Home  »  library  »  poem  »  V. The Eagle and the Snake

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

V. The Eagle and the Snake

By Accadian-Babylonian and Assyrian Literature

TO Samas came the snake and said:—

The eagle has come to my nest, my young are scattered.

See, O Samas, what evil he has done me.

Help me, thy nest is as broad as the earth,

Thy snare is like the heavens,

Who can escape out of thy net?

Hearing the snake’s complaint,

Samas opened his mouth and spake:—

Get thee on thy way, go to the mountain.

A wild ox shall be thy hiding-place.

Open his body, tear out his inward parts,

Make thy dwelling within him.

All the birds of heaven will descend, with them will come the eagle,

Heedless and hurrying on the flesh he will swoop,

Thinking of that which is hidden inside.

So soon as he enters the ox, seize his wing,

Tear off his wing-feathers and claws,

Pull him to pieces and cast him away,

Let him die of hunger and thirst.

So as the mighty Samas commanded,

Rose the snake, went to the mountain,

There he found a wild ox,

Opened his body, tore out his inward parts,

Entered and dwelt within him.

And the birds of heaven descended, with them came the eagle.

Yet the eagle, fearing a snare, ate not of the flesh with the birds.

The eagle spake to his young:—

We will not fly down, nor eat of the flesh of the wild ox.

An eaglet, keen of eye, thus to his father spake:—

In the flesh of the ox lurks the snake

[The rest is lost.]