Laying Down the Law

I was delighted to observe in James Darlack’s blog a transcription of some of the mandates inscribed in cuneiform tablets in the libraries of the Ancient Near East. You just have to sympathize with librarians who faced the problem of people spilling coffee on their clay tablets, though few of us would think to pray that “all [the deities] curse him with a curse which cannot be relieved, terrible and merciless, as long as he lives, may they let his name, his seed, be carried off from the land, may they put his flesh in a dog’s mouth.” I am tempted, however, to design bookplates that say, “He who fears Anu and Antu will return [this book] to the owner’s house the next day.”

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