Ancient Babylonia - Poetry


BAB9.gif Babylonian literature contains both prose and poetry. The unique characteristic of the poetry is parallelism, which is a rendition of an idea in two different ways side-by-side. One interesting example is the passage from the Atra-hasis Epic in which the god Enlil complains:

"The clamor of mankind oppresses me, by their tumult I am deprived of sleep."

Poetic lines are usually grouped in couplets as in this example, although singlets and triplets do exist. The line ends in a trochee and usually divides into two stichoi, each having two beats. Rhyme was unknown at the time and it is uncertain whether or not metre was present.

Traditionally literary compositions were entitled by the first few words of the text and so it was common to find such titles as "When Above" (Enuma Elish), and "He Who Saw the Abyss" (Gilgamesh Epic). Dividing literature according to genres was not really recognized by the ancient Babylonians, although modern scholars can divide the literature into a number of categories. These are epics and myths, prayers and hymns, wisdom literature and historiography.

Certain stories that were popular among the ancient Babylonians were repeated in more than one composition. So, for example, the story of the Flood is known in the Gilgamesh Epic and from one in the Atra-hasis Epic. The most famous epics and myths were Gilgamesh, Atra-hasis, Adapa, Nergal and Ereshkigal, When Above, Descent of Ishtar into Hades, Anzu, Etana and Era. A sub-genre is the historical epic of the king of battle and Tukulti-Ninurta I.

Ancient Babylonia
Ancient Babylonia
by R. Russell

2 Kin 24:13-14 "And Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king's house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said. Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land."

Also see: Ancient Babylonia Map

Fall of Babylon Heart Message




History of Babylonia

Old Babylonian Period (2000 - 1595 BC)

The Amorites, Isin and Larsa, Hammurapi of Babylon, Classical Period, The Language, Religion Law Science and the Arts, Babylon, The KassitesThe People of the Sealand, The Hittite Kingdom

Middle Babylonian Period (1595 - 1000 BC)

The Kassite Dynasty, Kadashman-Enlil I and Burnaburiash II, Kurigalzu II, Elam and Assyria, Dur Kurigalzu a New Capital, The Kudurru, Nebuchadnezzar I, The Aramaeans, The Culture

Neo Babylonian Period (1000 - 539 BC)

Assyria, Nabu-nasir, Tiglath pileser III, The Babylonian Chronicles, The Chaldeans, Sennacherib, Ashurbanipal, Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar II, The Fall of Babylon


Sumerian Origins, Schools of Scribes, Numbering Tablets, Aramaic and Greek, Poetry, Music, Myths, The Gilgamesh Epic, The Babylonian Flood Myth, Biblical Flood, Prayers and Hymns, Wisdom Literature, Prophecy, Cuneiform


Marduk and his son Nabu, Babylonian Gods, Temples and Rituals, Priests, Personal Idols, Divination, Astrology, Extispicy, The New Year's Festival, Morality, Prayers and Hymns, Prophecy

Law and Justice

Shamash the Sun God, Civil Law, Law Codes, Hammurapi and Retaliation, Code of Hammurapi Text, Legal Disputes, Labor, Criminal Law, Prisons Slaves and Women, Legal Documents

King and State

Monarchy, The King's Palace, The King's Harem, Communication, Roads, Scribes, Nebuchadnezzar II

Economy and Social Structure

Houses and Farms, Irrigation, Artisans, Manufacturing, Trade, Social Hierarchy, Family and Tribe, Domestic Relations, Schools


Scientific Knowledge, Astronomy, The Calendar, Mathematics, Medicine, Nature


Gilgamesh Tablet, The Hammurapi Stele, Ancient Map, Clay Model of a Sheep's Liver, Mathematics Tablet, Sheeps Liver Cuneiform, Seal Impression, Israelite Seal to Pedaiah, Clay Cylinder of Nabopolassar, The Striding Lion, The Ishtar Gate, The Dragon of Marduk, Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon, The Babylonian Chronicles, Basalt Block Inscription, The Ziggurats, Nabonidus Stele, Cyrus Cylinder

Biblical History

David Anoints Solomon, Solomon's Choice, Solomon's Temple, God's Ideal King, The Divided Kingdom, The Northern Kingdom Israel, The Southern Kingdom Judah, Judah's Kings, Hezekiah, The Destruction of Jerusalem, The Babylonian Captivity, Daniel and the Prophets, Nebuchadnezzar, The Return from Babylon

Questions about Babylon Answered in the Bible



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Ancient Babylonia

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