Mesopotamian religion refers to the religious beliefs and practices of the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia, particularly Sumer, Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia between circa 3500 BC and 400 AD, after which they largely gave way to Syriac Christianity. A few traces remained among Assyrian communities in isolated pockets of what had been Assyria until the 10th century AD, with the very latest attestation being found in this region in the 16th century AD.
The earliest undercurrents of Mesopotamian religious thought date to the mid 4th millennium BCE, and involved the worship of forces of nature as providers of sustenance. In the 3rd millennium BCE objects of worship were personified and became an expansive cast of divinities with particular functions. The last stages of Mesopotamian polytheism, which developed in the 2nd and 1st millenniums, introduced greater emphasis on personal religion and structured the gods into a monarchical hierarchy with the national god being the head of the pantheon. Note the transformation of natural forces into gods in keeping with how in-game observation was said to have created these forms from what was originally formless.
Perhaps the most significant legend to survive from Mesopotamian religion is the Epic of Gilgamesh, which tells the story of the heroic king Gilgamesh and his wild friend Enkidu, and the former's search for immortality which is entwined with all the gods and their approval. It also contains the earliest reference to The Great Flood. Another book of great significance is the enuma elish, which is a creation story, centered on the supremacy of Marduk and the creation of humankind for the service of the gods. Its primary original purpose, however, is not an exposition of theology or theogony but the elevation of Marduk, the chief god of Babylon, above other Mesopotamian gods.
In megaten, there are a few times when sumerian and babylonian myths are relevant. For instance, devil survivor revolves around the demon bel, which is another name for marduk, and the things that spawned from him. Various games, such as strange journey have babylonian themes, such as tiamat appearing as an archaic early mother goddess in strange journey and soul hackers. And in SMTIV, an ex-gaian tells you that the gods of babylon are the origins of demons. Which is a statement about how demons from the abrahamic perspective began as demonizations of foreign gods that had their basis in babylon.
Compare it against Canaanite religion, which was heavily derived from it.
Ethics and religious practices
Public devotions. Each Mesopotamian city was home to a deity, and each of the prominent deities was the patron of a city, and all known temples were located in cities, though there may have been shrines in the suburbs. The temple itself was constructed of mud brick in the form of a ziggurat, which was like a tower shaped like a pyramid composed of giant steps. Its significance and symbolism have been the subject of much discussion, but most regard the tower as a kind of staircase or ladder for the god to descend from and ascend to the heavens, though there are signs which point towards an actual cult having been practiced in the upper temple, so the entire temple may have been regarded as a giant altar. Other theories treat the tower as an image of the cosmic mountain where a dying and rising god "lay buried." Some temples, such as the temple of Enki in Eridu contained a holy tree (kiskanu) in a holy grove, which was the central point of various rites performed by the king, who functioned as a "master gardener."
Mesopotamian temples were originally built to serve as dwelling places for the god, who was thought to reside and hold court on earth for the good of the city and kingdom. His presence was symbolized by an image of the god in a separate room. The god's presence within the image seems to have been thought of in a very concrete way, as instruments for the presence of the deity, as evidenced by a story that told of marduk being tricked into leaving his statue. Kings were in theory the religious leaders, but many varieties of priest existed as well. Generally, the god's well-being was maintained through service, or work (dullu). The image was dressed and served banquets twice a day. Sacrificial meals were also set out regularly, with a sacrificial animal seen as a replacement (pūhu) or substitute (dinānu) for a man, and it was considered that the anger of the gods or demons was then directed towards the sacrificial animal.
In MTI, the Daimakyuu, which lucifer and his minions reside in has an entrance shaped like a ziggurat. In a more ambiguous example, in the chaos ending of strange journey, the altars shown in that world may be somewhat meant to be ziggurat inspired (although they also look a little aztec). In keeping with some of the babylonian depictions in-game of tiamat being on the chaos side, and yhvh (in the form of demiurge) talking about the gods he trampled, which would have been first gods of babylon, who in the chaos ending are restored to power. Although interestingly, yhvh in that depiction also resembles marduk himself somewhat, by
Private devotions. Besides the worship of the gods at public rituals, individuals also paid homage to a personal deity. In the mid-third millennium BCE, some rulers regarded a particular god or gods as being their personal protector. In the second millennium BCE, personal gods began to function more on behalf of the common man, with whom he had a close, personal relationship, maintained through prayer and maintenance of his god's statue. A number of written prayers have survived from ancient Mesopotamia, each of which typically exalt the god that they are describing above all others.
The historian J. Bottéro stated that these poems display "extreme reverence, profound devotion, [and] the unarguable emotion that the supernatural evoked in the hearts of those ancient believers" but that they showed a people who were scared of their gods rather than openly celebrating them. At the time, fear was a staple of religious devotion in a sense, as if one was worried of what a god one did not stay on good terms with might allow to befall.
They were thought to offer good luck, success, and protection from disease and demons, and one's place and success in society was thought to depend on his personal deity, including the development of his certain talents and even his personality. This was even taken to the point that everything he experienced was considered a reflection of what was happening to his personal god. When a man neglected his god, it was assumed that the demons were free to inflict him, and when he revered his god, that god was like a shepherd who seeks food for him.
There was a strong belief in demons in Mesopotamia, and private individuals, like the temple priests, also participated in incantations (šiptu) to ward them off. Although there was no collective term for these beings either in Sumerian or Akkadian, they were merely described as harmful or dangerous beings or forces, and they were used as a logical way to explain the existence of evil in the world. They were thought to be countless in number, and were thought to even attack the gods as well. Besides demons, there were also spirits of the dead, (etimmu) who could also cause mischief.
Amulets were occasionally used, and sometimes a special priest or exorcist was required. Incantations and ceremonies were also used to cure diseases which were also thought to be associated with demonic activity, sometimes making use of sympathetic magic. Sometimes an attempt was made to capture a demon by making an image of it, placing it above the head of a sick person, then destroying the image, which the demon was somehow likely to inhabit. Images of protecting spirits were also made and placed at gates to ward off disaster.
Divination was also employed by private individuals, with the assumption that the gods have already determined the destinies of men and these destinies could be ascertained through observing omens and through rituals, such as casting lots or astrology. It was believed that the gods expressed their will through "words" (amatu) and "commandments" (qibitu) which were not necessarily spoken, but were thought to manifest in the unfolding routine of events and things.
Note the depiction of a fearful relationship to one's gods, and the need for them to fight off demons, and how it in some way resembles how chaos is depicted. Since of course in chaos, the strong are called to do as they see fit, which means that the weaker not only need their protection, but have to worry that they may lose favor with their gods as well. Where here gods represents not only literal gods, but the strong in general. Some of this is likely intentional, since seeing one's gods as even themselves dangerous things one had to fear was more common in earlier religions, which is what chaos is heavily based on. Since chaos also explicitly calls babylon to mind, saying that the origin of demons is the gods of babylon, some of the depictions are likely intentional.
Ethics. Man was believed to have been created to serve the gods, or perhaps wait on them: the god is lord (belu) and man is servant or slave (ardu), and was to fear (puluhtu) the gods and have the appropriate attitude towards them. Duties seem to have been primarily of a cultic and ritual nature. Generally the reward to mankind is described as success and long life. Note how chaos casually indicates that the gods / strong should be free to command others.
Every man also had duties to his fellow man which had some religious character, particularly the king's duties to his subjects. It was thought that one of the reasons the gods gave power to the king was to exercise justice and righteousness. Examples of this include not alienating and causing dissension between friends and relatives, setting innocent prisoners free, being truthful, being honest in trade, respecting boundary lines and property rights, and not putting on airs with subordinates. Some of these guidelines are found in the second tablet of the Šurpu incantation series.
Sin, on the other hand, was expressed by the words hitu (mistake, false step), annu or arnu (rebellion), and qillatu (sin or curse), with strong emphasis on the idea of rebellion, sometimes with the idea that sin is man's wishing to "live on his own terms" (ina ramanisu). Sin also was described as anything which incited the wrath of the gods. Punishment came through sickness or misfortune, which inevitably lead to the common reference to unknown sins, or the idea that one can transgress a divine prohibition without knowing it—psalms of lamentation rarely mention concrete sins. This idea of retribution was also applied to the nation and history as a whole. A number of examples of Mesopotamian literature show how war and natural disasters were treated as punishment from the gods, and how kings were used as a tool for deliverance.
Sumerian myths suggest a prohibition against premarital sex, although these rules were not always followed. Marriages were often arranged between parents. Outside Sumerian society, Mesopotamian religion and culture were highly sexualized, more so in Babylonia than Assyria, where free sexual expression was viewed as one of the natural benefits of civilized life—same gender attraction, various alternative gender expressions, and male and female prostitution were tolerated, and in some cases considered sacred. The worship of Inanna/Ishtar, which was prevalent in Mesopotamia could involve wild, frenzied dancing and bloody ritual celebrations of social and physical abnormality. It was believed that "nothing is prohibited to Inanna", and that by depicting transgressions of normal human social and physical limitations, including traditional gender definition, one could cross over from the "conscious everyday world into the trance world of spiritual ecstasy."
Note that this also calls to mind the ending of strange journey a bit, which gives more credence to it as a babylonian depiction. Aside from the obvious chaos tie-in of gods for whom nothing is prohibited, the emphasis on both bloody ritual as well as sex can be reflected in the large stone monoliths seen on the chaos end that are of a sexual yab-yum-like pose, but have blood on the statues.
Mesopotamian religion was polytheistic, thereby accepting the existence of many different deities, both male and female, though it was also henotheistic, with certain gods being viewed as superior to others by their specific devotees. These devotees were often from a particular city or city-state that held that deity as its patron deity, for instance the god Enki was often associated with the city of Eridu in Sumer, the god Ashur with Assur and Assyria, Enlil with the Sumerian city of Nippur, Ishtar with the Assyrian city of Arbela, and the god Marduk was associated with Babylon
The Mesopotamian gods bore many similarities with humans, and were anthropomorphic, thereby having humanoid form. Similarly, they often acted like humans, requiring food and drink, as well as drinking alcohol and subsequently suffering the effects of drunkenness, but were thought to have a higher degree of perfection than common men. They were thought to be more powerful, all-seeing and all-knowing, unfathomable, and, above all, immortal. One of their prominent features was a terrifying brightness (melammu) which surrounded them, producing an immediate reaction of awe and reverence among men. The historian J. Bottéro was of the opinion that the gods were not viewed mystically, but were instead seen as high-up masters who had to be obeyed and feared, as opposed to loved and adored.
Abzu (apsû) is depicted as a deity in the Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Elish, taken from the library of Assurbanipal (c 630 BCE) but which is about 500 years older. In this story, he was one of two primal beings, being made of fresh water and a lover to another primal deity, Tiamat, who was a creature made of salt water. The Enuma Elish begins: "When above the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, the first, the begetter, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, she who bore them all; they were still mixing their waters, and no pasture land had yet been formed, nor even a reed marsh." This resulted in the birth of the younger gods, who later murder Apsu in order to usurp his lordship of the universe. Enraged, Tiamat gives birth to the first dragons, filling their bodies with "venom instead of blood", and made war upon her treacherous children, only to be slain by Marduk, the god of Storms, who then forms the heavens and earth from her corpse.
In soul hackers, Apsu is one of the two ancient demons inhabiting the ruins beneath Nikamimon, the other being Tiamat. Their presence interfered with the Phantom Society's plans of installing Manitou at the site, so Vice-Minister Nishi hired Naomi to eliminate one of the demons to make room. During the associated Vision Quest, the player must choose whether Naomi eliminates Tiamat or Apsu. If Apsu is confronted, upon its defeat he curses Naomi and kills her as it dies. The god's power is later absorbed by Manitou, which gives it strong physical attacks but a vulnerability to magical attacks. Although little emphasis is placed on them, it does have a tone of younger demons killing off archaic ones in order to get power.
Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. She is referred to as a woman, and described as the glistening one. It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a "Sacred marriage" between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second "Chaoskampf" Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon. Note how in these earlier depictions she was seen as a good entity, but the later stories inverted this. Because at later times, these forces of creation were seen as too dangerous to allow to continue, once trying to establish the order needed for civilization.
In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, correctly assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed. Enraged, she, too, wars upon her husband's murderers, taking on the form of a massive sea dragon, she is then slain by Enki's son, the storm-god Marduk, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with "poison instead of blood". Marduk then forms heavens and the earth from her divided body. The Tiamat myth is one of the earliest recorded versions of the Chaoskampf, the battle between a culture hero and a chthonic or aquatic monster, serpent or dragon.
In soul hackers, Tiamat is one of the two ancient demons inhabiting the ruins beneath Nikamimon, the other being Apsu. Their presence interfered with the Phantom Society's plans of installing Manitou at the site, so Vice-Minister Nishi hired Naomi to eliminate one of the demons to make room. During the associated Vision Quest, the player must choose whether Naomi eliminates Tiamat or Apsu. If Tiamat is confronted, upon its defeat she curses Naomi and kills her as it dies. The goddess's power is later absorbed by Manitou, which gives it strong magical attacks but a vulnerability to physical attacks. Her thematic reasons for appearing in soul hackers obviously being continuous with abzu, who is shown above. She also appears as a chaos demon in SMTII.
In SMTIV, The leader of Team Red in the Challenge Quest, RxW Smacktacular XIII. A god among gods, she tells Flynn she doesn't understand why the humans would participate in these games, as she was summoned and ordered by the Ashura-kai to participate rather than choosing to. Since she can't disobey, she wishes to just get it over with. After her defeat she is impressed by Flynn and admits that she never thought she would get beaten. Asking if he is Flynn and having it confirmed leads her to tell him the Ashura-kai were wary of having him participate in the games, and that things have gotten interesting before crumbling. She later becomes a common encounter in Infernal Tokyo.
One of her most important appearances is as a mother godess in strange journey however. In strange journey, chaos is led by a group of chaotic mother godesses who represent the primal forces of creation, giving birth to gods of chaos. In-game she even rebirths several gods, such as morax, mitras, orcus, and asura, into stronger forms. Part of this story details how yhvh in the past, in a role similar to that of marduk usurped power from these archaic mother godesses, banishing them and taking power. But the game takes place at a time when that is inverting. These godesses are mad at both the gods of order, as well as human civilization which is not in tune with nature, and so appear, and so defeated yhvh and seek to reset society into the primal chaos once more. Tiamat appears alongside ouroboros, maya, and mem aleph (in practice, gaia) who represent these forces, giving a somewhat babylonian tone to the events.
Note here that the babylonian story was more linear, implying that it was a one time event where peopel overcame nature. In strange journey it is depicted as cyclical as people often losing out to nature in the end over time, with their society returning to nature, and a new society more connected to nature coming up, only for the cycle to potentially repeat itself long-term.
This also loosely touches on themes of how chaotic nature godesses may be a necessary aspect at one point, though turn antagonistic later on. This is in keeping with how the early world was seen as inherently more connected to nature, but with all the chaotic problems that such implied. And so nature as such is obviously good in and of that it provides a world in general. But as people need to move on, there comes a point were it becomes a reality that nature is often antagonistic to human interests. And so if one wants to construct human society, they will often be working at odds with nature.
Just like in-game, this may result in a situation that isn't necessarily that bad for awhile, but if nature is pushed too far it might break free. In-game it implies that mem aleph would not have been so antagonistic to humanity had human society not harmed nature so much. And so is in keeping with themes about global warming, and the need for human society as it evolves to work in tune with nature. And as such it is depicting a parallel evolution of humanity and nature, which whether they end up antagonistic, or to what degree depends on how much humanity fails to live in tune with it.
An interesting side note is that many old testament stories are inspired by babylonian ones. And linguistically the story of yhvh moving over the waters has reference to tiamat even though tiamat is not mentioned directly. (Hebrew for what is translated as “the deep” is tehom - a Hebrew cognate of Tiamat's name.) and there are times in the bible where god is metaphorically depicted as overpowering a watery serpent for the creation of the world. So the absorption of babylonian aspects into judaism reflects this. This is seen a bit in strange journey, where yhvh is depicted as having some of the aspects and backstory of marduk, and tiamat still being one of the major enemies.
Tablet of Destinies was envisaged as a clay tablet inscribed with cuneiform writing, also impressed with cylinder seals, which, as a permanent legal document, conferred upon the god Enlil his supreme authority as ruler of the universe. In the Sumerian poem Ninurta and the Turtle it is the god Enki, rather than Enlil, who holds the tablet. Both this poem and the Akkadian Anzû poem share concern of the theft of the tablet by the bird Imdugud (Sumerian) or Anzû (Akkadian). Supposedly, whoever possessed the tablet ruled the universe. In the Babylonian Enuma Elish, Tiamat bestows this tablet on Kingu and gives him command of her army. Marduk, the chosen champion of the gods, then fights and destroys Tiamat and her army. Marduk reclaims the Tablet of Destinies for himself, thereby strengthening his rule among the gods.
In SMTIV it shows up as an item called the tablet of heaven's will, being something that flynn is sent by pabilsag to retrieve for his father enlil.
Kingu, also spelled as Qingu, plays an important part in the Mesopotamian creation myth, being the son and second spouse of Tiamat after her first spouse and his father, Apsu, had been slain. Tiamat gave Kingu the 3 Tablets of Destiny, and gave him the leadership of her army against the gods. After this part, some accounts differ, a few versions stating that when he saw Marduk for the first time, he fled the battlefield, was found and executed by Marduk. In other versions, he was slain on the battlefield by Marduk. Either way, his blood was used by Enki to create humans. Afterwards, he dwelled in the underworld kingdom along with others who had sided with Tiamat. Note the fact that the early entities siding with chaotic nature get banished to the underworld, in keeping with megaten's depiction.
Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children. The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as "king of the gods", overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear. The tablets were passed on to enlil. With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablet of Destinies, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon.
Anu is the earliest attested sky-father deity. In Sumerian religion, where he is first known to have been worshiped, he was also "King of the Gods", "Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons", and "Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven", where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions. He was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. In the epic of gilgamesh he is depicted as a god of the wind. He is also seen as the father of ishtar by some interpretations.
Enlil was the ancient Mesopotamian god of wind, air, earth, and storms. He is first attested as the chief deity of the Sumerian pantheon, but he was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Hurrians. Enlil's primary center of worship was the Ekur temple in the city of Nippur, which was believed to have been built by Enlil himself and was regarded as the "mooring-rope" of heaven and earth. He himself was believed to be so holy that not even the other gods could look upon him. Enlil rose to prominence during the twenty-fourth century BC with the rise of Nippur. His cult fell into decline after Nippur was sacked by the Elamites in 1230 BC and he was eventually supplanted as the chief god of the Mesopotamian pantheon by the Babylonian national god Marduk.
In SMTIV, enlil is not seen, but pabilsag is his son who is sent to retrieve the tablet of heaven's will for him. This being an alternate way to refer to the tablet of destines.
Anzu, also known as Imdugud, is a lesser divinity or monster in several Mesopotamian religions. He was conceived by the pure waters of the Apsu and the wide Earth, or as son of Siris. Anzû was depicted as a massive bird who can breathe fire and water, although Anzû is alternately depicted as a lion-headed eagle. This demon—half man and half bird—stole the "Tablet of Destinies" from Enlil and hid them on a mountaintop. Anu ordered the other gods to retrieve the tablet, even though they all feared the demon. According to one text, Marduk killed the bird; in another, it died through the arrows of the god Ninurta.
Marduk was a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi (18th century BC), he slowly started to rise to the position of the head of the Babylonian pantheon, a position he fully acquired by the second half of the second millennium BC. In the city of Babylon, Marduk was worshiped in the temple Esagila. Marduk is associated with the divine weapon Imhullu. "Marduk" is the Babylonian form of his name.
Marduk's original character is obscure but he was later associated with water, vegetation, judgment, and magic. His consort was the goddess Sarpanit.He was also regarded as the son of Ea (Sumerian Enki) and Damkina and the heir of Anu, but whatever special traits Marduk may have had were overshadowed by the political development through which the Euphrates valley passed and which led to people of the time imbuing him with traits belonging to gods who in an earlier period were recognized as the heads of the pantheon. There are particularly two gods—Ea and Enlil—whose powers and attributes pass over to Marduk.
Marduk's level of power was associated with the power of babylon, and his depictions reflected its growing position. When Babylon became the principal city of southern Mesopotamia during the reign of Hammurabi in the 18th century BC, the patron deity of Babylon was elevated to the level of supreme god. In order to explain how Marduk seized power, Enûma Elish was written, which tells the story of Marduk's birth, heroic deeds and becoming the ruler of the gods. This can be viewed as a form of Mesopotamian apologetics. Also included in this document are the fifty names of Marduk.
n Enûma Elish, a civil war between the gods was growing to a climactic battle. The Anunnaki gods gathered together to find one god who could defeat the gods rising against them. Marduk, a very young god, answered the call and was promised the position of head god. To prepare for battle, he makes a bow, fletches arrows, grabs a mace, throws lightning before him, fills his body with flame, makes a net to encircle Tiamat within it, gathers the four winds so that no part of her could escape, creates seven nasty new winds such as the whirlwind and tornado, and raises up his mightiest weapon, the rain-flood. Then he sets out for battle, mounting his storm-chariot drawn by four horses with poison in their mouths. In his lips he holds a spell and in one hand he grasps a herb to counter poison.
First, he challenges the leader of the Anunnaki gods, the dragon of the primordial sea Tiamat, to single combat and defeats her by trapping her with his net, blowing her up with his winds, and piercing her belly with an arrow. Then, he proceeds to defeat Kingu, who Tiamat put in charge of the army and wore the Tablets of Destiny on his breast, and "wrested from him the Tablets of Destiny, wrongfully his" and assumed his new position. Under his reign humans were created to bear the burdens of life so the gods could be at leisure. Marduk was depicted as a human, often with his symbol the snake-dragon which he had taken over from the god Tishpak. Another symbol that stood for Marduk was the spade. Babylonian texts talk of the creation of Eridu by the god Marduk as the first city, "the holy city, the dwelling of their [the other gods'] delight". However, Eridu was founded in the 54th century BC and Marduk's ascendancy was in the second millennium BC, so this is clearly a revisionist back-dating to inflate the prestige of Marduk.
In devil survivor, marduk appears as the original bel who ruled the world before being deposed by yhvh. Bel is an Akkadian word for "Lord" or "Master". The "Bel" title became associated with the Babylonian patron god Marduk, first as "Bel Marduk", but eventually being commonly used by itself, "Bel". When Bel is found in Assyrian and Babylonian personal names or mentioned in inscriptions it can usually be taken as referring to Bel Marduk and no other god. After Bel gained prominence, other local gods called "Lord" were often identified totally or partially with Bel by various civilizations, even if they had little in common with the original Marduk. The Greek and Roman identified Bel with their chief deities, using the names "Zeus Belus" or "Jupiter Belus" when referencing Bel Marduk in Classic Greek and Latin texts.
Just before the battle with Belial, Loki explains the history of bel. In 2500 BC, a powerful demon named Bel ruled the world. However, Yehowah defeated Bel in 600 BC. Bel broke into pieces, and these pieces became the Bel demons. The Bel demons fought against each other to absorb Bel's fragments and recover his powers, attempting to become a new demon lord, the King of Bel. Which became the war over the title between different bels. Babel was the largest portion of the original King of Bel's power. One that will react to a bel of sufficient power.
This is meant to parralel the depiction of the history of the struggle between these competing religious forces. Bel Marduk being depicted as the supreme god reflects the babylonian power of the time. Him being broken into many lesser bels reflects the fact that in babylon, eventually yhvh was proclaimed the true god, and marduk was dismissed in relevance. Later gods such as canaanite gods took on the name bel, in etymological continuation with marduk, and this is the in-game depiction of how various bel demons are pieces of bel. These bel demons being actual gods who were later enemies to the israelites, and so depicting the continuing battle.
The tower of babel is named after babylon, and some historians think it was a story about a ziggurat to marduk, and as such, defeating it was a depiction of yhvh's triumph over him. Even late in the bible, babylon is used as a term for evil forces such as the whore of babylon, so the depiction of it as something tht can rival yhvh is in continuation with this. In the story of the tower of babel, yhvh likewise depicts it as something that could potentially cause problems for him. Babylon was seen as more violent and chaotic by the israelites, reflecting it and the bel demons' overall depiction as chaotic entities. And it being in revelations as a depiction of anti-christian morality gives reason to contrast it as the opposite of the angelic path in devil survivor.
In strange journey in contrast there is a slight association between yhvh and marduk, since yhvh mentions trampling the gods of the old world, and tiamat is shown among them as an archaic godess of creation. This is in continuation with the depiction of yhvh as in some degree a composite figure of various gods who defeated a primal chaos before establishing their rule. Sometimes in megaten different associations like this will exist, to show that in some cases a religion absorbed parts of another while that one still remained antagonistic to it. Here, judaism emerged from canaanite religion with obvious babylonian influences, but those things are also still depicted somewhat in opposition to it.
Enki is the ancient Sumerian god of water, knowledge, mischief, crafts, and creation. He was later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus). Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for "40", occasionally referred to as his "sacred number".
Enki was seen as helping put abzu to sleep when he threatened to destroy the world with his waters. This being the beginning of when the gods were rebelling against abzu and tiamat. In the epic of gilgamesh, enki is depicted as the one who helped humans survive the great flood, being referred to as the cleverest of the gods.
Ishtar is the Babylonian goddess of love and fertility, the Babylonian equivalent of the Sumerian goddess Inanna. She was the Mesopotamian goddess of love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, combat, and political power, the East Semitic (Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian) counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and a cognate of the Northwest Semitic goddess Astarte and the Armenian goddess Astghik. Ishtar was believed to be the daughter of Anu, the god of the sky. Although various publications have claimed that Ishtar's name is the root behind the modern English word Easter, this has been rejected by reputable scholars, and such etymologies are not listed in standard reference works.
In the standard Akkadian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ishtar is portrayed as a spoiled and hot-headed femme fatale who demands Gilgamesh become her consort. When he refuses (due to what she tends to do to ex-lovers), she unleashes the Bull of Heaven, resulting in the death of Enkidu. This stands in sharp contrast with Inanna's radically different and more positive portrayal in the earlier Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld. Ishtar also appears in the Hittite creation myth and in the Neo-Assyrian Birth Legend of Sargon.
During the Akkadian Period, Ishtar was often depicted as a heavily armed warrior goddess, frequently accompanied by lions, which were among the many symbols Ishtar adopted from the Sumerian goddess Inanna. In Mesopotamian iconography, the most common symbol of Ishtar is an eight-pointed star, though the exact number of points sometimes varies. Six-pointed stars also occur frequently, but their symbolic meaning is unknown. The eight-pointed star was originally associated with Inanna and seems to have originally borne a general association with the heavens, but, by the Old Babylonian Period, it had come to be specifically associated with the planet Venus, with which Ishtar was identified. Starting during this same period, the star of Ishtar was normally enclosed within a circular disc.
Ishtar's most famous myth is the story of her descent into the Underworld. Ereshkihgal cursed her sister, and Ishtar died. With Ishtar dead, all sexual activity on earth ceased, and the earth withered and would not produce, and neither animals nor human beings would bear young. With great effort, the water god Ea used magic to revive Ishtar, and Ereshkigal was not pleased. She demanded to trade her sister for someone else, finally deciding that her husband Tammuz (Dumuzid) would replace Ishtar for six months out of the year.
The ancient Mesopotamians worshipped Ishtar as the goddess of both warfare and sexuality. Unlike other gods, whose roles were static and whose domains were limited, the stories of Ishtar describe her as moving from conquest to conquest. She was portrayed as young and impetuous, constantly striving for more power than she had been allotted. Although she was worshipped as the goddess of love, Ishtar was not the goddess of marriage, nor was she ever viewed as a mother goddess. She was described as having many lovers, and being like a prostitute, although grave things often befell them. Even for the gods Ishtar's love was fatal. In her youth the goddess had loved Tammuz, god of the harvest, and—if one is to believe Gilgamesh —this love caused the death of Tammuz."
The horns in her design are likely based on when she sent the bull of heaven to earth to kill gilgamesh due to him refusing to have sex with her. After killing the bull they took its horns and threw them in her direction. And so her design likely references this scene.
In game she is depicted as a chaotic fertility godess, in keeping with both her violent and fertility based lore aspects. Implied to be on the chaos side, and generally showing up as light-chaos. In smtII Ishtar is the ruler of Binah in the abyss. By bringing Astaroth to throne room in Binah, the player may separate him into Ishtar and Majin Ashtar. Ishtar explains that YHVH forced her to fuse with Ashtar and become Astaroth long ago. This allows the player to create Ishtar with fusion afterwards. This aspect obviously depicting the demonization of gods foreign to the hebrews.
In smtiv, she is the goddess whose revival is sought by Minako in the New Game Plus Challenge Quest, Ishtar, Goddess of Harvest. After obtaining Astaroth's soul in the earlier quest Prevent a Deal with an Overlord, Minako now seeks to incarnate Ishtar by collecting the souls of demons that come from her and using them to recreate her. Once Mother Harlot and Asherah's souls are collected Minako sacrifices herself by eating a Red Pill, becoming the ancient goddess Ishtar. Note that this also depicts the mother harlot as a being who came from this depiction of ishtar, though to what degree that is accurate is ambiguous.
Ishtar comes to fulfill her contract with Minako and make the land of Tokyo fertile, thanking Flynn for aiding Minako, who sacrificed body and soul to revive her and will keep her half of the promise. Ishtar asks Flynn to let her accompany him but can be declined, though lets him know to call her whenever he needs her. The goddess disappears to make the land a more fertile place should Flynn say no.
Its possible that the chaos end of strange journey is also meant to call cults of ishtar to mind, being depictions of both sex and violence, and potentially having a babylon based inspiration (due to the altars potentially being inspired by ziggurats, though they also look like aztek pyramids a bit).
Inanna is the Sumerian counterpart of Ishtar, a goddess of love and fertility that represents the Morning Star and the planet Venus. Inanna is the ancient Sumerian goddess of love, sensuality, fertility, procreation, and also of war. In some myths she is the daughter of Enki, the god of wisdom, fresh water, magic and a number of other elements and aspects of life, while in others she appears as the daughter of Nanna, god of the moon and wisdom. References to a cult to her among the jews also show up in the bible. In SMTIVA she is depicted as an archaic mother godess, though this depiction is misleading, since although she was a fertility godess, she was not associated with being a mother.
In iva, a part of Inanna's spirit first appears after Toki faints, sealing the last of Maitreya's pots guarded by Marici. She attacks the group, wanting to reclaim the power that Danu stole from her. After the battle she returns to Toki, who she is sealed inside of. Once the Cosmic Egg is complete, the Divine Powers release her and she takes control of Toki, revealing that Krishna has promised to let her birth the new humanity in the universe they plan to create. She also births some gods to protect against the invading party. She is depicted as sad over the loss of her power, desiring it to be returned, but very angry and bitter. Strangely, she is depicted as the mother of danu, though no reason is given for this.
Hadad, Adad, Haddad (Akkadian) or Iškur (Sumerian) was the storm and rain god in the Northwest Semitic and ancient Mesopotamian religions. While originally he was less known, he would go on to be a much larger figure in Canaanite religion, being known as the main entity who was referred to as baal.
Nergal is the Babylonian lord of the underworld who was also a solar deity (though only representing a certain solar phase) identified with Shamash. He is also portrayed in myths and hymns as a god of war and pestilence. Being a deity associated with the desert, fire and the underworld, as well as a pagan god of a rival religion, made him a prime target for Christian demonization. Thus he is known as a demon in conventional culture, sometimes identified with Satan; Colin DePlancy cites him as a spy in service of Beelzebub and chief of Hell's "secret police".
Nergal is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the deity of the city of Cuth (Cuthah): "And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal" (2 Kings, 17:30). According to the Rabbis, his emblem was a cock and Nergal means a "dunghill cock", although standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion. He is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta. He shows up as a dark-neutral demon, but never in important plot-roles.
Ereshkigal was the goddess of Kur, the land of the dead or underworld in Sumerian mythology. In later East Semitic myths she was said to rule Irkalla alongside her husband Nergal. Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha. In the ancient Sumerian poem Inanna's Descent to the Underworld Ereshkigal is described as Inanna's older sister. The two main myths involving Ereshkigal are the story of Inanna's descent into the Underworld and the story of Ereshkigal's marriage to the god Nergal.
Pazuzu is the god of the southwest wind known for bringing famine during dry seasons, and locusts during rainy seasons. Recent research suggests Pazuzu may have been associated with a cold, northeasterly wind. Pazuzu was said to be invoked in amulets which combat the powers of the malicious goddess, and hated rival, Lamashtu, who was believed to cause harm to mother and child during childbirth. Although Pazuzu is, himself, an evil spirit, he drives away other evil spirits, thus protecting humans against plagues and misfortunes. Interestingly, In his designs from Megami Tensei II and Shin Megami Tensei II, Pazuzu's left arm is raised. This contrasts most depictions of Pazuzu on statues or the like where his right arm is raised.
In megami tensei ii, After defeating the Minotaur in the Devil Busters game, the hero finds a strange statue in the game and unseals it, revealing Pazuzu. Pazuzu reveals that he is a servant of God and that the hero and his friend are the Messiahs destined to save the world from the demons that came through a rift created during the nuclear war 35 years prior. Giving the hero a handheld computer and the Demon Summoning Program, Pazuzu warns about demons invading the shelter before departing.
Once they reach the surface, Pazuzu commands that the two join with his servant Orthrus at the Princess Hotel in Shinagawa, and head to the ruins of Tokyo Tower after a witch who betrayed him. The witch reveals that Pazuzu is simply using the two to gain power over Bael and the hero agrees with her, causing the friend, who is still loyal to Pazuzu, to depart with Orthrus. It is later revealed that Pazuzu is truly aligned with God and the other demons view him as a traitor because of this. The hero and the witch end up having to defeat and behead him in order to pass onwards.
A likely reason pazuzu was used for this role in-game may be that he is depicted as a demon (evil god), but who can be used against other demons in his own lore. And this thematic approach was used to depict him as a demon who is against other demons in-game. Which is similar to satan, who in-game is depicted as an ex-demon who sided with yhvh also. His alignment in various games is usually dark, but goes back and forth between dark chaos and dark law, depending on the game. Likewise, pazuzu is one of the beings on the meggido ark in SMTII.
In devil survivor, Pazuzu is the Demon Companion for kaido, though little emphasis is placed on the reason.
A Karibu, keruvim, lamassu, or lumasi is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human's head, a body of a bull or a lion, and bird's wings. In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu. In art, lumasi were depicted as hybrids, with bodies of either winged bulls or lions and heads of human males. The motif of a winged animal with a human head is common to the Near East, first recorded in Ebla around 3000 BCE. The first distinct lamassu motif appeared in Assyria during the reign of Tiglath-Pileser II as a symbol of power.
The name kerub seems to be a loanword from the Akkadian karibu. The word karibu is a noun derived from the Akkadian root karābu, which means “bless.” The karibu are the blessed ones; they were genies or lower level divine beings who function as supplicants, standing before the god and praying on behalf of others. The karibu were generally pictured as colossal bulls. Apparently, the Torah incorporates the Akkadian concept of karibu in the Hebraicized cherub
Megaten games directly imply that the cherubim were derived from karibu. Note how biblical cheribum are described as having the head of a bull, man, lion, and eagle. In SMTII, the official art for the cherubim statues was drawn to look like the babylonian karibu (although ironically, in-game they looked more like sphinxes). And the later cherubim artwork from the devil summoner games on has a noticeably babylonian tone, continuing this trend. This shows that in-game it is not just demons who have foreign gods lumped in with them, or even merely lawful gods siding with angels, but some angels themselves were derived from foreign spirits. This may be a reason behind why in nocturne, baal avatar has angels as servants, baal being derived from the earlier babylonian bel.
In addition to this, in the earliest writings from the jews angels do not seem to be named. Leading anthropologists to think that it is likely that all the specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylon. and so angels as a whole are likely heavily influenced by ideas stemming from babylon.
Pabilsag. Pa Bil Sag (or Pabilsag) was the tutelary god for the city of Isin in Mesopotamian mythology. He is connected to the lost city of Larak and was the consort of the goddess Nininsinna. Together they bore the god of rebirth Damu, according to some texts. One of the most important texts regarding Pa Bil Sag is about his journey to the city of Nippur where he honored the god Enlil and presented him with many gifts. During this time, he was awarded the title "the wild bull with multicolored legs." Note his similarity in appearance to tammuz.
In smtiv, Pabilsag is the messenger of the god Enlil and the one who Flynn must deliver Heaven's Tablet to in the New Game Plus Challenge Quest, Retrieve the Tablet. He resides in a building found in Ginza - Shopping District in both the first playthrough and NG+. He states that the Tablet of Heaven's Will holds the destinies of the gods, which is why they cannot touch it themselves and must rely on Flynn to retrieve it. After obtaining the tablet he confesses that he had always viewed humans as weak, but realizes that might be an error considering he obtained such an important item. He leaves to take Heaven's Tablet to his father Enlil. He is usually depicted as light-neutral, though his original depiction was light-law.
Dagon was a major northwest Semitic god, reportedly of grain and agriculture. He was worshiped by the early Amorites and by the inhabitants of the cities of Ebla and Ugarit. He was also a major member, or perhaps head, of the pantheon of the Biblical Philistines. The Hebrew Bible, in an attempt to vilify the opposing religion, narrates that his temple was destroyed by a human sacrifice for him, Samson. His ultimate origin was back in babylon, though not until later on. He shows up in SMTI as tyrant race, and occasionally in other games.
Dagon's appearance as a sea monster in the series was likely inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's depiction of the figure, before archaeologists learned more about him.
Ubelluris. In Hittite mythology, Ubelluris was the mountain god who carried the western edge of the sky on his shoulders. In Hurrian mythology, Upelluri was the "dreaming god" was the one whose gods had placed the stone giant Ullikummi, while him being unaware of his burden.
In DDS2, The most reserved Tribvhana member, Tribhvana:Earth, initially takes the form of Ubelluris during encounters. They stick to physical attacks, which aren't that dangerous by themselves. However, if Ganga is still active in the battle, the attacks will critical if she manages to affect a party member with Freeze or Shock. They are first encountered on the 20th floor of the Karma Society Tower.
Tammuz is the Sumerian god of food, shepherds, and vegetation and consorts of the fertility goddess Innana, or Ishtar. In myth, Inanna invaded the underworld to take it over from her sister, and was turned into a corpse as punishment. Tammuz and his sister, Geshtinana, agreed to both stay dead each for six months of the year to take Inanna's place in the netherworld. Note his similarity in appearance to pabilsag, though that has to do with the early game sprites.The Levantine ("lord") Adonis, who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz.
Tammuz is actually mentioned in the bible, in the book of ezekiel, where people are described as weeping for him in the temple. This is in reference to how a cult to him survived in the jewish traditions, and was being accused of betraying one's duties to yhvh.
Nisroc is A figure of Assyrian origins who is portrayed as an eagle-like god of agriculture. In Christian lore, he was regarded as a fallen Principality who served under the demon belphegor. who became Hell's master of cuisine. Nisroch was depicted as an eagle-headed deity with wings and exaggerated muscles. In various sculptured reliefs from Nineveh he is seen sprinkling the sacred tree with water. He usually holds a water vessel in his left hand and a fir cone (sponge) in his right. Among the ancient Arabs, also, the eagle occurs as an idol. In addition, the word Nisr in Arabic literally means Eagle. He generally shows up in the fallen race, despite not originally being a christian figure.
In the Midrash, "Nisroch" is actually said to be derived from the Hebrew word "neser." Neser was the name given to a plank of wood discovered by Sennacherib on his return to Assyria from his campaign in Judah. The sages write that this plank was originally part of Noah's Ark, and that Sennacherib worshiped it as an idol. It would therefore be concluded that it was this idol that Sennacherib was worshiping when he was murdered by his two sons.
Mushussu is A mythical hybrid from Babylonian lore, a dragon with the hind legs of an eagle, a long neck and tail, a horned head, a snakelike tongue, a crest and a felines forelegs. Mushussu is associated with Marduk and it would later go on to influence the Hydra of Greek myth. In Abrahamic lore, Daniel would be confronted by Mushussu.
In SMTIV A NPC Mushussu can be found in the Tokyo - Bay Area at the Fukagawa Fudo, acting as a agent of the Great Mother Goddess Mami in the delivery quest Recreating the Human Race. Seeing that Flynn is no ordinary human, he tells him the story of the goddess and introduces himself, asking for the ingredients necessary for Mami to make a new kind of human. Once the ingredients are acquired Mushussu finds it a shame that more humans aren't as useful as Flynn, as that would mean Mami wouldn't need to make new ones. Mushussu asks Flynn to bring more ingredients should he get some.
Lamashtu was a malign demon, monster, and malevolent goddess or demigoddess. She menaced women during childbirth and kidnapped children while breastfeeding, much like the Lilim of similar legends. A daughter of the sky god, Anu, she would gnaw on their bones and suck their blood, like a vampire. She shows up as a demon in giten.
Illuyanka. In Hittite mythology, Illuyanka was a serpentine dragon slain by Tarhunt, the Hittite incarnation of the Hurrian god of sky and storm. It is known from Hittite cuneiform tablets found at Çorum-Boğazköy, the former Hittite capital Hattusa. The context is a ritual of the Hattian spring festival of Puruli.
The story has two versions. In the first, the god Teshub successfully kills Illuyanka. In the second, Teshub loses instead, and Illuyanka takes his eyes and heart as proof of victory. To retrieve them, Teshub has his son Sarruma marry Illuyanka's daughter and ask for the return of the eyes and heart as a wedding gift. Restored, Teshub again challenges Illuyanka and is triumphant. However, Sarruma realizes he was merely used, and as the dragon dies, he demands his father destroy him as well. Teshub complies, killing Illuyanka and Sarruma with a raging storm.
Gilgamesh was a king of Uruk said to have been 2/3 God. He is the main figure in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which details the friendship between him and Enkidu. Enkidu's death would make Gilgamesh seek the secret to immortality from Utnapishtim. He only shows up in the demikids games.
Utnapishtim is a hero from the Epic of Gilgamesh who was granted immortality by the gods after he and his wife survived the great flood. Gilgamesh seeks Utnapishtim after Gilgamesh's friend Enkidu died, in order to find a way to become immortal. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh if he can stay awake for six days and seven nights, he would grant him immortality. Utnapishtim then told his wife to bake a loaf of bread for everyday Gilgamesh is asleep so that Gilgamesh can not deny his failure. He shows up as a persona in trinity soul.
Humbaba Also known as Huwawa and Humbaba the Terrible he was raised by the Sun God Utu, and whose body was protected by seven auras. He was a giant tasked with protecting the home of the Gods known as the Cedar Forest by Enlil. Eventually he was tricked by Gilgamesh who offered his sisters to him. Which results in his capture and eventually attempt to escape that ends in Enkidu slaying him. Enlil would then redistribute the seven splendors/auras of Humbaba to seven others such as the Lions and the rivers. He shows up in maijin tensei and some demikids games.
Edimmu are the evil Utukkus from Akkadian lore. The ghosts of those not buried the right way. They were vengeful towards the living and would possess those who broke taboos. They caused disease and criminal behavior and were considered wind spirits that sucked the life out of the young. In imagine they appear looking like a yellow genie.
Afterlife and eschatology
The ancient Mesopotamians believed in an afterlife that was a land below our world. It was this land, known alternately as Arallû, Ganzer or Irkallu, the latter of which meant "Great Below", that it was believed everyone went to after death, irrespective of social status or the actions performed during life. Unlike Christian Hell, the Mesopotamians considered the underworld neither a punishment nor a reward. Nevertheless, the condition of the dead was hardly considered the same as the life previously enjoyed on earth: they were considered merely weak and powerless ghosts.
The myth of Ishtar's descent into the underworld relates that "dust is their food and clay their nourishment, they see no light, where they dwell in darkness." Stories such as the Adapa myth resignedly relate that, due to a blunder, all men must die and that true everlasting life is the sole property of the gods. Nonetheless, some stories do imply that certain gods can grant you slightly better outcomes in the afterlife if you have their favor. Many of the gods who tried to defend tiamat when she was being usurped were likewise banished to the underworld, in keeping with in megaten various chaotic gods were later demonized.
There are no known Mesopotamian tales about the end of the world, although it has been speculated that they believed that this would eventually occur. This is largely because Berossus wrote that the Mesopotamians believed the world to last "twelve times twelve sars"; with a sar being 3,600 years, this would indicate that at least some of the Mesopotamians believed that the Earth would only last 518,400 years. Berossus does not report what was thought to follow this event, however.
The epic of Gilgamesh
The first half of the story discusses Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and Enkidu, a wild man created by the gods to stop Gilgamesh from oppressing the people of Uruk. After Enkidu becomes civilized through sexual initiation with a harlot, he travels to Uruk, where he challenges Gilgamesh to a test of strength. Gilgamesh wins and the two become friends. Together, they make a six-day journey to the legendary Cedar Forest, where they plan to slay the Guardian, Humbaba the Terrible, and cut down the sacred Cedar. Later they kill the Bull of Heaven, which the goddess Ishtar sends to punish Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. As a punishment for these actions, the gods sentence Enkidu to death.
In the second half of the epic, distress about Enkidu's death causes Gilgamesh to first seek to revive him, and when finding out that such is not possible in the way he imagines, to undertake a long and perilous journey to discover the secret of eternal life. He reaches utnapishtim, who is an immortal man who survived the great flood. Utnapishtim tells him he will teach him the secret if he can stay awake for a week, but gilgamesh cannot. He tells him anyways about a plant that if eaten can grant immortality, but when gilgamesh finds it a snake eats it and he accepts his mortality. However, because of his great building projects, his account of Siduri's advice, and what the immortal man Utnapishtim told him about the Great Flood, Gilgamesh's fame survived his death.