July 14, 2012

Getting Two For The Price Of One

An abnormally interesting class of Akkadian omen has more than one target in its apodosis. Here’s an example from CT 40 33-34 (K. 3886+6819)11’ -12’:

[DIŠ ANŠ]E iš-še-gu-ma NITÁ-šu ú lu ÙŠ- KÚ / LUGAL KUR-su BAL-su BA BI É-su BIR-aḫ

šumma imēru iššegu-ma mūršu ūlū silītsa īkkal / šarru māt-su ibbalkitsu amēlu šuātu bītsu issapaḫ

If a donkey becomes rabid and eats her fold or her afterbirth; (concerning) the king, his land will rebel against him; (concerning) that man, his house, will be dispersed.

Notice that the omen has implications for both the king and the man, presumably the man who owns the rabid donkey. In previous posts I’ve noted omens with multiple levels of complexity: discredited rulers and earthquakes for example. These omens have what I call a vertical interpretation – one portent implies a deeper or differing one. But omens like the one above have a kind of horizontal complexity. It’s not that their portent shows depth but that it shows a simultaneity of application.

Posted by Duane Smith at July 14, 2012 7:21 PM | Read more on Akkadian |

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