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Fate And Divination In Mesopotamia

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Chapter Summary

In mythology and literature, the highest gods, usually Anu, Enlil, and Ea, are said to decree the destinies, i.e., established the nature and pattern of things both in heaven and earth. In mythological texts and echoed in divine epithets, the cosmic destinies, inscribed on a tablet, are symbolic of eternal order, serve as an emblem of authority, and convey upon their holder the authority to decree destinies, i.e., to decide the nature of things. Expressions using damqu and lemnu can convey a sense of propitious and unpropitious, hence lucky or unlucky, but strictly speaking have nothing to do with luck as something that serves to explain unexpected or chance events. The existence of omens in Mesopotamian culture and scholarly tradition in no way implies a belief that future events follow inevitably from past events.

Keywords: divine epithets; Mesopotamian culture; mythological texts



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