Marduk, Babylonian God

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson we explore the myths and importance of the ancient Babylonian god Marduk. Marduk's importance to the Babylonians was so great it may have also influenced modern culture and religion.

Patrons and Symbols

When you think about the city in which you grew up, who and what comes to mind? For me, growing up in the Detroit area, my city reminds me of the boxer Joe Louis; the father of the assembly line, Henry Ford; and the Temptations. These people have come to signify Detroit for me, and Detroit has embraced them; car-related symbols are everywhere in Detroit, and the statue, Joe Louis 'The Fist,' is still one of the more iconic symbols of my city. It is likewise in Europe, only with Christian deities. Older cities often have patron saints: both Barcelona and all of England recognize St. George, and Paris claims both St. Geneviève and St. Denis. The practice of patron deities stretches back to the beginnings of civilization. In the ancient Mesopotamian kingdom of Babylonia, the people worshipped Marduk as their creator and protector.

Who Was Marduk?

Marduk was the Babylonian god of creation. According to the ancient Babylonian epic poem, the Enuma Elish, Marduk was originally one of many deities who lorded over the earth before humankind's arrival. Marduk, who at the time controlled only thunderstorms, was appointed by the other gods to battle Tiamat, the salt-water goddess of chaos, who was planning on destroying the other gods. After Marduk defeated her army and slayed Tiamat, he was crowned as supreme ruler of all the gods.

Importance of Marduk

The myth surrounding Marduk was around for several centuries before he gained the status as patron god of Babylon. His importance reached its height in Babylon during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar I, around 1100 B.C. Marduk was fervently worshiped in the city and the surrounding countryside. During the Babylonian new year celebration, huge celebrations and festivals took place throughout the city at the temples and ziggurats devoted to Marduk. Considered the savior of the Babylonian people, Marduk is positively portrayed in many works of literature and prayer which survive from the period.

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