Ivo Martins

Title: Tradition and Innovation. BM 38299 and Late Babylonian Literature  (ca. 539–141 BCE)

University: Leiden University

Supervisors: Prof. Caroline Waerzeggers, Dr Johannes Bach


The present dissertation explores a Late-Babylonian literary text commonly known as Verse Account or Strophengedicht (BM 38299). Written in verse, the composition draws on historical events of the reigns of Nabonidus and Cyrus II to create a work of ideological speculation on kingship. Likely produced to fulfil a persuasive function, the composition offers two examples of good and bad kingship for the benefit of any royal incumbent. Modern approaches frequently call upon this text to corroborate information from other historical sources, such as royal inscriptions, in the process of reconstructing the political history of the transitional period between the Neo-Babylonian and Teispid dynasties. By comparison, the literary aspects of BM 38299 received only a sporadic treatment.

Perceived as peculiar and unique, the composition defies classification on account of its generic hybridity and subject matter. Yet, this literary text is firmly rooted on cuneiform tradition and Late-Babylonian scholarship. The present dissertation intends to contribute to the understanding of the composition through a comprehensive study of its literary features, genre, literary environments, and position within cuneiform culture. In addition, this dissertation aims to contribute to trace the evolution of Akkadian literature in the Late-Babylonian period from the perspective of a transitional composition by surveying the archival and social contexts of production of BM 38299.

Keywords: historiography, historical-literary sources, persuasion vs. propaganda, Akkadian literature, generic hybridism, generic experimentation, royal ideology