2020 | 78 | 173-184
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Moningad markused nelja ilmakaare kuninga ja jumal-kuninga kontseptsiooni kohta Sumeris ja Akkadis 3. at eKr

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This article is dedicated to the issues related to the King of the Four Corners and the God-King in ancient Sumer and Akkad in the 3rd millennium BCE. The author shows that the title King of the Four Corners has always deified the ruler, but the ruler who used the title King of the Universe never claimed divinity. What conclusions can we draw? Except in two cases – the case of Erri-dupizir and the case of Utu-ḫeĝal – all kings who used the title king of the four corners were deified. Erri-dupizir was a foreigner, more a warlord or tribal chief of the Gutians than a king, but he tried to legitimate his power by using Akkadian-Sumerian formulas, among them royal titles. Utu-ḫeĝal freed Sumer from the Gutians’ yoke and re-introduced old Sumero-Akkadian ideological elements, among them the king of the four corners, because he wanted to be as powerful and strong as the Akkadian king Narām-Su’en, who was an example for Utu-ḫeĝal. We do not have any proof regarding the deification of Utu-ḫeĝal, as he ruled only 6–7 years, and we have only a few texts from the time of his reign. More interesting is the fact that none of the Sumerian or Akkadian kings who used the title king of the universe in the 3rd millennium and even in the early 2nd millennium BCE (Isin-Larsa period) were deified (at least we do not have a firm proof). How to explain this phenomenon? Firstly, I think the title king of the four corners had a slightly different meaning than king of the universe; however, both are universalistic titles. The title king of the four corners was probably seen as a wider and more important universalistic title in the sense not only of universal rule, but also of ruling the divine universe and divine spheres (heaven, sun, stars, etc.). It seems that it included some kind of divine aspect, while at least the Sumerian version of the title lugal an-ubda-limmuba means “king of the heaven’s four corners”. The title king of the four corners was related to the universe order, to the sun and the cosmos, and to cosmic divine powers, and they were connected to the universal order. We can see that sometimes the title king of the four corners was used to refer to gods in Ancient Mesopotamia – for example in the case of the god Tišpak in Ešnunna – but never king of the universe. Secondly, early dynastic rulers (e.g. Lagash or Uruk), who never used universalistic titles for themselves, addressed universalistic expressions and epithets to the main gods – e.g., Enlil, Ningirsu, etc. For example, Lugal-kiğine-dudu of Uruk claimed: “Enlil, king of all lands, for Lugal-kiğine-dudu – when the god Enlil truly summoned him, and (Enlil) combined (both) lordship and kingship for him”. Thirdly, ruling over all the lands from east to west or over the corners of the universe – these epithets may be used for gods. LUGAL KIŠ (later Akkadian šar kiššati(m)) in its early original meaning was seen only as “ruler over Kiš (or ruler over (the northern part of) Sumer)”; it was an important though more regional and geographic title. Fourthly, only much later did it acquire the meaning king of the universe but I am not sure about that meaning at all. In that case, king of the four corners had a different meaning; the title designated not only ruling over the world but it probably included some kind of divine aspect as well (Michalowski 2010). In that case the title šar kibrāt arbaˀi(m) – king of the four corners could be seen as more universal than LUGAL KIŠ (šar kiššati(m)). There still remain several questions which need to be solved: Was LUGAL KIŠ in its Akkadian form šar kiššati(m) a universalistic title at all? Or was LUGAL KIŠ a hegemonic title showing certain hegemonic rule or lordship over (all) Sumer (and Akkad?) but not including the whole world (here: Mesopotamia)? Could it be for this reason that the king who used the title king of the four corners had to be deified but the king who was LUGAL KIŠ had not?
  • Centre for Oriental Studies, University of Tartu, Jakobi 2, 51005 Tartu, ESTONIA
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