The story of Adapa, centers on man’s eternal quest, to discover immortality.
“A part of us all, wants the immortality of our soul. We want more time, to never age, nor die. For man’s only greatness, is immortality”
In ancient Babylonian Mythology and tradition, there was a wise man called, Adapa.
Adapa was a sage from the ancient Sumerian city of Eridu.
The City of Eridu is recorded as one of the five cities that predate the Flood.
These early cities were ruled by eight legendary kings, each of whom reigned for one or more centuries.
At that time, these kings had powerful sages and semi divine beings, called akpallu, as their counselors.
The apkallu, or sages were the ones who introduced learning and the arts to the early Sumerian cities.
And the sage, Adapa, was one of these renowned akpallu.
According to legend, Adapa had always been curious about the source of immortality, and sought to end the theme of human mortality.
He often asked “Why should humans be mortal, and the gods immortal?”.
Adapa deemed it unfair that the gods could live on forever, while humans waned and died with time.
Now, Adapa was described as an ideal human being. He strictly observed the rituals laid down by his mentor god, Ea, and was perfect in wisdom.
As a servant of the god Ea, Adapa performed the divine rites with great care, baking bread, preparing food and drink, setting the table with clean hands, and catching fish for Ea’s cult at Eridu.
One fateful day, while Adapa was out fishing, a south wind came up and capsized his boat.
Adapa was thrown overboard and spent the day “in the home of the fish.
Wet and angry, he so much cursed the wind, that the power of his spell broke its wings.
For seven whole days, the wind was incapacitated, and the air did not blow over the land.
This annoyed the supreme god, Anu. So Anu summoned Adapa to appear before him.
Now, Ea the mentor god, knew that Adapa would be granted an audience in heaven, and possibly, a permanent place there.
Ea did not want to lose the services of his loyal servant, so, he gave Adapa a false advise, which to the human ears, sounded so right in every aspect, but had a hidden agenda.
He advised Adapa to humble himself, and stand in mourning garb with his hair unkempt and disheveled, as a sign of grief, before Anu’s gatekeepers, Dumuzi, and Gish zida.
Ea’s plan was to so bemuse these two deities that they would intercede on Adapa’s behalf and plead his case before Anu.
Ea also advised Adapa not to accept heaven’s hospitality, and to reject any food or drink offered to him. For such offerings were the food and drink of death.
Upon his arrival in heaven, Adapa followed Ea’s advice. He so amused the gatekeepers that they interceded and pleaded his case.
When Adapa appeared before Anu, the supreme god offered him food and drink, a rite of hospitality performed only for visiting deities.
Adapa declined the offering, not realizing that acceptance of heavenly food or drink would have granted him eternal life.
Anu laughed at the sage’s naïveté and asked him why he did not eat nor drink.
Adapa answered that Ea had advised him in the ways of heaven, and that he was merely following Ea’s instructions.
Anu told Adapa, that Ea had lied to him. For in truth, The supreme god Anu, had offered him eternal life in form of food and drink, and his refusal meant that he would remain a mortal. He would grow old and die .
And so, because of Adapa’s choice, all humans are mortal.