Changing Images of Kingship in Sumerian Literature

Nicole Brisch

in The Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199557301
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Changing Images of Kingship in Sumerian Literature

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  • Classical Studies
  • Historical Archaeology


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This article examines changes in the images of kingship in Sumerian literature, particularly in the hymns, myths, and narratives of the late third and early second millennia bc. It investigates whether ancient Mesopotamian kings were able to influence and model intellectual activity in order to maintain and support their political rule. The analysis reveals that royal hymns and other literary texts, such as the Sumerian Gilgameš tales and the narratives surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, the legendary kings of Uruk, disseminated an 'ideal' image of the king as a centre of social and cosmic order.

Keywords: kingship; Sumerian literature; Mesopotamian kings; intellectual activity; royal hymns; literary texts; Sumerian Gilgameš tales; Enmerkar; Lugalbanda

Article.  9944 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Historical Archaeology

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