Mr. L.W. King, from whose scholarly
Seven Tablets of Creation
these lines arequoted, notes that "Ku-pu" is a word of uncertain meaning. Jensen suggests"trunk, body". Apparently Merodach obtained special knowledge afterdividing, and perhaps eating, the "Ku-pu". His "cunning plan" is set forth indetail: he cut up the dragon's body:
He split her up like a flat fish into two halves.
He formed the heavens with one half and the earth with the other, and thenset the universe in order. His power and wisdom as the Demiurge werederived from the fierce and powerful Great Mother, Tiamat.In other dragon stories the heroes devise their plans after eating thedragon's heart. According to Philostratus,
Apollonius of Tyana was worthyof being remembered for two things--his bravery in travelling among fiercerobber tribes, not then subject to Rome, and his wisdom in learning thelanguage of birds and other animals as the Arabs do. This accomplishmentthe Arabs acquired, Philostratus explains, by eating the hearts of dragons. The "animals" who utter magic words are, of course, the Fates. Siegfried of the
, after slaying the Regin dragon, makes himself invulnerable by bathing in its blood. He obtains wisdom by eating the heart:as soon as he tastes it he can understand the language of birds, and thebirds reveal to him that Mimer is waiting to slay him. Sigurd similarly makeshis plans after eating the heart of the Fafner dragon. In Scottish legend Finn-mac-Coul obtains the power to divine secrets by partaking of a small portionof the seventh salmon associated with the "well dragon", and Michael Scottand other folk heroes become great physicians after tasting the juices of themiddle part of the body of the white snake. The hero of an Egyptian folk taleslays a "deathless snake" by cutting it in two parts and putting sand betweenthe parts. He then obtains from the box, of which it is the guardian, the bookof spells; when he reads a page of the spells he knows what the birds of thesky, the fish of the deep, and the beasts of the hill say; the book gives himpower to enchant "the heaven and the earth, the abyss, the mountains andthe sea".
Magic and religion were never separated in Babylonia; not only the priestsbut also the gods performed magical ceremonies. Ea, Merodach's father,overcame Apsu, the husband of the dragon Tiamat, by means of spells: hewas "the great magician of the gods". Merodach's division of the "Ku-pu" wasevidently an act of contagious magic; by eating or otherwise disposing of thevital part of the fierce and wise mother dragon, he became endowed with herattributes, and was able to proceed with the work of creation. Primitivepeoples in our own day, like the Abipones of Paraguay, eat the flesh of fierceand cunning animals so that their strength, courage, and wisdom may beincreased. The direct influence exercised by cultural contact, on the other hand, may betraced when myths with an alien geographical setting are found amongpeoples whose experiences could never have given them origin. In India,