29. The Greek Accounts of the Pre-diluvian Era and the Ancient Mesopotamian Tradition (§§464-481)

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29. The Greek Accounts of the Pre-diluvian Era and the Ancient Mesopotamian Tradition (§§464-481)

Berossus’ Account of Oannes, the Pre-diluvian Kings and Annedotoi, and the Flood

464. “BEROSSUS, in the first book of his history of Babylonia, informs us that he lived in the age of Alexander the son of Philip. And he mentions that there were written accounts, preserved at Babylon with the greatest care, comprehending a period of above fifteen myriads of years: and that these writings contained histories of the heaven and of the sea; of the birth of mankind; and of the kings, and of the memorable actions which they had achieved.

465. “And in the first place he describes Babylonia as a country situated between the Tigris and the Euphrates: that it abounded with wheat, and barley, and ocrus, and sesame; and that in the lakes were produced the roots called gongre, which are fit for food, and in respect to nutriment similar to barley. That there were also palm trees and apples, and a variety of fruits; fish also and birds, both those which are merely of flight, and those which frequent the lakes. He adds, that those parts of the country which bordered upon Arabia, were without water, and barren; but that the parts which lay on the other side were both hilly and fertile.

466. “At Babylon there was (in these times) a great resort of people of various nations, who inhabited Chaldæa, and lived in a lawless manner like the beasts of the field. In the first year there appeared, from that part of the Erythræan sea which borders upon Babylonia, a living creature destitute of reason {Gk. aphrenon “mindless, witless, lacking knowledge”}, by name Oannes, whose whole body (according to the account of Apollodorus) was that of a fish; that under the fish’s head he had another head, with feet also below, similar to those of a man, subjoined to the fish’s tail. His voice too, and language, was articulate and human; and a representation of him is preserved even to this day.

467. “This living creature passed the day among men; but took no food at that season; and he gave them an insight into letters and sciences, and arts of every kind. He taught them to construct cities, to found temples, to compile laws, and explained to them the principles of geometrical knowledge. He made them distinguish the seeds of the earth, and shewed them how to collect the fruits; in short, he instructed them in every thing which could tend to soften manners and humanize their lives. From that time, nothing material has been added by way of improvement to his instructions. And when the sun had set, this living creature, Oannes, retired again into the sea. And he passed the nights in the deep; for he was amphibious. After this there appeared other living creatures like Oannes, of which Berossus proposes to give an account when he comes to the history of the kings. Moreover Oannes wrote concerning the generation of mankind; and of their civil polity; and the following is the purport of what he said:

468. “There was a time in which there existed nothing but darkness and an abyss of waters, wherein resided most hideous beings, which were produced of a two-fold principle. There appeared men, some of whom were furnished with two wings, others with four, and with two faces. They had one body but two heads: the one that of a man, the other of a woman: and likewise in their several organs both male and female. Other human figures were to be seen with the legs and horns of goats: some had horses’ feet: while others united the hind quarters of a horse with the body of a man, resembling in shape the hippocentaurs. Bulls likewise were bred there with the heads of men; and dogs with fourfold bodies, terminated in their extremities with the tails of fishes: horses also with the heads of dogs: men too and other living creatures, with the heads and bodies of horses and the tails of fishes. In short, there were living creatures in which were combined the limbs of every species of beast. In addition to these, fishes, reptiles, serpents, with other monstrous living creatures, which assumed each other’s shape and countenance. Of all which were preserved delineations in the temple of Belos at Babylon.

469. “The person, who presided over them, was a woman named Omoroka; which in the Chaldæan language is Thalatth; in Greek Thalassa, the sea; but which might equally be interpreted the Moon. All things being in this situation, Belos came, and cut the woman asunder: and of one half of her he formed the earth, and of the other half the heavens; and at the same time destroyed the living creatures within her. All this (he says) was an allegorical description of nature. For, the whole universe consisting of moisture, and living creatures being continually generated therein, the deity above-mentioned took off his own head: upon which the other gods mixed the blood, as it gushed out, with the earth; and from thence were formed men. On this account it is that they are rational, and partake of divine knowledge. This Belos, by whom they signify Zeus [Marduk in native Mesopotamian mythology], divided the darkness, and separated the Heavens from the Earth, and reduced the universe to order. But the living creatures, not being able to bear the prevalence of light, died. Belos upon this, seeing a vast space unoccupied, though by nature fruitful, commanded one of the gods to take off his head, and to mix the blood with the earth; and from thence to form other men and animals, which should be capable of bearing the air. Belos formed also the stars, and the sun, and the moon, and the five planets.”

470. “Such, according to Polyhistor Alexander, is the account which Berossus gives in his first book.

471. “In the second book was contained the history of the ten kings of the Chaldæans, and the periods of the continuance of each reign, which consisted collectively of an hundred and twenty saroi, or four hundred and thirty-two thousand years; reaching to the time of the Deluge.

{Inserted here is the extract from the second book of Berossus:}

Berossus’ Account of the Pre-diluvian Kings and Annedotoi

472. “THIS is the history which Berossus has transmitted to us. He tells us that the first king was Aloros of Babylon, a Chaldæan: he reigned ten saroi: and afterwards {Armenian version of Eusebius’ Chronicle [hereafter “Arm.”]: “when Aloros died, his son …”} Alaparos, and Amelon {Arm.: “Almelon a Chaldæan”} who came from Pautibiblon: then Ammenon the Chaldæan, in whose time appeared the defiled {Gk. musaron} Oannes, the Annedotos, from the Erythræan sea. (But Alexander Polyhistor anticipating the event, has said that he appeared in the first year; but Apollodorus says that it was after forty saroi; Abydenus, however, makes the second Annedotos appear after twenty-six saroi). Then succeeded Megalaros {Arm.: Amegalaros} from the city of Pautibiblon; and he reigned eighteen saroi: and after him Daonos the shepherd {Gk. poimen} from Pautibiblon reigned ten saroi; in his time (he says) appeared again from the Erythræan sea a fourth Annedotos, having the same form with those above, the shape of a fish blended with that of a man. Then reigned Euedorankhos from Pautibiblon, for the term of eighteen saroi; in his days there appeared another personage from the Erythræan sea like the former, having the same complicated form between a fish and a man, whose name was Odakon. (All these, he says, related particularly and circumstantially whatever Oannes had informed them of: concerning this Abydenus said nothing). Then reigned Amempsinos, a Chaldæan from Larankhon: and he being the eighth in order reigned ten saroi. Then reigned Otiartes, a Chaldæan, from Larankhon; and he reigned eight saroi. And upon the death of Otiartes, his son Xisouthros reigned eighteen saroi: in his time happened the great deluge. So that the sum of all the kings is ten; and the term which they collectively reigned an hundred and twenty saroi.”—Syncellus Ecloga Chronographica ed. Mosshammer 40 = ed. Dindorf 71f. (Cf. Armenian version of Eusebius’ Chronicle, ed. Mai, p. 5). {End of inserted extract.}

473. “For Alexander [Polyhistor], enumerating the kings from the writings of the Chaldæans, after the ninth Ardates, proceeds to the tenth, who is called by them Xisouthros, in this manner:

474. “After the death of Ardates, his son Xisouthros reigned eighteen saroi. In his time happened a great Deluge; the history of which is thus described. The Deity, Kronos [father of Zeus in Greek mythology = Ea or Enki, father of Marduk in native Mesopotamian mythology], appeared to him in a vision, and warned him that upon the fifteenth day of the month Dæsios there would be a flood, by which mankind would be destroyed. He therefore enjoined him to write a history of the beginning, procedure, and conclusion of all things; and to bury it in the city of the Sun at Sipparon; and to build a vessel, and take with him into it his friends and relations; and to convey on board every thing necessary to sustain life, together with all the different animals; both birds and quadrupeds, and trust himself fearlessly to the deep. Having asked the Deity, whither he was to sail? he was answered, “To the Gods:” upon which he offered up a prayer for the good of mankind. He then obeyed the divine admonition: and built a vessel five stadia in length, and two in breadth. Into this he put every thing which he had prepared; and last of all conveyed into it his wife, his children, and his friends.

475. “After the flood had been upon the earth, and was in time abated, Xisouthros sent out birds from the vessel; which, not finding any food, nor any place whereupon they might rest their feet, returned to him again. After an interval of some days, he sent them forth a second time; and they now returned with their feet tinged with mud. He made a trial a third time with these birds; but they returned to him no more: from whence he judged that the surface of the earth had appeared above the waters. He therefore made an opening in the vessel, and upon looking out found that it was stranded upon the side of some mountain; upon which he immediately quitted it with his wife, his daughter, and the pilot. Xisouthros then paid his adoration to the earth: and having constructed an altar, offered sacrifices to the gods, and, with those who had come out of the vessel with him, disappeared.

476. “They, who remained within, finding that their companions did not return, quitted the vessel with many lamentations, and called continually on the name of Xisouthros. Him they saw no more; but they could distinguish his voice in the air, and could hear him admonish them to pay due regard to religion; and likewise informed them that it was upon account of his piety that he was translated to live with the gods; that his wife and daughter, and the pilot, had obtained the same honor. To this he added, that they should return to Babylonia; and, as it was ordained, search for the writings at Sipparon, which they were to make known to all mankind: moreover that the place, wherein they then were, was the land of Armenia. The rest having heard these words, offered sacrifices to the gods; and taking a circuit, journeyed towards Babylonia.

477. “The vessel being thus stranded in Armenia, some part of it yet remains in the Kordyræan mountains of Armenia; and the people scrape off the bitumen, with which it had been outwardly coated, and make use of it by way of an alexipharmic and amulet. And when they returned to Babylon, and had found the writings at Sipparon, they built cities, and erected temples: and Babylon was thus inhabited again.”—Syncellus Ecloga Chronographica ed. Mosshammer 28-32 = ed. Dindorf 50-56 (Cf. Armenian version of Eusebius’ Chronicle, ed. Mai, 8, 14).

Abydenus’ Account of the Pre-diluvian Kings, the Annedotoi and the Flood

478. “It is said that the first king of the country was Aloros, and that he gave out a report that God had appointed him to be the Shepherd of the people: he reigned ten saroi: now a saros is esteemed to be three thousand six hundred years; a neros six hundred; and a sossos sixty. {The Armenian translation of the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian, trans. Bedrosian p. [4] reads: Alorus from the Chaldean country. He discovered astrology, the signs of the zodiac, and [information about] the planets and their revolutions. Chaldeanism was named after him. He reigned 98 years.}

479. “After him Alaparos reigned three saroi: to him succeeded Amillaros from the city of Pautibiblon, who reigned thirteen saroi; in his days came up a second time Annedotos [this could be understood to mean “a second Annedotos,” and so in Syncellus supra] not far along the sea, Oannes, a semi-divine being in bodily form: after Amillaros reigned Ammenon twelve saroi, who was of the city of Pautibiblon: then Megalaros of the same place reigned eighteen saroi: then Daos, the shepherd {poimen}, governed for the space of ten saroi; he was of Pautibiblon; in his days there was a fourth double-shaped creature. They came up out of the sea to land: their names were Euedokos, Eneugamos, Eneuboulos, and Anementos; then, after this, in the days of Euedoreskhos, Anodaphos. After these reigned other kings, and last of all Sisouthros: so that in the whole, the number amounted to ten kings, and the term of their reigns to an hundred and twenty saroi. (And among other things not irrelative to the subject, he continues thus concerning the deluge): After Euedoreskhos some others reigned, and then Sisithros. To him the deity Kronos foretold that on the fifteenth day of the month Desios there would be a deluge of rain: and he commanded him to deposit all the writings whatever which were in his possession, in the city of the Sun in Sipparon. Sisithros, when he had complied with the commands, sailed immediately to Armenia, and was presently inspired by God. Upon the third day after the cessation of the rain Sisithros sent out birds, by way of experiment, that he might judge whether the flood had subsided. But the birds passing over an unbounded sea, without finding any place of rest, returned again to Sisithros. This he repeated with other birds. And when upon the third trial he succeeded, for the birds then returned with their feet stained with mud, the gods translated him from among men. With respect to the vessel, which yet remains in Armenia, it is a custom of the inhabitants to form bracelets and amulets of its wood.”—Syncellus Ecloga Chronographica ed. Mosshammer 39 [following unamended text A with regard to the Annedotoi] = ed. Dindorf 69f. (Cf. Armenian version of Eusebius’ Chronicle, ed. Mai, p. 22, Eusebius Præparatio Evangelica IX. xii. 1-5).

479.0.1. Before tabulating the list of kings and patriarchs (apkallus, sages) from Abydenus, the pre-diluvian section (lines 1-7) of the Uruk List of Kings and Sages, dating from the Hellenistic era, is translated infra to illustrate the native tradition drawn on by Abydenus:

During the reign of Ajalu {Ayalu, Alulim} the king, U-ana was sage.
During the reign of Alalgar the king, Uan-du-ga (to be read: Ha-an-duga) was sage.
During the reign of Ame-lu-ana the king, Enme-du-ga was sage.
During the reign of Ame-gal-ana the king, Enme-galam-ma was sage.
During the reign of Enme-ushumgal-ana the king, Enme-bulug-ga was sage.
During the reign of Dumuzi the Shepherd the king, An-enlil-da was sage.
During the reign of Enme-dur-anki the king, Utu-abzu was sage.”

479.1. The incomplete list of kings and of the Annedotoi in Abydenus, without emendation, allows an ordering of the appearance of the Annedotoi as follows (underlined), matching the order in the Uruk List:

King in Abydenus

Annedotos in Abydenus (B = Berossus)

Apkallu in Uruk List

Aloros (Alulim)



Alaparos (Alalgar)

<Annedotos the first time>

Ha-an-duga (Uan-duga)

Amillaros (Enmen-lu-ana)

Annedotos the second time


Ammenon (Enme-gal-ana)

{B: The Defiled Oannes (“Annedotos”)}



Megalaros (Enme-ushumgal-ana)



Daos poimen (Dumu-zi sipa)

Anementos, the fourth Annedotos


Euedoreskhos (Enme-dur-an-ki)


[Ha-an-]utu-abzu ([Uan-]utu-abzu)

Other unnamed kings

Sisouthros (Ziusudra)

This reconstruction assumes a first appearance of Annedotos (implied by the reference to a “second” appearance of Annedotos), and also assumes Annedotos represents the name of the apkallu Uan-duga (to be read Ha-an-duga). The “fourth” Annedotos who is said to have appeared in the time of king Daos would then be Anementos (viz. the “fourth” Annedotos of the group of four which are named sequentially Euedokos, Eneugamos, Eneuboulos, Anementos). Then, in the reign of Euedoreskhos, appeared Anodaphos. The modern emendation of the text whereby the “fourth Annedotos” is read “four Annedotoi,” suggests a different order, in which four Annedotoi appear in the single reign of Daos. The arrangement in the Uruk List, which represents a single apkallu for each king, as in the chart
supra (underlined), tends to confirm the text of Abydenus should be left as it is. Also assumed in the chart supra is a double appearance of Oannes, for the reasons stated, the first in a single “day” of the “first year,” and the second in the reign of Ammenon, as described in the fragments of Berossus.

List of Kings and Annedotoi in Berossus (B) and Abydenus (A)

480. Corresponding Sumerian names in < > brackets. Compare the chart above. Saroi (“shars”) are measured by Suidas’ standard, viz. 1 saros = 222 lunar months or 18 yrs. 6 months.



Knowledgeless” Oannes <U-an(a)>

Dynasty of Babylon <Ku’ara, Eridu>

Aloros <Alulim> 10 saroi (=185 years)

Alaparos <Alalgar> son of above 3 saroi (= 55 years 6 months)

{Implied: Annedotos the first time (A)} <Ha-an-duga>

Dynasty of Pautibiblon <Bad-tibira>

Annedotos a second time (A)

Euedokos (A) <Enme-duga>

Almelon (Arm. B) Amelon (B) Amillaros (A) <Enmen-lu-ana> 13 saroi (= 240 years 6 months)

Ammenon <Enmen-gal-ana> 12 saroi (= 222 years)

The “Defiled” Oannes (“Annedotos”) (B)
Eneugamos <Enme-galama>

Amegalaros (Arm. B) Megalaros (BA) <Enme-ushumgal-ana> 18 saroi (= 333 years)

Eneuboulos (A) <Enme-buluga>

Daonos (B) Daos (A) poimen <Dumuzi sipa> 10 saroi (= 165 years)

Anementos (A) <An-enlil-da> a “fourth” double-shaped creature (B)

Euedorankhos (B) Euedoreskhos (A) <Enme-dur-anki> 18 saroi (= 333 years)

Anodaphos (A) Odakon (B) <(Ha-an-)utu-abzu>

Dynasty of Larankhon <Larak>

Amempsinos <En-sipa-zi-ana> 10 saroi (= 185 years)

<Dynasty of Shuruppak>

Ardates (B) Otiartes (B) <Ubara-tutu> 8 saroi (= 148 years)

Xisouthros (B) Sisou/ithros (A) <Ziusudra> son of above 18 saroi (= 333 years)

The Sumerian King List — Pre-diluvian Section

481. For the post-diluvian continuation of this King List see §589ff., below, >>. Saroi (“shars”) are measured by Suidas’ standard, viz. 1 saros = 222 lunar months or 18 yrs. 6 months, and the resulting figures (rounded figures in some cases) are placed between angled brackets < >.

(In the following composite text, mss. are referred to by the sigla used by Vincente 1995; from those listed there, mss. Fi, Go, P6 were not used; if not specified by a note, numerical data come from ms. WB).



1. [nam]-lugal an-ta ed3-de3-a-ba
(Cited in OB catalogue from Urim (U2), 0.2.04, line 25)

After the kingship descended from heaven,
(Cited in OB catalogue from Urim (U2), 0.2.04, line 25)

2. /eridug\ki nam-lugal-la

the kingship was in Eridu.

3. eridugki a2-lu-lim lugal

In Eridu, Alulim became king;

4. mu 8ךar i3-ak

he ruled for 8 saroi <148 years>.

5. a2-lal3-ĝar mu 10ךar i3-ak

Alalgar ruled for 10 saroi <185 years>.

6. 2 lugal

2 kings;

7. mu-<bi> 18ךar ib2-ak

they ruled for 18 saroi <333 years>.

8. eridugki ba-šub

Then Eridu fell



(Inserted in WB 62 is a dynasty of Larsa:)

(Inserted in WB 62 is a dynasty of Larsa:)

[ ]-ki-du-/un\-nu ša kin kin mu 20ךar

[ ]kidunnu-sha-kin-kin ruled for 20 saroi <370 years>

[ a]lim-/ma\ mu 6ךar [ ] /bi2\-(?)-gar

[ a]lima ruled for 6 saroi ……….(?) <111 years>

[2] lugal larsaki-ma

2 kings of Larsa



9. nam-lugal-bi bad3-tibiraki-še3

and the kingship to Bad-tibira.

10. ba-de6

was taken

11. bad3-tibiraki en-me-en-lu2-an-na

In Bad-tibira, En-men-lu-ana

12. mu 12ךar i3-ak

ruled for 12 saroi <222 years>.

13. en-me-en-gal-an-na


14. mu 8ךar i3-ak

ruled for 8 saroi <148 years>.

15. ddumu-zid sipad mu 10ךar i3-ak

Dumuzi, the shepherd, ruled for 10 saroi <185 years>.

16. 3 lugal

3 kings;

17. mu-bi 30ךar ib2-ak

they ruled for 30 saroi <555 years>.

18. bad3-tibiraki ba-šub-be2-en

Then Bad-tibira fell (?)

19. nam-lugal-bi la-ra-agki-še3 ba-de6

and the kingship was taken to Larak.

20. la-ra-agki en-sipad-zid-an-na

In Larak, En-sipa-zi-ana

21. mu 8ךar i3-ak

ruled for 8 saroi <148 years>.

22. 1 lugal

1 king;

23. mu-bi 8ךar ib2-ak

he ruled for 8 saroi <148 years>.

24. la-ra-agki ba-šub-be2-en

Then Larak fell (?)

25. nam-lugal-bi zimbirki-še3 ba-de6

and the kingship was taken to Sippar.

26. zimbirki en-me-en-dur2-an-na

In Sippar, En-men-dur-ana

27. lugal-am3 mu 5ךar 5×ner i3-ak

became king; he ruled for 5 saroi and 5 neroi <107.9 years>.

28. 1 lugal

1 king;

29. mu-bi 5ךar 5×ner ib2-ak

he ruled for 5 saroi and 5 neroi <107.9 years>.

30. zimbirki ba-šub-be2-en

Then Sippar fell (?)

31. nam-lugal-bi šuruppagki-<še3> ba-de6

and the kingship was taken to Shuruppak.

32. šuruppagki ubara-tu3-tu3

In Shuruppak, Ubara-Tutu

33. lugal-am3 mu 5ךar 1×ner i3-ak

became king; he ruled for 5 saroi and 1 neros <95.6 years>.

34. 1 lugal

1 king;

35. mu-bi 5ךar 1×ner ib2-ak

he ruled for 5 saroi and 1 neros <95.6 years>.

36. 5 iriki-me-eš

In 5 cities

37. 8 lugal

8 kings;

38. mu-<bi> 67ךar ib2-ak

they ruled for 67 saroi <1239.5 years>.

39. a-ma-ru ba-ur3-«ra-ta»

Then the flood swept over.

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