Blood on the Wind and the Tablet of Destinies Intertextuality in Anzû, Enūma eliš, and Erra and Išum

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Selena Wisnom



Enūma eliš and Erra and Išum are richly intertextual poems that both make sophisticated allusions to Anzû. Both do so in competitive ways: Enūma eliš reshapes earlier motifs towards its goal of elevating Marduk and Babylon over the gods and cities that came before them, while Erra and Išum uses allusions to undermine the image of Marduk that Enūma eliš creates. Tiʼāmtu’s blood carried on the wind to announce Marduk’s victory and the tablet of destinies which Tiʼāmtu fastens to Qingu’s chest are two well-known examples of borrowings from Anzû in Enūma eliš. This article traces them through all three poems and shows how they are transformed in each. In the case of Enūma eliš the way that the poem deploys these allusions has previously been called clumsy because they stand out and do not appear to fit seamlessly into the narrative. Yet a closer analysis reveals that they have been much better integrated than is usually recognized, and that their subtleties make important contributions to the program of Marduk supplanting Ninurta. In Erra and Išum the chain becomes ever more complex: the motifs refer back both to their original contexts in Anzû and to their occurrences in Enūma eliš, implying a self-conscious awareness and exploitation of techniques used by earlier poets.

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