Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tiamat the Dragon

One of the most ancient stories that survives to the present comes from the Babylonian creation myth, the Enuma Elish. This tells the tale of Tiamat the Dragon and Marduk the Hero.

"In the beginning there was nothing. Total blackness. Creatures emerged from the ether and roamed the dark universe. There existed a huge she-dragon named Tiamat who was 7 miles long from head to tail and ruled the darkness. She had a mob of other monsters who carried out her bidding and kept everyone in constant terror.

"There was a god named Marduk who decided to stand up to Tiamat and the monsters. Marduk had a giant net, a bow, and arrows. He was said to be able to control the seven winds and feared no monster. Marduk made it his quest to defeat Tiamat and free the fledgling world from her tyranny. When Marduk approached Tiamat, the mighty dragon towered over him. 'You dare to challenge me, little man,' she croaked. With barely a thought Tiamat snatched Marduk up in her right claw and brought him close to her fire-breathing snout. Marduk was not afraid. In fact, everything was going according to plan. He threw out the net which was carried by the seven winds to encircle the dragon's body. This slightly impressed Tiamat but all she said was, 'You'll make a nice appetizer after all.'
"She then opened up her mile-wide jaws and was about to devour Marduk when he sent the seven winds right down her throat. The winds puffed her up like a balloon while the net held her down. Then Marduk notched an arrow to his bow and let one fly down her open mouth, past her sharp fangs, through her long esophagus, and 'Thunk!' smack dab into her heart.
"Tiamat was dead. Marduk took her body and cut it in two parts. One half he threw upward to become the heavens, the other half became the Earth. He rounded up the monsters and threw them into the sky to become the stars around the once-mighty Tiamat who you can still see today in the constellation Draco."