El's Divine Feast

This tale from Ugaritic concerning the god El, a precursor to the Judaic God, is well-known amongst students of Ugaritic. The contemporary summary is that El holds a party with all the gods, at which the moon disguises itself as a dog and runs about under the tables begging for scraps. El gets very drunk, has to be helped to court, and is attacked by a strange creature in his drunken stupor. El defecates and falls in his own shit. The story then concludes with what has been widely regarded as a hangover cure.

d. CAT 1.114

El slaughtered game in his house,
Beasts in the midst of his palace;
He invited the gods to the carving:
"Eat, O gods, and drink,
Drink wine to satiety,
New wine to drunkenness."
Yarih arched his back like a dog,
Scavenged beneath the tables.
Any god who recognized him
Prepared food for him,
But whoever did not recognize him
Struck him with sticks beneath the table.
He approached Athtart and Anat.
Athtart prepared a haunch for him,
Anat a shoulder ...
The porter of El's house chided them,
"Look, why have you prepared a haunch for a dog,
For a cur have you prepared a shoulder?"
He chided El, his father.
El sat, he assembled his drinking feast;
El sat in his marzeah.
El drank wine to satiety,
New wine to drunkenness.
El went to his house,
He stumbled to his court.
Thukamuna and Shunama supported him.
The "creeper" approached him,
The one having two horns and a tail.
He floundeed in his (own) feces and urine,
El collapsed like the dead,
El was like those who descend to the underworld.
Anat and Athtart went hunting.
? holy Ba'al(?)
Athtart and Anat...
And with them they brought back...
When they healed, look, he awoke.
What one should put on his brow: hairs of a dog
and the top of a pqq-plant and its stem.
Put it together with virgin olive oil.

Source: The Marzeah in the Prophetic Literature: References and Allusions in Light, by John L. MacLaughlin (2001). pp.24–6. ISBN 9004099956. Quoted as fair use.


Nobody knows exactly what a "Marzēaḥ" (also spelled "marziah") is, but it seems to be synonymous with either the later concept of a symposium (in the Ancient Greek sense of a kind of religious party), or a room where a symposium is held. Cf. "The marzeah, which appears in Aramaic and Nabataean at Beida, near Petra (rabb marzeah) was a religious association, well known in Nabataean culture as the Symposium or Thiasis." (from Discussion 28).

Yarih is the name of the Ugaritic moon god. Athtart is El's wife, and Anat is his daughter. The pqq-plant is basically a transcription of the original since nobody has been able to identify it.

Note that KTU "stands for 'Keilalphabetische Texte aus Ugarit', the standard collection of this material" (Ugarit and the Bible), and CAT is its English equivalent, "Cuneiform Alphabetic Texts" (The Ugaritic Language).

Further Reading

Sean B. Palmer, inamidst.com