D&D Historian Benn Riggs On Gary Gygax & Sexism

D&D historian Ben Riggs delved into the facts.

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The recent book The Making of Original Dungeons & Dragons 1970-1977 talks about the early years of D&D. In the book, authors Jon Peterson and Jason Tondro talk about the way the game, and its writers, approached certain issues. Not surprisingly, this revelation received aggressive "pushback" on social media because, well, that sort of thing does--in fact, one designer who worked with Gygax at the time labelled it "slanderous".

D&D historian Ben Riggs--author of Slaying the Dragon--delved into the facts. Note that the below was posted on Twitter, in that format, not as an article.

D&D Co-Creator Gary Gygax was Sexist. Talking About it is Key to Preserving his Legacy.

The internet has been rending its clothes and gnashing its teeth over the introduction to an instant classic of TTRPG history, The Making of Original D&D 1970-1977. Published by Wizards of the Coast, it details the earliest days of D&D’s creation using amazing primary source materials.

Why then has the response been outrage from various corners of the internet? Well authors Jon Peterson and Jason Tondro mention that early D&D made light of slavery, disparaged women, and gave Hindu deities hit points. They also repeated Wizard’s disclaimer for legacy content which states:"These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed."

In response to this, an army of grognards swarmed social media to bite their shields and bellow. Early D&D author Rob Kuntz described Peterson and Tondro’s work as “slanderous.” On his Castle Oldskull blog, Kent David Kelly called it “disparagement.” These critics are accusing Peterson and Tondro of dishonesty. Lying, not to put too fine a point on it.So, are they lying? Are they making stuff up about Gary Gygax and early D&D?

Well, let's look at a specific example of what Peterson and Tondro describe as “misogyny “ from 1975's Greyhawk. Greyhawk was the first supplement ever produced for D&D. Written by Gary Gygax and Rob Kuntz, the same Rob Kuntz who claimed slander above, it was a crucial text in the history of the game. For example, it debuted the thief character class. It also gave the game new dragons, among them the King of Lawful Dragons and the Queen of Chaotic Dragons. The male dragon is good, and female dragon is evil. (See Appendix 1 below for more.)

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It is a repetition of the old trope that male power is inherently good, and female power is inherently evil. (Consider the connotations of the words witch and wizard, with witches being evil by definition, for another example.)

Now so-called defenders of Gygax and Kuntz will say that my reading of the above text makes me a fool who wouldn’t know dragon’s breath from a virtue signal. I am ruining D&D with my woke wokeness. Gygax and Kuntz were just building a fun game, and decades later, Peterson and Tondro come along to crap on their work by screeching about misogyny.

(I would also point out that as we are all white men of a certain age talking about misogyny, the worst we can expect is to be flamed online. Women often doing the same thing get rape or death threats.)

Critics of their work would say that Peterson and Tondro are reading politics into D&D. Except that when we return to the Greyhawk text, we see that it was actually Gygax and Kuntz who put “politics” into D&D.

The text itself comments on the fact that the lawful dragon is male, and the chaotic one is female. Gygax and Kuntz wrote: “Women’s lib may make whatever they wish from the foregoing.”


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The intent is clear. The female is a realm of chaos and evil, so of course they made their chaotic evil dragon a queen.

Yes, Gygax and Kuntz are making a game, but it is a game whose co-creator explicitly wrote into the rules that feminine power—perhaps even female equality—is by nature evil. There is little room for any other interpretation.

The so-called defenders of Gygax may now say that he was a man of his time, he didn’t know better, or some such. If only someone had told him women were people too in 1975! Well, Gygax was criticized for this fact of D&D at the time. And he left us his response.

Writing in EUROPA, a European fanzine, Gygax said:“I have been accused of being a nasty old sexist-male-Chauvinist-pig, for the wording in D&D isn’t what it should be. There should be more emphasis on the female role, more non-gendered names, and so forth."

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"I thought perhaps these folks were right and considered adding women in the ‘Raping and Pillaging[’] section, in the ‘Whores and Tavern Wenches’ chapter, the special magical part dealing with ‘Hags and Crones’...and thought perhaps of adding an appendix on ‘Medieval Harems, Slave Girls, and Going Viking’. Damn right I am sexist. It doesn’t matter to me if women get paid as much as men, get jobs traditionally male, and shower in the men’s locker room."

"They can jolly well stay away from wargaming in droves for all I care. I’ve seen many a good wargame and wargamer spoiled thanks to the fair sex. I’ll detail that if anyone wishes.”


So just to summarize here, Gygax wrote misogyny into the D&D rules. When this was raised with him as an issue at the time, his response was to offer to put rules on rape and sex slavery into D&D.

The outrage online directed at Peterson and Tondro is not only entirely misplaced and disproportional, and perhaps even dishonest in certain cases...

Part 2: D&D Co-Creator Gary Gygax was Sexist. Talking About it is Key to Preserving his Legacy....it is also directly harming the legacies of Gygax, Arneson, Kuntz and the entire first generation of genius game designers our online army of outraged grognards purport to defend.

How? Let me show you.The D&D player base is getting more diverse in every measurable way, including age, gender, sexual orientation, and race. To cite a few statistics, 81% of D&D players are Millenials or Gen Z, and 39% are women. This diversity is incredible, and not because the diversity is some blessed goal unto itself. Rather, the increasing diversity of D&D proves the vigor of the TTRPG medium. Like Japanese rap music or Soviet science fiction, the transportation of a medium across cultures, nations, and genders proves that it is an important method for exploring the human condition. And while TTRPGs are a game, they are also clearly an important method for exploring the human condition. The fact the TTRPG fanbase is no longer solely middle-aged Midwestern cis men of middle European descent...

...the fact that non-binary blerds and Indigenous trans women and fat Polish-American geeks like me and people from every bed of the human vegetable garden ...

find meaning in a game created by two white guys from the Midwest is proof that Gygax and Arneson were geniuses who heaved human civilization forward, even if only by a few feet.

So, as a community, how do we deal with the ugly prejudices of our hobby’s co-creator who also baked them into the game we love? We could pretend there is no problem at all, and say that anyone who mentions the problem is a liar. There is no misogyny to see. There is no **** and there is no stink, and anyone who says there is naughty word on your sneakers is lying and is just trying to embarrass you.

I wonder how that will go? Will all these new D&D fans decide that maybe D&D isn’t for them? They know the stink of misogyny, just like they know **** when they smell it. To say it isn’t there is an insult to their intelligence. If they left the hobby over this, it would leave our community smaller, poorer, and suggest that the great work of Gygax, Arneson, Kuntz, and the other early luminaries on D&D was perhaps not so great after all…

We could take the route of Disney and Song of the South. Wizards could remove all the PDFs of early D&D from DriveThruRPG. They could refuse to ever reprint this material again. Hide it. Bury it. Erase it all with copyright law and lawyers. Yet no matter how deeply you bury the past, it always tends to come back up to the surface again. Heck, there are whole podcast series about that. And what will all these new D&D fans think when they realize that a corporation tried to hide its own mistakes from them?

Again, maybe they decide D&D isn’t the game for them. Or maybe when someone tells you there is **** on your shoe, you say thanks, clean it off, and move on.

We honor the old books, but when they tell a reader they are a lesser human being, we should acknowledge that is not the D&D of 2024. Something like...

“Hey reader, we see you in all your wondrous multiplicity of possibility, and if we were publishing this today, it wouldn’t contain messages and themes telling some of you that you are less than others. So we just want to warn you. That stuff’s in there.”

Y’know, something like that legacy content warning they put on all those old PDFs on DriveThruRPG. And when we see something bigoted in old D&D, we talk about it. It lets the new, broad, and deep tribe of D&D know that we do not want bigotry in D&D today. Talking about it welcomes the entire human family into the hobby.To do anything less is to damn D&D to darkness. It hobbles its growth, gates its community, denies the world the joy of the game, and denies its creators their due. D&D’s creators were visionary game designers. They were also people, and people are kinda ****** up. So a necessary step in making D&D the sort of cultural pillar that it deserves to be is to name its bigotries and prejudices when you see them. Failure to do so hurts the game by shrinking our community and therefore shrinking the legacy of its creators.

Appendix 1: Yeah, I know Chaos isn’t the same as Evil in OD&D.

But I would also point out as nerdily as possible that on pg. 9 of Book 1 of OD&D, under “Character Alignment, Including Various Monsters and Creatures,” Evil High Priests are included under the “Chaos” heading, along with the undead. So I would put to you that Gygax did see a relationship between Evil and Chaos at the time.

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Look, folks, we know how a conversation like this goes on the internet. Because, internet. Read the rules you agreed to before replying. The banhammer will be used on those who don't do what they agreed to.
 

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Minion X

Explorer
That wasn't exactly an original invention by Gygax, though. The drow were obviously heavily inspired (i.e. lifted straight from) the Black Martians in Burrough's The Gods of Mars.

They were ruled by their very own Lolth:
 

Steampunkette

A5e 3rd Party Publisher!
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I was one who said something like he was a product of their time. Gary said those words.

Everyone comes from a different back ground and life experiences. Not everyone's had a nice comfy middle class American lifestyle.

There's a couple of members of my family I regard as outright evil. One got gassed in the trenches WW1 and came back probably with ptsd and psychological trauma. I can't really say what he got up to.

Grandmother was raised by him. She was basically horrible and racist towards certain people because of the war. Went to a family reunion and our line was the second smallest the smallest line was functionally extinct. Distinct lack of males. They all died in the war years the 2 survivors died young (industrial accident deep fried and a heart attack). Her family departed on troop ships most didn't come back one came back a monster. America didn't bother turning up until 1917. Late for pt 2 as well.

My mother was more or less contemporary with Gary (born 1941). She was forced to leave school aged 14 because she was a female. No point educating them (according to her parents). Born on a whaling station.

My grandmother was about a 6/10 evil scale. She was also physically abusive. Mothers first husband was about a 8.5 on the evil scale.

Fast forward to 90s our D&D group was pretty much all from broken homes. The 2 from intact families both of their parents divorced later. I dodged the worst of it relative to everyone else. I didn't get SA or on methadone by age 18.

I don't really care about what Gary said just pushing back about "Product of their time" comment. There were better attitudes around but it was far from universal in USA let alone other countries. Wasn't illegal to rape your wife until 1986 (we let women vote 27 years before USA). My older brothers got the cane at school they made that illegal 1986. My school used a leather strap instead.

So when I say "Product of its time" I'm not justifying it but I'm aware of how awful things are and I dodged the worst of it (born 1978). All I had to do was get a job aged 13, buying my own clothes and shoes aged 15. I was the first to graduate university in my family, sister graduated recently and she was born 1967.

As said I would be more surprised if Gary had different views. Born 1938, small town USA, didn't go to university afaik. I'm not a big fan of his work either it's about a C on a tier list.

I think Gen X broke a 100 year cycle though. I did it by not breeding.
Born in 1908, Novalyne Price was the girlfriend of Robert E. Howard. Born on a farm in Brownwood Texas she became a school teacher in the hopes of becoming a writer and to pay her way through Daniel Baker College. She met Howard in 1933 and looked to him for writing advice. And though she tried to get him into a more committed relationship than friendship and casual dating it never worked.

Robert E. Howard was born in 1906 in Peaster Texas. So it's really safe to say they were contemporaries, right?

She called out Robert E. Howard for being a racist. And his response was to browbeat and berate her for having no idea how actually evil and awful black people "Really" are.

Being born in a specific time period, or living through specific events, definitely shapes who you become. Makes some attitudes more likely. But there are always going to be people who deviate from the norm.

Someone who willingly identifies themself as a bigot and doubles down on their bigotry is someone who deviates from the norm. They're not a "Product of their Time". They're an outright bigot.
Not only his sexism but was an acceptable joke at that time in popular culture. So it was an inherent cultural phenomenon.
Considering Women's Lib had reached national levels several years earlier and was growing ever more popular before it's end in the 80s where it would be supplanted by other feminist movements that took prominence...

I'd say it was probably an "Edgy" joke to make in 1975. Probably on par with people ranting about wokeness.
Absolutely, it isn't about time, it's about environment, upbringing, and personality.

Woman's rights was already a movement a lifetime before GG was born, a woman's right to vote in the US was established nationally in 1920, GG was born in 1938. And the WLM was already a 'thing' for a decade when they made D&D. Just the WLM existing gives you a very good indication that there was an issue at that time and place (US). Just reading some of the stuff from GG and compatriots clearly show that these folks aren't 'enlightened', and that is not an issue just from that time, we still have that issue. We see it here and elsewhere.

On one hand I think that Death is the great equalizer and these people will die out naturally... However harsh that might sound. But when I look at US politics and even local Dutch politics, these kinds of people keep popping up, this isn't an issue with time, this is an issue with people and the environment they seem to thrive in.

We've had Holocaust deniers, so that there are people that deny that GG & crew where X and Y isn't all that surprising. Playing keyboard warrior seems to be a favorite past time on both sides of the fence... Ignoring Twitter and Facebook is quite easy... Just don't go there!

Personally trying to convince these kinds of people to think differently is a waste of my time and effort. I'll just ignore them and they'll die eventually anyway. I think it's better to invest in the next generation, RPGs that are aimed at a younger generation. Chances are that those will never touch 0D&D as a serious main RPG. D&D6e is probably something that the next generation will grow in naturally and if D&D5.5e is any indication (and the rewriting of settings the last decade), then WotC/Hasbro is overcompensating hard. Which is not all that strange when they're trying to reach as many people as possible, offend as few as possible, that also shows that people that are offended by their 'wokeness' is an irrelevant minority to their bottom line, not surprising, these folks don't buy the new 5e products and they are dying out. A bigger issue is that WotC/Hasbro are now turning away young people due to their big bad corp image...

As for the chaotic evil dragon queen... Somehow I'm imagining GG in drag with a crown on his head playing the dragon queen in his basement... ;)
Agreed for the most part. To quote Brennan Lee Mulligan who was paraphrasing his teacher:

Personality predates ideology. Before you were a fascist you were a bully and an -

Well. I'll cut him off there to avoid the naughty language filter.

The point is that some people ARE mean and cruel and ugly and will latch onto what it's "Okay" to be mean and cruel and ugly about in a given time period.

If Gygax was born in 2001 as a Gen Z kid he'd still be a bigot because he'd still have the need to place himself above others. He probably wouldn't be the sexist that he was, though, because that fell out of favor. He'd probably be a transphobe and homophobe latching on to Joanne Koanne Roanne's grievances while lauding Harry Potter as fantastic writing.

Or, let's be honest, some combination of various bigotries and grievances.
Tiamat was Babylonian/Akkadian. Akkadians and Sumerians are not the same. Sumerian is a linguistic isolate, whereas Akkadian is a Semitic language of the East Semitic branch. Akkadian vocabulary, syntax, and writing were influenced by the older Sumerian culture; nevertheless, they are different languages and cultures. While some gods were borrowed from the Sumerian mythos and cults, Tiamat likely was not.

FYI, gods usually have a divine determinative as part of their names in cuneiform. Interestingly enough, neither Tiamat nor Apsû have one in the Enuma Elish. I also believe that Anshar, i.e., the god/personification of the primordial heavens, didn't have one either. This lack of divine determinative is usually reflective of a lack of actual worship, which was generally the case for primordial powers.


I think that you are asserting all of this with confidence and certainty far beyond what any reputable contemporary Assyriologists would likely say on the matter.
It's a fair article but I have one point of contention: Tiamat is a Sumerian goddess, she was a dragon and she personified chaos so Gygax and Kuntz were following actual mythology with the Queen of the Dragons. Doesn't take away from the idea it is inherently sexist but they chose a goddess who was the mother of dragons, chaos, commanded monsters, to be their evil queen.
Tiamat was Nammu.

Nammu was the first of the Sumerian Gods. Queen of Primordial Waters, as in the waters of life that allow anything to live, it is she who birthed Ki (Earth) and An (Sky). She was the mother of all things. Her religion was deeply important as a foundational religion for, well, y'know. Everything. And like most goddesses she primarily had priestesses because we find that was pretty traditional when we look at Inanna and her religious following.

How do we know that? Enheduanna, daughter of Sargon of Akkad, priestess of Inanna, and her massive poem/hymn to Inanna which tells us tons about her religion which we can cross-reference with other materials at the time. We also see Nammu's religion fading from prominence with the Akkadian rulership as An, Enki, and Enlil become far more prominent. Particularly Enlil in Nippur which is his hometown. Nippur being considered a must-have for the rulers of the region and even though Uruk is the big city you can't -really- be the King of Kings without Nippur on your trophy wall.

(Though it should be noted that prior to the time of Akkad Inanna was a minor cult deity thrown up into incredible prominence by Enheduanna and Sargon who conflated her with and eventually syncretized her to Ishtar)

Then you get the Gutis, briefly, before the Sumerian Dynasty return when Ur-Nammu, a ruler who is literally named after the goddess of primordial waters in the Sumerian culture, builds Ur 3.

Then come the Ammorites for 300 years before you get to the Babylonians. Specifically the Paleo-Babylonians who conquer it. And with it they bring the story of Marduk and Tiamat. But who is Marduk?

Marduk is a Storm God. Like Enlil. Enlil is the Sumerian god of storms and for the -longest- time he was an incredibly important and central figure in their religious beliefs as well. In fact his Temple in Nippur was seen as the "Rope" holding the heavens and the primordial waters apart so that mortals could live on Earth. The two were seen as so similar and taking the same place that Marduk took all of Enlil's titles and was referred to, by the Babylonians, as "The Enlil of the Gods"

(Sort of like how Ra was the Horus of the Eastern horizon and Horus of the Western horizon and eventually basically ate up the god Horus's whole mythology to syncretize into a single entity, Ra. Or as he was briefly known as Re-Horakhty)

But. Nippur fell out of favor and with it, so did Enlil. His worship was largely supplanted by Inanna (Thanks, Enheduanna!) Enki, and other gods. So when the Babylonians conquered in the name of their god, who they considered the god of heaven the earth and the underworld (Bel Matati) they had to end the slander against Storm Gods. How'd they do it?

They took the name of Enlil off the walls. In Nippur Imgur-Enlil and Nimit-Enlil had been on the walls for a long time. But they were changed to Imgur-Marduk and Nimit-Marduk while Imbur-Enlil and Nimit-Enlil were instead moved to Babylon.

Because they were practically the same character. The ancient mesopotamian beliefs that developed into national gods were still largely shared. They just tended to go "My god's better than your god" and fight wars over it.

But where does that put Tiamat and Nammu? Tiamat was the primordial goddess of the sea who mated with Absu (Groundwater) to birth the gods of the Babylonian pantheon. Nammu, no longer the creator of the world since they had Absu as the god of primordial water, is relegated to the role of one of nine deities who helped to create mankind.

But within the culture of Sumer during the conquest, Nammu was a powerful goddess of water, not the sea. Her temples are strong in the minds of the people. So how do you deal with that? Simple. Tiamat took her place in the story of creation, so kill Tiamat and syncretize Tiamat of Babylon with Nammu of Sumer to break the faith and rebuild it to suit your needs.

Just like you did with Marduk and Enlil when you transferred the names of Enlil to Babylon and Marduk to Nippur.

And then you have Marduk marry Inanna/Ishtar and keep her as his "Queen of Heaven" to put her in a subservient position to him since -her- priesthood was too powerful to easily unseat. Still manages to reduce the relative power of women in society, though, which is largely the point, while spreading word of Marduk's prominence into every temple of Inanna/Ishtar.

Fascinatingly, in the background of all of this happening, you've got Inanna becoming Ishtar becoming Asherah. Same character across different stories and religions, but always the same associations and history. Even into Rome. Asherah had cults in Rome until at least 500CE, making hers the longest continuing religion of the region since it started in Sumer and just kept going. Mostly because she was the -hottest- of all the gods and everyone wanted their chief deity to marry her. Also their kings.

That's not a joke. There was a "Sacred Marriage" ceremony where the high priestess of Inanna/Ishtar would "Marry" the new king of (insert current empire name here) who would act as Dumuzid the shepherd and husband of Inanna. Meanwhile she was considered "Queen of Heaven" 'cause in various myths she's the wife of Marduk of the Babylonians, El of the Canaanites (and previously the Akkadians before they swapped over to Enlil and conquered Sumer), and eventually Adonai of the Israelites.

Anyway. It's kinda beside the point.

The point being that Gygax didn't -have- to use the name Tiamat and didn't -have- to make her the mother of all evil dragons and chaos and stuff, it just fit his sexist presumptions and gave him a 'Fancy Historical Name' to use. Gygax was always going to make an evil dragon queen and a good dragon king and the names didn't matter.

Otherwise he wouldn't have picked the name of a Fish to be the name of his Dragon God. He'd have chosen one of the MANY NAMES of Dragons or Monsters of the Babylonian mythology. Bahamut and Tiamat just sounded cool.
 
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SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
I don't believe the book will offer anything new for me, and I'm not willing to spend that much money on a paperweight. So I have made the choice not to purchase it.

How was that not a choice?
Sounds like it. "Ah, I don't need any more chips, so I won't buy them," is not a meaningful choice.

But it sounds like you have made an evaluation on the relative worth and decided against it.

By the definition some people are using, you are literally making almost unlimited choices in a day. Which is, well, that's a definition, but not a very useful one to me.

But I get it, we're not going to agree on the definition of choice, so I will choose to disengage from discussion on the issue. I don't have anything useful to say about the book outside of this, so that's for the best.
 


DarkCrisis

Reeks of Jedi
Born in 1908, Novalyne Price was the girlfriend of Robert E. Howard. Born on a farm in Brownwood Texas she became a school teacher in the hopes of becoming a writer and to pay her way through Daniel Baker College. She met Howard in 1933 and looked to him for writing advice. And though she tried to get him into a more committed relationship than friendship and casual dating it never worked.

Robert E. Howard was born in 1906 in Peaster Texas. So it's really safe to say they were contemporaries, right?

She called out Robert E. Howard for being a racist. And his response was to browbeat and berate her for having no idea how actually evil and awful black people "Really" are.

Being born in a specific time period, or living through specific events, definitely shapes who you become. Makes some attitudes more likely. But there are always going to be people who deviate from the norm.

Someone who willingly identifies themself as a bigot and doubles down on their bigotry is someone who deviates from the norm. They're not a "Product of their Time". They're an outright bigot.

Considering Women's Lib had reached national levels several years earlier and was growing ever more popular before it's end in the 80s where it would be supplanted by other feminist movements that took prominence...

I'd say it was probably an "Edgy" joke to make in 1975. Probably on par with people ranting about wokeness.

Agreed for the most part. To quote Brennan Lee Mulligan who was paraphrasing his teacher:

Personality predates ideology. Before you were a fascist you were a bully and an -

Well. I'll cut him off there to avoid the naughty language filter.

The point is that some people ARE mean and cruel and ugly and will latch onto what it's "Okay" to be mean and cruel and ugly about in a given time period.

If Gygax was born in 2001 as a Gen Z kid he'd still be a bigot because he'd still have the need to place himself above others. He probably wouldn't be the sexist that he was, though, because that fell out of favor. He'd probably be a transphobe and homophobe latching on to Joanne Koanne Roanne's grievances while lauding Harry Potter as fantastic writing.

Or, let's be honest, some combination of various bigotries and grievances.


Tiamat was Nammu.

Nammu was the first of the Sumerian Gods. Queen of Primordial Waters, as in the waters of life that allow anything to live, it is she who birthed Ki (Earth) and An (Sky). She was the mother of all things. Her religion was deeply important as a foundational religion for, well, y'know. Everything. And like most goddesses she primarily had priestesses because we find that was pretty traditional when we look at Inanna and her religious following.

How do we know that? Enheduanna, daughter of Sargon of Akkad, priestess of Inanna, and her massive poem/hymn to Inanna which tells us tons about her religion which we can cross-reference with other materials at the time. We also see Nammu's religion fading from prominence with the Akkadian rulership as An, Enki, and Enlil become far more prominent. Particularly Enlil in Nippur which is his hometown. Nippur being considered a must-have for the rulers of the region and even though Uruk is the big city you can't -really- be the King of Kings without Nippur on your trophy wall.

(Though it should be noted that prior to the time of Akkad Inanna was a minor cult deity thrown up into incredible prominence by Enheduanna and Sargon who conflated her with and eventually syncretized her to Ishtar)

Then you get the Gutis, briefly, before the Sumerian Dynasty return when Ur-Nammu, a ruler who is literally named after the goddess of primordial waters in the Sumerian culture, builds Ur 3.

Then come the Ammorites for 300 years before you get to the Babylonians. Specifically the Paleo-Babylonians who conquer it. And with it they bring the story of Marduk and Tiamat. But who is Marduk?

Marduk is a Storm God. Like Enlil. Enlil is the Sumerian god of storms and for the -longest- time he was an incredibly important and central figure in their religious beliefs as well. In fact his Temple in Nippur was seen as the "Rope" holding the heavens and the primordial waters apart so that mortals could live on Earth. The two were seen as so similar and taking the same place that Marduk took all of Enlil's titles and was referred to, by the Babylonians, as "The Enlil of the Gods"

(Sort of like how Ra was the Horus of the Eastern horizon and Horus of the Western horizon and eventually basically ate up the god Horus's whole mythology to syncretize into a single entity, Ra. Or as he was briefly known as Re-Horakhty)

But. Nippur fell out of favor and with it, so did Enlil. His worship was largely supplanted by Inanna (Thanks, Enheduanna!) Enki, and other gods. So when the Babylonians conquered in the name of their god, who they considered the god of heaven the earth and the underworld (Bel Matati) they had to end the slander against Storm Gods. How'd they do it?

They took the name of Enlil off the walls. In Nippur Imgur-Enlil and Nimit-Enlil had been on the walls for a long time. But they were changed to Imgur-Marduk and Nimit-Marduk while Imbur-Enlil and Nimit-Enlil were instead moved to Babylon.

Because they were practically the same character. The ancient mesopotamian beliefs that developed into national gods were still largely shared. They just tended to go "My god's better than your god" and fight wars over it.

But where does that put Tiamat and Nammu? Tiamat was the primordial goddess of the sea who mated with Absu (Groundwater) to birth the gods of the Babylonian pantheon. Nammu, no longer the creator of the world since they had Absu as the god of primordial water, is relegated to the role of one of nine deities who helped to create mankind.

But within the culture of Sumer during the conquest, Nammu was a powerful goddess of water, not the sea. Her temples are strong in the minds of the people. So how do you deal with that? Simple. Tiamat took her place in the story of creation, so kill Tiamat and syncretize Tiamat of Babylon with Nammu of Sumer to break the faith and rebuild it to suit your needs.

Just like you did with Marduk and Enlil when you transferred the names of Enlil to Babylon and Marduk to Nippur.

And then you have Marduk marry Inanna/Ishtar and keep her as his "Queen of Heaven" to put her in a subservient position to him since -her- priesthood was too powerful to easily unseat. Still manages to reduce the relative power of women in society, though, which is largely the point, while spreading word of Marduk's prominence into every temple of Inanna/Ishtar.

Fascinatingly, in the background of all of this happening, you've got Inanna becoming Ishtar becoming Asherah. Same character across different stories and religions, but always the same associations and history. Even into Rome. Asherah had cults in Rome until at least 500CE, making hers the longest continuing religion of the region since it started in Sumer and just kept going. Mostly because she was the -hottest- of all the gods and everyone wanted their chief deity to marry her. Also their kings.

That's not a joke. There was a "Sacred Marriage" ceremony where the high priestess of Inanna/Ishtar would "Marry" the new king of (insert current empire name here) who would act as Dumuzid the shepherd and husband of Inanna. Meanwhile she was considered "Queen of Heaven" 'cause in various myths she's the wife of Marduk of the Babylonians, El of the Canaanites (and previously the Akkadians before they swapped over to Enlil and conquered Sumer), and eventually Adonai of the Israelites.

Anyway. It's kinda beside the point.

The point being that Gygax didn't -have- to use the name Tiamat and didn't -have- to make her the mother of all evil dragons and chaos and stuff, it just fit his sexist presumptions and gave him a 'Fancy Historical Name' to use. Gygax was always going to make an evil dragon queen and a good dragon king and the names didn't matter.

Otherwise he wouldn't have picked the name of a Fish to be the name of his Dragon God. He'd have chosen one of the MANY NAMES of Dragons or Monsters of the Babylonian mythology. Bahamut and Tiamat just sounded cool.

I was reading a collection of Conan stories and got to one where a woman was abducted by black natives but escaped. She finds Conan who gets super pissed off that these black men touched her white skin.

I was SHOCKED. Like out of all the Conan I had read this one went hard on the racism.
 

This is a deeply silly argument you're making.

The whales who would shell out $99 for a coffee table version of the little brown booklets don't need controversy to pick up the book and people who might get interested in the book by some alleged controversy ("quick, pick up the book where Gygax says sexist stuff!") will be put off by the price tag.

You mean causing people to talk about something and, likely informing others, about a product that would otherwise not reach them or even be aware of otherwise?

You are selectively seeing things in what I have mentioned that are not there.
 

Aldarc

Legend
What do you mean if? The Chaoskampf stuff and villification of female power IS a trope, and an ancient one. From Tiamat being turned from a river goddess of life into the oceanic mother of monsters who had to be slain to save the world,
The Chaoskampf is an ancient trope but it's not some sort of narrative of masculinity overcoming feminity. As I pointed out much earlier in the thread, the forces identified with Chaos are just as often masculine, if not more so, in other cultures where the Chaoskampf motif is present.

Tiamat was not a river goddess of life (likely here referring to the Sumerian goddess "Namma/Nammu") turned into an oceanic mother of monsters as some sort of Babylonian conspiracy against matriarchy. Tiamat is not Namma. Tiamat is a separate Akkadian/Babylonian deity. Although both Tiamat and Namma are primordial water deities associated with creation, there are also some key important differences between Tiamat and Namma.

Namma is associated with rivers and underground aquifers: i.e., freshwater. Tiamat is associated with saltwater, oceans, and chaos. Tiamat's name name derives from the Proto-Semitic word for "ocean." Namma does not usually have a spouse. If so, it's An (the heaven). Tiamat has a spouse: Apsû (freshwater). Tiamat has an antagonistic relationship with the gods and creation, whereas Namma does not. Namma creates humanity so the gods can have manual labor workforce. Tiamat does not create humanity. She's not really involved. Instead, humanity comes from the spilt blood of her son/consort Kingu.

But more importantly, Namma had cults, temples, and shrines, including ones that persisted into the Neo-Assyrian periods under the reign of Esarhaddon (681–669 BC). Tiamat did not. As best as we can tell, Tiamat never did. Is that sign of erasure of a Tiamat/Namma cult? I don't think that it is. I think it's a sign that Namma and Tiamat were considered separate entities, even if there was some conceptual overlap and mutual influence. The former was worshipped. The latter never was. Remember my earlier point? Tiamat does not get written with a divine determinative. Namma gets written with the divine determinative (i.e., dingir), and her name still gets written with one after the Enuma Elish.

I think that the biggest challenge to this thesis is the timeline, the archaeology, and the literature. Tiamat does come later than Namma, as the Akkadians naturally come later than the Sumerians. The Sumerians have a strong influence on the Akkadians/Babylonians and their culture, and the Akkadians/Babylonians will have a strong influence on the Sumerians and their culture. Namma likely has an influence on Tiamat, just as Tiamat likely has an influence on Namma. This is much the same as a different gods from different pantheons having influence on each other around the Mediterranean during Antiquity.

Though best as I can tell, Tiamat is mentioned in some incanations before this time, she's basically just in the Babylonian Epic of the Enuma Elish and festival rituals associated with it. However, the Babylonian epic of the Enuma Elish - which is where the bulk of our knowledge of Tiamat comes from - does not enter the literary picture until the 4th Babylonian Dyntasty, which begins in 1155 BCE. The story likely has a much older predecessor tale. However, if that were the case, then we are likely not looking at Marduk killing Tiamat. Instead, it likely would have been Enlil, the Sumerian god of the skies and wind. Enlil was the king of the gods in the Sumerian pantheon. The Babylonian god Marduk is not made into the king of the gods until surprise, surprise the time of the 4th Babylonian Dynasty (c. 1155 - 1022 BCE). And before Marduk, there were a number of other more important Babylonian gods (e.g., Shamash). But Marduk replacing Enlil as king of the gods and sky is not a sign of Namma erasure. It's more just a simple matter of the local god of the city connected to the ruling dynasty getting elevated, which was fairly common practice.

But also if you are following along, remember that Namma still has active shrines and places of worship well past this point in time. We know of one during the reign of Esarhaddon (7th c. BCE) during the Neo-Assyrian Empire. But one thing that would be quite strange if Namma was turned into Tiamat has to do with Marduk's primary temple of Esagila in Babylon. In Esagila were shrines named "kius-Namma," which are the "footsteps of Namma." Again, I think that we are looking at a separate figure.
 
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TiQuinn

Registered User
I was reading a collection of Conan stories and got to one where a woman was abducted by black natives but escaped. She finds Conan who gets super pissed off that these black men touched her white skin.

I was SHOCKED. Like out of all the Conan I had read this one went hard on the racism.
I was listening to an audiobook of Lovecraft stories and got to The Rats in the Walls featuring a cat named after the ‘N’ word and couldn’t finish it. I can read Huckleberry Finn which uses it often, but it’s the way it was used in this story…the almost casual inappropriateness and pointlessness within the story. I was like, NOPE.
 

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