito-Semitic element. The Turanian remained during long centuries, and particularly in the southern provinces, the predominating element with regard to politics and language in the dualism of the population, even after that dualism had become too decided for anyone to deny that the civilization common to the tribes speaking the two languages was the work of one race alone.
That the Accadians or Turanians had the priority over the
Semitic or Kushito-Semitic races is proved by the geographical names of Chaldea
and Babylonia which the Semitic portion of the population adopted; for these do
not certainly belong to their language, nor have they any precise etymology in
it; they were beyond doubt borrowed from the Accadian. Examples of this are
furnished by the two great rivers the Tigris and Euphrates, and some of the most
important towns of the land, as Ur (uru, "the town" above all others), Uruk, the
Erech of the Bible (uru-uku, "the eternal city"), Larsam, Agane, Surippak,
Eridhu, Nipur, Borsippa, not to mention the names of many towns of which the
non-Semitic character is clearly manifest. These instances of geographical
nomenclature are quite decisive, although their number is limited, for in most
cases the towns of Babylonia and Chaldea had a double name, as is the case at
the present day in Hungary affect other countries where two races speaking
different languages exist together, neither having absorbed the other. Thus one
of the most important towns of Babylonia was called in the Assyrian Kuti and in
the Accadian Tiggaba. In the Bible it is called Cutha, a modification of the
Assyrian form, but the classical geographers copied from the other name; Pliny
writes it Digba; Ptolemy, Digua; the Peutingerian table has Digubis, all coming
from the Accadian Tiggaba, the tradition of which was evidently preserved down
to the Roman epoch. In these cases of double appellation, when we know the
meaning of the Accadian name we generally find that the Assyrian appellation was
an [p.353] exact translation of it. For instance,
the Accadian name of Babylon Kâ-Dingira and the Semitic name Bab-il both alike
meant "the gate of the god;" but these two synonymous appellations were
themselves preceded by a more ancient Accadian name Tin-tir, of which there
seems to have been no Semitic translation. There is positively not a single town
south of the Assyrian frontier sufficiently ancient to have had only a Semitic
name. Appellations of this kind taken from the Assyrian, as Dur-Sarkin, Dur-Ummu-banit, Kar-ramani, which are some of the most ancient, first begin to
appear much later, in the full light of the historic ages, under dynasties of
kings posterior to the great monarchs of Ur (the first princes of whom we have
any record), and dynasties whose surnames attest the Semitic origin of the
family. Such towns owed their foundation to those kings.
In a former chapter we touched upon the subject of the names of divinities borrowed from the Accadian language and mythology, which the Semitic portion of the population received into its pantheon, and which remained there up to the last days of Babylon and Assyria; for they were also common to those disciples both in religion and literature of the Chaldaio-Babylonian civilization. The few fragments that we possess of the cosmogonic epic legend, describing the events of the earliest ages up to a few years after the Deluge and the destruction of the tower of Babel, suffice to show us that the names used in it are entirely Accadian; and when we say that they remain almost unaltered in the extracts of Berosus, we may be sure that under the Seleucides the ancient Accadian form [p.354] was preserved intact in the traditions of the sacerdotal schools, and that no Semitic substitutes were adopted.673
As regards the anteriority of the Turanian or Accadian element to the Semitic or Kushito-Semitic element, we have a proof that the former was in possession of a remarkable state of civilization, a sedentary and agricultural life, a steady industry, and above all an organized government, in the fact that the Assyrian vocabulary has borrowed many words from the Accadian with reference to these things, particularly names of offices which it would be impossible to explain supposing them to be of Semitic origin, while that is readily done in the Accadian.674 We may give as examples tur-tanu "Generalissimo of the armies" (Accadian tur-dan, "powerful chief"); sak "officer" (which is used in the composition of the hybrid form rab-sak); dubsar "scribe" (in the Bible טפסר); atesi "viceregent vicar;" aba "magistrate of the judicial order;" ernga a sacerdotal title which was applied to the Chaldean Magi, and which meant originally "glorious, august." I have long thought, in common with all other Assyriologists following in the wake of M. Oppert, that the ethnic dualism of the population of Chaldea and Babylonia was expressed by the nomenclature so often used in speaking of the inhabitants of those countries, Sumeriv u Akkadiv, "the Sumirians and the Accadians," I saw in these two names the designation [p.355] of the two races, applying that of Accad to the Turanians and that of Sumir to the Semitic or Kushito-Semitic tribes. I set forth this opinion in the first French edition of this present work, but I must confess that my convictions have been shaken since then by the objections that M. Schrader has raised against seeing any distinction of race expressed in these two names. Although we may be certain that the Assyrians themselves used the term "the Accadian language" to designate the non-Semitic tongue, and although consequently we may be justified by their example in using the term Accadian as a general designation of the ethnic element which we hold to be connected with the Altaic nations, yet there is nothing to prove that the name Sumirians described another race. It is possible and even probable that M. Ménant and M. Schrader are right in thinking that the two names of Sumirians and Accadians were anterior to the introduction of the Semitic element, and originally designated rather two geographical divisions of the same people and the same race, the inhabitants of the northern and southern provinces of Chaldea and Babylonia proper.675 If it is so, the duality of Sumir and Accad would have no connection with the ethnic duality, which is to be seen just as much in the land of Sumir as in the country of Accad, taking these two words in the geographical sense. The Sumirians and the Accadians would both therefore have belonged to the non-Semitic race.
The Sumirian influence in Chaldean and Babylonian civilization.
From the fusion of the characteristics and institutions of
the two races who, though of different origin, inhabited the lower valley of the
Euphrates and Tigris, arose that great civilization of Chaldea and Babylon,
which made its influence felt over the whole of ancient Asia, and moulded the
latter after its own pattern. The Chaldaio-Babylonian civilization was
essentially of a mixed nature, resulting from the combinations of different
elements, and in this lay its greatness, richness, and power; the capabilities
and the instincts of two different races were united to construct it.
We cannot as yet, and perhaps we may never be able to determine precisely and minutely what is Turanian and what Kushite in a mixed creation which we have no means of studying except as a whole. However we can trace a good many things back to their original source, even in the present state of our knowledge.
Thus we know for certain that the Turanian portion of the population introduced the peculiar system [p.357] of cuneiform writing into Babylon and Chaldea. The careful researches of M. Oppert have settled that point beyond dispute.676 The characters that compose the writing have either an ideographic or syllabic value, but more frequently they may be used both ways, according to the position in which they occur. They consisted originally677 of a rough drawing or symbolical image, which has since undergone but little alteration, of the concrete object or abstract idea expressed or brought to mind by the syllable composing their phonetic value, not in the Assyrian tongue but in the Accadian, that is, in the language of the Turanians of Chaldea.678 The idea of "god" is rendered in the Assyrian by the word iu, but the character which represents ideographically this word, which character was originally in the form of a star, is pronounced an where it is employed as a syllabic sign, because in that language "god" was spoken of as ana. The sign meaning "father," in the Assyrian abu, is phonetically at or ad, because the word "father" was ad (lengthened form adda) in the Accadian; another has the double form of the verb "to go" (in the Assyrian alak), and the syllable du "to go," pronounced du in the same language. The value of the compound syllables is of the same origin. One sign represents the syllable tar and the idea of "son," the Accadian word for "son" (in the Assyrian ablu or maru) being tar; another the syllable gal and the idea of "great" [p.358] (in the Assyrian rabu), the Accadian for "great" being gal; a third has the meaning of "chief, prince," and gives the compound syllable nir after the form of the Accadian word for "prince." Even the phenomena of polyphony itself, or the existence of many phonetic expressions for the same sign, independently of the Assyrian reading corresponding to its ideographic signification, finds its explanation in the different words which note the various shades of the ideographic meaning in the Accadian. For instance, one and the same sign gives the idea of "sun" (Assyrian samsit) and "day" (Assyrian yitmu); but it is used phonetically to represent the simple syllable ut, ud, and the compound syllable par, and it also became in the Accadian utu "sun" and par (in its lengthened form parra) "day." Another has the double signification of "sheep" (Assyrian sinu) and of the verb "to take" (Assyrian sabalu); the first of these ideas was rendered in the Accadian by the word in, the second by the word dib, so the character has the double phonetic value of lu and dib.
At the same time, facts of the most convincing nature bearing upon the pronunciation would deter any serious mind from the opinion that the cuneiform syllabary could have been invented by a Semitic people. These facts show beyond a doubt that it was the work of a race speaking quite a different language, who were not capable of rendering a language of the family of Shem otherwise than very imperfectly. The principal of these facts is the absence of any particular sign for the articulations ט, ע, ה, א, characteristic of the Semitic organ; the confusion [p.359] of m with v; the want of distinction between the sibilants, ן, ס, צ, za and sa having only one sign, as az, as, as, or iz, is, is, or else again zib, sib, and s'ib, etc.; the want of a different notation for ב and פ, or כ and ק as a final, the same character being ap and ab, or else ag, ak, aq; lastly, the absence of a different written expression for כ and ק before the vowel i, ב and פ before the vowel u, for neither qi nor pu can be written, and we must substitute for them ki and bu.679
We obtain some very important information concerning the progress of the syllabary by studying the primitive and elementary characters of the cuneiform writing, 180 in number, the combination of which gave rise to a great number of new signs.680 If we examine them with a view to discovering what the internal objects were which they originally represented, we find that the nature of the objects thus formed into graphic signs seems to indicate as the original seat of this writing a land other than Chaldea, a more northern region with a very different fauna and flora;681 where, for instance, the lion and the other great carnivora of the feline race were unknown, whilst the bear and the wolf were common animals; where neither the palm nor even the vine682 flourished, their place being supplied [p.360] to a great extent by conifers. It would be worth while to pursue these observations in a special treatise, and some day it will certainly be done. One of the most significant facts that could be brought forward is that the Accadians designate every kind of camel, that of Arabia amongst the rest, by a name that can only be etymologically explained as a description of the peculiar characteristic of the camel with two humps of Upper Asia. The important and suggestive remark of M. Oppert which we have just quoted, with illustrations of our own, would lead us to decide that even if the cuneiform writing received its final development and organization in Chaldea itself, after the Accadians had settled in the plain and round the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris, yet they must have brought the first elements of it with them from another region to which their migration was first directed.
In fact the Accadians had no ground for affirming themselves to be the first occupants of the land of Chaldea, they could not call themselves the aboriginal inhabitants; they remembered that their ancestors had come from another region of a very different character physically, and therefore, after having dwelt for centuries and centuries in the great plains, they continued to use the name of Akkadi, which meant "mountaineers" in their own language. The original force of Sumirians and Accadians in the Accadian was, "the people of the plain and the people of the mountain;" so the ancient title of supreme royalty which we should translate "king of the Sumirians and Accadians," unga kiengi ki akkad, [p.361] really means "king of the plain and mountain." Therefore, although the names of Sumirians and Accadians became at the historical epoch the designation of the north and south of Babylonia, this was only after an alteration in the respective positions of the races to whom these names applied originally in order to show what part of the country they inhabited.683 The names remained like monuments of an anterior epoch, when the two divisions of the Turanian people, instead of inhabiting the north of Babylonia and the south of Chaldea, were spread over the plain watered by the two great rivers, while the Sumirians and Accadians still dwelt in the mountains of the east and north-east, the common cradle of the race, or rather the last stage of their migration before they reached the Euphrates and Tigris.
I have pointed out elsewhere684 the curious coincidence existing between this fact and the witness of classical literature, which ascribes to the nations dwelling in a part of Armenia the names of [Greek], Gordiani, Kardu;685 and I by no means agree with those [p.362] scholars who look upon this as a chance coincidence to which no further value is to be attached. In fact, Berosus mentions the Gordyan mountains as the resting-place of the ship of Xisisthrus after the Deluge; and these mountains correspond exactly (judging from the narrative of Assurnazirpal’s campaigns)686 to the mountain Nizir, which a national tradition in the cuneiform writing preserves as the scene of the same occurrence. Therefore, the mountains which were still inhabited at the classical epoch by a people whose name resembled very closely that of the Chaldeans, proved to be the very ones from which the people of Babylon and Chaldea imagined the post-diluvian founders of humanity to have descended, and which the Accadians remembered as the home of their ancestors. The inhabitants of these same mountainous regions, who have kept the name of Kurds up to the present time, became Aryanized many centuries ago by means of successive migrations of other nations, and it would seem that this had already taken place in the time of Xenophon; but before that, and until the period of the last conquests of the Assyrian kings, the cuneiform monuments exhibit their country as occupied exclusively by Turanian tribes closely allied to the most ancient population of Media, and therefore also to the Turanians of Chaldea.687 I might go further still, and trace the route of the Accadians first migration according to their own traditions, and it would then prove to be the same as that ascribed in [p.363] the book of Genesis to the builders of the tower of Babel, who went "from the east into the land of Shinar." By these means I should reach at length that mountain of the north-east, which played so large a part in the Chaldean traditions under the double title of "Cradle of the human race," and "Place of the assembly of the god."688 But in so doing I should be introducing matter quite foreign to the subject of this chapter, and losing myself in digressions which could not but weary the reader. It suffices for me to have pointed out these peculiarities in such a manner as to prove that the Turanian part of the population who introduced the cuneiform writing into Chaldea, already possessed the first rudiments of this writing before they reached the last stage of their migration on the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris. Abel Remusat has shewn in a special treatise,689 that the same was the case in Eastern Asia with the ancestors of the Hundred Families, who invented the fundamental elements of Chinese writing when living still in a state of singular barbarity.
The earliest characters of the cuneiform writing would not lead us to conclude that the Accadians were much more advanced than the Chinese, when they began to use them as a means of expressing their thoughts. But the Accadians were already at that time in possession of a complete metallurgy, whilst the ancestors of the Chinese still used weapons [p.364] of stone; for amongst the fundamental elements of the primitive hieroglyphism of the Accadians there is a sign for copper and another for the precious metals, as gold and silver.
In consequence of the information gathered from the latest discoveries, we may, I think, place amongst the Turanian contributions to the Chaldaio-Babylonian civilization not only writing, but also magic with its attendant train of beliefs and practices. I have endeavoured elsewhere to prove that to this element was due the credit of introducing the working of metals, which was such a flourishing branch of industry in Chaldea and Babylonia from the earliest times.690 Lastly, I hold that there are many powerful arguments to be drawn from the vocabulary and writing in support of the opinion, that the first Turanian strata of the Accadian population introduced, with its system of canals and irrigation, the agriculture which was peculiar to this country, and I hope some day to arrange these arguments in a special work on this subject.
On the other hand, we are now in a position to prove that astrology and astronomy were the work of the Kushito-Semitic element of the population. It has long been observed, that the whole world owes its first information about astronomy, mathematics, and certain branches of industry,691 to the nations of this family who were essentially materialistic and constructive. Whilst the Accadian always remained the magical language, even in Assyria, all the [p.365] astrological and astronomical documents were in Assyrian. Sir Henry Rawlinson and Mr. Norris brought out a most interesting series of these latter documents, Vol. III. of the Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, but a great number of them are still unpublished. The most ancient even, like the great work in seventy tablets,692 in which Sargon I. and his son Naram-sin collected the traditions and rules for augury belonging to the astrological schools that existed before their era, were written in this language, as we plainly see, in spite of the multiplicity of ideograms and allophonic words in their archaic orthography. So the language devoted to astrology is that of the Kushito-Semitic people,693 just as the Accadian is the magical language. This fact is a very important guide to the origin of the science, [p.366] and it will be seen to be still more important in connection with the other proofs I am about to adduce, on account of the close relation existing between astrology, and the sidereal religion which we have termed Chaldaio-Babylonian.
The Influence of the Kushite Mythology in Chaldean Faith.
THE Kushito-Semitic element appears to have predominated in
both the religion and language of the people of Chaldea, particularly during the
last period of the Chaldaic and Babylonian civilization.
The religion of the Kushites was allied to those of Syria and Phoenicia, and after having adopted some Accadian characteristics, it became the official religion of Babylon and Chaldea; the ancient Accadian magic was cast out, and obliged to occupy an inferior position as we explained above; and the Assyrian language entirely supplanted the Accadian. It is as yet impossible to determine precisely at what moment this change took place, or was finally settled, for it must have been gradual. But twelve centuries before the Christian era, the title of Accadians, which was still used to designate the inhabitants, had become little else but a name. The [p.368] ancient Turanian population, which was established there before the Kushites, coalesced with them entirely, even adopting their language, and the mixed civilization which had resulted from the amalgamation of its own customs and institutions with those of the new comers.
A little later the tribe of Kaldi appears upon the scene, they were the Chaldeans, properly so-called,694 who boasted that they, more than any other tribe, had preserved in all its purity the blood "of the most ancient amongst the Babylonians," which was considered on account of its antiquity even more noble than that of the Kushites or Cephenes. The chiefs of this tribe of Kaldi, such as Yakin and Merodach-Baladan, bore thoroughly Assyrian names, as also the monarchs of the last Babylonian empire, the dynasty of which claimed to be of thoroughly Chaldean origin in the strictest sense of the word.695 The Accadian language had fallen into disuse long before; we cannot even be sure that it was still spoken under the last kings of the Cissian dynasty of Babylon, who were reigning some thirteen or fourteen centuries before the Christian era, although they had some inscriptions engraved in it, such as [p.369] Burna-buryas and Durri-gaizu.696 We may assert with truth that the Accadian became from that time what Latin was in the middle ages, a classical and sacred language. It kept this sacred character on account of the old collections of liturgical hymns and magical formulae in the Accadian, which served as a foundation for sacerdotal teaching, and which were still sung at certain ceremonies, or recited during theurgical operations in the seventh century B.C., when Assurbanipal had the Accadian books copied for his library at Nineveh.697 But there are indications that these books were only intelligible by means of the ancient Assyrian translations which accompanied them, and that even in Babylon, the priests could not write Accadian inscriptions as they had done five or six years before Assurbanipal tried to restore the study of the sacred language, which, he said, none of his predecessors had done. Therefore he had not only the Accadian books copied, but also all the documents concerning grammar and the vocabulary, which were to be found at Erech and other places. His project succeeded well enough to produce some scribes who composed a few Accadian documents698 in [p.370] his honour, Mr. Smith pointed out this fact which never occurred again, either before or after him, from the twelfth to the sixth century B.C.
The Turanians in Chaldea and ancient Asia.
I HAVE briefly but completely explained the light that a
study of the original texts, and particularly the fragments of the Accadian
books, has thrown upon the difficult problem of the true origin of the
Chaldaic-Babylonian nation. Regarded in this way, which, with clearly defined
limits, seems to me the correct one, the position of the Turanian nation of the
Accadians may perhaps be more easily understood by scholars in whose minds the
fact still awakens a sort of defiance.
'No one in the present day," said M. Renan quite lately in one of his remarkable annual reports to the Asiatic Society of Paris,699 "can doubt that this (Turanian) civilization possessed and most probably created the writing called cuneiform. If we take the word Turanian as a synonym of what is neither Semitic nor Aryan, then the expression is exact, but we see no great advantage in it. A classification of animals as fishes, mammals, and what is neither fish nor [p.372] mammal would not be of much use to science. But we acknowledge that it does astonish us to find the word Turanian taken in its strict sense, and to see that ancient substruction of the learned civilization of Babylon assigned to the Turkish, Finnish, and Hungarian races; in one word, to races which have never done anything but pull down, and have never created a civilization of their own.
"The truth may not always seem very probable, and if any one can prove to us that the Turks, Finns, and Hungarians founded the most powerful and intelligent of the ante-Semitic and ante-Aryan civilizations, we will believe it; every consideration a priori ought to be made subordinate to proofs a posteriori. But the force of the proofs must be in proportion to the improbability of the result."
M. Renan will allow us to endeavour to dissipate his doubts with all the deference clue to his vast store of knowledge and his great renown; I am the more eager about this because I think the facts mentioned in the preceding pages partly answer his principal objections.
In the first place, I think he is rather severe upon the Turanian race; he seems to associate it only with the savage devastations of the Ghingis Khan and of Timur, and his judgment concerning the office of this vast family of nations ought to be challenged. The race which has furnished Christian Europe with one of its greatest, most intelligent, most chivalrous, and most eloquent nations, the Hungarians, which has produced, moreover, amongst the Finns at the northern extremity of the European continent an [p.373] epic monument of such great worth as the Kalevala, which possessed a real civilization before the arrival of the Scandinavians amongst these same Finns, whose aptitude for appropriating all the resources of modern culture to a much greater degree than the Russians themselves has been only lately pointed out by a traveller interested in political economy; such a race cannot certainly be described with justice as "only able to pull down." And although the Turks are less supple, less sharp, more solid and heavier than the Hungarians or the Finns, their part in the history of Islamism is by no means exclusively that of the destroyer; they have their great men and their glorious pages, and above all, they display remarkable qualifications for government, which have always been wanting to the Arabs.700
It is quite true that the Turanian nations which hold the most important place in history, the Hungarians and the Turks, first appear at the time when they were just becoming subject to a civilization foreign to their race, having adopted, with the new religion of which they made themselves the champions, at first of Christianity, then secondly of Mohammedanism, the whole inheritance of the culture which grew up elsewhere under the auspices of this religion. It is true they do not appear in history possessing a civilization of their own, but do they stand alone in this point? The facility with which the Hungarians adopted the Christian culture of the West, [p.374] and the Turks an Arab Civilization with the Mussulman faith, would lead us to think that they were not amongst the most enlightened of the Turanian nations, or at least that their ancient national culture was very inferior to that for which they exchanged it. But this is no decisive proof that there was not amongst other nations of the same stock a very ancient Turanian civilization also with its own physiognomy and exclusive characteristics, resulting from the development of certain peculiar instincts which are found, at least in a low degree, amongst the most unenlightened Ugro-Finnic tribes of Siberia.
At this point, however, I must define the exact limits of the facts relating to the Accadians, for I think that scholars of the English school, and Prof. Sayce amongst others,701 have gone rather too far in considering them as the originators of all Semitic civilization, and I myself in former treatises, without going as far as that, have rather transgressed the bounds of probability in espousing this belief. I think there are decisive proofs that the first civilized occupants of the soil of Babylonia and Chaldea, before the Kushites of Nimrod, were a people of Turanian race, more closely connected with the Ugro-Finns than with the Tartars. Even before this people had reached the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, in the first stage of their migration, they had invented the first rough rudiments of a hieroglyphic system, which as it became further developed produced the cuneiform writing; they were then acquainted with the working of [p.375] metals, and the processes of certain necessary branches of industry. In the fertile plains where they settled, they engaged in sedentary and agricultural pursuits; they built towns, cultivated the soil, planned irrigation, and practised all the trades demanded by such a mode of life. Thus they had a regular civilization, peculiar to themselves, which had grown up spontaneously in their midst before any Kushite, Semitic, or Aryan influence had made itself felt among them. But of course this civilization was very imperfect, so far at least as we can judge by the poverty of its fundamental vocabulary, and the number of fictitious compounds which the Accadians were obliged to adopt in order to adapt the language which they were still speaking to the requirements of a more advanced culture. There is nothing to prove that the civilization of the Accadians of Chaldea was more learned and perfect except in the possession of their writing (and the example of the Chinese shows that this art may sometimes be cultivated by races who are still plunged in complete barbarity), than that of the Pagan Finns, as pictured to us in the Kalevala, and who are in that epic shown to bear so close a resemblance to the Accadians from a religious point of view. As a rule I think that the primitive Turanian civilization, vestiges of which might still be found in other countries, was essentially incomplete, developed only in certain directions, while in others it remained quite in a rudimentary state, and that if it was one of the first to exist, it was settled and arranged early, just as the Turanian languages became crystallized at the [p.376] earliest stage in the formation of a language. It was civilization, and civilization in quite an advanced stage as compared with the state of barbarity in which most of the other races were still plunged when it arose but it became in its turn a comparative barbarism by the side of the more perfect civilization which sprang up afterwards amongst other races, the Kushites for instance, who superseded the Turanians in Babylonia and Chaldea, and whose influence had already penetrated as far as to affect that portion of the Accadians who still kept up a national life, and continued to use their old language, in the time of the builder kings of Ur, the Likbabi, and the Dungi.702
It must be evident that I by no means attribute to the primitive Turanians of Chaldea all the foundation of the learned civilization of Babylon. I only see in them one of its factors, and that not even the principal one. The first to establish themselves round the lower course of the Tigris and Euphrates, they bequeathed to posterior times some of the stones which served to erect the Chaldaio-Babylonian civilization, their agricultural and industrial processes, the rites and formulae of their magic, and above all, their writing, falsely assigned to the Semitic-Assyrian nation, yet really preserved through many centuries by force of tradition and custom. But in this great and learned civilization the most noble part came from the Kushito-Semitic element, which spoke the Assyrian tongue; for that element furnished some of the science and the religion of the country, and finally established its language entirely, substituting it for the Accadian even amongst the Chaldeans properly so called, the descendants of those Accadians whose blood remained the purest. Babylon in particular became very early an almost entirely Kushite town. This was the reason why she was able to exercise so great and decisive an influence over the Canaanitish and Semitic nations; and their connection in race and language favoured this influence, so that the Babylonian civilization was partly, with a little help from other sources, a more complete, more learned, and more highly wrought development of characteristic instincts peculiar to the nations over whom it ruled both by precept and by example.
The Archaic Legislation of the Accadians.
THE existence of a Turanian nation in the strictest sense of the word, or if any one prefers it, an Altaic nation in Babylonia and Chaldea, is as we have seen an established fact; this nation preceded the Kushito-Semitic tribes, and was possessed of quite a remarkable degree of civilization analogous to the culture of the populations who are incontestably Turanian. Though M. Renan703 demands a number of forcible proofs before he will believe this fact, still I consider that such a collection of proofs henceforth exists, and in the present work I have been trying to add to their number. The learned Academician whom I have thus been endeavouring to convince, said himself, and rightly, "From the point of view of the historical sciences five things are essential to a race, to give us a right to speak of it as an individuality amongst the human species: a Language of its own, a Literature imprinted with a peculiar physiognomy, a Religion, a History, and a Legislation."
A good many of these conditions we now know to be fulfilled
amongst the Accadians, thus connecting them with the Turanian stock, and the
Ugro-Finnic nations in particular.
First there is a Language to which we have just devoted a special chapter, an epitome of more extensive philological studies. We have already pointed out the organic and indisputable characters, which ought, in our opinion, to determine its linguistic classification.
As to a Literature, we can certainly find one amongst the Accadians, a literature of a very original stamp, and inspired by a breath of true poetry, in the existing fragments of the liturgical collection, the incantations and hymns of the great magical collection. At the other extremity of the Accadian nations' domain, the Finns likewise possess a brilliant and poetical literature. A literary comparison of the genius which inspired the Kalevala and that which dictated the religious and magical Accadian lyrics would be an interesting study; we should see that the common instincts of race may exist in the poetry of two nations so widely separated both by time and space, to say nothing of the difference of colour which was the necessary result of two such opposite aspects of nature as are furnished by the shores of the Persian Gulf and the northern forests of Finland.704
As concerning a Religion, that is the subject to [p.380] which we have applied ourselves in this volume by the help of documents now for the first time brought to light, the study of which has led us as a corollary to the examination of the ethnographic question of the Accadian nation. By revealing to us a primitive religious system, which was really indigenous to the Accadian nation before they adopted and propagated the worship of the gods common to all the religions of the Euphratico-Syrian group, the magical books have opened up a new and unexpected perspective on one of the most important points. We have compared the data of the system of these books to the ante-Iranian part of Median Magism and the Finnish mythology, and so have been able to prove the existence of an independent family of religions which must be called Turanian, religions having no other worship but magic, and proceeding from the old fund of demonological naturalism which has remained in so coarse and rudimentary a state amongst the tribes of Siberia, those Turanian hordes who still exist under the primordial conditions of the race, for the circumstances which have clogged their progress from the beginning have never allowed them to attain to a true state of civilization. Here then are three of the conditions essential to the existence and individuality of a race, fulfilled in such a manner as clearly to connect the Accadians with the typical Turanian nations, the Finns for instance, in spite of the immense hiatus of time and space which occurs between them. The primitive history of the different Turanian groups, their dispersion and first attempts at civilization, can certainly never be fully dis- [p.381] covered; we must be content with proving satisfactorily the linguistic, ethnographic, and religious affinities which show their common origin.
The most we can do for the Accadians especially is to trace by induction, in the absence of contemporary records, by the help of their own traditions, the principal and most important features of their early history, from the time when they established themselves in Chaldea up to the period when they began those inscriptions which have been handed down to us; we must then proceed to unravel the course of their pre-historic migration as far as to that mountain of the north-east which was their point of departure.
It remains for us then now to consider the question of legislation or the social constitution. Here again the requisite documents are wanting or at least in- sufficient; hut we may hope that future discoveries may fill up this gap. At present we possess only a very small fragment of the ancient Accadian laws, which, it appears, had been reduced to writing and translated into Assyrian at the same time as the religious books. This fragment705 treats of the relations and duties of domestic life. It concludes with a curious note, "Placed opposite to the Assyrian, written and engraved like the ancient originals." Here is the translation:
In future, in any case:706
A son to his father;
Thou art not my father,
(if) he has said to him,
and (if) he has made a mark with his nail to confirm it,707
he will make honourable amends to him708
and he will pay a fine.
A son to his mother:
(if) he has said to her, Thou art not my mother
his hair and his nails709 shall be cut off,
in the town he shall be banished from land and water,710
and he shall be driven from the house.
A father to his son:
Thou art not my son,
(if) he has said to him,
from his house and home
he shall be banished.711
A mother to her son:
Thou art not my son,
(if) she has said to him,
she shall be chased from the house and the place.
A wife to her husband
(if) she has wronged him
Thou art no (longer) my husband,
(if) she has said to him,
she shall be thrown into the river.
A husband to his wife:
Thou art no (longer) my wife,
(if) he has said to her
he shall be made to pay half a mina of silver.
(if) the slave
he kills, mutilates,
ruins him by wounding him,
(if) the latter flees from the property
or falls ill713
his hand every day
half a measure of corn
shall weigh out (as compensation).714
The document which we have just translated forms a short but complete whole. On the same tablet, which was one of the last of a collection of bilingual documents of various kinds collated with a view to philological analysis, there was formerly another series of legal sentences, but owing to their mutilated state and the obscurity of the expression some of them cannot be translated. Two extracts will suffice to show the patriarchal constitution of society and a state of things in which property could be acquired by occupation, as a great part of it was uninhabited and consequently res nullius.
2 A married man may always settle an estate on his child,
without making him live there.
10 Of all that she has had enclosed,
the married woman shall be the owner.
Other sentences treat of the erection and ownership of places of worship.
2 In future a sanctuary on a private estate may be very lofty.
3 Of the sanctuary situated in his own high place the individual shall have possession.
6 The distinct property of the sanctuary the son shall inherit.
Another expresses in a few words the precept of filial respect, to which a penal sanction was given as we saw just now.
7 Thou shalt not disown thy father or thy mother.
Finally there is one which determines the validity of marriage by its consummation.
8 (An individual) has taken a wife715
and has not come near her716
he may change.717
All these legal arrangements bear the mark of their extreme antiquity and of the
incomplete social state to which they were adapted. But while they exhibit a
respect for woman not often found in a like condition of semi-barbarity, yet she
was certainly not regarded as the equal of her husband; he could easily get rid
of her by giving her pecuniary [p.385] compensation, whilst the woman could not
claim a divorce under pain of death. In the same way several passages of the
magic books show that the master had the right to take advantage of all his
female slaves, and they seem to consider it the greatest misfortune for a slave
not to have attracted the attention of her master, just as much so as for a free
woman of rank to have found no husband. But the free Accadian woman was not the
creature of her spouse; she had her own rights and her own fortune. Even under
the control of a husband she could possess personal property and take the
necessary steps to acquire it. If she disowned the child attributed to her, she
was only in the same position as the husband by the disavowal of his paternity.
But the most striking point was the importance attached to the mother in her
relations with her children, which was superior even to that of the father.
In the fragments of the Accadian law, the son who denied his father was sentenced to a simple fine; but he who denied his mother was to be banished both from land and sea. Amongst the ancient Finns, before their conversion to Christianity, the mother of a family took precedence of the father in the rites of domestic worship. This is a remarkable point of contact in such a short fragment, and that with reference to a subject itself characteristic enough to be regarded as an individual peculiarity of race in the constitution of the family. This peculiarity of the old Accadian law is so much the more worthy of attention, not only because we find nothing similar in the Semitic world, but because it is directly [p.386] opposed to the spirit of some posterior Babylonish institutions as revolting to morality as they were degrading to womankind, yet consecrated by religion, and as far as I can see of Kushite origin. I refer to the sacred prostitution which was imposed once at least in a lifetime upon all women, even those who were free, and the marriage of young girls under the form of a public auction, thus rendering it an act of mancipatio, which made the wife the property of her husband.718
Have we not discovered in the affinities now established amongst the Accadians and the Altaic tribes whose nationality is incontestable, sufficient proofs to allow us to pass from what seemed at first "improbable" in the fact of a Turanian nation's having been the primary occupant of Chaldea, and the inventor of a system of writing according with the genius of its language, to the great Chaldaic-Babylonian civilization?719
Sumir and Accad.
IT is a matter of great regret to me to find that I differ
from my learned master and friend M. Oppert on the subject of these two names,
but the reasons on which he bases his opinion do not commend themselves to my
judgment at all.720 It is, however, a question of secondary importance, and I only
return to it now because it cannot be ignored in such a work as the present, in
addition to which I wish to correct what I have already said with respect to
this subject on former occasions.721 I will not now speak with polemical
exactitude, but I want briefly to sum up the data which have been proved
indisputably, many of them founded on new documents recently brought to light to
settle debates. I dare say that this exposition will not as yet lead my readers
to form a decided opinion; there are many sides of the question about which we
are still in ignorance. But if I am not mistaken, the most [p.388] probable conclusion will be, that neither
M. Oppert nor myself were absolutely correct in our discussion upon the names
Sumir and Accad. I am now convinced that we digressed into subjects not cognate
to our subject, and started from a point which was not then sufficiently proved,
viz., the difference of race between Sumir and Accad. In proportion as
our studies advance, and light begins to dawn upon the fundamental data of the
question, it becomes, on the other hand, more probable that the two primitive
nations designated by this name were of the same race, and that the distinction
between them was entirely geographical. If that be the case, it matters little
whether we call the ante-Semitic or Turanian language of Chaldea, Sumirian or
Accadian, there is consistency in both names, they are equally correct and
equally incomplete; the only grounds we have for giving a preference to the
latter, are that this latter is generally used in science, and since it is not
inexact, there is nothing to be gained by changing it, and further also it is
consecrated by the usage of the Assyrians themselves.
I. The first point, which seems to me established beyond a doubt, is that the Assyrians themselves used the two terms Assur and Accad in opposition to each other, to express the linguistic dualism of the Semitic and Turanian idioms. We know that this clause appears at the end of a lexicographical tablet, in which the words of the two languages stand opposite to each other: ki pi duppi u lamadi labiruti—GABRI Assur u Akkad. Of this phrase "con- [p.389] formably with the tablets and ancient teaching of Assur and Accad," is evidently the meaning. The word GAB-RI is the only one doubtful. M. Oppert, whom I followed up to a certain point in this matter, considers it to be the plural of the Semitic gabru and translates gabru (גבר) Assur u Akkad "the masters of Assur and Accad." Even starting from this translation and accepting it as correct, the inference to be drawn from the passage is yet clear and incontestable. It does not prove, as the learned Professor supposes, an assimilation between the grammarians of Assur and Accad, but on the contrary, a fixed opposition corresponding with the opposition between the two languages facing each other in the document which finishes with this clause. Furthermore, I believe the translation to be incorrect. M. Schrader first pointed out,722 and M. Friedrich Delitzsch has since finally proved beyond all doubt,723 that GABRI is not a Semitic word written phonetically, but an allophonic word which must be written in the Assyrian as mahiru (plural mahiruti, in the passage we have quoted). The Accadian gabri is originally a compound verb, the original and etymological meaning of which is "to rise in opposition." Hence it is naturally the equivalent of the Assyrian verbs mahar and sanan, expressing ideas of opposition, rivalry, and comparison. The participle gabria, and by contraction simply gabri, means then substantively "rival," and adjectively in another acceptation "compared, assimilated." This confirms [p.390] the astronomical signification of the Accadian gabri. In such documents as these, it designates the star which rises on the horizon opposite to the spectator. Passing into the Assyrian, the word gave rise to gabratuv, "the apparition of the star upon the horizon." Thus in W. A. I., Vol. III, 63 verso, 1.33, after a list of the phases of the planet Venus during the twelve months of the year, divided into as many sections as there are months, comes: sanesrit kisruta gabratuv sa AN-NIN-SI-AN-NA GAB-RI Babili, "twelve sections, apparition of the planet Venus on the Babylonian horizon." In the same way in W. A. I., Vol. III, 64 verso, 1. 32. After another astronomical table, we read: ki pi IZ-LI-HU-Sl-UM GAB-RI Babili, "conformably with the manuscripts of the apparitions on the Babylonian horizon."
This meaning of GABRI, mahiru, once fairly established, so that we may no longer confuse it with the Semitic gabri, it remains that the only correct translation of dupi labiruti mahiruti is M. Schrader's, "the ancient tablets arranged in parallel columns," corresponding exactly with the order of the document at the end of which such a statement occurs.724 There is yet another thing to be added which completes the proof: the bilingual legal tablet of W. A. I., Vol. II., 10, has at the end these simple words GAB-RI Assur. If we translate with M. [p.391] Oppert, "the masters of Assyria," what could this strange note mean? It would have no sense at all. But let us read it more correctly as "opposite to the Assyrian," then everything is clear and natural; for we must mention that this tablet is one of that small number of tablets which are distinguished by having the Assyrian translation of the primitive Accadian text in a column opposite, instead of following the interlinear arrangement much more common in documents of this kind.
According to the old rendering the most that we could do would be to translate duppi mahiruti by "tablets compared to each other," instead of "tablets in parallel columns." This meaning seems to me the correct one in the final formula of W. A. I., Vol. III., 55, 2: ki pi duppi u IZ-LI-HU-SI labiruti GAB-RI (mahiruti) Assur Sumer u Athad. Here it is not only Accad, but Sumir and Accad which constitute the opposition to Assur. But this opposition seems to’ me to be entirely geographical, and designating Babylonia in relation to Assyria; I do not think we have any ground for concluding with M. Schrader725 that the Assyrians used indifferently "language of Sumir and Accad," or simply "language of Accad," to describe the old non-Semitic idiom. Indeed, the document in which this last formula occurs is not bilingual, but written exclusively in Assyrian. It is an astronomical table which may have been compiled from a comparison of Assyrian and Accadian documents, but the evidence of this is [p.392] not strong enough to warrant our determining its linguistic value by the final clause.
To return to the lexicographical tablet. Whether we translate it "conformably with the ancient tablets and documents of instruction of Assur and Accad compared together," or "conformably with the ancient tablets and documents of instruction of Assur and Accad in parallel columns," the conclusion must be the same as that to which M. Oppert's translation would lead us: the final formula refers to a geographical opposition, which cannot correspond to the linguistic opposition exhibited in the document. Either it is a question of parallel columns of Assyrian and Accadian, or else a comparison of the Assyrian and Accadian documents was necessary in order to compile a lexicon of the two languages. In either case the Assyrians used the term Accadian to signify the dialect which was not Assyrian. Therefore we follow their example in naming this dialect Accadian.
II. There now remains another question, viz., Is the duality of Sumir and Accad ethnic or merely geographical?
I am quite convinced that these two names were understood in a geographical sense as the north and south of Babylonia. The geographical character of the name Akkad is particularly certain: it had a double sense, one wide, the other limited.
In the commonest acceptation, Accad was the general designation of the whole, and it consisted of Babylonia and Chaldea, in fact all the southern provinces watered by the Euphrates and Tigris [p.393] from the frontier of Assyria to the Persian Gulf. When Accad had this meaning, the name of Assur was opposed to it as the second term of the parallelism,726 and it was the opposition between Babylonia and Assyria both understood in that wide sense.
But in a stricter sense the term Accad is confined, as in the case of Sumir and Accad, to a fixed portion of this vast geographical whole. When Assurbanipal speaks "of the spoil of the country of the Sumirs, of the country of the Accadians and of Gan-Dunyas,"727 it is evident he uses the two first expressions as names of provinces, since the third, Gan-Dunyas, as numerous examples bear witness, is a designation for the particular district of Babylon, called since the time of the Cissian dynasty the city of Kar-Dunyas. The book of Genesis (x. 10) restricts the sense of Accad still more, for it seemed to make it the name of a town, of which acceptation there is no sign in the magic texts.
We have now to examine into the position of Accad in the sense of a particular province. It is defined very exactly in the prism of Sennacherib,728 which describes the march of Elamite troops who had left their country to help the Babylonian insurgent Suzub. "They took," it says, "the road to Accad and came in the direction of Babylon as far as Suzub, the Chaldean king of Babylon," uruh Akkad isbatunuvva ana Babili tebuni adi Suzubi Kalduai sar Babili. The [p.394] province of Accad was, therefore, situated on the route of an army coming from Elam to Babylon, to the south of this town and Babylonia, so it must have been the same as Chaldea, the lower part of Mesopotamia. This is the conclusion to be drawn from the passages of the tablet referring to the ancient political relations between Assyria and Babylonia; in this tablet to which English scholars have given the name Synchronous History, the Persian Gulf is called "the sea which is above Accad," marrati sa elis Akkad;729 and we read further,730 that whilst a prince sat on the throne of Kar-Dunyas (Babylon), his rebellious brother fortified himself in the country of Accad. I think we may safely affirm that this geographical name, taken in the strictest sense, when it designates not the whole of Babylonia but one province in particular, is synonymous with Kaldu, which did not appear till much later, towards the ninth century before our era,731 and then gradually supplanted the old term in proportion as the tribe of Kaldu, which was at first very insignificant, increased in the region to which it finally gave its name, to the exclusion of any other designation. And at the time when this triumph was consummated, when the Sargons were governing Assyria, we find mention still made of Sumir and Accad as a relic of bygone times; the same geographical duality was expressed in a new way more [p.395] suited to a later state of things, by the parallelism and opposition of the two names Babili and Kaldu, Babylonia and Chaldea.732 In fact directly we take Accad geographically, and in the limited sense as defining the south of Chaldea, we must regard Sumir as representing the other division, the north.733 This refers us to an essential fact of the problem which I have already reiterated several times, and which M. Oppert combats in vain, namely the identity of Sumir with the Shinar of the Bible. שגער is certainly not a Semitic name, and it is impossible to find a satisfactory etymology for it in that family of languages. It is the Hebraic rendering of an Accadian name and the ע certainly replaces a g of the primitive form, as it appears in the appellation Lagamar, transcribed לעמר. This granted there is exactly the same difference between שגער and Sumir, as between the parallel forms dingir and dimer for the word "god," and Gingir and Gimir for a surname of the goddess Ishtar; they are [p.396] two forms of the same name, exhibiting a change (that of ng into m) peculiar to the Accadian, the existence of which in this language is incontestable.734 And the tradition of this fact was preserved amongst the Syrians, since we still read in Abu-l-Faradj,735 "Shinaar which is Samarrah." In the eleventh chapter of Genesis, Shinear, or Shinar, is used to designate expressly the plains around Babylon. It is used in the like manner also in the books of Isaiah (xi. 11) and Jeremiah (v. 11), where it certainly occurs as an obsolete name, but it is interesting to notice the meaning which Jewish tradition attached to it in their time. Both of these prophets applied the appellation of Shinar to Babylonia proper, and the Synagogue interpreted it in the same way, for in the Septuagint it is translated [Greek] and [Greek]; the same interpretation occurs in the work of the Targumim. There is therefore, an identity of geographical position as well as a close philological relationship between Sumir and Shinar, which confirms our proposed identification still more. In Genesis x. 10, we must necessarily understand "in the land of Shinar," as applying exclusively to Calneh (Yima, 10a), rightly assimilated in the Talmud to the town of Nipur, which really belonged to Babylonia and not to Chaldea. By placing "Accad and Calneh in the [p.397] land of Shinar" side by side, the Biblical passage represents the opposition of Accad and Sumir in the historical texts, and that very faithfully. The argument is so perfect that we may well question whether Accad was really always the name of a town in this place, as in the text which we now possess, whether the latter is not incomplete, and whether some words did not get lost when the tradition of this ancient geography began to fade. For my part I am inclined to think so, and would willingly suppose that the primitive text ran something like this:
"The beginning of his empire was Babel, Erech, Ur736 in the country of Accaci, and Cainch in the land of Shinar."
Sumir is therefore the same thing as Shinar, the plain of Babylonia proper,
whilst Accad in its limited sense is a more southern province, viz.,
Chaldea. But we must not go beyond this data. The fact which I admitted in
common with M. Oppert, but from which I drew an opposite inference to his, that
Sumir must have been the primitive name of Assyria was erroneous. It rested on
an incorrect reading, which has since been rectified both by Mr. Smith and
Friedrich Delitzsch. It is now plainly demonstrated that in the passage of the
lexicographical [p.398] tablets upon which this opinion was
founded, the original has Surippakituv instead of Sumerituv, and that the
Accadian MA-ZU, thus explained, has no connection with LIB-ZU, one of the
ideographic expressions of the name of the town of Assur.
III. These facts standing thus the reciprocal geographical position of Sumir and Accad seems to me, therefore, clearly defined. But these names really belonged to the people rather than to the provinces. This is proved by the fact that they almost always occur in the plural, Sumeri u Akkadi, when they are written phonetically, and even in the most ancient Semitic document that makes mention of them, the inscription of Hammuragas, in the Assyrian tongue, we find nisi Sumeriv u Akkadiv, "the men Sumirians and Accadians."737 We must examine the origin and derivation of the expression, in order to discover if a difference of race or situation was primitively implied.
One thing seems to me very palpable; that neither of these names was Semitic or derived from any root of the Assyrian idiom; they belonged to another language, the earlier non-Semitic and Turanian idiom. The name of Accad is the only one of the two which we should be likely at first sight to refer to a Semitic origin, by derivation from the roots גכד or אכד (as the general opinion ran when this word was only known through the medium of the Bible), and its Accadian character and meaning in this language is now most clearly understood. Akkad, as Mr. Smith, Prof. Sayce, and myself, have shown, is a [p.399] word of the Accadian language meaning "mountain," with the suffix u taken under the form akkadu, in the plural akkadi. In one lexicographical tablet we find akkad translated by matuv elituv, "high country." This word akkad is evidently related to the verbal root, aha, "to raise, heap up." The particular ideogram which expresses it (and which is itself formed by doubling that of the verb bur, "to raise, tumify, swell,") gives so good an idea of "mountain," that we find it sometimes used to designate Ararat in Armenia,738 in which use the Accadian reading would seem to have been tilla.739
The original meaning of Sumeri is more difficult to discover.
To do so, we must refer to the equivalent constantly substituted for Sumir and
Accad in the most ancient Accadian inscriptions. In my Etudes accadiennes, I disputed the parallelism between this expression
and that of Sumeri u Akkadi in the Assyrian; but a passage from a new
lexicographical tablet lately published by M. Friedrich Delitzsch,740 has proved
to me beyond a doubt that I was in error. The expression that I quoted occurs in
the title of the kings of the ancient Chaldean empire, ungal Kiengi ki Akkad,
and is the highest of all the titles applied to these monarchs; it implies a
complete possession of the whole of Chaldea and Babylonia, while kings who
governed one single town, like those of Uruk, did
not make use of it. M. Schrader741 proved that it must be translated "king
[p.400] of Kiengi with Accad,"
that is to say "Kiengi and Accad;" and indeed ki or kita, "with,"
which are essentially postpositions in the Accadian, are sometimes used as
conjunctions, like ileh in Turkish; kiengi is then the equivalent
of the "land of Sumer."
But kiengi or kingi, is a well known substantive of the Accadian language, which is translated into Assyrian by matuv, "country," in the lexicographical tablet.742 It has lost the final letters (as is so often the case in the Accadian743), and thus is an altered and contracted form of kingina, which is rendered elsewhere irituv "land;" and kingina itself is a compound, formed from ki, "land, country, place," and gina "existing, real, straight," in which the first n has no radical value; ng (which is one sound in the Accadian) should really be considered as a simple modification of the g placed between two similar vowels, a modification similar to one we see in the Accadian, when the Assyrian nagu, "district," is transformed into nanga, or ki-kala into kankal.744
Does kiengi, or kingi, whose meaning as a substantive is thus clear, apply to the country of Sumer, Babylonia proper, as being pre-eminently "the country"?
It is possible that M. Schrader may be right in his opinion. It seems to me though, that the opposition between Kiengi and Akkad, "the country" and "the mountain," implied rather the meaning of [p.401] "plain" in the first word, as in Assyrian, matu, "the country," is used in the sense of "plain," when it is opposed to sadu, "mountain." I think even that I have discovered the word kingi used in the sense of "plain," amongst a people speaking a language related to the Accadians, in the name of one of the provinces of Na’iri, kingi Istilenzakhar,745 "the plain of Istilenzakhar." An idea of flatness analogous to that of a plain would result etymologically from the presence of the syllable gina in the compound kingina, contracted into kingi, and would give it a different meaning from the simple ki.
To return to Sumeri. This name designated the inhabitants of the country Kiengi, as Akkadi did the inhabitants of the country called Akkad, "the mountain," whence we must infer an identity of meaning between sumeri = שגער and kiengi. Sumir is evidently a word formed by a suffix of derivation in r, other examples of which are now to be seen in the Accadian. But we do not yet know which was the earlier form, sumeri or sungin, and consequently whether the root was sum or sul both suppositions arc equally allowable from a philological point of view, the first would give the meaning "low country," the second "watered country." All this leads us to the same conclusion with respect to sumeri, as we came to in connection with kiengi, when it was opposed to Akkad: that it included the vast plain watered by the two great rivers in view of the high mountains, which bound it and tower above it on the eastern side. This [p.402] opinion is further confirmed by the unmistakeable traces, which we find in the geographical nomenclature of much later date, of a primitive extension of the name Sumer = שגער to the common valley of the Euphrates and the Tigris, from the source of the two rivers in the mountains of Armenia to their outlet in the Persian Gulf. In this vast extent of territory, which constitutes a clearly defined physical region, we find not only the Biblical Shinar, pre-eminently the plain, adjoining Babylon, but more to the north, between the Tigris and the Chaboras, the Singara of the classical writers,746 the Sindjar of Arabian geographers,747 with the chain of hills called by Ptolemy [Greek] which stretched from there to the Tigris, crossing the whole of western Assyria. The Egyptian monuments of the eighteenth dynasty mention frequently748 a country of Sinker as situated alongside that of Assur, whilst they place Akati (Accad) some way to the south as compared with Nineveh.749
IV. The names Sumirians and Accadians meant then originally "the people of the plain" and "the mountaineers." These names take us back to a time long anterior to any of which we possess records, to a time when the two nations bearing these names dwelt, one on the banks of the two [p.403] great rivers of Mesopotamia in the plain, the other amongst the eastern mountains, where, as we saw, some tribes called Chaldeans were to be found up to a very recent period. Later, a general migration took place which had not been historically recorded, and the place of abode and respective position of these two nations became changed without their undergoing any alteration of name, although the designations by which they were known no longer corresponded with the physical physiognomy of their then new resting places. This was often the case, however, with the names of nations which were given originally to mark some peculiarity of geographical position and were retained after an entire change of position, even when their etymological meaning was found to be quite at variance with the site occupied by the people who continued to use them or to whom they are even now still applied.
So although the Sumirians and Accadians retained the names which originally marked them as people of the plain and the mountain, both nations found themselves inhabitants of the plains bathed by the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris, the Sumirs in the north, in Babylonia, the Accadians in the south, in Chaldea; these mountaineers were thus the occupants of a country where there was not a single mountain to justify the use of their old title, which was continued, however, both from custom and tradition. And it is worthy of remark that the want of agreement, which resulted from the change of abode, between the meaning of the two names and the physical conditions of the countries henceforth [p.404] inhabited by the nations to whom they were applied, contributed much (as we have proved was the case) to give to these designations the character of names of nations, used almost exclusively in the plural. The memory of the correct and original meaning of the two Accadian words, sumer and akkad, was vivid enough to lead to the use of the expression mat Sumeri u mat Akkadi, "the country of the Sumirs and the country of the Accadians," in speaking of Babylonia and Chaldea and not Sumer u Akkad, which would have meant indeed "the plain and the mountain," and have been both absurd and a violation of common sense, whilst the phrase that they did use was quite allowable "the country of the people of the plain, and the country of the mountaineers," referring to the original conditions and the point of departure of the dwellers in the two countries. It seems that Akkadu or Akkad, in the singular, as the name of a country and not of a people, did not come into use until much later during the Assyrian epoch, when the Accadian had become a dead language and the tradition of the real meaning of the word was consequently quite lost. And even at that time, the royal titles adopted by the Sargons when they made themselves masters of Babylon ran sar Sumeri u Akkadi, "king of the Sumirians and the Accadians," not "king of Sumir and Accad." In my opinion, all this tends to dispel any ethnical difference between the Sumirians and the Accadians. As the two names belonged to the Accadian language, it appears very probable, looking at the facts in the new light now thrown [p.405] upon them, that they were of earlier date than the introduction of the Semitic or Kushito-Semitic element, that the two nations, whose respective geographical position they indicated, were two divisions of the non-Semitic or Turanian race, from whose language these names were taken. And when the Sumirians and Accadians had become the inhabitants of Babylonia and Chaldea, these two names continued to be used in this same sense after the introduction of the new ethnic element in either province; the distinction of race had nothing to do with it, the people of Babylonia, of whatever origin and language, were counted amongst the Sumirians, the people of Chaldea as Accadians.
If, as M. Schrader thinks, an example exists in which the Assyrians term the non-Semitic language of Chaldea as the language of the Sumirians and Accadians, the question would he definitely settled we need look for no distinction of race under these two names. Unfortunately as I mentioned above, this decisive proof is still wanting. But in its absence I think we may arrive at the same conclusion by an argument of another kind.
Now that an indigenous document has shown us clearly that the title of the ancient kings of Ur, whose Accadian (or Sumer-Accadian) origin was testified by their proper names, ungal Kiengi ki Akkad was equivalent to "kings of the Sumirians and Accadians," part of M. Oppert's reasoning assumes great importance and we must assent to it. "In their title these kings place the equivalent of Sumir before Accad, so we may conclude that the Surnirians [p.406] belonged to their race, for a sovereign does not generally call himself first king of a foreign race, he gives the priority to his own." But we cannot from this infer with the eminent philologist, that the Accadians represent the element speaking the Semitic language, since we noticed that the Assyrians compared Accad to Assur, when they wished to show the opposition between the non-Semitic and Semitic idioms. The only conclusion possible in the face of these facts, is that the Sumirians and Accadians belonged to the same race, that they were two divisions of the same blood; that it was no supposition of any ethnic distinction which prompted the awarding of the first rank, the place of honour to the Sumirians, but rather the peculiarly sacred character of their country, the important place taken by the plain of Shinar and Babylon, the principal sacred town in religious tradition.
V. Still the fact on which M. Oppert based his Sumirian theory remains. It raises a very difficult problem, which must I fear yet be left undecided. But the meaning of the fact seems to me too uncertain in itself, and too susceptible of diverse interpretations, for any good critic to make it the pivot on which all researches connected with the respective characters of the Sumirians and Accadians should turn.
In the inscriptions of the Assyrian period, the phonetic expression of the name of the Sumirians and the allophonic sign furnished by the old Accadian word kiengi, are frequently replaced by a complex [p.407] ideographic group [cuneiform] of which we have as yet found no earlier example.
The first sign of this complex group has the sure and only ideographic meaning, "language," therefore, the use of it would seem to indicate a difference of language between the Sumers and Accadians. This is the fact, and it is well to remark, that M. Oppert and I have been able with equal probability to make it the basis of two opposite theories.
The ideographic group, says M. Oppert, meant "language of worship," so it proves that the Sumirians were the original possessors of the non-Semitic idiom, which long remained as sacred to the Assyrians as it was to the Babylonians.
This reasoning is however by no means sure and unassailable, for two objections can be proved against it which seem instantly to destroy it.
1st. Nothing is less certain than the explanation and analysis of complex ideographic groups, when they are unaccompanied by any hints from the Assyrian grammarians themselves. Much prudence and forethought is necessary to prevent the student from being led away by his imagination, and an interpretation of this kind can rarely be taken as the foundation of an argument because it is so likely to be incorrect. Thus with regard to the case in point, no one can doubt that the first sign means "language," but the ideographic values ascribed to the second are various enough to make the meaning of the whole uncertain; three different translations at any rate are equally probable. That [p.408] which runs "language of worship," is possible I own, but I consider it one of the least probable, for it ascribes to the second character a secondary and derivative sense which it seldom has, and which is only used as an extension of that of "service."
2nd. Even if this meaning were proved to be correct it does not follow that because the ideographic group was invented by the Assyrians, it must necessarily apply to the Turanian language, which we call Accadian. Indeed, it is far from clear that the Assyrians used this language as a "language of worship," that is, as a liturgical language. It had this character in Babylon, but I think we are quite at liberty to doubt whether it was ever so accepted in Assyria. The Assyrians searched out and studied the old Accadian books as sacred books, but though this was an indispensable foundation of all sacerdotal studies, it does not prove that their liturgy was in the Accadian. Such religious hymns as we possess in the Accadian tongue are directly connected with the worship of the principal sanctuaries of Babylonia and Chaldea; and we see that they were used in the ceremonies of the particular sanctuary which they mention. There is not a single one that seems to have been connected with the Assyrian temples. On the contrary, we now possess enough fragments of the liturgy of the Assyrians, properly so-called, both hymns and prayers, written only in Assyrian, to infer that in this country the "language of worship," the liturgical language, was the national language, and not the Accadian, in [p.409] spite of the importance they continued to attach to the Accadian books as a means of religious instruction.
In my Etudes Accadiennes I thought I discovered in this same ideographic group the elements of an argument exactly contrary to that urged by M. Oppert. I observed, and so far I hold to my opinion, that the most common meaning of the second sign used in this group, [cuneiform], would give "ordinary language," lingua familiaris, lingua domestica, instead of "language of worship;" and I therefore came to the conclusion that the Assyrians had invented this group in order to designate the Sumirians as the people who spoke the same language as themselves, in contrast with the Accadians. This would not be entirely opposed to my new opinion, that the names Sumirians and Accadians were originally applied to two divisions of the same non-Semitic race. Indeed the appellation of Sumirians was certainly afterwards used to designate the inhabitants of Babylonia as opposed to those of Chaldea, but without any definite ethnic idea being attached to it. Now it is historically certain, that the Turanian-Accadian element which was gradually supplanted by the Semitic-Assyrian, lost its supremacy and even died out altogether, much more quickly in the north than in the south, in Babylonia than in Chaldea. At the time that their national existence began and their external power arose, the Assyrians would have been quite right in considering the Sumirians, understood in the sense of inhabitants of Babylonia, as a population speaking the same language as themselves; but that teaches us nothing [p.410] more about the ethnic value of this word than the use of the term lingua Gallica in modern Latin, to designate French, teaches us about the ancient language of the Gauls.750 It would even be natural to think that they had the same reason for adopting the term "language of Accad," to designate the non-Semitic language which must have belonged to the primitive Sumirians as well as the Accadians, the country of Accad in its strictest sense being the place where it remained longest and where they saw it still a living language.
I would not, however, venture to assert that this interpretation, this way of looking at things, is perfectly certain; indeed that is a line I have never [p.411] adopted.751 I only suggest it as at least as possible a conclusion as M. Oppert's, or perhaps as even more probable. My chief reason for repeating it is to show how uncertain in the question of Sumir and Accad any argument is which rests on one particular interpretation of an ideographic expression of doubtful meaning, capable of many explanations and all of equal value, and how imprudent it is therefore to build up a theory about the ethnic character of these nations on such a fragile basis. And owing to the number of ideographic meanings attached to the second character of the group under consideration, a third explanation might be propounded with quite as much show of reason as the two that have already been given, and like them founded on unquestionable instances of the use of the character in this sense; the translation in this case would be "language of those sitting"752 (no doubt in contradistinction to the nomadic tribes), which would suggest an entirely new train of thought.
Let us suppose for a minute what is not possible, without considering that our point of view would be completely changed, and imagine that we could prove from some example as yet unknown to us (which is by no means impossible), that the complex ideographic expression [cuneiform] is not of Assyrian origin, but attributable to some earlier date. Then the difference of language which it seems to imply between the Sumirians and Accadians, would become [p.412] a simple variation of the same, a purely dialective difference, instead of the regular opposition existing between a Semitic and Turanian language. That a variety of dialects of the ante-Semitic language did exist in the lower basin of the Tigris and Euphrates no one can doubt. The lexicographical tablets bear witness to the fact. They often contain certain words belonging to a dialect closely related to the Accadian, properly so-called, but differing from it in certain phonetic peculiarities, one of the most striking of which is the tendency to substitute m for b.753 The words borrowed from this dialect are always distinguished from the pure Accadian words by the addition of an ideographic expression which shows them to be of some peculiar idiom, [cuneiform]; this expression seems to mean "language of women" (unless it means something quite different, which is still doubtful, for we are sure of the translation "language"), but in any case we should not omit to notice the close connection between it and the group used to designate the Sumirians in the Assyrian texts.
I must add that an inscription of Sennacherib's mentions in Babylonia, as side by side with the country of the Sumirians, designated by the expression [cuneiform], not the country of the Accadians, or at least not one of the expressions generally used for it, but a country designated by an ideographic group so formed as to be a counterpart to it, and giving also an idea of language, [cuneiform].754
What is the
meaning of this last expression? It [p.413] would be bold to pretend
to solve it. But that is one proof more of the obscurity in which these
indications touching a diversity of language between certain tribes of Babylonia
or Chaldea are still wrapped, and showing how dangerous it is to isolate one and
draw from it inferences which are by no means indisputable.
The ideographic expression for the name of Sumirians, in the inscriptions of the Assyrian kings, suggests then a problem which is not yet resolved, and which it is not possible to resolve in the present state of the science; it must stand aside until we can obtain the necessary proofs from new documents. I repeat that the answer to the question is not to be found in an ideographic expression of doubtful meaning, which has been interpreted in two opposite ways and might be interpreted differently again; it needs other data like those we have been trying to bring forward.
The reader will perhaps think that the use of these data has not led me to any certain result, and that I now speak doubtfully on a subject on which I was formerly sure, and on which M. Oppert continues to be quite certain, though taking a view diametrically opposed to mine. But in science it is a step gained to admit that we are no longer certain on a point which in a hasty moment we were too ready to suppose was incontestable. Besides, amidst all the uncertainty which still exists there are two points which become daily clearer: the legitimacy of the name Accadian language, for which we have a precedent in the custom of the Assyrians, although [p.414] it is probable that this language was not peculiar to the Accadians, at least not originally; the increasing probability that the names Sumirians and Accadians did not express the distinction between the Semitic or Kushito-Semitic race and the Turanian or Altaic race.
This latter point now renders useless all discussions about the choice between the appellations Sumerian or Accadian for the idiom which must have belonged both to the Sumirians and Accadians.
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