Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta

Text in Sumerian epic mythology

Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a legendary Sumerian account, of preserved, early post-Sumerian copies, composed in the Neo-Sumerian period (ca. 21st century BCE). It is one of a series of accounts describing the conflicts between Enmerkar, king of Unug-Kulaba (Uruk), and the unnamed king of Aratta.


  • Rise like the sun over my holy breast! You are the jewel of my throat! Praise be to you, Enmerkar, the son of Utu!
  • The messenger gave heed to the words of his king. He journeyed by the starry night, and by day he travelled with Utu of heaven. Where and to whom will he carry the important message of Inana with its stinging tone? He brought it up into the Zubi mountains, he descended with it from the Zubi mountains. Susa and the land of Anšan humbly saluted Inana like tiny mice. In the great mountain ranges, the teeming multitudes grovelled in the dust for her. He traversed five mountains, six mountains, seven mountains. He lifted his eyes as he approached Aratta. He stepped joyfully into the courtyard of Aratta, he made known the authority of his king. Openly he spoke out the words in his heart. The messenger transmitted the message to the lord of Aratta.
  • He who ignores a rival, does not get to eat everything up, like the bull which ignores the bull at its side. But he who acknowledges a contest can be the outright winner, like the bull which acknowledges the bull at its side.
  • After day had broken and Utu had risen, the sun god of the Land lifted his head high. The king combined the Tigris with the Euphrates. He combined the Euphrates with the Tigris. Large vessels were placed in the open air, and he stood small vessels beside them, like lambs lying on the grass.
  • His speech was substantial, and its contents extensive. The messenger, whose mouth was heavy, was not able to repeat it. Because the messenger, whose mouth was tired, was not able to repeat it, the lord of Kulaba patted some clay and wrote the message as if on a tablet. Formerly, the writing of messages on clay was not established. Now, under that sun and on that day, it was indeed so. The lord of Kulaba inscribed the message like a tablet. It was just like that.
  • Lest I make the people fly off from that city like a wild dove from its tree, lest I make them fly around like a bird over its well-founded nest.
  • Chant to him the holy song, the incantation sung in its chambers -- the incantation of Nudimmud: "On that day when there is no snake, when there is no scorpion, when there is no hyena, when there is no lion, when there is neither dog nor wolf, when there is thus neither fear nor trembling, man has no rival! At such a time, may the lands of Šubur and Ḫamazi, the many-tongued, and Sumer, the great mountain of the me of magnificence, and Akkad, the land possessing all that is befitting, and the Martu land, resting in security -- the whole universe, the well-guarded people -- may they all address Enlil together in a single language! For at that time, for the ambitious lords, for the ambitious princes, for the ambitious kings, ... -- Enki, the lord of abundance and of steadfast decisions, the wise and knowing lord of the Land, the expert of the gods, chosen for wisdom, the lord of Eridug, shall change the speech in their mouths, as many as he had placed there, and so the speech of mankind is truly one.
  • Messenger, by night, drive on like the south wind! By day, be up like the dew!
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