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3: LITERATURE

3.1 SUMERIAN LITERATURE

MS 2788 Babylonia, ca. 1900-1700 BC
MS 3026 Babylonia, 19th-18th c. BC
MS 2652/1 Babylonia, ca. 18th c. BC
MS 3283 Babylonia, 1900-1700 BC

3.2 BABYLONIAN LITERATURE

3.3 ASSYRIAN LITERATURE

3.4 CLASSICAL GREEK LITERATURE

3.5 CLASSICAL ROMAN LITERATURE

3.6 MEDIEVAL & RENAISSANCE LITERATURE

3.7 MODERN LITERATURE

3. Literature

3.1 Sumerian Literature

MS 2788  
INSTRUCTIONS OF SHURUPPAK, PROVERB COLLECTION, Lines 1-48 MS 2788

MS in Neo Sumerian on clay, Babylonia, ca. 1900-1700 BC, 1 tablet, 12,3x6,5x3,0 cm, single column, 45 lines in cuneiform script.

Commentary: The text pretends to be addressed by the ante-deluvian ruler Shuruppak to his son Ziusudra, the hero of the flood story who, like Noah, survived the destruction of mankind and became the favorite of the gods.

The Shuruppak instructions can be said to be the Sumerian forerunner of the 10 Commandments and some of the Proverbs of the Bible: Line 50: Do not curse with powerful means (3rd Commandment); lines 28: Do not kill (6th Commandment); line 33-34: Do not laugh with or sit alone in a chamber with a girl that is married (7th Commandment); lines 28-31: Do not steal or commit robbery (8th Commandment); and line 36: Do not spit out lies (9th Commandment).

Similar proverbs in the Bible: Proverbs 6:1-5; 7:21-27; 22:26-27; 23:27-28.

The last edition of this proverb collection is: Bendt Alster: The Instructions of Shuruppak. A Sumerian Proverb Collection, Copenhagen 1974.

Published: Bendt Alster. Wisdom of Ancient Sumer. Bethesda, MD, CDL Press, 2005. pp. 52-53, 101-102, pl. 60-61.

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MS 3026  
FLOOD STORY

MS in Neo Sumerian on clay, Babylonia, 19th-18th c. BC, 1/4 tablet, 6,4x5,5x2,3 cm, ca. 35 lines in cuneiform script.

Context: For 5 of the 6 Sumerian forerunners of the Gilgamesh Epic, see MSS 2652/1-2, 2887, 3026, 3027 and 3361.

Commentary: Mankind's oldest reference to the Deluge, together with 1/3 tablet in Philadelphia, the only other tablet bearing this story in Sumerian. The tablets share several lines from the beginning of the Flood story, but the present tablet also offers new lines and textual variants. Ziusudra, the Sumerian Noah, is here described as "the priest of Enki", which is new information.

The Sumerian Flood story is one of the 6 forerunners to the Old Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic, the source for the Old Babylonian myth Atra-Hasis, and for the Biblical account of the Flood (Genesis 6:5-9:29), written down several hundred years later.

MS 3026

According to British Museum, their Neo Babylonian tablet with the Flood story as a part of Gilgamesh, is perhaps the most famous tablet in the world. The present tablet is over 1000 years older.

Exhibited: Tigris 25th anniversary exhibition. The Kon-Tiki Museum, Oslo, 30.1. - 15.9.2003.

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MS 2652/1
GILGAMESH AND KING AKKA OF KISH, LINES 1 – 60  

MS in Neo Sumerian on clay, Babylonia, ca. 18th c. BC, 1 tablet, 14,5x5,5 cm, single column, 60 lines in cuneiform script.


Context: In line 25 there is a possible, much earlier parallel from ca. 2600 BC, in MS 1952/37. There would possibly have been a companion tablet with the remaining lines, 61-114 of this work.
Another tablet from the same text is MS 3369.
For 5 of the 6 Sumerian forerunners of the Gilgamesh Epic, see 2887, 3026, 3027 and 3361.

Commentary: There are two literary traditions concerning the war between Kish and Uruk, the present and Shulgi Hymn O, taking up themes from other tales, such as Gilgamesh in the Cedar forest, and Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven, eventually melting together in the famous Epic of Gilgamesh.

Exhibited: Tigris 25th anniversary exhibition. The Kon-Tiki Museum, Oslo, 30.1. - 15.9.2003.

MS 2652/1
 
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MS 3283  
  1. DEBATE BETWEEN SUMMER (EMESH) AND WINTER (ENTEN)
  2. CREATION OF THE WORLD, PART OF THE SUMERIAN CREATION STORY
MS 3283

MS in Neo Sumerian on clay, Babylonia, 1900-1700 BC, a 4-sided prism, 20x12x11 cm, 2 columns per side, 50 lines per column in cuneiform script.

Context: Other tablets of the Sumerian creation story are MSS 2110, 2423/1-5 and 3293.

Commentary: The prism had the full text of some 400 lines, but with losses along one corner. This is the most substantial MS of the text. The end is different from the published edition, which has 318 lines. The disputation between Summer and Winter remains unsolved, since their verdict insists that they are complementary and should remain so. There are parallels to the Biblical creation story: "The Lord lifted his head in pride, bountiful days arrived. Heaven and earth he regulated and the population spread wide" (Genesis 1:31-2:1), with further references to Genesis 1:11-13; 20-25.

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