Poor Man of Nippur

The Poor Man of Nippur is an Akkadian story written in sometime in the second millennium BC. It is attested by only three texts, only one of which is more than a small fragment. [Maria deJ. Ellis. "A New Fragment of the Tale of the Poor Man of Nippur." Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Apr., 1974), pp. 88-89]

There was a man, a citizen of Nippur, destitute and poor,
Gimil-Ninurta was his name, an unhappy man,
In his city, Nippur, he lived, working hard, but
Had not the silver befitting his class,
Had not the gold befitting people (of his stature).
His storage bins lacked pure grain,
His insides burned, craving food, and
His face was unhappy, craving meat and first-class beer;
Having no food, he lay hungry every day, and
Was dressed in garments that had no change.
In his unhappy mood, he thought to himself:
I'll strip off my garments which have no change, and
In my city of Nippur's market I'll buy a sheep!
So he stripped off his garments which had no change, and
In his city of Nippur's market he bought a three-year-old goat.
In his unhappy mood, he thought to himself:
Suppose I slaughter this goat in my yard-
There could be no feast, for where is the beer?
My friends in the neighbourhood would find out and be furious,
And my family and relatives would be angry with me. [Jean Bottéro "The Oldest Cuisine in the World: Cooking in Mesopotamia.", 2004, page 98]

Instead he presents the goat to the mayor. This is interpreted as a bribe and Gimil-Ninurta is given only a mug of third-class beer and the leavings of the meal before being thrown out. Through the medium of the gatekeeper Gimil-Ninurta vows to avenge his mistreatment three times over but when the mayor hears this he laughs all day.

Gimil-Ninurta hires a chariot and robe from the king on credit. Returning to the mayor's house with a locked chest containing two birds he presents himself as a royal courier conveying gold to the temple of Enlil. Arising in the night and opening the chest to release the birds, he beats the mayor for the purported theft and is compensated with two minas of red gold, twice the sum owed to the king.

Gimil-Ninurta calls upon the mayor again disguised as an itinerant physician come to treat his wounds. Claiming that his medication is only effective in the darkness, he lures the mayor into a private room, binds the mayor's hands and feet to stakes and beats him once more.

The mayor instructs his staff to watch for his persecutor but Gimil-Ninurta hires an accomplice to identify himself as 'the man with the goat' at the mayor's gate and draw them out. He hides under a bridge near the mayor's house and beats the mayor nigh to death while he is alone. [Henry W.F. Saggs "Everyday life in Babylonia and Assyria.", 1965]

Footnotes


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nippur — /ni poor /, n. an ancient Sumerian and Babylonian city in SE Iraq: partially excavated. * * * Ancient Mesopotamian city southeast of Babylon. Located in what is now southeastern Iraq, it was originally on the Euphrates River, whose course later… …   Universalium

  • Le Pauvre Hère De Nippur — (ou Pauvre homme de Nippur) est un des rares récits humoristiques qui nous soit parvenu de la civilisation mésopotamienne. Il s agit d une satire montrant un homme du peuple se venger d un notable indigne de sa fonction, et qui profite de son… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Le pauvre homme de Nippur — Le pauvre hère de Nippur Le pauvre hère de Nippur (ou Pauvre homme de Nippur) est un des rares récits humoristiques qui nous soit parvenu de la civilisation mésopotamienne. Il s agit d une satire montrant un homme du peuple se venger d un notable …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pauvre hère de Nippur — Le pauvre hère de Nippur Le pauvre hère de Nippur (ou Pauvre homme de Nippur) est un des rares récits humoristiques qui nous soit parvenu de la civilisation mésopotamienne. Il s agit d une satire montrant un homme du peuple se venger d un notable …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Le pauvre hère de Nippur — (ou Pauvre homme de Nippur) est un des rares récits humoristiques qui nous soit parvenu de la civilisation mésopotamienne. Il s agit d une satire montrant un homme du peuple se venger d un notable indigne de sa fonction, et qui profite de son… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • MESOPOTAMIA — The original article in the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica traced Mesopotamian history to its earliest beginnings and provided a detailed survey of Mesopotamian literature and institutions. With the availability of such tools as J.… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Sultantepe — The ancient temple complex, perhaps of Huzirina, [ Huzirina is indirectly attested in cuneiform tablets at the site, and in the annals of Tukulti Ninurta II, but O. R. Gurney pointed out that Huzirina in the royal annals was situated not more… …   Wikipedia

  • Ancient literature — History of Literature Bronze Age literature …   Wikipedia

  • Ashurbanipal — /ah shoor bah nee pahl /, n. died 626? B.C., king of Assyria 668? 626? B.C. Also, Assurbanipal. * * * flourished 7th century BC Last great Assyrian king (r. 668–627 BC). He was appointed crown prince of Assyria in 672 BC; his half brother was… …   Universalium

  • Mesopotamia, history of — ▪ historical region, Asia Introduction  history of the region in southwestern Asia where the world s earliest civilization developed. The name comes from a Greek word meaning “between rivers,” referring to the land between the Tigris and… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.