Mesopotamian Myth
The Epic of Adapa
and Atrahasis
Mr. Henderson
Myth of Adapa
• Adapa is a temple priest in service of Ea.
• The first tablet is damaged but it seems that
during a fishing trip, the South Wind hinders
Adapa’s efforts.
• Adapa threatens to break the the South Wind’s
wing. Here the texts cuts off for a bit.
• After the ga, the god Anu has noticed that the
south wind hasn’t blown for seven days and asks
the reason.
Myth of Adapa
• Anu demand’s Adapa’s presence, but the god
Ea warns him not to eat or drink anything
given to him, saying Anu will try to feed him
“the bread and water of death”.
• Once in Anu’s presence, Adapa explains that
the South Winds blew into a storm and
marooned him.
• Other gods speak in Adapa’s favor so Anu
decided to spare Adapa.
Myth of Adapa
• Anu instead offers Adapa “the bread and
water of life” in an offer of immortality.
• But Adapa, remembering the words of Ea,
declines the offer and inadvertently loses his
chance at immortality.
• And here the rest of the tablet is too badly
damaged to read.
• We don’t know whether either Anu or Ea,
were attempting to trick Adapa or not.
Theme of the Adapa Myth
• Shares a theme with the Gilgamesh myth in that the
hero has a chance for, but ultimately loses, a gift of
eternal life.
• Another tablet, separate from this myth, refers to
Adapa as one of seven ancient sages, revered for his
wisdom, so perhaps it was a trick by Anu that Adapa
saw through.
• Or perhaps his wisdom could just be a comment on
how obidient he was to Ea’s advice, regardless of
what it cost him.
Adapa and Anu in Art
Myth of Atrahasis
• Early flood story, in which mankind is created
by the goddess Belet-ili at the command of
Enlil, to ease the workload of the gods.
• Soon however the population grows
exceedingly large and the gods grow worried
and decide to cut their numbers.
• Enlil sends plague and famine, but the grow of
mankind continues.
Myth of Atrahasis
• Eventually the gods decide to send a flood so
they can wipe out mankind and start over.
• The flood is sent… and then the text breaks
• After a considerable break, the text resumes
and a mortal named Atrahasis has survived.
• The god Enki takes credit for warning
Myth of Atrahasis
• Atrahasis, is named as a counselor to the Igigi.
• The gods decide to put a curb on mankind’s
reproduction, female fertility is given a
• The myth ends with a hymn singing the praise
of Atrahasis.
• In another tablet Atrahasis is referred to as the
father of Ut-napishtim, the flood survivor in
the Gilgamesh epic.
Themes of the Atrahasis Myth
• The theme of a world flood is seen here, as
well as in the Gilgamesh myth.
• This idea of a world flood also exists in other
cultures: Greek, Egyptian, and more.
• The theme of the gods being bothered by
noise is seen here, and in the Enuma Elish.
• The gods differing opinion on whether to save
or destroy man is also a cross-cultural theme.
Atrahasis Tablet

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