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Re: "plumed" serpents (LONG)
My references are not quite what they were 15 years ago when I was in
school, but I've done some tracking down.
I had a copy of Hogarth's book when it came out, but I wasn't pleased
with it so I gave it away.
Yes, some researchers have described Tiamat as a dragon, capable of
breathing fire and so on.
Here at: http://sorrel.humboldt.edu/~geog309i/ideas/dragons/t&m.html
is a generalisation of the Babylonian legend of creation.
TEXT:: In this story it is said that before the time of the gods and
the world there was nothing but a waste of chaotic waters ruled by Apsu
and Tiamat, a dragon-like creature. As time passed gods were created in
hopes of bringing order to this chaos. One of the gods, Ea, slay Apsu,
thus making Tiamat and her brood of monsters mad at the gods. Tiamat
waged war against Ea and the other gods and was successful in stifling
their efforts until Marduk was born. Marduk was the strongest and the
wisest of the gods and was elected to deal with Tiamat once and for all.
Upon summoning the powers of all of the other gods, Marduk went to war
Tiamat was no match for Marduk and all of his powers. Marduk caught her
in his net and when she opened her mouth to breath fire at him, he let
loose the four winds which filled her up rendering her defenseless.
Marduk then speared her with a lightning bolt, split her in two and
raised half of her body to create the sky and with the other half
created the earth.
However.......it is a BROAD generalisation-those weedy Victorians did a
LOT of editing. And NOT accurate in the details. Broad generalisations
like this is probably what Hogarth based his work of fiction on, not on
At this website is a slide from a lecture on ancient art with a
Babylonian carving of Marduk and a dragon-monster, possibly Tiamat
herself or one of her monsters. Note the things on the head are ears,
and there are no wings whatsoever. In the long text of the epic she
has an army of demons and monsters.
Here is an excerpt from the The Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ version
TEXT: Tiamat -
Primeval Chaos, bearer of the skies and the earth, mother of Lahmu,
Lahamu, Anshar, and Kishar. The clamor of the younger gods disturbed
her, but she continued to indulge them. When Apsu and Mummu suggested
that they kill the younger gods, she grew furious, calmed down and
rejected the plan. Her restless subservient gods goaded her into action
after Apsu is slain. They prepared to wage war against the other gods.
As Mother Hubur, the underworld river, who fashions all things, she bore
giant snakes with venom for blood, and cloaked dragons with a godlike
radiance yet with a terrible visage, for the war.
She rallied a horned serpent, a mushussu-dragon, a lahmu-hero, a
ugallu-demon, a rabid dog, a scorpion-man, umu-demons, a fish-man, a
bull-man, and eleven others underneath her champion, Qingu. She gave
Qingu the Tablet of Destinies to facilitate his command and attack.
Marduk came with his host to attack her. Qingu's strategy initially
confuses him, and Tiamat tried to enspell him, hurling jibes at him. She
was rebuffed and incited into single combat with Marduk. She continued
to cast her spell and Marduk nets her, and throws a wind at her. She
tried to swallow it and was undone - distended, shot, sliced in two and
cut in the heart. Her crushed skull heralded her death, and half of her
skin was used to roof up the sky. Her eyes became the sources of the
Tigris and Euphrates rivers. :END TEXT:
Now-in one of my art history texts I managed to scrounge up,
-THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST vol 1 an anthology of texts and pictures-
-edited by James Pritchard, 1956, Princeton University Press
is an actual translation of the creation mythos mentioned above, not a
generalization. I won't go quoting the entire passage dealing with
Tiamat and her remains as it goes on for 10 pages but....
1- Tiamat is a goddess of the primordial waters, she is a sea monster,
not a land creature at all. Marduk has a net made to capture her. She
has 4 limbs and scales (like a fish), has no wings, and does not look
birdy in the least.
2- it isn't Tiamat throwing flame around, it's Marduk
"In front of him he set the lightning, With a blazing flame he
filled his body."
3- and she tries to eat him just before he does her in.
"When Taimat opened her mouth to consume him, He drove in the East
Wind that she close not her lips, As the fierce winds charged her belly,
her body was distended and her mouth was wide open, He released the
arrow, it tore her belly, It cut through her insides, splitting the
heart. He cast down her carcass to stand upon it."
Now those wacky babyloninas LIKED monsters, don't get me wrong.
Depicted in tiles on the Ishtar gate of Nebuchadnezzar II on the city of
Babylon itself is a 4 legged beast with no wings at all, again possibly
representing Tiamat or one of her mosnters.
Typhon, on the other hand was a really rad multi-headed dragon,
sometimes he's mentioned with wings all over his body, sometimes with
TEXT: Typhon was the son of the earth goddess, Gaia. He had a
snake's tail and a hundred snake-like heads with flashing eyes and black
tongues. Each head had a terrible voice. One boomed with the voice of a
roaring god. Another snarled and foamed like a rabid dog. One bellowed
like an enraged bull and another had an ear-splitting whistle. Thick
bristles covered Typhon's heads and faces, and snakes sprouted from his
thighs. His body was covered with revolting feathers. As if he did not
look frightening enough, this monster was also as tall as a mountain. At
the mere sight of Typhon, the gods fled. <snip> But every time Typhon
tried to wriggle free, there was an earthquake. And his fiery breath
still erupts as lava out of Mount Etna. :END TEXT:
or if you prefer pictures with your text:
TEXT: When the gods had overcome the giants, Earth, still more
enraged, had intercourse with Tartarus and
brought forth Typhon in Cilicia, a hybrid between man and beast. In
size and strength he surpassed all
the offspring of Earth. As far as the thighs he was of human shape and
of such prodigious bulk that he
out-topped all the mountains, and his head often brushed the stars. One
of his hands reached out to
the west and the other to the east, and from them projected a hundred
dragons' heads. From the
thighs downward he had huge coils of vipers, which when drawn out,
reached to his very head and
emitted a loud hissing. His body was all winged: unkempt hair streamed
on the wind from his head and
cheeks; and fire flashed from his eyes. :END TEXT:
I think Typhos is a fine old dragon, but with your original supposition
of whether or not he was based on fossil finds of dinosaurs with feather
integments, well, perhaps. I think, IMHO that he was a little large.
> My reference that inspired my letter is Hogarth, Peter J. Dragons, "A Jonathan
> James Book." Toronto, 1980.
> It has a plethera of plumed dragons. Included in it is the original Babylonian
> Tiamat and the original ancient Greek Typhon, both of which are feathered
> reptilian dragons, Tiamat being the most birdy.
> Hope this helps.
> Have a nice day!