The story of Adapa

How we missed out on becoming immortal…

Once upon a time, the god Enki, the lord of wisdom and creation, decided to craft a human being unlike any other. He called this man Adapa and entrusted him with the task of caring for the city of Eridu.

Adapa was rumored to be not just a creation of Enki, but his very own son. Blessed with the divine gifts of his father, Adapa possessed an unprecedented level of wisdom and intelligence, far surpassing that of ordinary mortals.

A son of a god indeed

True to his exceptional nature, Adapa quickly rose to become the revered King of Eridu. He used his vast wisdom to lay the foundations for the first great civilizations, even inventing the first human language to facilitate the progress of his people. But Adapa was more than just a royal figure – he also served as a high priest, acting as a conduit between the god Enki and his devoted subjects. Through his sacred duties, Adapa ensured a harmonious relationship between the divine and mortal realms.

Despite his divine lineage and extraordinary abilities, Adapa remained a mortal being. For even though Enki had endowed him with wisdom, the god had not granted his son the gift of eternal life. Adapa, like all other humans, was destined to one day face the inevitable fate of mortality.

Exploring the Persian (Mesopotamian?) gulf

One day, the wise and resourceful Adapa embarked on a fishing expedition, determined to provide sustenance for his people in the city of Eridu. As he drifted upon the calm waters of the Persian Gulf, Adapa suddenly noticed a shift in the winds.

The breeze began to pick up, blowing steadily from the south. Adapa watched with growing concern as the wind grew stronger and stronger, until suddenly, his small boat was capsized by the powerful gusts. Adapa found himself struggling against the churning waves, fighting to keep his head above the water. Drawing upon his extraordinary knowledge, he quickly realized that this was no ordinary storm – the South Wind had intentionally turned against him.

Filled with a righteous fury, Adapa made his way to the shoreline. He turned his gaze skyward and unleashed a powerful curse upon the South Wind. “You treacherous spirit!” Adapa bellowed. “How dare you attempt to drown me, the chosen son of the great Enki? For your insolence, I shall break one of your wings, rendering you powerless to blow for seven days!”

Adapa messes up the wind

With a swift and decisive motion, Adapa struck the South Wind, snapping one of its ethereal wings. The wind howled in pain and anguish, its strength diminished, unable to blow for the duration of Adapa’s curse.

Satisfied with his victory, Adapa returned to Eridu, his people marveling at his remarkable feat. Word of his triumph over the South Wind spread quickly, further cementing Adapa’s reputation as a man of unparalleled wisdom and power.

From that day forward, the people of Eridu knew that their king was not only a benevolent ruler, but a formidable protector who would stop at nothing to defend his domain and his people from the whims of the divine forces that governed the natural world.

Summoned by the Supreme god

When news of Adapa’s bold actions against the South Wind reached the ears of Anu, the supreme god of the Mesopotamian pantheon, he was not pleased. Who was this Adapa figure to challenge a divine creature? Summoning his vizier, Anu ordered the mortal to be brought before him to answer for his transgressions.

Upon learning of Anu’s summons, Enki, the father of Adapa and the lord of wisdom, rushed to his son’s side. Enki knew that Anu’s wrath could be swift and unforgiving, and he was determined to ensure Adapa’s safe return.

Parental advice

“My son,” Enki said, his voice grave, “you must heed my instructions carefully, for your very life may depend on it.” Enki instructed Adapa to don the garments of mourning, for this would set the tone for his audience with the gods. “When you arrive at the gates, you will be greeted by Dumuzid and Gizzida. Tell them that you mourn their absence from the Earth, and they will surely speak well of you to Anu.”

Adapa listened intently as Enki continued, “Once you are brought before Anu, he will offer you bread, water, oil, and new garments. You must accept the oil and the garments as a show of respect, but under no circumstances are you to consume the bread or the water. They are poisoned, and will surely kill you”

Adapa’s eyes widened with understanding. “I see, Father. Anu seeks to punish me for my actions against the South Wind. But with your guidance, I shall navigate this treacherous audience and return home safely.”

Dinner at Anu’s

Enki placed a reassuring hand on his son’s shoulder. “Be steadfast, Adapa. Your wisdom and my blessings will be your shield against Anu’s wrath. Go now, and may the gods watch over you.”

With a deep breath, Adapa set forth, his heart filled with a mixture of trepidation and determination. He knew that the fate of Eridu, and perhaps even the entire mortal realm, rested upon his ability to heed Enki’s instructions and navigate the perilous audience with the supreme god Anu.

With Enki’s wise counsel ringing in his ears, Adapa made his way to the gates of heaven, where he was greeted by the gods Dumuzid and Gizzida. “Hail great Dumuzid and fair Gizzida”, he said. “Though I rejoice to see you here in the heavens, my heart bleeds every day that I cannot find you on the Earth”.

“Hail, Adapa,” Dumuzid said, his voice warm. “Your sorrow touches our hearts.” Gizzida nodded in agreement. “Your devotion has not gone unnoticed. Come, we shall guide you to the presence of the mighty Anu.” Adapa bowed respectfully. “I am honored by your kindness, noble gods. Let us proceed, for I have much to answer for before the supreme deity.”

Facing the judge of the cosmos

As Adapa was ushered into Anu’s grand hall, the supreme god fixed him with a piercing gaze. “Mortal, you have committed a grave offense against the natural order. Explain yourself – why have you dared to break the wing of the South Wind?”

Adapa met Anu’s gaze unflinchingly. “Great Anu, I nearly drowned at sea when the South Wind turned against me. In my desperation to survive, I struck the wind, for I knew no other way to stop its fury.” Dumuzid and Gizzida spoke up, their voices soothing. “Anu, the mortal’s actions were born of necessity, not malice. He meant no disrespect to the divine.”

Anu’s brow furrowed, but the anger in his eyes began to subside. “Very well. I shall hear you out, Adapa.” At that moment, Anu’s servants brought forth bread, water, garments, and oil, offering them to the mortal.

The sacred rites of the Heavens

Adapa remembered Enki’s warning and, with great restraint, refused to consume the bread and water, though he accepted the garments and anointed himself with the oil. Anu’s laughter echoed through the hall. “Mortal, do you not wish to be immortal? Why have you refused the Bread and Water of Life?”

Adapa bowed his head. “Forgive me, great Anu, but my father, the wise Enki, warned me that the food and drink were poisoned. I dared not consume them, lest I meet an untimely demise.”Anu’s laughter only grew louder. “Ah, the wisdom of Enki is indeed great. You have passed the test, Adapa. Return now to the mortal realm, and live out your days as a wise and virtuous man among your people.”

With a grateful heart, Adapa bowed once more and took his leave, his encounter with the supreme god a testament to the power of heeding the counsel of one’s divine parent. As he made his way back to Eridu, Adapa knew that his life would forever be shaped by Enki’s guidance and the lessons he had learned in the halls of Anu.

So why are we still mortal?

As Adapa made his way back to the city of Eridu, his heart filled with gratitude for the wisdom and guidance of his divine father, Enki. The lessons he had learned during his audience with the supreme god Anu would forever shape the course of his life. Yet, one question continued to linger in Adapa’s mind: if he had been offered the Bread and Water of Life, why did he not partake and become immortal, like the gods themselves?

The answer, it seemed, lay in the complex and often treacherous relationship between divine fathers and their godlike sons. Enki, in his infinite wisdom, had warned Adapa against consuming the immortality-granting sustenance, fearing not for his son’s life, but for the potential consequences of Adapa’s ascension to the divine realm.

It’s a complicated family situation

For in the long-standing tradition of the Mesopotamian pantheon, godly offspring were often seen as deadly rivals to their fathers, their ambition and power posing a grave threat to the established order of the heavens. Enki, no doubt, recognized this perilous dynamic. By denying Adapa the Bread and Water of Life, he ensured that his son would remain mortal, forever bound to the realm of men, rather than becoming a godlike being who could one day challenge Enki’s own authority.

And so, Adapa returned to Eridu, his mortality intact, destined to live out his days as a wise and virtuous man among his people. The story of his encounter with Anu and his father’s guiding hand would be passed down through the generations, a testament to the complex and often treacherous nature of the relationship between gods and their mortal progeny.

In the end, this tale explains why mankind, even those blessed with divine lineage, must still grapple with the inevitability of mortality. For the gods, in their infinite wisdom, have deemed it so, lest the balance of power in the celestial realms be forever disrupted.