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  • Gilgamesh
    defeated On his knees with Gilgamesh s sword at his throat Humbaba begs for his life and offers Gilgamesh all the tress in the forest and his eternal servitude While Gilgamesh is thinking this over Enkidu intervenes telling Gilgamesh to kill Humbaba before any of the gods arrive and stop him from doing so Should he kill Humbaba he will achieve widespread fame for all the times to come Gilgamesh with a great sweep of his sword removes Humbaba s head But before he dies Humbaba screams out a curse on Enkidu Of you two may Enkidu not live the longer may Enkidu not find any peace in this world Gilgamesh and Enkidu cut down the cedar forest and in particular the tallest of the cedar trees to make a great cedar gate for the city of Uruk They build a raft out of the cedar and float down the Euphrates river to their city Tablet 6 After these events Gilgamesh his fame widespread and his frame resplendent in his wealthy clothes attracts the sexual attention of the goddess Ishtar who comes to Gilgamesh and offers to become his lover Gilgamesh refuses with insults listing all the mortal lovers that Ishtar has had and recounting the dire fates they all met with at her hands Deeply insulted Ishtar returns to heaven and begs her father the sky god Anu to let her have the Bull of Heaven to wreak vengeance on Gilgamesh and his city Father let me have the Bull of Heaven To kill Gilgamesh and his city For if you do not grant me the Bull of Heaven I will pull down the Gates of Hell itself Crush the doorposts and flatten the door And I will let the dead leave And let the dead roam the earth And they shall eat the living The dead will overwhelm all the living Anu reluctantly gives in and the Bull of Heaven is sent down into Uruk Each time the bull breathes its breath is so powerful that enormous abysses are opened up in the earth and hundreds of people fall through to their deaths Working together again Gilgamesh and Enkidu slay the mighty bull Ishtar is enraged but Enkidu begins to insult her saying that she is next that he and Gilgamesh will kill her next and he rips one of the thighs off the bull and hurls it into her face Tablet 7 Enkidu falls ill after having a set of ominous dreams he finds out from the priests that he has been singled out for vengeance by the gods The Chief Gods have met and have decided that someone should be punished for the killing of Humbaba and the killing of the Bull of Heaven so of the two heroes they decide Enkidu should pay the penalty Enraged at the injustice of the decision Enkidu curses the great Cedar Gate built from the wood of the Cedar Forest and he curses the temple harlot Shamhat and the trapper for introducing him to civilization Shamhash reminds him that even though his life has been short he has enjoyed the fruits of civilization and known great happiness Enkidu then blesses the harlot and the trapper In a dream a great demon comes to take Enkidu and drags him to Hell a House of Dust where all the dead end up as he is dying he describes Hell The house where the dead dwell in total darkness Where they drink dirt and eat stone Where they wear feathers like birds Where no light ever invades their everlasting darkness Where the door and the lock of Hell is coated with thick dust When I entered the House of Dust On every side the crowns of kings were heaped On every side the voices of the kings who wore those crowns Who now only served food to the gods Anu and Enlil Candy meat and water poured from skins I saw sitting in this House of Dust a priest and a servant I also saw a priest of purification and a priest of ecstasy I saw all the priests of the great gods There sat Etana and Sumukan There sat Ereshkigal the queen of Hell Beletseri the scribe of Hell sitting before her Beletseri held a tablet and read it to Ereshkigal She slowly raised her head when she noticed me She pointed at me Who has sent this man Enkidu commends himself to Gilgamesh and after suffering terribly for twelve days he finally dies Tablet 8 Gilgamesh is torn apart by the death of his friend and utters a long lament ordering all of creation to never fall silent in mourning his dead friend Most of this tablet is missing but the second half seems to be a description of the monument he builds for Enkidu Tablet 9 Gilgamesh allows his life to fall apart he does not bathe does not shave does not take care of himself not so much out of grief for his friend but because he now realizes that he too must die and the thought sends him into a panic He decides that he can t live unless granted eternal life he decides to undertake the most perilous journey of all the journey to Utnapishtim and his wife the only mortals on whom the gods had granted eternal life Utnapishtim is the Far Away living at the mouth of all rivers at the ends of the world Utnapishtim was the great king of the world before the Flood and with his wife was the only mortal preserved by the gods during the Flood After an ominous dream Gilgamesh sets out He arrives at Mount Mashu which guards the rising and the setting of the sun and encounters two large scorpions who guard the way past Mount Mashu They try to convince him that his journey is futile and fraught with danger but still they allow him to pass Past Mount Mashu is the land of Night

    Original URL path: http://history-world.org/gilgamesh.htm (2016-02-11)
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  • ENKI
    reassures her with a recitation of her own insignia and provinces Enki the king of the Abzu overpowering in his majesty speaks up with authority My father the king of the universe Brought me into existence in the universe My ancestor the king of all the lands Gathered together all the me s placed the me s in my hand From the Ekur the house of Enlil I brought craftsmanship to my Abzu of Eridu I am the fecund seed engendered by the great wild ox I am the f irst born son of An I am the great storm who goes forth out of the great below I am the lord of the Land I am the gugal of the chieftains I am the father of all the lands I am the big brother of the gods I am he who brings full prosperity I am the record keeper of heaven and earth I am the car and the mind of all the lands I am he who directs justice with the king An on An s dais I am he who decrees the fates with Enlil in the mountain of wisdom He placed in my hand the decreeing of the fates of the place where the sun rises I am he to whom Nintu pays due homage I am he who has been called a good name by Ninhursag I am the leader of the Anunnaki I am he who has been born as the first son of the holy An After the lord had uttered his exaltedness After the great Prince had himself pronounced his praise The Anunnaki came before him in prayer and supplication Lord who directs craftsmanship Who makes decisions the glorified Enki priase For a second time because of his great joy Enki the king of the Abzu in his majesty speaks up with authority I am the lord I am one whose command is unquestioned I am the foremost in all things At my command the stalls have been built the sheepfolds have been enclosed When I approached heaven a rain of prosperity poured down from heaven When I approached the earth there was a high flood When I approached its green meadows The heaps and mounds were piled up at my word After the almost unintelligible description of Enki s rites Enki proceeds to decree the fates of a number of cities Ur is one example He proceeded to the shrine Ur Enki the ki ng of the Abzu decrees its fate City possessing all that is appropriate water washed ftrm standing ox Dais of abundance of the highland knees open green like a mountain Hashur grove wide of shade he who is lordly because of his might Has directed your perfect me s Enlil the great mountain has pronounced your lofty name in the universe City whose fate has been decreed by Enlil Shrine Ur may you rise heaven high Enki next stocks the land with various items of prosperity A

    Original URL path: http://history-world.org/enkisumeria.htm (2016-02-11)
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  • Praise to Ishtar
    splendid wild cow leading the way Prayer to Ishtar Unto the queen of the gods into whose hands are committed the behest of the great gods unto the lady of Nineveh the queen of the gods the exhalted one unto the daughter of the moon god the twin sister of the sun god unto her who ruleth all kingdoms unto the goddess of the world who deetermineth decrees unto the Lady of heaven and earth who recieveth supplication unto the merciful goddess who hearkeneth unto entreaty who recieveth prayer who loveth righteousness I make my prayer unto Ishtar to whom all confusion is a cause of grief The sorrows which I see I lament before thee Incline thine ear unto my words of lamentation and let thine heart be opened unto my sorrowful speech Turn thy face unto me O Lady so that by reason therEof the heart of thy servant may be made strong I Ashur nasir pal the sorrowful one am thy humble servant I who am beloved of thee make offerings unto thee and adore thy divinity I was born in the mountains which no man knoweth I was without understanding and I prayed not of thy majesty Moreover the people of Assyria did not recognise and did not accept thy divinity But thou O Ishtar thou mighty Queen of the gods by the lifting up of thine eyes did teach me for thou didst desire my rule Thou didst take me from the mountains and didst make me the Door of my peoples and thou O Ishtar didst make great my name As concerning that for which thou are wrath with me grant me forgiveness Let thine anger be appeased and let thine heart be mercifully inclined towards me d voluptuousness In lips she is sweet life is in her mouth At her appearance rejoicing becomes full She is glorious veils are thrown over her head Her figure is beautiful her eyes are brilliant The goddess with her there is counsel The fate of everything she holds in her hand At her glance there is created joy power magnificence the protecting deity and guardian spirit She dwells in she pays heed to compassion and friendliness Besides agreeableness she truly possesses Be it slave unattached girl or mother she preserves her One calls on her among women one names her name Who to her greatness who can be equal Strong exalted splendid are her decrees Ishtar to her greatness who can be equal Strong exalted splendid are her decrees She is sought after among the gods extraordinary is her station Respected is her word it is supreme over them Ishtar among the gods extraordinary is her station Respected is her word it is supreme over them INCANTATION TO ISHTAR O heroic one Ishtar the immaculate one of the goddesses Torch of Heaven and earth radiance of the continents The goddess Lady of Heaven first begotten of Sin first born of Ningal Twin sister of the hero Shamash

    Original URL path: http://history-world.org/praise_to_ishtar.htm (2016-02-11)
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  • LAMENT FOR UR
    bitter dolor had been destined for my city even if I birdlike had stretched my wings and like a bird flown to my city yet my city would have been destroyed on its foundation yet Ur would have perished where it lay Because that day of storm had raised its hand and even had I screamed out loud and cried Turn back O day of storm turn to thy desert the breast of that storm would not have been lifted from me Then verily to the assembly where the crowd had not yet risen while the Anunnaki binding themselves to uphold the decision were still seated I dragged my feet and I stretched out my arms truly I shed my tears in front of An Truly I myself mourned in front of Enlil May my city not be destroyed I said indeed to them May Ur not be destroyed I said indeed to them And may its people not be killed I said indeed to them But An never bent towards those words and Enlil never with an It is pleasing so be it did soothe my heart Behold they gave instruction that the city be destroyed behold they gave instruction that Ur be destroyed and as its destiny decreed that its inhabitants be killed Enlil called the storm The people mourn Winds of abundance he took from the land The people mourn Bood winds he took away from Sumer the people mourn Deputed evil winds The people mourn Entrusted them to Kingaluda tender of storms He called the storm that annihilates the land The people mourn He called disastrous winds The people mourn Enlil choosing Gibil as his helper called the great hurricane of heaven The people mourn The blinding hurricane howling across the skies the people mourn the tempest unsubduable like breaks through levees beats down upon devours the city s ships all these he gathered at the base of heaven The people mourn Great fires he lit that heralded the storm The people mourn And lit on either flank of furious winds the searing heat of the desert Like flaming heat of noon this fire scorched The storm ordered by Enlil in hate the storm which wears away the country covered Ur like a cloth veiled it like a linen sheet On that day did the storm leave the city that city was a ruin O father Nanna that town was left a ruin The people mourn On that day did the storm leave the country The people mourn Its people s corpses not potsherds littered the approaches The walls were gaping the high gates the roads were piled with dead In the wide streets where feasting crowds once gathered jumbled they lay In all the streets and roadways bodies lay In open fields that used to fill with dancers the people lay in heaps The country s blood now filled its holes like metal in a mold bodies dissolved like butter left in the sun Nannar

    Original URL path: http://history-world.org/lament_for_ur.htm (2016-02-11)
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  • Poem of the Righteous Sufferer
    god of Babylon who restored the sufferer to happi ness and prosperity In the conclusion only a few lines of which are given here the implied answer to skepticism is that the evils which afflict th e pious are only temporary WHAT STRANGE CONDITIONS EVERY WHERE My god has forsaken me and disappeared My goddess has failed me and keeps at a distance The benevolent angel who walked beside me has departed My protecting spirit has taken to flight and is seeking someone else My strength is gone my appearance has become gloomy My dignity has flown away my protection made off The king the flesh of the gods the sun of his peoples His heart is enraged with me and cannot be appeased The courtiers plot hostile action against me They assemble themselves and give utterance to impious words They combine against me in slander and lies My lordly mouth have they held as with reins So that 1 whose lips used to prate have become like a mute My sonorous shout is reduced to silence My lofty head is bowed down to the ground Dread has enfeebled my robust heart If I walk the street cars are pricked If I enter the palace eyes blink My city frowns on me as an enemy Indeed my land is savage and hostile My friend has become foe My companion has become a wretch and a devil As I turn round it is terrible it is terrible My ill luck has increased and I do not find the right I called to my god but he did not show his face I prayed to my goddess but she did not raise her head ne diviner with his inspection has not got to the root of the matter Nor has the dream priest with his libation elucidated my case I sought the favour of the zaqiqu spirit but he did not enlighten me And the incantation priest with his ritual did not appease the divine wrath against me What strange conditions everywhere When I look behind there is persecution trouble PRAYER WAS DISCRETION SACRIFICE MY RULE Like one who has not made libations to his god Nor invoked his goddess at table Does not engage in prostration nor takes cognizance of bowing down From whose mouth supplication and prayer is lacking Who has done nothing on holy days and despised Sabbaths Who in his negligence has despised the gods rites Has not taught his people reverence and worship But has eaten his food without invoking his god And abandoned his goddess by not bringing a flour offering Like one who has grown torpid and forgotten his lord Has frivolously sworn a solemn oath by his god like such a one do I appear For myself I gave attention to supplication and prayer To me prayer was discretion sacrifice my rule The day for reverencing the god was a joy to my heart ne day of the goddess s procession was profit and

    Original URL path: http://history-world.org/poem_of_the_righteous_sufferer.htm (2016-02-11)
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  • THE GREAT HYMN TO SHAMASH
    whole of mankind bows to you 52 Shamash the universe longs for your light 88 A man who covets his neighbour s wife 89 Will before his appointed day 90 A nasty snare is prepared for him 91 Your weapon will strike at him and there will be none to save him 92 His father will not stand for his defense 93 And at the judge s command his brothers will not plead 94 He will be caught in a copper trap that he did not foresee 95 You destroy the horns of a scheming villain 96 A zealous his foundations are undermined 97 You give the unscrupulous judge experience of fetters 98 Him who accepts a present and yet lets justice miscarry you make bear his punishment 99 As for him who declines a present but nevertheless takes the part of the weak 100 It is pleasing to Shamash and he will prolong his life 124 The progeny of evil doers will fail 125 Those whose mouth says No their case is before you 126 In a moment you discern what they say 127 You hear and examine them you determine the lawsuit of the wronged 128 Every single person is entrusted to your hands 129 You manage their omens that which is perplexing you make plain 130 You observe Shamash prayer supplication and benediction 131 Obeisance kneeling ritual murmurs and prostration 132 The feeble man calls you from the hollow of his mouth 133 The humble the weak the afflicted the poor 134 She whose son is captive constantly and unceasingly confronts you 135 He whose family is remote whose city is distant 136 The shepherd amid the terror of the steppe confronts you 137 The herdsman in warfare the keeper of sheep among enemies 138 Shamash there

    Original URL path: http://history-world.org/Sumerian%20great_hymn_to_shamash.htm (2016-02-11)
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  • Penitential Prayer to Every God
    water have I not drunk An offense against my god I have unwittingly committed A transgression against my goddess I have unwittingly done 0 Lord my sins are many great are my iniquities My god my sins are many great are my iniquities The sin which I have committed I know not The iniquity which I have done I know not The offense which I have committed I know not The transgression I have done I know not The lord in the anger of his heart hath looked upon me The god in the wrath of his heart hath visited me The goddess hath become angry with me and hath grievously stricken me The known or unknown god hath straitened me The known or unknown goddess hath brought affliction upon me I sought for help but no one taketh my hand I wept but no one came to my side I lamented but no one hearkens to me I am afflicted I am overcome I cannot look up Unto my merciful god I turn I make supplication I kiss the feet of my goddess and crawl before her How tong my god How long my goddess until thy face be

    Original URL path: http://history-world.org/Sumerian%20penitential_prayer_to_every_god.htm (2016-02-11)
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  • The Reforms of Urukagina
    2550 B C when true historical sources first become relatively abundant to about 2350 B C when Sargon of Akkad conquered Sumer dissatis faction with oligarchic rule led intermittently to the rise of tyrants in the Greek sense of the term Best known among these lug2l s literally great gall man lu a term used also in the sense of master and usually translated king was Urukagina who usurped power as lugal of Lagash about 2400 B C and promulgated so many reforms in the interest of the oppressed common people that he has been called the first social reformer in history Urukagina s inscriptions selections from which follow begin with a de scription of the abuses which since time immemorial or so it seemed had been undermining the original divinely decreed way of life It is Urukagina s view that all the leading elements in society priests administrators powerful men and even the ensi governor and his family were guilty of acting each for his own benefit Particularly noteworthy among the many resulting abuses partly because the same evil inspired Hesiod s demand for social jus tice at a parallel moment in Greek history and partly because Urukagina seems to have taken greatest pride in eradicating it was the seizure of the property and even the persons of debtors by temple officials working in collusion with corrupt judges mashkim 3 Of special in terest also is Urukagina s use of a contract theory of government to justify both his usurpation of power and his reforms he made a covenant with Ningirsu patron god of Lagash and he carried out Ningirsu s instructions THE PRACTICES OF FORMER DAYS Since time immemorial since the seed corn first sprouted forth the head boatman had the boats in charge for his own benefit the head shepherd had the asses in charge for his own benefit the head shepherd had the sheep in charge for his own benefit the head fisherman had the fishing places in charge for his own benefit The incantation priest measured out the barley rent to his own advantage The temple oxen of the gods plowed the gardens of the ensi the gardens and the cucumber fields of the ensi were in the best fields of the gods the asses and oxen of the priests were taken away by the ensi ne barley rations income of the priests were administered by the men of the ensi In the garden of a humble person a priest could cut a tree or carry away its fruit When a dead man was placed in the tomb it was necessary to deliver in his name seven jars of beer and 420 loaves of bread ne uh mush priest received one half gur about fourteen gallons of barley one garment one turban and one bed ne priest s assistant received one fourth gur of barley The workingman was forced to beg for his bread the youth was forced to work in the a zar la

    Original URL path: http://history-world.org/reforms_of_urukagina.htm (2016-02-11)
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