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Deeds of Suppiluliuma (1.74)

(6,788 words)

Author(s): Hoffner, Harry A., Jr.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Historiography Commentary Among the Hittite kings Šuppiluliuma I was the greatest conqueror. To him was due the destruction of the great and powerful rival kingdom of Mitanni and the eastward expansion of the Hittite state into North Syria during the first half of the 14th Century bce. The story of his reign has often been told. Among the more recent attempts Güterbock 1960, Kitchen 1962, Bryce 1989, and Kempinski 1993 may be named. Letters from Šup…

Excerpt From An Oracle Report (1.78)

(1,989 words)

Author(s): Beckman, Gary
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Oracles Commentary Since the Hittites believed that divine displeasure was the ultimate source of most evils, they developed a science of divination in order to communicate with their gods, ascertain the reasons for their anger, and bargain about required restitution. The Hittite diviners carefully researched the problems referred to them, making sure both to determine the exact aspect of a situation which ha…

The Birth of Shulgi In the Temple of Nippur (1.172)

(1,422 words)

Author(s): Klein, Jacob
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Royal Hymns Commentary This hymn1 is part of a rich corpus of Neo-Sumerian “royal hymns” pertaining to Shulgi (ca. 2094–2047 bce), the second and most important king of the Third Dynasty of Ur.2 The hymn is dedicated to Enlil, the supreme god of the Sumerian pantheon, and it falls into two main parts: the first part opens with a hymnic praise of Enlil, which is followed by a description of Shulgi’s birth and investiture in the Ekur tem…

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 Proclamation of Telipinu (1.76)

(4,246 words)

Author(s): Hout, Th. P. J. van den
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Biography and Autobiography Commentary The Proclamation or Decree of King Telipinu (ca. 1500 BCE) is an attempt to put an end to the inner-dynastic strife and bloodshed which seems to have held the Hittite Empire in its grip since Ḫattušili I (ca. 1600 BCE). In order to do so, Telipinu refrained from killing his own opponents, sending them away unharmed, and firmly established rules of succession (§28) and of…

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…

Assuring the Safety of the King During the Winter (1.79)

(4,683 words)

Author(s): Beal, Richard H.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Oracles Commentary The purpose of the texts comprising this selection is to assure the safety of the king while he is cooped up through the cold central Anatolian winter, by discovering ahead of time any problems that the gods foresee arising, and by ascertaining the correct method of correcting these. The selection is made up of two texts containing parallel sets of questions. The translation follows the bet…

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…

Assurbanipal’s Coronation Hymn (1.142)

(648 words)

Author(s): Livingstone, Alasdair
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Royal Hymns Commentary This text should be read together with the Middle Assyrian Coronation Ritual Prayer and the Late Piece of Constructed Mythology (see text COSB.1.146 below). Assurbanipal’s Coronation Hymn (1.142) ( 1) May Shamash, king of heaven and earth, raise you to shepherdship over the four regions! May Assur, who gave you the [scepter], prolong your days and years!Spread your land wide at your feet!May Sherua extol your name to your personal god!1 ( 5) Just as grain …

The Patrons of the Ugaritic Dynasty (KTU 1.161) (1.105)

(1,435 words)

Author(s): Levine, Baruch A. | Tarragon, Jean-Michel de | Robertson, Anne
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Rephaʾim Texts Commentary  KTU 1.161 is a canonical liturgy, commemorating the accession of the last king of Ugarit, Ammurapi (III), and his queen, Tharyelli. It was first published by Caquot (1975), working only from a cast of the uncleaned tablet. Subsequently, six photographs appeared in Ugaritica7, plates VII-IX. Bordeuil and Pardee (1982) prepared a new edition of  KTU 1.161 based, for the first time, on a careful examination of the tablet in Aleppo.…

Merikare (1.35)

(4,346 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Instructions Commentary The text is preserved in three fragmentary papyri which only partly complement one another. They are Papyrus Leningrad 1116A, dating from the second half of the 18th Dynasty; P. Moscow 4658, from the very end of the 18th Dynasty; and P. Carlsberg 6, from the end of the 18th Dynasty or later. Unfortunately, the most complete manuscript, P. Leningrad, is also the most corrupt. The numer…

The Weidner Chronicle (1.138)

(1,682 words)

Author(s): Millard, Alan
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Historiography Commentary Excavations at Ashur yielded a damaged tablet which was announced by E. F. Weidner in 1926 and so is called after him. Since then four smaller pieces of other copies have been identified and recently an almost complete tablet was recovered from Sippar, adding greatly to the interpretation of the text, although many uncertainties and gaps remain. The composition is set in the form of a letter from a king of Babylon to a king of Isin in the 19th century bce, but p…

The Dynastic Prophecy (1.150)

(662 words)

Author(s): Longman III, Tremper
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Fictional Royal Autobiography Commentary The Dynastic Prophecy is the most recent addition to the growing corpus of Akkadian prophecy texts. A. K. Grayson provided an edition of the text in 1975. The text is in a poor state of preservation, not having a single complete line. The Dynastic Prophecy has only one certain exemplar although, as Grayson points out, BM 34903 (= CT 51:122) could possibly be part of the text. The following excerpt excludes the fragmentary in…

Assyrian King Lists (1.135)

(1,646 words)

Author(s): Millard, Alan
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Historiography Commentary Lists of Assyrian kings have been found at Assur, Nineveh and Dur-Sharrukin (Khorsabad). The ‘Assyrian King List’ is known in five copies, none complete, two being only small fragments; there are slight variants between them. It begins with names of nomadic kings who lived about 2000 bce, which some scholars think may be names of tribes rather than persons because there are similarities between them and names in the Genealogy o…

The Sacred Marriage of Iddin-Dagan and Inanna (1.173)

(3,119 words)

Author(s): Jacobsen, Thorkild
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Royal Hymns Commentary This hymn was apparently written under Iddin–Dagan, the third king of the dynasty of Isin, for he is mentioned by name in it. It may even be that it was meant for use at the yearly rite of the sacred marriage in which the king took on the identity of the god Ama–ushumgal–anna and as such married Inanna, who was almost certainly incarnated in the reigning queen, as shown by the epithet N…

Ugaritic King List (1.104)

(739 words)

Author(s): Younger, K. Lawson, Jr.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Historiography Commentary This poorly preserved, enigmatic tablet (RS 24.257 =  Ugaritica  5 .5 =  KTU 1.113) contains a retrograde1 list of the kings of Ugarit in two columns on its verso. The very broken recto seems to preserve some sort of ritual, consistently alternating between two musical instruments (tp “a tambourine/drum” and ṯlb “a flute) and the word lnʿm “for the Pleasant One.” What the exact relationship is (if any) between the recto and the verso …

The Hittite Conquest of Cyprus: Two Inscriptions of Suppiluliuma II (1.75)

(1,785 words)

Author(s): Hoffner, Harry A., Jr.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Historiography Commentary The present text derives from a single tablet found in the 1961 season of excavations at Boğazköy in the area of the House on the Slope. It was published in cuneiform copy by Heinrich Otten in 1963 in Keilschrifttexte aus Boghazköi, Heft XII, No. 38, and was partially transliterated and translated in the same year by Otten (1963a). The definitive edition was by Hans Güterbock in 1967 (see also Carruba 1968), who cites all anterior literature. The tablet …

King Lists (1.37)

(563 words)

Author(s): Hoffmeier, James K.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Historiography Commentary King–lists of various types abound in ancient Egyptian sources. Technically, a collection of three or more names is a “group” and a true king–list arranges names in proper historical order and provides the length of reign. Following this definition, the only Egyptian source that meets these requirements is the Turin Canon, and it is not fully preserved. Nevertheless, the term king–l…

A Hymn Celebrating Assurnasirpal Ii’s Campaigns to the West (1.139)

(1,631 words)

Author(s): Hurowitz, Victor
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Royal Hymns Commentary This text was found by the German excavations at Assur in the house of a nargallu (chief singer).1 It begins as a hymn to Enlil (Assur),2 but then praises Assurnasirpal II (883–859 bce) for his campaigns to the mountains in the west and for contributing to various temples the wood taken on the campaigns. It ends with a blessing of the king.3 The events referred to are described in detail in the king’s annals and mentioned briefly in his royal titles.4 A Hymn Ce…

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. …
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