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The Queen of Kanesh and the Tale of Zalpa (1.71)

(1,309 words)

Author(s): Hoffner, Harry A., Jr.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Epic The Queen of Kanesh and the Tale of Zalpa (1.71) Subject: Gen 25:22–23; Gen 30:11; Exod 2; Judg 11; 2 Sam 13–19 The Queen of Kanesh The Queen of Kanesh in the course of a single year gave birth to thirty sons. She said: “What a multitude (?)1  a I have begotten!” She filled2 (the interstices of) baskets with grease,3 put her sons in them, and set them into the river.4  b The river carried them down to the sea,5 to the land of Zalpuwa.6 The gods recovered the children from the sea…

Gilgamesh (1.132)

(2,176 words)

Author(s): Foster, Benjamin R.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Epic Commentary The Gilgamesh Epic is deservedly the most famous literary relic of ancient Mesopotamia. Its evolution can be traced from episodic Sumerian beginnings (“The Tale of Ziusudra”) through successive Akkadian translations and adaptations to a final canonical version in twelve tablets (chapters) (see Tigay 1982), and serves as an empirical model for testing hypotheses about the evolution of the Bibl…

The ʾAqhatu Legend (1.103)

(13,027 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Epic Commentary The ʾAqhatu story was recorded on three tablets that were discovered during the second and third campaigns at Ras Shamra (1930–1931). Lacunae prevent a complete understanding of the story, which must have been longer, recorded on tablets never discovered. Like the story of Kirta, this one tells how a father obtained a son, here Dānīʾilu and his son ʾAqhatu, but from that point the two st…

Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta (1.170)

(1,525 words)

Author(s): Jacobsen, Thorkild
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Epic Commentary The story of Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta begins in legendary times, before many of the inventions of civilization — such as written communication by letter. Enmerkar ruled in Uruk as “priest-king” (en), and was the human husband of Inanna, with whom he united yearly in the rite of the sacred marriage. The lord of Aratta ruled in the fabled city of Aratta which lay in the mountains far away to the east. He also was the sp…

The Kirta Epic (1.102)

(9,401 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Epic Commentary The Kirta story was recorded on three tablets that were discovered during the second and third campaigns at Ras Shamra (1930–1931). Lacunae prevent a complete understanding of the story, which must have been longer, recorded on tablets never discovered. On the other hand, the high degree of poetic narrative repetition permit the comparatively certain restoration of some important lacunae. …

Atra-ḫasis (1.130)

(1,966 words)

Author(s): Foster, Benjamin R.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Epic Commentary The “primeval history” of humanity, which occupies the first eleven chapters of Genesis, also exercised the Mesopotamian imagination. In Akkadian, the Epic of Atra-hasis constitutes its earliest and most systematic formulation. This epic explains the creation of man as intended to relieve the (lesser) deities of their toil, and the attempted destruction of humanity as divine response to the n…

Gilgamesh and Akka (1.171)

(1,608 words)

Author(s): Katz, Dina
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Epic Commentary The short narrative describes a conflict between two Mesopotamian cities Kish and Uruk. Akka, the ruler of Kish, demanded of the Urukeans to dig wells. Gilgamesh, Akka’s dependent lord of Uruk, determined to rebel, ignored the advice of Uruk’s assembly of elders and, with the support of his army, freed Uruk from the dominance of Kish and established himself as the independent ruler of Uruk. T…

The Birth Legend of Sargon of Akkad (1.133)

(597 words)

Author(s): Foster, Benjamin R.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Epic Commentary Sargon of Akkad erected the first world empire on Asiatic soil around 2300 bce, and his exploits almost immediately became the stuff of legend. His (throne) name, in Akkadian šarru-kēn(u), means “the king is legitimate,” “the legitimate king,” and served to make up for his usurpation of the claims of the ancient dynasty of Kish. The name was assumed again by an early king of Assyria (Sargon I, 20th century bce) and by the more famous Sargon II (8th century bce). “Sargo…

Etana (1.131)

(3,534 words)

Author(s): Dalley, Stephanie
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Epic Commentary The story centers on a king of Kish who is attested in the Sumerian king list as a quasi–historical character. Presumably the legend had its origin in Kish, although the patron deities of Kish, Zababa and Ishtar, play no part, for the sun–god Shamash alone is involved. The length and ending of the story are still disputed; if it was a three–tablet composition in its “Standard” form, it should consist of about 450 lines in all. Tablets of the Old Babylonian version co…

The Adapa Story (1.129)

(660 words)

Author(s): Foster, Benjamin R.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Epic Commentary In Mesopotamian tradition, Adapa was the first of the semi-divine sages (apkallu) who served as counselors (ummānu) to the ante-diluvian kings, bringing the arts of civilization to humanity. In a late formulation of this tradition, each of these kings had his own counselor, and Adapa served Alulim, the first king. He was identified as Oannes in the Greek version of the tradition as preserved…