Dragon have a large influence on the culture of many places, appearing with prominence in the east as symbols of luck and fortune, and in the west we have the flag of Wales, which displays a large red dragon as the countries symbol. And dragons are not without their own creations myths, influencing the world from an early age.

The most famous creation myth is the Babylonian tale of Tiamat, the primordial dragon of chaos.

tumblr_mgrqaqKDhy1rrohoto1_500She was the first dragon, the daughter of chaos, personification of salt water in the primordial sea that existed before the earth and the sky. With Apsu, the personification of fresh water, she mingled, and between them they created the first of the gods, the gods of silt, mist, rivers, and they in turn formed new gods, grandchildren of Tiamat and Apsu.

The descendants became an unruly crowd, loud and noisy, and intent on creating order from the primordial chaos which Tiamat and Apsu embodied. In his frustration at the gods, an inability to reside peacefully in the primordial chaos, Apsu went to Tiamat and proposed that he slay their offspring, so that they could return to peace. Tiamat did not agree with slaying their descendants, but after leaving her presence, Apsu resolved that he would slay their kin anyway.

Somehow, the young gods heard of this plan against them, and all grew fearful, except for Ea, the cleverest of all the gods, who hatched a scheme. In the dead of night, when Apsu was sleeping, he stole upon him, casting a spell on Apsu to steal the crown from his head, and without it’s protection, he was able to slay his ancestor.

When Tiamt heard of Apsu murder, she flew into a rage, the likes of which had never been seen before, and created 11 more dragons, the most fiercesome beasts imaginable, to be her army, and at the head of them she placed the fiercest of all, Kingu, who she endowed with magical powers.

Even clever Ea was at a loss, and with the other young gods, they turned to Mardu, god of rain and storms, to champion them as the strongest, promising to make him supreme ruler of the universe if he will take up the fight. After being crowned, he agrees.

normal_Marduk_battles_with_TiamatWith lightning, bow and club, he went in search of Kingu’s army, and when he found them, he used his mastery over storms to push them away, so that Tiamat was left on her own to face him. The battle was long and fierce, but when Tiamat opened her mouth to breath her deadly fire over him, Marduk summoned a wind that forced her mouth to stay open, and when she could not close it, he shot an arrow down her throat, which split her heart in two and killed her.

The dragon were defeated, and Marduk took his club and split Tiamat’s body in two. Half of the body he made into the sky and the heavens, placing the stars and the moon and a place for the gods to reside there. The other half he turned into the mountains and the land, and place it over the remains of Apsu, so that the freshwater welled up to create springs. Her eyes he turned into the first rivers, Tigirs and Euphrates, and with them he was able to make the forests and the flowers, pastures and fields, and the first cows, pigs and sheep to farm.

Marduk set the other gods to work in the fields for him, but they soon complained of the hard work and rebelled against this labour by burning their tools. Marduk, however, saw a solution, and sought Ea’s advice, who agreed that it was a good plan. He had Kingu, Tiamat’s general, brought out from his imprisonment, and slew him upon the new earth that he had created. Then, with the help of the creation goddess Nintu, they created the first human out of Kingu’s remains. To the human he then gave the tasks of labour that the gods had been doing, mainting the fields and the river and raising the cattle, and ensuring that the celebrate the work of the gods and this good earth that they had been given.