Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta

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Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is an ancient Sumerian story estimated to have been written around 2100 BCE. The story describes conflicts between the king of Unug-Kulaba (an ancient city in what is now Iraq), whose name is Enmerkar, and an unnamed king of Aratta (an ancient city probably located in what is now Iran or Armenia).


I don't own a copy of Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, but I am reading an English translation.




  • The story's plot, two kings warring over who loves a goddess more, is an accurate depiction of human frailty. Sadly, it's just as real today as it was 4,000 years ago.
  • I love how even these most ancient of human stories always talk about the "days of yore." The authors think they're so modern, even though they're at the very beginnings of human history. It makes you wonder how someone 4,000 years into the future will think about all our stories and beliefs.


  • The fact that both kings are willing to risk the lives of all their subjects by starting a war because of their pious pride is despicable.
  • I think Enmerker is supposed to be viewed as the hero, when, in fact, he's clearly the villain. He piously demands his neighbors pay for the temple he wants to build to honor his goddess.


  • Basically, the moral is, if you threaten to kill people if they don't hand over their wealth, the gods will help you rob them provided you use that wealth to build a lavish temple to the gods.