Pick one of the following, and write a short response essay. Due by 6 p.m. Wednesday, January 26
1. Ruler image in text:
Read and analyze the “Sargon Birth Legend,” a literary composition about the ruler, who remained legendary throughout the ages in the Near East (download a translation of it with introductory notes here: sargon birth legend). You will no doubt find that some of this story rings a bit familiar. The original date of both the composition and the legends included is unknown (presumably they go back to near the time of Sargon); the version we have was found on tablets in the archives of Assyrian and Babylonian palaces from the early-mid 1st millennium BC (Sargon ruled at the end of the 3rd millennium BC, ca. 2340). In your analysis you may want to consider what this text says about ancient ideals of kingship, the Mesopotamian view of the world, and the significance of the circulation of this legend a good 1500 years after Sargon’s rule. How would this legend have complemented the image of Sargon as presented in the various stele he erected?
2. The Treatment of Enemies
Captured, defeated, and deceased enemies feature prominently in nearly all the examples of art found in your readings for this weak. Look at this aspect of these objects; what are the similarities and differences in how the enemies are represented in the various stele? If there are differences, are they significant, and what accounts for them? What function (narrative, symbolic, or otherwise) do they serve in these works of art? Who is the intended audience, what is the intended message, and what is the expected reaction?
3. Sex and Power
How convincing do you find Irene Winter’s argument about the “alluring” figure of Naram-Sin? Do you agree that Naram-sin has been “sexed up” in order to further promote his image of a virulent, powerful ruler? Assuming it was effective, what does that say about Akkadian culture? Generally speaking, is sexual attractiveness typically a helpful attribute in creating a politically/militarily powerful image? Or does it depend on culture and context? Think about it this way – during the 2008 presidential campaign, many commented on Sarah Palin’s general attractiveness. Did this help or hurt her efforts to present herself as a viable candidate for high national office?