Debate between Bird and Fish
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- In those ancient days, when the good destinies had been decreed, and after An and Enlil had set up the divine rules of heaven and earth, then ... the lord of broad wisdom, Enki, the master of destinies, ... founded dwelling places; he took in his hand waters to encourage and create good seed; he laid out side by side the Tigris and the Euphrates, and caused them to bring water from the mountains; he scoured out the smaller streams, and positioned the other watercourses. ... Enki made spacious sheepfolds and cattle-pens, and provided shepherds and herdsmen; he founded cities and settlements throughout the earth, and made the black-headed multiply. He provided them with a king as shepherd, elevating him to sovereignty over them; the king rose as the daylight over the foreign countries.
- Enki knit together the marshlands, making young and old reeds grow there; he made birds and fish teem in the pools and lagoons; ... he filled the reed-beds and marshes with Fish and Bird, indicated to them their positions and instructed them in their divine rules.
- Fish insulted Bird on that day. But Bird, with multicoloured plumage and multicoloured face, was convinced of its own beauty, and did not take to heart the insults Fish had cast at it. As if it was a nursemaid singing a lullaby, it paid no attention to the speech, despite the ugly words that were being uttered.
- Father Enki be praised!
- To strut about in the E-kur is a glory for Bird, as its singing is sweet. … It shall utter its cries in the temple of the great gods. The Anuna gods rejoice at its voice. It is suitable for banquets in the great dining hall of the gods.
- How has your heart become so arrogant, while you yourself are so lowly? … In the great marshes and the wide lagoons, I am your persecuting demon. You cannot eat the sweet plants there, as my voice harasses you. You cannot travel with confidence in the river, as my storm-cloud covers you. … How do you not recognise my superiority from this? Bow your neck to the ground!
- To Fish
- Strutting about in the royal palace is my glory.
- You utter fool! Dumb, muddle-headed Fish! … Swine, rascal, gorging yourself upon your own excrement, you freak!
- To Fish
- Fish, you kindled fire against me, you planted henbane. In your stupidity you caused devastation; you have spattered your hands with blood! Your arrogant heart will destroy itself by its own deeds!
- I am of first-class seed, and my young are first-born young!
- Bird, you are shameless: you fill the courtyard with your droppings.
- Your squawking is to no profit; what are you flapping about? With your ugly voice you frighten the night; no one can sleep soundly. Bird, get out of the marshes! Get this noise of yours off my back! Go out of here into a hole on the rubbish heap: that suits you!
- Bird, you have not examined the question of my greatness; you have not taken due account of my nature. You could not understand my weakness and my strength; yet you spoke inflammatory words. Once you have really looked into my achievements, you will be greatly humbled.
- I am Fish. I am responsibly charged with providing abundance for the pure shrines. For the great offerings at the lustrous E-kur, I stand proudly with head raised high!
- Bird, whatever great deeds you may have achieved, I will teach you their pretentiousness. I shall hand back to you in your turn your haughtiness and mendacious speech.
- Enki, our judge and adjudicator.