Desire, Discord and Death: Approaches to Near Eastern Myth by Neal Walls

By Neal Walls

The 3 essays provided during this quantity exhibit the symbolic complexity and poetic imaginative and prescient of historic close to jap mythology. during the software of up to date equipment of literary research, the writer explores the interrelated issues of erotic hope, divine clash, and death’s realm in chosen historical Mesopotamian and Egyptian mythological narratives. themes comprise the development of wish within the Gilgamesh epic, a psychoanalytic method of “The Contendings of Horus and Seth,” and gender and the workout of energy within the stormy romance of Nergal and Ereshkigal. Walls’ clean remedy of those 3 vital myths brings them to lifestyles for the expert and mythology buff alike.

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Enkidu enters the narrative as a hairy savage in the wild, but he will enter Uruk as a handsome and civilized man. Shamhat’s tutelage has transformed him into an alluring presence of his own, discussed further below. Although the SB narration is lost, the OB edition describes the culmination of Enkidu’s humanity by stressing his physical appearance (OBP iii 22–27; see Tigay 1982:277): ultappit malî åuººuram pagaråu åamnam iptaååaå-ma awÏliå Ïwi ilbaå libåam kÏma muti ibaååi He groomed (his) matted hair, So hairy was his body; He anointed himself with oil (and so) He turned into a human; He put on a garment, He looked just like a groom.

Fruit,” inb„, is a common figurative expression for sexual appeal and vigor in Akkadian erotic literature, apparently based on the metaphor of fruit’s luscious qualities (see Lambert 1987b:27–31). The word æΩºiru denotes a lover, groom, or the husband of a æÏrtu-wife of equal status. Ishtar follows her opening lines with a list of impressive gifts for her intended groom. Shamhat’s encounter with Enkidu established the erotic theme of feminine allure and masculine response, and Ishtar’s attempted seduction of Gilgamesh provides variations on that theme.

The poetic depiction of their sexual intercourse is abrupt and explicit (I 172–77): „råa iptË-ma kuzubåa ilqe, ul iåæut ilteqe napÏssu, lub„åÏåa umaœœÏ-ma elÏåa iœlal, Ïpuss„-ma lullâ åipir sinniåte, dΩd„åu iæbub„ eli œËrÏåa, 6 urrÏ 7 m„åÏ Enkidu tebÏ-ma åamæat iræi She revealed her vulva and he possessed her charms, She did not fear (but) took (to herself) his virility. She spread out her garment and he lay upon her; She performed for the wild man the task of a woman. His passions embraced (and enveloped) her: For six days and seven nights Enkidu was aroused and copulated with Shamhat.

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