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Ancient Man and His First Civilizations

 

Sumerian Songs

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A love song of Shu-Suen (Shu-Suen A): translation

A song of Shulgi: translation

Lullaby for a son of Shulgi (Shulgi N): translation

 

 

 

A love song of Shu-Suen (Shu-Suen B): translation

 

Man of my heart, my beloved man, your allure is a sweet thing, as sweet as honey. Lad of my heart, my beloved man, your allure is a sweet thing, as sweet as honey.

You have captivated me (?), of my own free will I will come to you. Man, let me flee with you -- into the bedroom. You have captivated me (?); of my own free will I shall come to you. Lad, let me flee with you -- into the bedroom.

Man, let me do the sweetest things to you. My precious sweet, let me bring you honey. In the bedchamber dripping with honey let us enjoy over and over your allure, the sweet thing. Lad, let me do the sweetest things to you. My precious sweet, let me bring you honey.

Man, you have become attracted to me. Speak to my mother and I will give myself to you; speak to my father and he will make a gift of me. I know where to give physical pleasure to your body -- sleep, man, in our house till morning. I know how to bring heart's delight to your heart -- sleep, lad, in our house till morning.

Since you have fallen in love with me, lad, if only you would do your sweet thing to me.

My lord and god, my lord and guardian angel, my Cu-Suen who cheers Enlil's heart, if only you would handle your sweet place, if only you would grasp your place that is sweet as honey.

Put your hand there for me like the cover (?) on a measuring cup. Spread (?) your hand there for me like the cover (?) on a cup of wood shavings.

It is a balbale of Inana.

 

 

A love song of Shu-Suen (Shu-Suen A): translation

It was she who gave birth to the holy one, gave birth to the holy one; the queen gave birth to the holy one, Abi-simti (i.e. Cu-Suen's mother) gave birth to the holy one, the queen gave birth to the holy one -- my cloth beam of the cloth of pleasure, my Abi-simti! My warp beam placed for weaving, my queen Kubatum (i.e. Cu-Suen's concubine)!

My one suited to a mane of hair, a wonder to behold, my lord Cu-Suen, my one ...... in words, my son of Culgi -- because I uttered, because I uttered, the lord gave me a gift, because I uttered an exclamation of joy, the lord gave me a gift. The lord gave me as a gift a golden pin, a lapis-lazuli seal. The lord gave me as a gift a golden ring, a silver ring.

O lord, your gifts are ...... , may you cast your eyes on me. O Cu-Suen, your gifts are ...... , may you cast your eyes on me. ...... lord ...... lord ....... Like pleasant ....... May your city stretch out its hands to you like a cripple, my lord Cu-Suen. May it lie down at your feet like a lion-cub, my son of Culgi.

My ......, the barmaid's beer is sweet. Like her beer her genitals are sweet, her beer is sweet. Like her mouth her genitals are sweet, her beer is sweet. Her diluted beer, her beer is sweet -- my Cu-Suen, who pleased me, who pleased me, who delighted me, my Cu-Suen who pleased me, my Cu-Suen, beloved of Enlil, my king, the god of his Land!

It is a balbale of Bau.

 

 

 

 

A song of Shulgi: translation

pure from birth ....... ...... in the Land .......
2 lines fragmentary

My king went to Eridug. Great prince, father Enki, rejoice! Culgi went to Eridug. Great prince, father Enki, rejoice!

My king went to Nibru. Great Mountain, father Enlil, rejoice! Culgi went to Nibru. Great Mountain, father Enlil, rejoice!

My king went to the E-cu-me-ca. Lord Ninurta, rejoice! Culgi went to the E-cu-me-ca. Lord Ninurta, rejoice!

My king went to Kec. Ninsun-zi-gal-ana, rejoice! Culgi went to Kec. Ninsun-zi-gal-ana, rejoice!

My king went to Urim. Lord Acimbabbar, rejoice! Culgi went to Urim. Lord Acimbabbar, rejoice!

My king went to the E-babbar. ...... lapis-lazuli beard, rejoice! Culgi went to the E-babbar. ...... lapis-lazuli beard, rejoice!

My king went to Kulaba. Ninirigal, rejoice! Culgi went to Kulaba. Ninirigal, rejoice!

My king went to Zabalam. ...... Inana, rejoice! Culgi went to Zabalam. ...... Inana, rejoice!

 

 

 

 

Lullaby for a son of Shulgi (Shulgi N): translation

Ah, ah, may he grow sturdy through my crooning, may he flourish through my crooning! May he put down strong foundations as roots, may he spread branches wide like a cakir plant!

Lord, from this you know our whereabouts; among those resplendent apple trees overhanging the river, may someone who passes by (?) reach out his hand, may someone lying there raise his hand. My son, sleep will overtake you, sleep will settle on you.

Sleep come, sleep come, sleep come to my son, sleep hasten (?) to my son! Put to sleep his open eyes, settle your hand upon his sparkling eyes -- as for his murmuring tongue, let the murmuring not spoil his sleep.

May he fill your lap with emmer while I sweeten miniature cheeses for you, those cheeses that are the healer of mankind, that are the healer of mankind, and of the lord's son, the son of lord Culgi.

In my garden, it is the lettuces that I have watered, and among the lettuces it is the gakkul lettuce that I have chopped. Let the lord eat this lettuce! Through my crooning let me give him a wife, let me give him a wife, let me give him a son! May a happy nursemaid chatter with him, may a happy nursemaid suckle him!

Let me ...... a wife for my son, and may she bear him a son so sweet. May his wife lie in his warm embrace, and may his son lie in his outstretched arms. May his wife be happy with him, and may his son be happy with him. May his young wife be happy in his embrace, and may his son grow vigorously on his gentle knees.

You are restless -- I am troubled, I am quite silent (?), gazing at the stars, as the crescent moon shines on my face. Your bones might be arrayed on the wall! The man of the wall might shed tears for you! The mongoose might beat the balaj drums for you! The gecko might gouge its cheeks for you! The fly might gash its lips for you! The lizard might tear out (?) its tongue for you!

May the lullaby (?) make us flourish! May the lullaby (?) make us thrive! When you flourish, when you thrive, when you ...... the shaking of churns, sweet sleep ......, the sweet bed .......
May a wife be your support, and may a son ....... May a son be your fortune. May winnowed grain be your lover, and may Ezina-Kusu (the goddess of grain) be your aid. May you have an eloquent protective goddess. May you be brought up to a reign of favourable days. May you smile upon festivals.

My son is ......; he knows nothing. He does not know the length of his old age (?). He does not know the dwelling of the .......

May you discover ....... May you eat .......
3 lines fragmentary
May you be ....... May you be .......


7 lines fragmentary
...... goats, sheep and donkeys ......
1 line fragmentary
Ninkasi (the goddess of beer) ...... in her vat ......
5 lines fragmentary
The shepherd's wife ...... He ...... the ...... of the date palm. He brings date shoots among the offerings.

As for you, lie in sleep! May your palm tree, extending its fronds, spread joy like a fig tree (?). Place coals (?) beside Urim! Place charcoal beside Unug! Seize the enemy's mouth like ......! Bind his arms like reed bundles! Make the enemy cower before you, lest he rip open your back like a sack,
4 lines fragmentary
approx. 6 lines missing
4 lines fragmentary
unknown no. of lines missing

 

Poem of the Righteous SuffererPoem of the Righteous Sufferer

The Babylonian Job  

Ancient Mesopotamian literature shows the eventual rejection of the pre-moral

beliefs and practices that are described in epic tales and early hymns. The

following lines from a hymn to the great Sumerian god Eniii reflect the once

close relationship between gods and mortals that was based Upon material

considerations of "gifts of sacrifice":

 Oh Enlil, lord that knowest fate, who of thyself art glorious in Sumer , Father

Enlil, lord of lands,

Father Enlil, lord of unerring word,

Father Enlil, shepherd of the dark headed people,...

Father Enlil, with song majestically we come, the presents of the

ground are offered to thee as gifts of sacrifice ....

Father Enlil, accept the sacred offerings, the many offerings."

 Other hymns, however, are filled with lamentation over the loss of this once

stable and profitable relationship. They generally lay the blame on the gods who

have decided, states one typical text, "to bring on other days, annihilate the

plan and-while the storms foamed like a flood-subvert the ways of Sumer ."

The "Poem of the Righteous Sufferer," which exists in both Sumerian and

Babylonian, apparently reflects the beginning of this great change in Outlook.

It tells of a man who has lost his prosperous and exalted position and suffers

from ever-increasing afflictions despite his strict adherence to established

religious practices - sacrifices, supplications, incantations, and magic. (His

religiosity clearly seems to be ceremonial and cultic rather than ethical.)

Forsaken by gods and men, he moves from perplexity and doubt to blank despair.

The greater part of the poem, however, is a defense of the whole system of

traditional doctrine and ritual. It glorifies Marduk, the great god of Babylon ,

who restored the sufferer to happiness 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 the 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 gain to me.

The king's prayer - that was my joy,

And the accompanying music became a delight for me.

I instructed my land to keep the god's rites,

And provoked my people to value the goddess's name.

I made praise for the king like a god's,

And taught the populace reverence for the palace.

I wish I knew that these things were pleasing to one's god!

 

“WHO KNOWS THE WILL OF THE GODS?"

What is proper to oneself is an offence to one's god,

What in one's own heart seems despicable is proper to one's god.

Who knows the will of the gods in heaven?

Who understands the plans of the underworld gods?

Where have mortals learnt the way of a god?

He who was alive yesterday is dead today.

For a minute he was dejected, suddenly he is exuberant.

One moment people are singing in exaltation,

Another they groan like professional mourners.

Their condition changes like opening and shutting the legs.

When starving they become like corpses,

When replete they vie with the gods.

In prosperity they speak of scaling heaven,

Under adversity they complain of going down to hell.

I am appalled at these things; I do not understand their significance....

   

CONCLUSION: "MARDUK RESTORED ME"

 The Lord took hold of me,

The Lord set me on my feet,

The Lord gave me life,

He rescued me from the pit,

He summoned me from destruction,

[... ] he pulled me from the Hubur river,

[... ) he took my hand ....

Marduk, he restored me ....

The Babylonians saw how Marduk restores to life, And all quarters extolled his

greatness: ...

Mortals, as many as there are, give praise to Marduk!

 

 

 

 

 

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