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16 READING AKKADIAN PRAYERS AND HYMNS: AN INTRODUCTION It spread (to others) the gnawing of (his) insides, The stock of the human race was diminished. Belet-ili went before Ea the king, “O Ea, humankind was created by your spell, “Second, you pinched off their clay from the firmament of the depths. “By your great command, you determined their capacities. ), jaundice! 38 Although these kinds of texts are clearly excluded from the present understanding of prayer because they are directed at malevolent (here, an illness) rather than benevolent powers, they often bear one of the two Sumerian superscripts, én or én-é-nu-ru, under discussion.

When this hymnic element is present, the length varies significantly from as little as one line to a dozen or more. , the animal sacrifices in the OB letter-prayer to Ninmug on page 105). In the subset of prayer identified here as hymn, praise predominates throughout. Another common element of content in prayers is the self-presentation or selfintroduction formula, in which the supplicant identifies their name, filiation, and perhaps personal gods. 29 During the course of praising, complaining to, 28 Moreover, hymns are not entirely devoid of petition.

This text-centered orientation makes speculation about an actual speaker’s subjective intention or emotion irrelevant. The perspective and warrants of the text are all that is accessible to modern readers. Because the present definition defines prayer as something directed to benevolent supra-human powers, texts that communicate concerns or desires to malevolent demons, ghosts, witches, illnesses, and other powerful entities are not prayers. The same applies to texts that address themselves to mere humans or no one in particular, benevolent or otherwise.

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