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Records of the Past, 2nd series, Vol. II, ed. by A. H. Sayce, [1888], at

p. 190


Translated by G. Bertin.

The following hymn is interesting because it appears to have formed part of the Babylonian ritual. In each temple, at certain hours of the day and night, priests devoted to this office had to recite certain prayers or incantations. We possess in the British Museum (Table case A, Nos. 4 and 4a) two copies of this hymn. The first one is no doubt the temple copy, and the colophon gives the time at which it is to be repeated by the priest. The other tablet is what might be called an ex-voto copy. When ill, the Babylonians, as the Christians of the middle ages, made certain promises to the gods in case of recovery; the fulfilment of the vow was generally a tablet which was to be placed in the temple. The same custom prevailed also in Greece, but in Babylonia, literature being the most highly-prized branch of the Fine Arts, the ex-voto was as a rule the copy of an old tablet.

This hymn appears to have been composed in Akkadian, the religious language of Babylon, but is given with an interlinear translation in Assyro-Babylonian;

p. 191

the translation sometimes offers slight divergences from the original text, which have been noticed in the notes.

A point to be observed is that the moon, who was generally considered as a male god, is here regarded as a goddess consort of the Sun-god. In the ex-voto copy she is called the sister of the Sun. We might conclude from this variant that the Moon, in the Babylonian as in the Egyptian mythology, was sister and wife of the Sun.

Throughout the hymn there seems to be a certain Semitic or Hamitic rather than Akkadian undercurrent of thought.

Both copies are written in the later Babylonian style of writing, and date probably from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar the Great. The text leas been published, with a French translation and notes by myself, in the Revue d’Assyriologie, vol. i. part iv.

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