Part I: The Cult of Kinnaru

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2. Instrument Gods and Musician Kings in Early Mesopotamia: Divinized Instruments

Already in the late Uruk period (ca. 3300–2900), reverence for cult-objects is implied by the ritual deposition of ‘retired’ tools from an old temple when a new one was built over it (for example, the Eanna complex at Uruk); the burial of objects including musical instruments and weapons in the ‘royal cemetery’ of Ur (ca. 2600) may also be relevant. [1] In the so-called Metal List, known from various copies running from Uruk III down to the OAkk. period (ca. 2340–2159), various cult-objects of metal are written with divine determinatives; presumably this is a collection “of items and their deified counterparts,” although the precise nature of that divinity is not made clear. [2] God lists going back to Fāra and Abū Ṣalābīḫ (ca. 2600) contain names that indicate an origin in divinized cult-objects, such as crowns, staves, temple-doors, and foundation pegs. Also included are deified offices and professions related to temple administration and society more generally (for example, divine brick-maker, divine shepherd, Lady of the Granaries), as well as ‘cultural achievements’ like incense, bees’ wax, fire, kettle, and torch. We also first find a musical instrument accompanied by the divine determinative (dùb, probably a small kettledrum). [3] In the generation before Sargon came to power (ca. 2340), administrative texts from Lagash document offerings and votive donations to gods and deified objects (statues, steles, and emblems like ‘The Bronze Date-Palm’); paraphernalia relating to royal ideology (staves, scepters, chariot); and musical instruments—including the balang (Sum. balaĝ), which in the third millennium at least referred to a kind of stringed-instrument, whether harp, lyre, or perhaps sometimes even lute. [4]
Divinized cult-objects could receive offerings of animal sacrifice, spices, oil, fruit, or jewelry. [5] Although these must have been consumed or otherwise processed by cultic personnel, it remains the case that the objects themselves were the intended beneficiaries of the offering-rituals. [6] The great diversity of divinized objects in Mesopotamia strains familiar conceptions of the divine. [7] Apparently there was no essential distinction between ‘gods’ and those objects we might see as merely representing them, or being otherwise associated. These were not symbols of the gods, but instantiations of some sort:
No distinctive feature could be found that functionally separates the divine images proper from cultic objects, including the statues of the ruling elite. They both seem to vary only in their degree of religious importance, not in their conceptualization. [8]
The aura of a god in his temple could so attach itself to the temple, or architectural parts of it in particular, also to implements he used, and to the city which housed the temple, in such a way that these various things also became gods and received offerings as a mark of the fact. [9]
So for all practical purposes, divinized cult-objects were gods. A large number of these are attested in god-lists—a subset of lexical text containing accumulated material from various eras—and royal inscriptions from the later third and early second millennia (N-S and OB periods). Especially prominent among musical instruments is the balang; from Heimpel’s analysis, it is clear that “most major and many minor master-gods had one or more [balang-gods] as servants.” [10]
If offerings to divinized cult-objects were generally small, befitting their status as servant-gods, [11] nevertheless their power was real. It was possible, for instance, to take an oath on one or more musical instruments. The evidence for this comes from Šurpu (Burning), a series of “incantations, prayers, and instructions for magic practices,” known from N-A copies, but including older material (for instance several Sumerian incantations known from OB versions). [12] Tablet III contains a long incantation for freeing the participant from the effects of a previously sworn oath that may have been violated unknowingly; accordingly it includes an exhaustive catalogue of oaths that may have been taken. [13] It is in this context that several different musical-instrument oaths are itemized. [14] “It was feared, it appears from this tablet, that the numen inherent in these, once invoked, would stay unbound and afflict the person who had sworn the oath.” [15] Although the precise purpose of such oaths is not clear, it is worth noting here a cylinder seal of unknown provenance dating to ca. 1500–1000, interpreted by E. Porada as a treaty agreement; a king shakes hands with a smaller figure, presumably a client ruler, behind whom a musician, of equal stature to the king, plays an upright harp (Figure 2). [16] Presumably the music somehow served to bind the agreement. [17] Note that a number of balang servant-gods are attested for the sun-god Utu, who was associated with law and justice; these bear such apt names as ‘Let me live by His Word’, ‘Just Judge’, and ‘Decision of Sky and Earth’. [18]
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Figure 2. ‘Harp treaty’, unprovenanced Mesopotamian cylinder seal, ca. fourteenth century. London, BM 89359. Drawn from MgB 2/2 fig. 108.
The religious and political importance of divinized instruments is shown by a startling number of official year-names referring to their construction and dedication in major temples. In Lagash ca. 2100, one year of Gudea’s reign (perhaps the third) was called “the year in which was fashioned the balang Ušumgal-kalama (‘Great Dragon of the Land’).” [19] As it happens, this event is treated at some length in the Gudea Cylinders (see below). [20] During the reign of Ibbi-Sin, the last king of Shulgi’s line (see below), one year was called “Ibbi-Sin, king of Ur, fashioned the balang Ninigizibara for the goddess Inanna.” [21] A divine balang of this same name features in an illuminating lamentation ritual for Ishtar at OB Mari, to be discussed later. [22] Also from the OB period come a handful of further years named after the dedication of divinized instruments. [23]
The creation of a divinized instrument was clearly a momentous event, and must have involved, at all relevant periods, complex rituals comparable to those whereby a god took up its abode in a new or repaired statue. [24] Ethnomusicology provides many parallels for such processes. S. C. Devale, in a seminal synthesis, surveyed material from Africa, the Pacific, and elsewhere for rituals governing various stages in the lifecycle of an instrument, from the several stages of construction through first, subsequent, and last use, with various actions before, between, and after. Construction rituals include offerings to and blessings of the necessary trees, animals, or other materials, or to a culture-hero who invented some essential tool; sacrifice of animals and use of blood or body parts both for the instrument itself, and in appropriate priestly and communal feasting practices; special procedures for releasing an instrument’s voice; endowment with a special name describing the instrument’s powers; and so on. [25]
The only direct evidence for such construction rituals in Mesopotamia comes from a collection of late texts that document the divinization of the lilissu-drum. [26] The ‘exemplars’—the various tablets actually contain variations in the ritual [27] —range in date from the N-A period (Assur, Nineveh) down to the Seleucid (Uruk). One of the seventh-century versions, however, is known to have been copied for the library of Ashurbanipal from an older Babylonian tablet. The ritual was thus traditional, if certainly not static. [28] In any case, the lilissu texts provide the only hints for imagining analogous rituals of the third and second millennia. [29]
Even a selective summary of the lilissu rituals will reveal the astonishing elaborateness of the divinization procedure. [30] The science was performed and guarded by the so-called lamentation-priests (Sum. gala/Akk. kalû) whose best-known function was to assuage divine anger and grief through ritual performance. [31] A pure steer, never subjected to yoke or whip, was brought to the temple on a day chosen by careful divination. Offerings were made to Ea, incense burned, and incantations sung. Around the animal were placed twelve god-figurines in a magical arrangement, an actual diagram of which has been found. The figures’ positions had cosmogonic and theomachic implications, so that the finished drum would ultimately be strengthened by the renovation of cosmic order. [32] The beast’s mouth was washed—an action also attested for the divinization of cult statues, and related to the process of animation [33] —while Sumerian and Akkadian incantations were sung into its ear through a special tube of aromatic wood. The slaughter was accompanied by further apotropaic lamentation-songs, in which the bull was promised a kind of immortality:
You are the choice bull, the creation of [the great gods].
You were created for the wo[rk of the great go]ds …
Your hide and your sinew have been assigned to the mystery of the great gods.
Abide for eternity in the mystery of that god! [34]
The victim’s heart was extracted, placed in front of the drum, scattered with juniper, and burned. Its skin was removed, treated with flour, beer, wine, fat, alum, and gall-apples, and then applied in many complex steps to a previously prepared drum frame. The rest of the animal was buried. [35] One of the gods to whom offerings were made was Lumḫa, [36] whose name is written in some exemplars as ‘Divine Balang’ (dBALAĜ). [37] Lumḫa himself was therefore a kind of instrument god, his goodwill needed for the new divinized drum. [38] One should also note the substantial element of seven-magic that underpins the ritual. [39] On the fifteenth day after the drum’s completion, it was presented to the temple-god. It was now a Divine Lilissu, and could only be played by the priest to whom it was assigned. Through these procedures, as U. Gabbay has convincingly argued, the bull belonged to both the living and the dead. Its ‘heart’ survived in the drum itself, which wore its skin, and continued to beat in the beating of the instrument; this was in turn the beating heart of the god to be soothed through ritual lamentation, when the kalû would imitate the gestures of mourning. [40] The mechanism was thus sympathetic magic: the kalû enacted the lamenting god(dess), leading his or her heart to release from anger and grief through the performance of mourning.
A divinized instrument, like other cult-objects, was endowed with a name. This could reflect its physical and conceptual properties, or some aspect of the master-god to whom it was devoted. [41] In either case, the naming ritual endowed the divinized instrument with individual existence. [42] This bears in turn on the capacity of divine objects to enjoy ‘personal’ relationships with major gods, and hence appear in mythological narratives with them. Thus, for example, in the Babylonian Erra Myth, an Akkadian narrative work of the early first millennium, [43] the god Erra’s vizier Ishum is perhaps his deified scepter, Ḫendursanga. [44] His seven weapons are definitely anthropomorphized as warriors. [45] Much earlier is the N-S poem Lugal-e, telling the adventures of Ninurta. [46] The god’s mace Sharur is personified as his advisor, who alerts him in a lengthy speech (24–69) to the existence of a new enemy in the mountains—Azag, who has been chosen leader by that region’s plants and stones, the latter represented as warriors. [47] Later as Ninurta carries his mace it “snarled at the mountains” (79). Notable among Sharur’s several other actions is his transformation into the thunderbird, flying overhead to spy out the enemy and bring news back to Ninurta (109–150).
The appearance of divinized cult-tools in myth is probably related to their use in ritual. This is well explained by A. Livingstone:
In Babylonian thinking the distinction between ‘ritual’ and ‘myth’ is slight. Statues or symbols used in the rituals were believed to be in every sense the deities which we regard them as representing … A ritual in which the statue or symbol of a deity participated was therefore in effect a myth. On the other hand, myths which we would conceive as having happened once in the past were believed by the ancient thinkers to be capable of repetition. [48]
While there is no obvious connection with ritual in the case of Sharur in Lugal-e, his very existence was grounded in the realia of Ninurta’s cult. The closeness of Sharur’s mythological relationship to his master-god must have depended on the physical proximity of the mace to Ninurta’s statue, which will have been regularly involved in temple rituals. It is likely enough, however, that once such a background was taken for granted, a divinized cult-tool like Sharur could take on a ‘life of his own’ in the minds of singers and storytellers. Similarly the myth of Erra’s seven warrior-weapons presents no overt ritual dimension; yet they are a manifestation of the Divine Heptad, a polymorphous group whose appearance in cult and ritual is otherwise well attested. [49]
This evidence for the ritual-poetic treatment of cult-objects and processes will be important when considering several myths relating to Kinyras and his family. [50]

Gudea and the Balang-Gods of Ningirsu

This fundamental link between ritual and poetics is most clearly illustrated by passages in The Building of Ningirsu’s House, a work which Gudea of Lagash (ca. 2140–2120), to memorialize his completion of a new temple to the city-god Ningirsu, caused to be composed and inscribed on two large clay cylinders (henceforth Gudea Cylinders). It is a lengthy praise-hymn (zà.mí) describing in great detail the process of construction. [51] Complementary ‘documentation’ comes from a series of figurative steles, including several scenes of musical performance, which were dedicated at the temple’s inauguration. [52] The praise-hymn itself may have been performed on the same occasion. [53] The text, rich in sociological and cultic information, brilliantly illuminates the anthropomorphic visualization of cult-objects, slipping easily between material-ritual description and vivid mythological scenes. Thus, at the poem’s climax, Ningirsu, arriving at his new ‘palace’, is accompanied by the functionaries of his divine court—all of whom are ‘actually’ architectural elements of the temple itself, divinized cult-objects, or cultic personnel masquerading as such. [54]
Once again we encounter Sharur, this time as the mace of Ningirsu; a second weapon is called Shargaz. [55] It is told how Gudea goes to the cedar mountain to make Sharur’s shaft—an event that gave its name to yet another regnal year. [56] After Gudea dedicates the mace in Eninnu, it is personified, and Sharur takes up his position; his duties as Ningirsu’s ‘general’ are described in detail. [57] Other cult-objects are made the god’s family members. One son, Ig-Alima, is the deified door of the hall of justice; he serves as ‘Chief Bailiff’ in Ningirsu’s court. [58] Ningirsu’s oldest son, Šulšaga, is butler to his table. [59] Many such familiar relationships are found in the canonical lamentations, [60] and will be important parallels for approaching Kinyras and his family. [61]
The text is also a key source for understanding divinized instruments, and how ritual music was believed to affect the gods through ‘song-acts’. [62] Early in Cylinder A, the goddess Nanshe interprets an ominous dream for Gudea. He is to seek Ningirsu’s approval—and with it exact architectural plans—for the temple’s construction. Ningirsu must first be made favorably disposed to the king’s pleas through the building and dedication of a magnificent chariot. Gudea can then make his request. But it must be ‘translated’ by the balang Great Dragon of the Land:
Enter before the warrior who loves gifts, before your master Lord Ningirsu in [his temple] E-ninnu-the-white-Anzud-bird, together with his beloved balang, Ušumgal-kalama, his famous instrument, his tool of counsel (nîĝ-ad-gi4-gi4). Your requests will then be taken as if they were commands; [63] and the balang will make the inclination of the lord—which is as inconceivable as the heavens—will make the inclination of Ningirsu, the son of Enlil, favorable for you so that he will reveal the design of his house to you in every detail. [64]
In Cylinder B, this same balang, along with the rest of the god’s accessories, is dedicated in the finished temple—the same event that gave its name to the regnal year. But now the narrative becomes fully mythological as Ningirsu arrives to take up residence. His divine spirit permeates the temple and its sacred parts and contents. Ušumgal-kalama materializes from the balang to be inducted to the office of nar—the ‘musician-singer’ whose repertoire included songs of divine and royal praise. [65] We are given a clear description of his duties:
To have the sweet-toned instrument, the tigi-harp, correctly tuned (or ‘put in order’ [66] ), to place the music of the alĝar and miritum, which make the temple happy in Eninnu for the hero, the wise Ningirsu, was his beloved musician-singer (nar), Ušumgal-kalama, going about his duties for the lord Ningirsu. [67]
This balang-god appears as a kind of musical director for the temple orchestra, responsible for the production of celebratory music in times of peace and good order. I shall return to his larger role in the text below.
Upon his heels follows a second balang-god—Lugal-igi-ḫuš, the ‘Red-Eyed Lord’: [68]
With his divine duties, namely to soothe the heart, to soothe the spirits; [69] to dry weeping eyes; to banish mourning from the mourning heart … Gudea introduced his balang, Lugal-igi-ḫuš, to Lord Ningirsu. [70]
Although an exact title is not given, the ‘Red-Eyed Lord’ is clearly a kind of lamentation-priest akin to the gala/kalû. [71] In aetiological myth, this figure is associated especially with Inanna; Enki created him either to soothe the goddess’s wrath, or to rescue her from the underworld by assuaging its grieving queen Ereškigal. [72] The gala’s ritual performances could be sung to self-­accompaniment, that of another (Heimpel suggests), or together with a chorus. [73] The several genres of lament used the linguistic mode or register called Emesal, otherwise found of female speech in literary texts and arguably connected with an early tradition of women mourners that was later embraced (co-opted?) by select, ‘male’ lamenters. [74] This is clearly relevant to certain third-gender qualities long noted for the gala, and that ‘his’ earliest documented function was lamenting at funerals amidst mourning women. [75] The gala/kalû also imitated, in stylized manner, the gestures of female mourning (prostration, torn clothing, breast-beating). [76] Institutionalized lamentation was performed both periodically (‘chronic’) and as occasion demanded (‘acute’). Regular laments, scheduled by day, month, or year within a cultic calendar, were either conducted in front of the god’s statue or elsewhere within a temple precinct, depending on the event (including processions to and from sanctuaries). [77] ‘Occasional’ laments responded to particular situations, and accordingly could be either prophylactic or corrective. Even such a fortunate chance as a royal victory could call for apotropaic lament. [78] Lament was also prescribed for such potentially dangerous transitions as eclipses and the construction or repair of temples, statues, and cult-objects, including musical instruments. [79] Lamentation-priests were also needed for repairing temple walls, gates, and even canals, with the place of performance varying as required. [80]
The activity attributed to Ušumgal-kalama is ad-gi4-gi4, ‘return a sound’, that is, ‘answer’ or ‘advise’. [81] The same word is applied to Lugalsisa, another ‘counselor’ of Ningirsu, who was to conduct regular prayers on behalf of Lagash to keep the city in good repair, the king in good health, and his power stable. [82] Considerable external evidence shows that ad-gi4-gi4 typically describes advice or responses from divine sources. The word appears as the name or epithet of several temples or shrines. [83] The balang as ‘counselor’ is seen in a rich array of material independently assembled by Heimpel and Gabbay. [84] In first millennium god-lists, many minor deities are identified as ‘counselors’, where the Akk. mundalku can be written with the Sum. signs GU4.BALAĜ (‘balang-bull’). Their names often incorporate the word balang; refer to musical sound and voice; express some facet of their master-god; or constitute a theophoric sentence describing their counseling services. Some of these GU4.BALAĜ advisors are also found bearing the title ad-gi4-gi4, the word even appearing once as a DN in its own right (dad-gi4-gi4) attached to a balang-god. [85] As Heimpel notes, “this last name is of particular interest as it merges with the function of [balang]-gods as counselors … It means that all [balang]-gods were understood as counselors of their divine masters.” [86] Both Heimpel and Gabbay note the extension of an instrument’s physical ‘sounding’ or ‘resounding’ (ad-gi4-gi4) to the idea of ‘sounding someone out’ or being someone’s ‘sounding board.’ [87] But the Sumerian conception is no mere metaphor, as the instruments’ ability to communicate with the divine world was regarded as real. As Gabbay sums up:
The theological image manifested by these references is of the main deities sharing their deliberations with their beloved counselors, the ad-gi4-gi4 deities, also known as GU4.BALAĜ. As counselors (mundalku) they are asked for their opinion on different matters, and they answer (Sum. gi4-gi4) with their voice (ad) … the advisor echoes the god’s speech through his counseling and by that calms him. [88]
These astute observations can be fruitfully applied to the Gudea Cylinders. The ‘counsels’ to be carried out by Ušumgal-kalama and Lugalsisa implicitly refer to modes of divine communication that will be in fact conducted by temple personnel. As presented in the narrative, however, the relationship between a king and his counseling ministers is equally evoked, since Ningirsu’s temple is portrayed as a royal court. That a singer or musician should have a king’s ear like this, empowered to advise and soothe, may be compared with the influential position of ‘Chief Singer’, well known from the OB period, [89] and the representation of musicians playing before seated figures (even when these are convivial scenes). [90] There is also young David’s service in the court of Saul, where he soothes the “evil spirit” which besets the king. [91]
But if the poem’s mythological imagery is converted back to cult realities, one must conclude that the instrument itself possessed the power of such counsel. This explains the passage quoted above, describing the balang’s communication of Gudea’s message to Ningirsu, whose obedience it will compel. The balang is like a herald and translator who speaks directly to the divine mind, otherwise inaccessible to man, with a special hermeneutic language. One may compare a Hittite text that refers to “the sweet message of the lyre, the sweet message of the cymbals.” [92] In the Bible, too, one finds evidence, quite abundant, for the kinnōr as a medium through which gods and mortals can communicate. [93] The god who ‘consults’ with his balang-servants is a mirror image of the king who seeks divine guidance through the medium of balang-music. Gudea submits his query, and receives his response, through the balang. The respective musings of god and king meet precisely in the instrument, which is thus a kind of hotline between king and divine patron.
Practically speaking, it would seem that any musical counsel a balang was capable of would need to be activated by its player. This assumes that divinized instruments were in fact played, and not merely venerated. This is the case at least with the divinized lilissu in first-millennium lamentation rituals. [94] And, after all, Ušumgal-kalama himself is represented as a musician in the Gudea Cylinders. This leads to the circular conception that the balang-god plays the very instrument of which it is considered the spirit. It effectively plays itself, so that all human agency is effaced. Ultimately this seems to imply that the priest-musicians who played such divinized instruments impersonated, or better instantiated, the balang-god, whose epiphany was presumably synchronous with the ritual-performance itself. [95]
A scene of the Gudea Cylinders describes the king’s own duties at the temple:
To see that the courtyard of the E-ninnu will be filled with joy; to see that the ala-drums and the balang will sound in perfect concert with the sim-cymbals, and to see that his beloved balang Ušumgal-kalama will walk in front of the procession, the ruler who had built the E-ninnu, Gudea, himself entered before Lord Ningirsu. [96]
In the future rituals that are imagined here, as in the earlier balang-rite in which he appealed to Ningirsu, Gudea is the sole visible actor. While this might reflect political posturing vis-à-vis the temple clergy, [97] it is also consistent with the ideology of the king as a bridge between the human and divine spheres. To all appearances, Gudea will single-handedly supervise the procession of Ušumgal-kalama, and the balang-god will “walk in front.” On the mythological level, this evokes a scene of king and balang-god side-by-side—an epiphany in which the cultic agents necessary for bringing it about are eclipsed, and suggesting a ‘guardian angel’ relationship between Ušumgal-kalama and Gudea, akin to ‘presentation scenes’ on cylinder-seals of the Akkadian and Ur III periods. [98] But if the scene is imagined on the mundane level, we are still left with Gudea as the leading human agent, escorting his divinized balang at the head of the procession. The two visions suggest a close association between king and balang, perhaps even their identification. Note especially that the king’s duties in the passage just given are strikingly reminiscent of Ušumgal-kalama himself, who is to supervise musical rites of just this sort.

Shulgi and the Royal Ideal of Music

The conceit of the king who personally performs complex state rites as a doppelgänger of a balang-god leads naturally to the image of the musician king, and his own enactment or instantiation of divinized instruments. Much relevant material is connected with Shulgi (ca. 2094–2047), second and greatest ruler of the Ur III dynasty, who continued his father Ur-Nammu’s ambitious temple-building program and expanded the state’s borders to their greatest extent. [99] The issue is caught up with the relatively short-lived phenomenon of divine kingship in Mesopotamia. [100] The first king known to have been proclaimed divine is Naram-Sin of Akkad (ca. 2260–2223); one of his inscriptions describes it as a reward from the gods, petitioned by the people, for quelling the ‘Great Revolt.’ [101] Divine kingship is next seen flourishing under Shulgi, systematically elaborated the under the political conditions of his time. Shulgi presented himself as the interface between the gods and human society, itself conceived as a terrestrial reflection of the divine realm with its complex hierarchy of powers. [102] This model was inherited by his successors, and at least superficially perpetuated by the Isin dynasty, which set itself up as heir to the Ur III legacy; but by this time the ideology began to wane, “consciously rejected by subsequent generations,” and dying out for all practical purposes during the OB period. [103]
One aspect of the Shulgi’s divine perfection was his absolute command of music, within an otherwise sophisticated musical culture flourishing under royal patronage. [104] This is well illustrated by passages in his royal praise-hymns—a new genre which arose in connection with divine kingship, and a key source for its conceptions. These poems, cast in the first person, consist almost entirely of ostensible self-praise for the universal perfection of the royal person. [105] The most expansive passage relating to the king’s musical abilities is worth quoting in full:
I, Shulgi, king of Ur, have also devoted myself to the musician’s art. Nothing is too complicated for me; I know the depth and breadth of the tigi and the adab, the perfection of music. When I fix the frets on the lute (giššukarak), which enraptures my heart, I never damage its neck; I have established procedures for raising and lowering its intervals. On the [sc. instrument with] eleven tuning-pegs, the lyre (zami), I know the harmonious tuning. I am familiar with the three-stringed instrument (sa-eš) and with drumming on its musical sound-box. I can take in my hands the Mari-lyre (miritum), which brings the house [sc. astonished] silence. I know the finger technique of the horizontal-lyre (alĝar) and the Sabu-lyre (sabitum), royal creations. In the same way I can produce sounds from the King-of-Kish instrument (urzababitum), the ḫarḫar, the zan(n)aru-lyre, [106] the urgula and the dim-lu-magura. Even if they bring to me, as one might to a skilled musician, a lute (gudi) that I have not heard before, when I strike it up I make its true sound known; I am able to handle it just like something that has been in my hands before. If in tuning I tighten, loosen or set [sc. the strings], they do not slip from my hand. I never make the double-pipe sound like a shepherd’s instrument, and on my own initiative I can wail a sumunša or make a lament as well as anyone who does it regularly. [107]
No doubt a king could be well educated, and really cultivate music. Yasmah-Addu of Mari (crowned ca. 1790) may have studied as a boy with his father’s master musician. [108] One of the Hurrian hymns from Ugarit may have been composed by king ‘Ammurapi of Ugarit. [109] Psalms were attributed to several Biblical kings. [110] But Shulgi’s claims are so extravagant as to be incredible. The essentially symbolic nature of his ‘achievements’ is revealed by their deliberate recycling in the royal praise-hymns of Ishme-Dagan (ca. 1953–1935), fourth king of the Isin dynasty. [111] At the pinnacle of human society, the king was all things to his people—a living god, the ideal embodiment of civilization and all its arts. His preternatural beauty made the royal shepherd a worthy spouse of Inanna, a new Dumuzi. He was the perfect soldier, the wisest judge, the best diviner, the ultimate scribe—and the ideal musician, of celebratory song and lamentation alike.
Thus, although the royal praise hymns are composed in the first person, there is no compelling reason to believe that the king himself was always, or perhaps ever, the actual composer. (If he were, of course, it would be still more interesting.) The mode of presentation allows any king to compose and perform, at least in spirit, through the mouth of a singer or singers who voiced these songs in the first person. This circular conception is similar to the poetics of divinized instruments considered above. [112] With both, human ministers are effaced, and their offices, actions, and abilities are symbolically co-opted by a higher power—be it god, king, or god-king.
The urzababitum which Shulgi claims to play presents a quite remarkable specimen of the interaction between divinized instrument and divine-king-as-musician. The urzababitum takes its name, for some mysterious reason, from Ur-Zababa, the historical king of Kish whose throne was seized by Sargon the Great. [113] Ur-Zababa himself is found in the OB/MA god-list An:Anum as a balang-deity of Ninurta. [114] The urzababitum is defined elsewhere as “the god Ninurta’s instrument” or “Ninurta of music.” [115] The specificity of this material makes it reasonable to treat it as a semantic system, despite the disparate dates of the sources. One therefore has a divinized king (Shulgi) who plays (‘takes counsel’ from) an instrument named after another divinized king (Ur-Zababa), who as the god of the self-same instrument is in turn counselor to a higher master-god—Ninurta, himself the image of the warrior-king. [116] To make matters still more complex, Yasmah-Addu, king of OB Mari, also possessed an (Akk.) urzababîtum, this one probably featuring his own name as a theophoric element. [117]
This material lets us glimpse an intricate network of ideas about divinized instruments, the cognitive interaction of instrument and player, and the elaboration of both in the ritual poetics of kingship. Another such case may be a GU4.BALAĜ servant of the moon-god Suen/Sin, called Amar-Suen (‘Calf of Suen’); for this is the name of Shulgi’s successor (ca. 2046–2038), while Suen/Sin was the patron god of the dynasty. [118] Similarly Ishbi-Erra, first king of the Isin dynasty, dedicated a divinized balang called ‘Ishbi-Erra trusts in Enlil’. [119] To judge from its name, this instrument was a servant-god of Enlil. And yet, the incorporation of Ishbi-Erra’s own name suggests that the balang was equally an intermediary between the earthly king and his divine counterpart.
These conceptions will be important when considering David, an overt ‘lyre-king’ serving, praising, and giving voice to Yahweh. And the kinnōr-playing David is in turn our best parallel for understanding Kinyras himself—a Divine Lyre lingering on in Greco-Cypriot and Levantine myth, remodeled as an ancient lyre-playing king in the service of ‘Aphrodite’.
It is noteworthy that the Shulgi-hymn cited above mentions at least four instruments of ‘foreign’ provenance and/or associations (the Mari-lyre, the Sabu-lyre, the ‘king-of-Kish instrument’, and the zan[n]aru). [120] Elsewhere in the Ur III hymns, the Sabu-lyre and Mari-lyre again occur side-by-side, within the larger instrumentarium. These passages suggest that the contemporary court and temple ensembles were deliberately cosmopolitan, with a diversity of instruments representing the cultural horizons of Ur. When the king extends his claim of mastery to instruments “I have not heard before,” one imagines musical exotica sent as gifts or tribute, or carried by visiting musicians from beyond Ur’s own periphery. Shulgi’s international musical vision is therefore an expression of both cultural prestige and political power. It equally alludes to the harmonious peace that his political power has enabled—a portrait of the king at rest from his campaigns, passing his time by enjoying the varied musical delights his efforts have assembled. [121]

Lovely Lyrics for Inanna

We must also glance at the royal hymns that intimate a relationship between the king and Inanna/Ishtar, since here too one sees the conjunction of royal ideology and music-making. The king’s position as the goddess’s favorite is very ancient. T. Jacobsen sought its roots in the agricultural revolution, interpreting the famous Uruk vase (ca. 3100)—showing Inanna in front of her temple, receiving offerings from a king or priest-king figure—as reflecting some form of hierogamy or ‘Sacred Marriage’. [122] That the goddess was royal patroness in the OAkk. period is shown by the inscriptions of Naram-Sin, who evidently “joined the goddess Ishtar-Annunitum as divine city ruler, and possibly as her consort.” [123] Ishtar regularly appears as the divine patroness of Sargon and Naram-Sin in the legends that developed around the Akkadian kings. [124] The N-S royal hymns contain many literary reflections of Inanna as the protectress of the king, who assumes the position of Dumuzi, the goddess’s ancient, archetypal lover. [125]
The precise nature and purpose of any actual rites underpinning this ideology at various periods remain disputed. Recent studies downplay the more ‘hands-on’ interpretations of Frazer and his followers in favor of symbolic rituals tied to regeneration of the land and periodic renewal of royal legitimacy and social order. [126] In any case, the poetic treatment of intimacy between king and goddess remains an observable artifact in its own right, with especially rich material from the N-S and OB periods.
B. Pongratz-Leisten has recently elucidated an important benefit of the king’s hierogamous relationship with Inanna/Ishtar. The goddess served as a messenger from Enlil and the assembly of gods, “transferring divine knowledge to the king in order to allow him to partake in the divine plan.” [127] When in the OB period hierogamy faded from royal ideology, a close relationship between king and goddess persisted in the venue of prophecy, with Ishtar continuing to function as an oracular go-between. In the present state of evidence, the richest material comes from N-A prophecies, which evince a systematic elaboration of the ideology, with the goddess now interpreted as the ‘spirit’ or ‘breath’ of the transcendent god Aššur—the medium by which male and female prophets alike, in an ecstatic state sometimes achieved by lamentative techniques, could consult the divine council, headed by Aššur, and report back to the king by channeling the voice of Ishtar. [128]
Such ideas are compatible with Shulgi’s boasts of expertise in omen-reading (“my diviner watches in amazement like an idiot”), [129] and help explain the representation of Inanna as a sort of Muse in the royal hymns. Shulgi B makes the king boast that “the protective deity of my power has perfected the songs of my might.” [130] The poem’s opening verses—“He praises his own power in song”—show that these “songs of my might” are the selfsame royal hymns that Shulgi is represented as having composed and sung. [131] Hence the goddess guides the king’s own (real or notional) singing. Another royal hymn represents Inanna herself singing an erotic Dumuzi-song to Shulgi, promising “I will decree a good fate for him!” [132] A final gyration elsewhere touches upon the realities of performance and perhaps ritual, while simultaneously removing the king to the divine realm:
My singers praised me with songs accompanied by seven tigi-lyres. My spouse, the maiden Inanna, the lady, the joy of heaven and earth, sat with me at the banquet. [133]
In this vignette—a striking example of seven-magic combined with music (see below)—the king receives musical offerings, the godly honors he enjoys with his goddess wife, here still a maiden, performed by his royal musicians. Yet once again, by the logic of genre, it should actually be Shulgi who—presumably inspired by Inanna, as in Shulgi B—sings about his own musicians. This creates an infinite regrade in which Shulgi embodies the entire musical activity of his court. [134] Subject and object, performer and recipient, merge in a single musical epiphany.
The conceit of the musician-king performing in the ‘Sacred Marriage’ is also found in a hymn of Iddin-Dagan (ca. 1974–1954), third king of the Isin Dynasty. The poem is devoted exclusively to praising Inanna, and includes a quite erotic description of her union with the king. [135] Again the hymn is presented as sung by the king himself:
I shall greet the great lady of heaven, Inanna! … For the young lady I shall sing a song about her grandeur, about her greatness, about her exalted dignity … Making silver alĝar instruments sound for her, they parade before her, holy Inanna. I shall greet the great lady of heaven, Inanna! [136]
The passage is valuable for envisioning the participation of actual cult-­musicians. As presented, however, they merely echo and amplify the king’s own praises of the goddess. It seems they are to sing the very hymn in which they are themselves so described. Once again, a purposefully circular construction blurs the line between king and musicians, spotlighting the royal performance.
The muse-like role of Inanna in these texts is a suggestive precedent for Aphrodite, who exhibits similar qualities, especially in connection with Cyprus. [137] That the lyre-playing Kinyras was seen as her royal lover is a still more striking parallel. The royal ‘takeover’ of cult-performances will be seen at Ugarit—where there is also a Singer (or singers) of Astarte active in the royal palace [138] —and still more so with David who, like Shulgi and Iddin-Dagan, outshines his own cult-musicians when leading the Ark to Jerusalem. [139]

Music and Seven-Magic

In early Greek sources, the orderly relations of tunings and rhythms were probably believed capable of inducing or restoring, via sympathetic magic, a similar state in either the natural or social world. Prominent in the sources for Greek musical mysticism is the magical powers of the number seven. [140] Seven-numerology is of course equally ubiquitous in the literature of the ANE. Yet this was not always a mere literary convention, a ‘convenient number’ signifying totality, or a story-structuring device. [141] I have already mentioned some ritual and cultic aspects of the Divine Heptad. [142] Ritual texts from various times and places show that seven-magic was an important structuring device. [143] We shall encounter examples at Ebla, Ugarit, Emar, and in the Bible. [144] The not-infrequent conjunction of seven-magic and ritual music is to be connected, I believe, with ANE traditions of heptatonic tuning on stringed instruments. [145] This conception goes back, in Mesopotamia, to the OB period at the latest, when a complete tuning cycle was formulated in terms of the (Akk.) sammû. [146] Although this was a nine-stringed chordophone (at least in theory), the heptatonic structure of the tuning-system itself is clear. [147] The same perspective is now graphically confirmed by CBS 1766, a neo- or late-Babylonian tablet that visualizes the heptatonic tuning cycle as a seven-pointed star; some ulterior, extra-musical purpose seems likely, but remains elusive. [148]
These heptadic harmonic phenomena were surely perceived, from early on, as manifestations of ‘sacred seven.’ Chordophones especially, and other instruments by extension, were probably seen as structured by, and emitting waves of, sacred seven-ness. This should be borne in mind when dealing with such details as the seven tigi-instruments on which Shulgi’s singers sang their royal praises, or much later the gestures of seven-magic in the ritual(s) of lilissu-divinization. There is also an archaic tablet from Girsu (Tello, ca. 2400) that records offerings of “seven liters of oil and seven liters of dates for the seven balangs.” [149] Similarly, in the Curse of Agade, during Akkad’s prosperity, “the heart of the city was of tigi-lyres”; but when, after the hybris of Naram-Sin causes Enlil to destroy the city, the survivors try to appease the god, the chief lamentation singer “for seven days and seven nights put in place seven balangs, like the firm base of heaven” (this action is accompanied by lamentative music to percussion instruments). [150] As Heimpel observes, “the motif of the seven balangs … meant that all festival activity was then pooled in the one great effort to pacify Enlil.” [151]
Another half-dozen such examples can be given. [152]


Mesopotamian sources present very rich evidence for the practice and ideology of music in many contexts. The material’s abundance varies considerably with time and place through accidents of survival and discovery. I have restricted my discussion to those issues that provide the best parallels for Kinyras, Kinnaru of Ugarit, and Syro-Levantine kinnāru-culture generally: divinized cult-tools, their construction and anthropomorphosis in myth; conceptions of musical cognition and communication with the gods through this medium; and royal ideology and self-representation, including ideas of hierogamy. The separate functions of Ningirsu’s two balang-gods will also be echoed by the celebratory and lamentative contexts in which Kinyras and the knr are found. Mesopotamia is of course a different world from Cyprus and its environs, so one must not expect exact parallels. Nevertheless the material considered here will help illuminate many otherwise obscure facets of Kinyras and his mythology.


[ back ] 1. For the material in this paragraph, see Selz 1997, especially 169–177.
[ back ] 2. See also p580n21.
[ back ] 3. For the ùb, see also PHG:142 et passim.
[ back ] 4. For the identity of the balang, see Appendix A and Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” Section 1 (with 9, 11, 1213, 15, 17f, 20a20b, etc. for ED III and later evidence of balang-offerings).
[ back ] 5. Cf. Jean 1931:159; Galpin 1936:65–66; Hartmann 1960:53 and n3, 61–62; MgB 2/2:13, 140; RlA 8:464, 466 (Kilmer, *Musik A I). For offerings to the balang specifically, see references in Sjöberg 1984–, s.v. 1.1.1–2; further material noted by Heimpel 1998a:6–10.
[ back ] 6. Selz 1997:176–177; cf. Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” Section 2b and 13.
[ back ] 7. Selz 1997; Selz 2008.
[ back ] 8. Selz 1997:167 (emphasis added).
[ back ] 9. Lambert 1990:129.
[ back ] 10. Heimpel 1998b:4 (quotation). See further Heimpel, “Balang-Gods.”
[ back ] 11. Selz 1997:175.
[ back ] 12. Reiner 1958:1 (quotation). The series was cited in connection with Kinnaru by Nougayrol 1968:59. Note that the instruments are not written with divine determinatives. Yet if instruments held such power without being divinized, their divinized counterparts will have been all the more numinous. The evidence is therefore relevant.
[ back ] 13. Reiner 1958:3.
[ back ] 14. Šurpu III:37 and 88–91. The translation of Reiner 1958:20–21 will serve to illustrate the variety of combinations, although the identification of specific instruments may be questionable. Thus we find an “oath of the cymbals or harp” (37); “oath of the drum and kettledrum” (88); “oath of the timbrel and cymbals” (89); “oath of lyre, harp (pa-lag-gi), and timbūtu-harp” (90); “the oath of lute and pipe” (91).
[ back ] 15. Reiner 1958:55.
[ back ] 16. London, BM 89359. See Porada 1980; MgB 2/2:102–104 (fig. 108); Collon 1987 no. 665.
[ back ] 17. Compare perhaps Homer’s use of ἁρμονίαι for an agreement between two warriors overseen by the gods (Iliad 22.254–255), and the invocation of Κενυριστής Apollo in the loyalty oath to Tiberius at Roman Paphos: see p205.
[ back ] 18. See Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” 53 III 153–158; cf. V 291 (a balang-servant of Ishtaran, with Heimpel’s comments there).
[ back ] 19. Falkenstein 1966:8; Sigrist and Gomi 1991:317; RIME 3/1:27 (1.1.7, 3); Selz 1997:200n218; Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” 17b. The precise sequence of Gudea’s regnal years has not been fully established: RIME 3/1:27.
[ back ] 20. Gudea dedicated another balang to the goddess Bau (spouse of Ningirsu), called “Greatly speaking with the Lady”: RIME 3/1 1.1.7.StE iv.12–14; cf. Radner 2005:51 no. 52; Ziegler, FM 9:222 (on 8).
[ back ] 21. Sigrist and Gomi 1991:329, year 22; Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” 23a1.
[ back ] 22. See p84–85.
[ back ] 23. See p83–84.
[ back ] 24. Lambert 1990:123.
[ back ] 25. DeVale 1988. For drum-construction rituals of several African cultures, see Rattray 1923:258–266; HMI:34–36; Nketia 1963:4–16; Blades 1984:57–64.
[ back ] 26. Thureau-Dangin 1921:1–5; Thureau-Dangin 1922 no. 44–46; Livingstone 1986:187–204; ANET:334–338; Linssen 2004:92–99, 267–282; cf. also Stauder 1970:199–201 and fig. 3a; RlA 8:465 (Kilmer, *Musik A I); Selz 1997:201n215; PHG:118–138.
[ back ] 27. Linssen 2004:94n495.
[ back ] 28. See Livingstone 1986:200; Linssen 2004:267, whose study upholds in general the traditional nature of the late ritual texts (167–168); similarly Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” Section 4a §2.
[ back ] 29. Thus Selz 1997:178–179 assumes that, already in the N-S period, divinization entailed rituals of name-giving, animation, induction to an appropriate cult place, and ongoing offerings and maintenance.
[ back ] 30. The following account conflates elements from several versions; they are, however, essentially compatible.
[ back ] 31. For the gala, see Michalowski 2006; Bachvarova 2008; Gadotti 2010; Shehata 2013; PHG; and further p29–30.
[ back ] 32. Livingstone 1986:201–204; PHG:137–139.
[ back ] 33. Selz 1997:178.
[ back ] 34. KAR 50 (VAT 8247), trans. Linssen 2004:267–268, obv. 1–12; cf. 278, I.22: “For the great [god]s, guard the divine decrees!”
[ back ] 35. See PHG:127–128, 138.
[ back ] 36. A0 6479 II.5, 33–35, III.15, after drum has been made.
[ back ] 37. For example, KAR 60, obv. 15, N-A, seventh century; in this text the bull is placed in front of Lumḫa while being sacrificed.
[ back ] 38. Thureau-Dangin 1921:49n13, calls Lumḫa the god of the tympanum, patron of the kalû; Linssen 2004:96, treats him as a ‘divine harp’, but for this period BALAĜ probably represents a drum: see p531, 573.
[ back ] 39. For the relevance of seven-magic to the larger question of divinized instruments and ritual music, see p40–41. Seven-magic in the lilissu texts includes sevenfold offerings in AO 6479 I.17 and 23. Among the twelve divine figurines are the “seven children of Enmešarra” (enumerated at AO 6479 III.3–14), represented by seven heaps of flour (as stated in K 4806, 5–8). These heaps, accompanied by the god-names, are apparently represented in the diagram of O175 reverse, where they have a definite arrangement vis-à-vis the bull. See Livingstone 1986:194, 203. The seven gods/heaps correspond somehow to seven “hands” or “handles” (on the drum itself?), and stand in an obscure relationship to the “seven defeated Enlils” who also appear in the diagram.
[ back ] 40. PHG:79, 173, 177 (mimetic performance of kalû); 126, 138, 154 (lilissu equated with the divine heart in theological commentaries, and both connected with that of the bull).
[ back ] 41. See PHG:113–114. For examples of ‘conceptual names,’ see below and Heimpel, “Balang-Gods”.
[ back ] 42. Selz 1997:178; Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” Section 4b1.
[ back ] 43. Text: Cagni 1969; English translation: Foster 2005:771–805. Despite the work’s late date (Machinist 1983a:221–222), Ḫendursanga himself is known already in the third millennium (Fara; I–II dynasty of Lagash; Ur III): Cagni 1969:138–140 with further references.
[ back ] 44. Cagni 1969:138–140; Foster 2005:742.
[ back ] 45. Machinist 1983a:222. As Divine Heptad, RlA 12/5–6:461 (Wiggerman, *Siebengötter A).
[ back ] 46. Lugal-e: ed. van Dijk 1983 = Exploits of Ninurta, ETCSL 1.6.2; trans./comm. Jacobsen 1987:233–272. The work has been dated to soon after ca. 2150, due to its allusion at 475–478 to Gudea’s building of Ningirsu’s sanctuary Eninnu: see van Dijk 1983:1–9; Jacobsen 1987:234.
[ back ] 47. For the allegory of the stones, see van Dijk 1983:37–47.
[ back ] 48. Livingstone 1986:169–170 (original emphasis).
[ back ] 49. For the Sebettu (vel sim.), their association with the Pleiades, and other variations, see RlA 12/5–6:459–466 (Wiggerman, *Siebengötter A), with ritual uses at 461 §2 and 464 §4. The bulk of the evidence is from the first millennium (especially N-A contexts), but there are scattered antecedents going back to the N-S period. Classicists will recall here W. Burkert’s hypothesis that the myth of the Seven against Thebes derives ultimately from these Seven Warriors (1992:106–114; cf. EFH:455–457), although the pattern of seven against seven suggests Anatolian mediation (for the Hittite doubling of the Divine Heptad, see RlA 12/5–6:466 [Polvani, *Siebengötter B]).
[ back ] 50. See p280–291.
[ back ] 51. Text: RIME 3/1:68–101 (1.1.7 CylA/B); ETCSL 2.1.7 (translation followed here, with exceptions as noted); CS 2 no. 155. For the work’s genre and title (Gudea Cylinders B 24.17), Suter 2000:277. Pantheon of Lagash: Falkenstein 1966.
[ back ] 52. Suter 2000:274 et passim. The musical scenes are Suter 2000:ST.9, 13, 15, 23, 25, 53, 54, with discussion on 190–195; for those showing a giant drum, see p532. A proposal by J. Börker-Klähn to restore a bow-harp on a further fragment is unlikely: see Suter 2000:189, with 172 fig. 19a.
[ back ] 53. Suter 2000:157 and 278, wondering about the audience for the text of the cylinders, notes their reference to the performance of various songs during the construction process, and suggests that the cylinders were a ‘draft’ for a more polished stele-inscription. Be that as it may, the content of the text and the figurative steles are to a large extent parallel, and sometimes mirror each other. Thus, for instance, the steles depict ritual musical performances like those mentioned in the text, which in turn alludes to various decorative schemes on steles set up in the temple. Given that “the verbal composition was probably recited in some form at least once” (Suter 2000:279), it is an easy guess that this was during the same set of events that saw the dedication of the steles—i.e., inauguration of the temple.
[ back ] 54. For this last qualification, see the comments of Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” Section 2a.
[ back ] 55. Gudea Cylinders A 9.24. For the historical conflation of Ninurta (Nippur name) and Ningirsu (Lagash name), see Jacobsen 1987:233–235.
[ back ] 56. Gudea Cylinders A 15.19–25. For “The year in which the wood for the Sharur-weapon was made,” and a further year-name from the making (or repair) of the mace itself, see Falkenstein 1966:8; RIME 3/1:27 (1.1.7, 6).
[ back ] 57. Gudea Cylinders A 22.20, B 7.12–21.
[ back ] 58. Gudea Cylinders B 6.11–23. Cf. Jacobsen 1987:430n22.
[ back ] 59. Gudea Cylinders B 6.24–7.11.
[ back ] 60. See e.g. Elum Gusun (Honored One, Wild Ox) and CLAM:296–297, 314–316.
[ back ] 61. See p280–291.
[ back ] 62. Adapting the formulation of Austin 1962. For theoretical considerations of the intersection of ‘speech-act’ and ‘song’ in the Hellenic sphere, see inter al. Martin 1989 (with illuminating cultural parallels 1–14 et passim); Nagy 1990:30–34.
[ back ] 63. This is translated by Wilson 1996:36, as “(Then) he will receive (even) your most insignificant words as exalted.”
[ back ] 64. Gudea Cylinders A 6.24–7.6. My translations adapted from ETCSL and Jacobsen 1987. Gudea carries out these instructions at A 7.9–8.1.
[ back ] 65. For the status and organization of nar generally, including the elite offices of “Chief Singer” (nar-gal, a substantially administrative position) and “Singer before the King” (nar lugal, associated especially with the Ur III period), see now Pruzsinszky 2010; Pruzsinszky 2013. The evidence naturally varies from city to city. In the Ur III period there was a ‘great academy’ (e2 umum gu-la) for royal musicians at Ur itself: Pruzsinszky 2013:35–36.
[ back ] 66. Wilson 1996:158.
[ back ] 67. Gudea Cylinders B 10.9–15: translation after Jacobsen 1987 and one by Stephen Langdon in the margin of his copy of Thureau-Dangin 1907, held in the Sackler Library, Oxford. Wilson 1996:159 renders the last line as “(sc. Ušumgal-kalama) passed by the lord Ningirsu with (emblems of the) rituals.” Ušumgal-kalama appears further at B 15.19–16.2, for which see below; and B 18.22–19.1, “Ušumgal-kalama took its stand among the tigi-harps, the alu-lyres roared for him like a storm” (trans. Jacobsen). For these instruments, see 531n1, 532, 575, 606–7n92.
[ back ] 68. Falkenstein 1966:82 (“Herr mit dem schrecklichen Blick”); Selz 1997:178 (“Red-Eyed Lord”). The existence of two distinct balang-gods is justified by their separate functions. The lexical collection An:Anum lists no fewer than seven balang-gods of Ningirsu, all otherwise unattested (Heimpel 1998b:5 and “Balang-Gods,” Section 2c and 53 V 100–106).
[ back ] 69. Wilson 1996:159: “to calm the inside, to calm the outside.”
[ back ] 70. Gudea Cylinders B 10.16–11.2. Wilson 1996:160: “His lyre, Lugal-igi-ḫuš, passed by the lord Ningirsu with (emblems of the) rituals.”
[ back ] 71. Cf. also Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” Section 4b2. For the following overview, see PHG:63–64, 70–71, 159–168, et passim. I assume that the detailed first-millennium sources can serve at least as a rough guide to earlier periods. Surviving literary laments: CLAM.
[ back ] 72. The two narratives are The Fashioning of the Gala (BM 29616, balang-composition of OB date): see Kramer 1981; and Inanna’s Descent to the Netherworld (ETCSL 1.4.1) 228–239. See further Shehata 2006a; PHG:76–78; Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” Section 3b.
[ back ] 73. PHG:83–84; Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” Section 3b.
[ back ] 74. See especially Cooper 2006:43–45; approved by Michalowski 2006:49. For the linguistic evidence itself, Schretter 1990. Whittaker 2002 is a good critical review of theories. See also Bachvarova 2008; PHG:68.
[ back ] 75. The use of ‘male’ and ‘his’ are complicated by the third-gender interpretation. See recently, with earlier literature, Cooper 2006:44–45; Gabbay 2008; PHG:67–68. Evidence for the gala’s funerary function is early (third-millennium and OB), cf. e.g. Gudea’s suspension of funeral rites when purifying the ground for Ningirsu’s temple: “corpses were not buried, the gala did not set up his balang and bring forth laments from it, the woman lamenter did not utter laments” (RIME 3/1 1.1.7.StB v.1–4; translation after Cooper 2006:42–43); see further material in PHG:18–19n19.
[ back ] 76. PHG:79, 172–173.
[ back ] 77. See PHG Part VII.
[ back ] 78. Heimpel 1998a:14–16 with parallels; also “Balang-Gods,” 42a.
[ back ] 79. PHG:164n76, 165–166, 173, 180. For the lilissu ritual, see p23–25. Dada, a well-documented gala attached to the royal palace in the reigns of Shulgi and Shu-Sin, is also known to have supervised the manufacture and repair of instruments. For Dada, see Michalowski 2006; Mirelman 2010; Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” 54.
[ back ] 80. Ambos 2004:171–198; PHG: 87, 158, 165–168, 181–182, 187, 272. See further p280–282.
[ back ] 81. Gudea Cylinders A 7.25. “To which he keeps listening,” in the translation of RIME 3/1:73, will yield compatible sense when other evidence for the counseling balang is take into account.
[ back ] 82. Gudea Cylinders B 8.10–22.
[ back ] 83. See the five entries for “House of the Counsellor” in George 1993:65–66 (§41–45), which include “the seat of Ennundaĝallu and Ĝanunḫedu, the counsellors of Marduk” in Esagil at Babylon (§41); “seat of Nuska” in the sanctuary of Ningal at Ur (§42); a shrine at Nippur (§44); a sanctuary of Ea (§45). For other shrines of ‘counsel’ or ‘wisdom’, see George 1993:89 (§333, 336), 91 (§355–359, 362, 364–365), 129 (§830), 138 (§951); for those of divine ‘decisions’, 106 (§544, 546–547); cf. perhaps 137 (§943), “House of the Open Ear.”
[ back ] 84. The following points come from Heimpel 1998b; Gabbay 2014 §9–13.
[ back ] 85. Cf. Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” Section 2c.
[ back ] 86. Heimpel 1998b:5.
[ back ] 87. Heimpel 1998b:5; “Balang-Gods,” Section 2c.
[ back ] 88. Gabbay 2014 §13.
[ back ] 89. See p28n65, 74.
[ back ] 90. See MgB 2/2:52–53 (fig. 28–29, ca. 2600/2450), 54–57 (fig. 32–34, ca. 2600), 60–61 (fig. 36, ca. 2550), 62–65 (fig. 38–39, 41–43, OAkk. period).
[ back ] 91. See p165–166.
[ back ] 92. KBo 12.88.5–10; also KBo 26.137, 2: see HKm:203.
[ back ] 93. See p158–164.
[ back ] 94. See p24.
[ back ] 95. There may have been occasions, however, when the instrument itself was the focus of a ritual, without actually sounding. In the Ishtar ritual from OB Mari, a balang is said to be ‘placed’—the instrument was heavy—but whether it was actually played is not made clear; it may rather have been the object of lamentation. See further p85, 291–292.
[ back ] 96. Gudea Cylinders B 15.19–16.2.
[ back ] 97. Cf. Gabbay 2014 §4 (in another context): “by donating the main instrument which accompanied one of the most important prayers of the temple cult, the king was able to be involved in the ritual and not only the temple and its personnel.”
[ back ] 98. E.g. Collon 1987:36; Asher-Greve and Westenholz 2013:199–202, with emphasis on underlying rituals.
[ back ] 99. Building works of Shulgi and Ur-Nammu: Sallaberger 1999:137–140, 151–152.
[ back ] 100. For divine kingship, see the lucid account of Michalowski 2008, distinguishing between sacred and divine (41–42).
[ back ] 101. Bassetki statue: Al-Fouadi 1976; RIME 2 1.4.10; CS 2 no. 90; Kuhrt 1995 1:48–49, 51–52. Great Revolt: Westenholz 1999:51–54.
[ back ] 102. For the evidence of Shulgi’s divine status, Sallaberger 1999:152–156.
[ back ] 103. Quotation: Michalowski 2008:41. For Isin’s cultural relationship to Ur, and the promotion of legitimate continuity from Ur in royal hymns and other media, see Michalowski 1983:242–243.
[ back ] 104. For the royal promotion and organization of music in this period, see the studies cited in n65 above.
[ back ] 105. Hallo 1963; Klein 1981.
[ back ] 106. For zan(n)aru—with the double-n guaranteed for Akk. by Diri III.043—see further p55, 78–79.
[ back ] 107. Shulgi B, 154–174, trans. adapted from ETCSL, partially on the basis of text and commentary in Krispijn 1990 (who attempts some identifications with the catalogue of MgB 2/2). See especially 8–12 for miritum, sabitum, urzababitum, and zan(n)aru. For the first two, which are also found in Enki’s Journey to Nippur as part of the god’s temple orchestra at Eridu (ETCSL 1.1.4, 60–67), see too Hartmann 1960:77–78; cf. Castellino 1972:162–170; Henshaw 1993:84–86. Similar boasts are found in Shulgi C, segment B, 75–101 (especially 77–78, ETCSL; Shulgi E, 34–35 (ETCSL
[ back ] 108. Ziegler 2006b:36.
[ back ] 109. See p119, 383.
[ back ] 110. See p178, 383.
[ back ] 111. See p80–81.
[ back ] 112. See p30–33.
[ back ] 113. Could there be a connection here with the obscure but important honorific “King of Kish” which was assumed by several Sumerian rulers of the ED III period and Sargon’s dynasty? See generally RlA 5:608–610 (Edzard, Kiš A); Maeda 1981; Kuhrt 1995 2:41–43.
[ back ] 114. An:Anum I 268 (cited according to Litke 1998). For this god-list, and this entry, see further Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” Section 2c and 53.
[ back ] 115. Ḫh 79–80 (MSL 6:123); Ḫg 169 (MSL 6:142); Diri III.49 (MSL 6:119, 15:138): see Falkenstein and Matouš 1934:147 §49; Castellino 1972:166 §166; Heimpel 1998b:6 (translating Sum. nârūti as “music”).
[ back ] 116. As U. Gabbay notes, “It is also not coincidental that the Urzababa instrument is the balang of Ninurta, since this god as hero going out to war was often conceived [as] the mythological mirror image of Mesopotamian kings” (communication, March, 2010).
[ back ] 117. See further p86.
[ back ] 118. An:Anum III 51, noted by U. Gabbay (communication, March, 2010); but Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” 53, sees in the name rather “a direct reference to the moon-god.”
[ back ] 119. RIME 4 1.1.1, 13–14; CS 2 no. 92; Radner 2005:56 no. 82; FM 9:222 (on 8); Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” 40.
[ back ] 120. For identifications, see p34n107, 35–36. For the zan(n)aru (Krispijn’s “Anatolian lyre”), see further p78–79.
[ back ] 121. By contrast, catastrophic situations are marked by the silencing of music; for example, Ur-Nammu A (The Death of Ur-Nammu, ETCSL, 187–188 (“My tigi, adab, flute and zamzam songs have been turned into laments because of me. The instruments of the house of music have been propped against the wall.”); so too the ruin of Isin in The Destroyed House (Jacobsen 1987:475–477, lines 17–24). For the Curse of Agade, see below.
[ back ] 122. Jacobsen 1975:76, “cultic drama in Mesopotamia as elsewhere has its roots back in ‘primitive’ society, that is, one based on hunting, herding, or incipient agriculture. Here the drama was a rite of direct sympathetic magic aiming to create fertility.”
[ back ] 123. Quotation: Michalowski 2008:34. Ishtar appears first in the list of gods who supported Naram-Sin’s divinization (Bassetki statue: RIME 2 1.4.10; Foster I.c3, cd.
[ back ] 124. Westenholz 1997:35, 83, 109, 137–139, etc.
[ back ] 125. The convergence of these themes is seen clearly in Shulgi X (ETCSL and Iddin-Dagan A (ETCSL Shulgi as shepherd: Shulgi D 2, 60, 364; E 5, 11; G 28–30, 49–53, 60–62; P 11–14, 17, 56–66; Q 6, 28, 45–48; R 41, 67, 84, 89; X 9, 37, 40, 53; etc. (these are ETCSL, 05, 07, 16, 18, 24, respectively).
[ back ] 126. For an up-to-date survey of approaches formerly and presently taken, see the essays in Nissinen and Uro 2008, especially those of P. Lapinkivi, B. Pongratz-Leisten, and M. Nissinen. Representative recent studies are Cooper 1993; Sweet 1994; Steinkeller 1999; Jones 2003; Lapinkivi 2004. Cf. RlA 4:251–259 (Renger, *Heilige Hochzeit), for cautions about earlier studies, of which one may cite inter al. Jacobsen in Frankfort et al. 1946:198–200; Frankfort 1948:295–299; Gurney 1962; Kramer 1963; Kramer 1969:132–133, for the idea of transmission to Anatolia, Greece, and Cyprus in connection with Adonis; Yamauchi 1973; Jacobsen 1975.
[ back ] 127. Pongratz-Leisten 2008:54–60 (quotation at 60), et passim; further references in Parpola 1997:CIVn237; Jones 2003:291.
[ back ] 128. Parpola 1997:XVIII–XXXVI, XLVII–XLVIII (with reference to antecedents), et passim. Note that here Ishtar often appears in the role of the king’s mother.
[ back ] 129. Shulgi B (ETCSL,131–149.
[ back ] 130. Shulgi B, 381–382.
[ back ] 131. Shulgi B, 1–10 (quotation at 9–10).
[ back ] 132. Shulgi X (ETCSL, 13–41.
[ back ] 133. Shulgi A (ETCSL, 81–83. For the tigi instrument, see p531n1, 575, 606–7n92.
[ back ] 134. Compare the double harpist imagery on a thirteenth-century bronze stand from Kourion: p388–392.
[ back ] 135. Iddin-Dagan A (ETCSL, 181–194.
[ back ] 136. Iddin-Dagan A, 3, 9–10, 35–37.
[ back ] 137. See Franklin 2014:224–226.
[ back ] 138. See p114.
[ back ] 139. See p167–174.
[ back ] 140. For the wonder-working lyre in early Greek poetics, and the importance of seven-magic, see Franklin 2002b:17–21; Franklin 2006a:52–63.
[ back ] 141. For the symbolism of seven in the ANE generally, a good source book is Reinhold 2008; for Greece with some discussion of neighboring cultures, Roscher 2003; in Pythagorean cosmology, Burkert 1972a:465–482 et passim.
[ back ] 142. See p24, 39.
[ back ] 143. Cf. Wyatt 2001:92–94; Wyatt 2007:54 vis-à-vis the Ugaritian ritual texts: “evidently the number seven was of symbolic significance … no doubt with broad cosmological and ontological echoes.”
[ back ] 144. See index s.v. ‘seven-magic’.
[ back ] 145. Franklin 2006a:58.
[ back ] 146. For an introduction to these texts, see RlA 8:463–482 (Kilmer, *Musik A I) with further literature.
[ back ] 147. From the so-called Retuning Text UET 7/74 (Ur, ca. 1800), as well as CBS 10996 (Nippur, ca. 500–300), which enumerates and names intervals formed from the first seven strings. For these texts, see also p59–60, 97, 119, 392, 451.
[ back ] 148. Horowitz 2006 (ed. princ.); Waerzeggers and Siebes 2007 (connecting to musical texts, suggested emendations); Horowitz and Shnider 2009 (collation and verification of some proposed re-­readings); Shnider 2010 (suggesting some connection with astronomical and/or divinatory lore).
[ back ] 149. TSA 1 ix:12–14 (dated to end of first dynasty of Lagash, p. IX).
[ back ] 150. ETCSL 2.1.5, 34–36, 196–204. Translation after Cooper 1983 and Jacobsen 1987; cf. Heimpel, “Balang-Gods,” 43. Discussion: PHG:16–17, 58. For music as symbolizing Agade’s prosperity, Cooper 1983:38–39; 238; 252. For the identity of tigi-lyre, see 531n1, 575, 606–7n92.
[ back ] 151. “Balang-Gods,” Section 2c.
[ back ] 152. Further material: “Balang-Gods,” Section 2c and 9, 11, 37, 43; PHG:91, 117, 141, 161n55–56. Probably relevant is the intersection of balang-cult with the lunar calendar. A monthly offering is known from Umma during the Ur III period, made to the ‘Balang of the Day-of-Laying’, that is, when the moon was invisible before starting again to wax; presumably the occasion called for apotropaic magic. Cited by Heimpel 1998a:6–7 and “Balang-Gods,” 28. Cf. Linssen 2004:93 and 306–320 for the kettledrum’s use in late Babylonian rituals relating to lunar eclipse.