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Our only source of information concerning these Babylonian myths and legends is Berossus, a Babylonian priest under Antiochus Soter (281-262BCE), fragments of whose work have been preserved by Josephus and Eusebius, the latter having them at second hand from Alexander Polyhistor an Apollodorus. The passage here quoted rests partly upon Georgus Syncellus, is published in Eusebia Chromicorum Liber Prior, edidit Alfred Schone (Berlin, 1875).


In Babylon there was a great number of men, of dif-
ferent races, who had settled Chaldea. They lived in
an uncivilized manner, like beasts (Syn. 50, 12).

In the first year there appeared from the Red Sea,
at the place where it borders upon Babylonia, an in-
telligent being, by name Oannes, as also Apollodorus
has narrated, having, as to the whole, the body of a
fish, but underneath the head there had grown another
head (underneath the head of the fish) and feet likewise
of a man, had grown from the tail of the fish. He had a
human voice, and a picture of him is even yet preserved.

This being, they say, spent the day with men, taking
no nourishment, and gave men knowledge of letters and
numbers and many arts, and taught them the set-
tlement of cities, the founding of temples, and introduc-
tion of laws and the survey of land, and he explained
seeds and the harvesting of crops, and all things together
which relate to the civilized life he taught men. From
that day nothing else remarkable has been found out
(Syn. 51, 2).

When the sun went down this being, Oannes, went
again into the sea, and spent the nights in the sea, for
he was amphibious. Later there appeared also two
others like him, concerning whom, they say, he (i. e.,

Berossus) gives information in the book of the Kings.
But Oannes wrote concerning the creation and concern-
ing citizenship, and gave the treatise to men (Syn.
51, 16).


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