Macquarie University

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In the Garden of the Gods: models of kingship from the Sumerians to the Seleucids

posted on 2022-03-28, 14:46 authored by Evangelia Anagnostou-Laoutides
This thesis aims to investigate the theological profile of ancient near eastern kings, particularly their role in shaping death ideologies and the memory of their communities from the early Sumerians to the Seleucids who nominated Babylon as the capital of their empire. By studying the evolution of influential metaphors about kingship down to the Hellenistic times I revisit the question of divine kingship in the ANE and its contribution to the Seleucid model of rule. In the ANE continuous and multilayered interaction among the local populations produced from the earliest times a common cultural substratum, frequently attested in ritual whose conservative nature is often remarked in scholarship. Of course, cultures and times changed significantly from the Sumerian to the Babylonian and Assyrian periods during which new gods came to prominence and infinite variations of cultic detail emerged. In an attempt to organize the developments in the ANE intelligibly, Jacobsen argued that religion in the fourth millennium BCE was reconstructed around aspects of fertility, in the third around the metaphors of gods as rulers, and in the second around the more personal concept of the gods as parents. Such classifications, although useful in highlighting prevalent cultural metaphors, do not offer sufficient insight into the applications of cultural ideas that are rarely as clear-cut and homogenous. Hence, numerous ANE rulers already in the second millennium BCE were depicted in literature and cult as protégés (sons or lovers) of the fertility goddess ostensibly blurring the distinct phases of Jacobsen's scheme. Likewise, in the first millennium BCE the kings invested their profiles with diverse metaphors that reflected their temperament as much as the traditions which influenced them.


Table of Contents

Introduction: Laying the groundwork -- Dying kings in the ANE : Gilgameš and his travels in the Garden of Power -- Sacred marriage in the ANE : the collapse of the garden and its aftermath -- Renewing the cosmos : garden and goddess in first millennium ideology -- The Seleucids at Babylon : flexing traditions and reclaiming the garden -- Synthesis: Cultivating community memory.


Includes bibliographical references

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MPhil


MPhil, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Ancient History

Department, Centre or School

Department of Ancient History

Year of Award



Copyright Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




Middle East


1 online resource (xii, 383 pages) illustrations

Former Identifiers