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I had reached and passed the allotted time of life;
Misery had increased, justice was gone,
I cried unto my god, but he did not show me his countenance; I prayed to my goddess, but she did not raise her head.
The diviner-priest could not determine the future by an inspec
The necromancer did not through an offering justify my suit, The zakiku-priest I appealed to, but he revealed nothing,
The chief exorciser did not by (his) rites release me from the ban.
The like of this had never been seen;
Whithersoever I turned, trouble was in pursuit.
As though I had not always set aside the portion for the god, And had not invoked the goddess at the meal,
Had not bowed my face, and brought my tribute,
As though I were one in whose mouth supplication and prayer was not constant,
I taught my country to guard the name of the god,
To honor the name of the goddess I accustomed my people.
I thought that such things were pleasing to a god.
Despite his devotion, he is smitten with disease and indulges in gloomy thoughts, despairs of pleasing the gods, recounts his sufferings, and tells how the demons have laid him low:
An evil demon has come out of his (lair);
From yellowish, the sickness became white.
It struck my neck and crushed my back,
It bent my high stature like a poplar;
Like a plant of the marsh, I was uprooted, thrown on my back. Food became bitter and putrid,
The malady dragged on its course.
I took to my bed, unable to leave the couch.
The house became my prison;
As fetters for my body, my hands were powerless,
As pinions for my person, my feet were stretched out,
The disease of my joints baffled the chief exorciser,
my omens were obscure to the diviner,
The exorciser could not interpret the character of my disease, And the limit of my malady the diviner could not fix.
No god came to my aid, taking me by the hand,
No goddess had compassion for me, coming to my side.
Though not yet dead, the lamentation was over.
The people of my land had already said "alas" over me.
As the joyful tidings were announced to him his liver rejoiced,
Resting under the protection of their deity would be in distress.
Another tablet continues the plaint and passes on to an account of a dream sent to the sufferer in which Ur-Bau, as a "strong hero decked with a crown," appears, bringing a message from Marduk that the patient will be released from his sufferings.
He sent a mighty storm to the foundation of heaven,
To the depths of the earth he drove it,
He drove back the evil demon into the abyss.
The nameless Utukku he drove into his mountain house.
He confounded Labartu, forcing him back into the mountain.
On the tide of the sea he swept away the ague.
He tore out the root of my disease like a plant.
My ears which had been closed and bolted as those of a deaf
He removed their deafness and opened their hearing.
My nose which through the force of the fever was choked up,
He healed the hurt so that I could breathe again.
My lips which had been closed through exhausted strength,
My entire body he restored,
He wiped away the blemish, making it resplendent,
On the banks of the stream where judgment is held over men
The patient then closes with the advice never to despair.
Let him who sins against E-sagila, let him learn from me, Into the jaw of the lion, about to devour me, Marduk inserted a bit.
Marduk has seized the snare (?) of my pursuer, has encompassed his lair.61
PART II: THE HEALING DEITIES
DURING the many centuries of the existence of these great Empires of Mesopotamia, many changes occurred in the status, rank, and influence of their various divinities, and there appears to have been a strong tendency toward centralization and the concentration of religious control in the hands of a few great gods, particularly in respect to political affairs. The functions of deity as they pertained to personal relations with the people, at least so far as they may now be determined, were of a general, rather than of a specialized, character; the particular traits and powers that characterize the healer are recognized in but few, and the success of such divinities in the exercise of their curative aspects caused them to be known as 'great physicians.' Others exercised their therapeutic powers as a minor function, and still others are mentioned in the incantation-texts in a manner that suggests the lower and dependent rank of attendants and 61 Jastrow, Civilization, pp. 477-483.
aids to the greater gods. For the present, the list of therapeutic divinities must remain indefinite and imperfect, and the few here named are mentioned in the texts in connection with healing, although not all of them may be classed as strictly healing gods. Those who appear most prominently are:
ALLATU ('Goddess'), or Ereshkigal ('Queen of the Lower World'), the chief goddess of the Underworld and the consort of Nergal, was also a healing deity in a limited sense, being especially mentioned in connection with the cure of fevers. In the nether-world she was reputed to have a spring ('the water of life'), the waters of which did away with pain and brought the dead to life."2
EA ('House of Water'), the third member of the first triad of cosmic gods and one of the chief deities of the Babylonian pantheon, was associated with all the myths of the Babylonian cosmogony; and in the division of the Universe with the divinities Anu and Enlil, he became the 'King of the Watery Deep,' the god of the Persian Gulf, of the ocean, rivers, and springs, and of all waters. Ea appears as a syncretism resulting from his identification with one of the oldest and most respected Sumerian deities, Enki, 'lord of the land,' who, as a 'mountain
62 Jastrow, op. cit., p. 280; Zimmern, in ERE ii, 316; Neuberger und Pagel, Handbuch der Geschichte der Medicin, i, 71.