Ahuramazda

In the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, Ahuramazda (meaning “Lord of Wisdom”, also refered to as Ahura Mazda or Ohrmazd among other names) is the supreme deity who created the spirit and physical worlds. He is a benevolent being, as well as the upholder of truth and justice, very important principals in Zoroastrianism. Generally depicted a man with a long beard, wearing a robe and tall golden crown, he has often been misrepresented with two wings on his back, resembling the angelic yazatas (divine entities) who assist him in governing the universe. Ahuramazda is not omnipotent, however, and welcomes the help of humans to ward off the evil forces of Angra Mainyu (also called Ahriman), the spirit that embodies destructive thought. This can be achieved through good and peaceful feelings, not by deceit and betrayal, the home of Angra Mainyu. Garo Demana (the Abode of Song) is sometimes said to be where the Lord of Wisdom dwells, but heaven in Zoroastrianism is a concept, not a place. In the past, it was customary for Persian Emperors to have an empty chariot drawn by white horses when riding to war, an invitation for Ahuramazda to accompany them to prove their cause was just.

Marduk

In the legends of Ancient Mesopotamian, one figure came to be held in higher regard than all others: Marduk, the Wise Lord. Originally the patron deity of Babylon, Marduk’s prestige grew along with the city state’s between the 3rd millennium BC and the 1st millennium BC, until his influence and complexity reflected that of the Babylonian Empire. Often called Bel, simply meaning “Lord”, he was generally depicted as a bearded man in headgear, or occasionally represented by his draconic hybrid, Mushussu. Though he may have been associated with water, storms, judgement, the sun, farming, magic and more, there is no definite answer from ancient texts as to what he symbolised.

Marduk’s story is told in the Babylonian Epic of Creation, the Enuma Elish. Angered by the tyranny of the primordial ocean goddess, Tiamat, the Annunaki gods conspire to reward anyone who can defeat her by elevating them to the head of the pantheon. The young god Marduk answers the call, assembling a wealth of divine weapons and magic, and rides to battle on a storm chariot. Slaying Tiamat and her generals, Marduk forms the world from her body, and creates mankind to labour on its soil. Through his wife, the goddess Sarpanit, he bore a son, Nabu, with whom he co-reigned over Heaven and Earth. This myth was a way to justify Marduk’s rise to prominence in regions beyond Babylon, replacing former supreme deities such as Ea and Enlil, and describing his dual nature of helping or destroying men.