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Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

The Poem of the Righteous Sufferer (Ludlul bēl nēmeqi), Tablet II, lines 1-33, read by Nathan Wasserman

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By kind permission of Professor B. R. Foster, the translation below is taken from his work Before the Muses: an Anthology of Akkadian Literature (Bethesda, 2005), with minor modifications (most of which follow the translation of W. G. Lambert).

The transcription is based on the transliteration provided in the editio princeps by W. G. Lambert, Babylonian Wisdom Literature (Oxford, 1960 repr. Winona Lake, 1996), with minor modifications.

Owing to differences in Babylonian and English word order, it is not always easy for the English translation to mirror the two half lines of the Babylonian original. When the match is not exact, the translation begins with an asterisk (as e.g. in line 07).

Original TranscriptEnglish Translation
1 akšudma ana balāṭ | adanna ītiq1 I survived to the next year, | the appointed time passed.
2 asaḫḫurma | lemun lemunma
3 zapurtī ūtaṣṣapa | išartī ul uttu
2 As I turned around, | it was more and more terrible;
3 My ill luck was on the increase, | I could find no good fortune.
4 ila alsīm | ul iddina pānīšu
5 usalli ištarī | ul ušaqqâ rēšīša
4 I called to my god, | but he did not show me his face,
5 I prayed to my goddess, | but she did not raise her head.
6 bārû ina bīr | arkat ul iprus
7 ina maššakka šāˀilu | ul ušāpi dīnī
6 The diviner with his inspection | did not get to the bottom of it,
7 *Nor did the dream priest with his incense | clear up my case
8 zaqīqu abālma | ul upatti uznī
9 mašmaššu ina kikiṭṭê | kimiltī ul ipṭur
8 I beseeched a dream spirit, | but it did not enlighten me;
9 And the incantation priest with his ritual | did not appease the divine wrath against me.
10 ayyīte epšēti | šanāti mātitān
11 āmurma arkat | ridâti ippīru
10 What bizarre actions | there were everywhere!
11 I looked behind, | there was persecution, trouble.
12 kī ša tamqītum ana ili lā uktinnu
13 u ina mākalê ištari lā zakru
12 *Like one who has not | made libations to his god,
13 *nor with a food offering | invoked his goddess,
14 appi lā enû | šukînni lā amru
15 ina pîšu ipparkû | suppû teslītu
16 ibṭilu ūmu ili | išēṭu eššēšī
17 iddû ahšuma | mēšunu imēšu
18 palāhu u itˀudu | lā ušalmidu nišīšu
14 who is not wont to prostrate himself, | nor has been seen to bow down,
15 from whose mouth there has been no issue | of prayer or supplication
16 who has skipped holy days | and despised festivals,
17 who has been neglectful | and scorned the god's rites,
18 who has not taught his people | reverence and worship,
19 ilšu lā izkur | īkul akalšu
20 īzib ištartašu | mashatu lā ubla
19 who has not invoked his god | but eaten his food offering,
20 who has snubbed his goddess | by not bringing a flour offering,
21 ana ša imhû | bēlšu imšû
22 nīš ilīšu kabti | qalliš izkur
21 like one possessed | who has forgotten his lord,
22 who has casually sworn | a solemn oath by his god,
22a anāku amšal22a (like such a one) did I seem!
23 aḫsusma raman | suppû teslīti
24 teslītī tašīmat | niqû sakkûˀa
23 I, for my part, was mindful | of supplication and prayer:
24 to me prayer was the natural recourse, | sacrifice my rule.
25 ūmu palāh ilī |ṭūb libbīya
26 ūmu ridûti ištar | nēmeli tatturu
25 The day for reverencing the gods | was a joy to my heart;
26 The day of the goddess's procession | was my profit and return.
27 ikribi šarri | šī hidûtī
28 u nēgûtašu | ana damiqti šumma
27 Praying for the king, | that was my joy,
28 His fanfare | was as if for (my own) good omen.
29 uššar ana māti | mê ili naṣāri
30 šumi ištar šūqur | nišīya uštāhiz
29 I instructed my land | to observe the god's rites,
30 the goddess's precious name | did I teach my people to value.
31 tanādāti šarri | iliš umaššil
32 u puluhti ekalli | ummān ušalmid
31 Praise for the king | I made like a god's
32 And reverence for the palace | I taught the populace.
33 lū idi kī itti ili | itamgur annâti33 *I wish I knew that these things | were pleasing to a god!