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Introduction to Akkadian Literature: Contexts and Content

by Alan Charles Lenzi Eisenbrauns
Pub Date:
Pbk 264 pages
AU$77.00 NZ$80.00
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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A valuable resource for teachers and students of ancient Mesopotamian and comparative ancient literatures, this introductory anthology makes the wealth of Akkadian literature easily accessible to scholars and nonspecialists.


This brief but comprehensive survey provides a thorough overview of the major works and genres in the Akkadian corpus - from narrative poems, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enuma elish, and The Babylonian Theodicy, to legends of Akkadian kings, satires, proverbs, dialogues, prayers, incantations, hymns, and even legal and political documents. Each text is presented in English translation and accompanied by extensive footnotes. The introductory material succinctly describes the historical and cultural contexts of ancient Mesopotamian scribal production and Akkadian literary and poetic conventions, arming students and nonspecialist readers with the wherewithal to interpret and understand these ancient texts. The book concludes with a wide-ranging bibliography for students who wish to continue their study.


With this one relatively short book, the novice reader will gain an introductory knowledge of the most important textual remains written in Akkadian. It will be a useful tool for nonspecialist scholars and advanced students in disciplines such as Assyriology, Egyptology, biblical studies, comparative literature, and the history of religions.





List of Illustrations





Akkadian: Linguistic, Geographical, and Chronological Parameters

An Overview of the Textual Record

1. Prolegomena to the Study of Akkadian Literature

Tablets: From Excavation to Translation

Scribes: Contextualizing Literary Production

Compositions: General Issues

Audiences: Who Read These Texts?

2. Survey of Selected Text Groups

Mythological and Heroic Epics

Legends of Akkadian Kings

Historiographical Texts

Legal and Political Documents

Divination: Deductive and Intuitive

Other Scholarly Texts

Prayers, Incantations, Incantation- Prayers, Laments, and Hymns

Meditations on Human Suffering and the Divine

Proverbs, Advice, Dialogues, and Debates

Satire, Parody, and Humor

Conclusion: The Future of Akkadian Literature



Alan Lenzi is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of the Pacific. He is the author of Reading Akkadian Prayers and Hymns: An Introduction and Secrecy and the Gods: Secret Knowledge in Ancient Mesopotamia and Biblical Israel, the latter of which is distributed by Eisenbrauns.