This volume opens up new perspectives on Babylonian and Assyrian literature, through the lens of a pivotal passage in the Gilgamesh
Flood story. It shows how, using a nine-line message where not all was as it seemed, the god Ea inveigled humans into building the Ark.
The volume argues that Ea used a 'bitextual' message: one which can be understood in different ways that sound the same. His message thus emerges as an ambivalent oracle in the tradition of 'folktale prophecy'. The argument is supported by interlocking investigations of lexicography, divination, diet, figurines, social history, and religion. There are also extended discussions of Babylonian word play and ancient literary interpretation. Besides arguing for Ea's duplicity, the book explores its implications - for narrative sophistication in Gilgamesh
, for audiences and performance of the poem, and for the relation of the Gilgamesh
Flood story to the versions in Atra-hasīs
, the Hellenistic historian Berossos, and the Biblical Book of Genesis
.Ea's Duplicity in the
Gilgamesh Flood Story
will interest Assyriologists, Hebrew Bible scholars and Classicists, but also students and researchers in all areas concerned with Gilgamesh
, word-play, oracles, and traditions about the Flood.