Cover image for The Tale of the Poor Man of Nippur By Baruch Ottervanger

The Tale of the Poor Man of Nippur

Baruch Ottervanger

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$29.95 | Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-952-10-9496-5

96 pages
10" × 6.8"
2016
Distributed by Penn State University Press for Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project

State Archives of Assyria Cuneiform Texts

The Tale of the Poor Man of Nippur

Baruch Ottervanger

The Poor Man of Nippur is a short tale of 160 lines, telling how a poor man wronged by the governor of his city, Nippur, cunningly takes revenge on his abuser and wrongdoer. The story is told in a sympathetic and humorous way, making it captivating and entertaining reading even by modern standards, and it is of exceptional literary value in the context of Ancient Mesopotamia, where similar humorous or satirical compositions are rare. The tale evidently enjoyed great popularity in ancient times, as indicated by the fact that its motif recurs in medieval and modern folktales in various parts of Europe and the Near East. Beyond its general humorous nature, however, the text can be seen as political satire directed both against the mayor of Nippur and the king (who does not take any action to redress the mayor's wrongdoings but whose neglect also permits the protagonist to take revenge on the mayor). Numerous instances of word-play and puns enrich the narrative.

 

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The Poor Man of Nippur is a short tale of 160 lines, telling how a poor man wronged by the governor of his city, Nippur, cunningly takes revenge on his abuser and wrongdoer. The story is told in a sympathetic and humorous way, making it captivating and entertaining reading even by modern standards, and it is of exceptional literary value in the context of Ancient Mesopotamia, where similar humorous or satirical compositions are rare. The tale evidently enjoyed great popularity in ancient times, as indicated by the fact that its motif recurs in medieval and modern folktales in various parts of Europe and the Near East. Beyond its general humorous nature, however, the text can be seen as political satire directed both against the mayor of Nippur and the king (who does not take any action to redress the mayor's wrongdoings but whose neglect also permits the protagonist to take revenge on the mayor). Numerous instances of word-play and puns enrich the narrative.

This new edition of the tale updates and complements the editio princeps of O. R. Gurney (1956) by incorporating the corrections and collations published by a number of scholars (including Gurney himself in 1957–58) and the small fragment from Nippur published by Maria de Jong Ellis in 1974.

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Manuscripts

Abbreviations and Symbols

Bibliography

Cuneiform Text

Transliteration

Translation

Commentary

Glossary and Indices

Logograms and their Readings

Glossary

Index of Names

Sign List

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