Book number: 92153 Product format: Hardback Author: SABINE FRANKE

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Bibliophile price £7.00
Published price £16.99

'When the gods were human' is the beginning of an Old Babylonian tale which refers to a mythical period of time before mankind and the gods had to 'do all chores themselves'. It is just one story in a collection that transports the reader to the ancient Near East (what is now modern Syria and Iraq). Anthology of Ancient Mesopotamian Text translates Akkadian and Sumerian literature and captures the imagination, even in those stories where there are gaps as so few copies are preserved completely. The first of the tales is about when the gods were human, The Ancient Near Eastern Tale of the Deluge in which the gods bore hardship day and night for 2,500 years under the king Anu before the other gods revolted. There is a fascinating story called The Babylonian Theodicy which is a 'dialogue about the indifference of the gods' and sees a sufferer tell a friend that 'melancholy and sorrow blacken my face'. The story of the tooth worm is morbidly amusing and narrates the tale of an animal which was created by a quagmire and wished to feast upon human's gums instead of figs, apricots and apples. The book also includes small invocations and prayers to the gods, from a letter in which a person asks why they have been neglected and a lullaby for a baby whose cries disturbed the household god, to the Ishtar hymn of Ammiditana who praises 'mistress of womankind' and describes the goddess as possessing 'seductive appearance, cosmetics and attractiveness'. The stories are translated by a group of authors and are based on academic editions of the tales which are listed in the book's notes. A chronological table at the back of the book also offers readers a rough orientation of ancient Mesopotamia, from the invention of writing in Uruk around 3,200 BC and the supremacy of the Dynasty of Akkade between 2320 and 2170 BC, to the Conquest of Babylon by Cyrus II of Persia and the loss of independence in 539 BC. 122pp.

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ISBN 9781473834347

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