Enki (from “En” Lord, “ki” Earth), or Ea (“E” Temple, “A” Water ) is recognized as one of the three most influential gods of the ancient Mesopotamian culture.
He is referred to as the god of wisdom, lord of magic, construction, arts, design and most importantly, creation.
Enki is associated with the aquatic world and reigns the Apsu, located in the depths of the earth, where the “primordial waters” flow, one of the most important places of Mesopotamian cosmogonic geography.
The ancient symbols representing Enki were a goat and the fish, which later merged into a single being called a Capricorn. Enki was depicted as a male figure carrying water or pouring it. Hence astronomically, He is associated with the constellations of Aquarius and Capricorn.
This ancient Mesopotamian deity is also the creator of the apkallu (ab-gal-lu “great man-fish” in Sumerian) who during the day taught men in different kinds of subjects, and at night retired to the bottom of the sea. These beings advised the first kings to rule on Earth.
Enki is considered both the creator and protector of humanity according to the poem of Atrahasis or the epic of Gilgamesh.
Creator of Mankind
According to ancient legends, the Gods became tired of tilling the fields and creating channels to cultivate crops and feed themselves.
It was then that Enki had the idea of modeling a clay figure that Inanna, the mother goddess, would give birth to: the first man on Earth.
After around six generations of deities, in the Babylonian Enûma Eliš, in the seventh generation, is states that the younger gods referred to as the Igigi , believed to have been the sons and daughters of Enlil and Ninlil, strike and refuse to perform their duties of keeping the creation work.
Abzu considered the God of fresh water, and the co-creator of the cosmos, threatens to destroy the world with his waters, and all of the Gods gathered in terror.
Enki–the savior–promises to help out and manages to put Abzu to sleep, imprisoning him in irrigation canals and places him in the Kur, located beneath the ancient city of Eridu.
The gods once again gather in terror and turn another time to Enki for help, but Enki who controlled Abzu, Tiamat’s consort, for irrigation refuses to get involved this time.
After sending Tiamat with the “arrows of his winds” down her throat and creating the heavens above, using the arch of her ribs, Enlil places her tail in the sky as the Milky Way, and her crying eyes become the source of the Tigris and Euphrates.
However, there is still the problem of “who will keep the cosmos working.” We read that the great Enki, who might have otherwise come to their rescue, is now lying in a deep sleep, failing to hear their cries.
His mother Nammu “brings the tears of the gods” before Enki and speaks
- Oh, my son, arise from thy bed, from thy (slumber), work what is wise,
- Fashion servants for the Gods, may they produce their (bread?).
This is when Enki advises the other deities they create a servant of the gods, humankind, out of clay and blood.
Against Enki’s wish, the Gods decide to slaughter Kingu, after which Enki finally agrees to use Kingu’s blood to create the first human. Enki remains in an excellent relationship, the very first of the 7 sages, 7 wise men or also referred to as the “Abgallu” (Ab = water, Gal = great, Lu = Man), aka Adapa.
Enki then assembles a team of divinities to aid him, creating a host of “good and princely fashioners.”
Adapa, the first man created, later goes and serves as the advisor to the King of the ancient city of Eridu, when in the Sumerian King List, the “Me” of “kingship descends on Eridu.”
Since then, mankind had been forced to work the land in order to produce food, both for themselves and for the gods.
However, Enki and Innana drank too much beer during a banquet, they fought, and the goddess boasted that she could spoil her creation when she wanted to.
Enki challenged her, boasting that he could find a place for any creature Inanna could create.
In response, the goddess produced all kinds of deformed beings, but Enki found for each of them a place in the world and Sumerian society.
In this way, various myths not only explain the creation of man and why he was created but also explains the existence of human beings with some kind of physical or psychic tare.
Enki was also the keeper fo divine powers referred to as “Me,” the Gifts of civilization.
Enki’s symbol was that of a double-helix snake or the Caduceus, commonly confused with the Rod of Asclepius used to symbolize medicine.