THE MARRIAGE OF MARTU

Source: Black, J.A., Cunningham, G., Robson, E., and Zólyomi, G., The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford 1998-.

Ur, head-dress

 The name Martu can be written syllabically as Amurru or as a logogram MAR.TU which represents the Sumerian reading. But who or what was Amurru? The Amurru people are often mentioned in Mesopotamian inscriptions as the nomadic people of the steppe, who would come down from the hillsides and raid the agricultural products of the settled people of Sumer and Babylon. The god Amurru is known from Akkadian texts as well as from personal names since the Sargonid period. He may be therefore a deification of a social and ethnic group, the nomadic Amurru, rather than an original West Semit god. As these people became settled in ever greater numbers, his acceptance into the Babylonian pantheon could represent an acknowledgement of their social integration. The kinship pattern echoes this process: Amurru or Martu is said to be the son of Anu, the Skyfather and father of all the Great Gods, while his wife is either the West Semitic Ashratum or the Babylonian Belet-Seri, the Lady of the Wilderness, another epithet for Ninhursag-Ki as the Lady of the Wild Beasts.
The short mythological text The Marriage of Martu describes a process of integration by a romantic marriage. Poor Martu is described with all the standards epithets of barbarian nomad, who eats raw flesh, has no house and will have no decent burial, i.e. a barbarian who does not know of the niceties of civilised life. Indeed, the Martus have just started to learn how to share food rations according to the number of members of a family (who hung in nets, to the horror of the civilised people of Inab, the city), and only poor Martu was single. He comes then to his mother for advice, because he longs for a wife, once all his friends are married and happily so. She advises him wisely " Marry a wife of your choice, marry a wife of your heart's desire, give me thus a companion, ..."
Martu, nevertheless, cannot find one fine lady among his people, and in a day of feast, he goes down to the neighboring city of Inab, and there he met the daughter of the city god, a girl called Adjar-kidug, and both fell in love with each other. During the great festivities, Martu takes part in the several wrestling competitions, winning them all. When asked by the city god, who had rejoiced over the young man´s prowesses, what he wanted as a reward, silver, precious stones, jewels, Martu replied he wanted none of them, but the hand of lovely Adjar-kidug in marriage. Thus, Martu, in the most romantic fashion, despised all riches and wealth that he had been offered for a young lady´s graces.
Numucda, Adjuar´s father and city god, set Martu a couple of tasks, stating basically how he should tend to the cowherds and more. Like all caring fathers, he urged Martu " to give his word, and pnly thus, and then he would give him his daughter Adjar-kidug."
Martu did all this and more. "He gratified the elders of Inab with golden torcs. He gratified the old women of Inab with golden shawl- ....... He gratified the men and women of Inab with golden ....... He gratified the slaves of Inab with ...... and gratified them also with coloured ...... cloths. He gratified the slave-girls of Inab with silver jugs" Yet, no decision had been made, and Martu was still single, longing for Adjar, who at this time longed for him as well. How do we know it? Because a friend of Adjar´s comes to her and asks: "why do you want to marry him? Listen, the Martus, thier hands are destructive and their features are those of monkeys; he is one who eats what Nanna forbids and does not show reverence. They never stop roaming about ......, they are an abomination to the gods' dwellings. Their ideas are confused; they cause only disturbance. He is clothed in sack-leather ......, lives in a tent, exposed to wind and rain, and cannot properly recite prayers. He lives in the mountains and ignores the places of gods, digs up truffles in the foothills, does not know how to bend the knee, and eats raw flesh. He has no house during his life, and when he dies he will not be carried to a burial-place. My girlfriend, why would you marry Martu?"
But Adjar, who had seen the heart and the efforts Martu had spent to fit in in her environment, the challenges Martu was facing just to deserve a life with her when he could have had all riches offered to him earlier on, replied with the certainty of a woman who knows her hear, her mind and her soul: "I will marry Martu!"
Adjar had seen the raw diamond in the nomad made civilised by her love.

 


 

 

1-8 When the city of Inab already existed, but the city of Kiritab did not yet exist, when the holy crown already existed, but the holy tiara did not yet exist, when the holy herb already existed, but the holy cedar did not yet exist, when holy salt already existed, but holy alkali did not yet exist, when intercourse and kissing already existed, when giving birth in the fields already existed -- I was the grandfather of the holy cedar, I was the ancestor of the mes tree, I was the mother and father of the white cedar, I was the relative of the hacur cedar.

9-15 At that time there was a princely land among the cities; Inab was this princely land among the cities. The ruler of Inab was Tigi-cem-ala. Now, he had a wife whose name was Cage-gur (Desired-by-the-heart), and a child, who ......, and her name was .......

16-25 The people living around the city hung up nets, the people living around Inab hung up nets, hung up nets, chased gazelles and killed the gazelles as one kills humans. One day, as the evening came, and they had reached the place of rations, they established the rations before the the god ...... (The correct form of this name is not known). The ration of a married man was established as double, the ration of a man with a child was established as triple; the ration of a single man was established as single; but the ration of Martu, though being single, was also established as double.

26-33 Martu went home to his own mother, and spoke to her: "In my city I am among my friends and they all have already married wives; I am there among my mates, and they all have already married wives. Unlike my friends in my city I am single, I am single and I have no children. Yet the imposed share exceeds that of my friends; over and above that of my mates, I received half of theirs."

34-40 One day, as the evening came, and they had reached again the place of rations, they established the rations before the the god ...... (The correct form of this name is not known). The ration of a married man was established as double, the ration of a man with a child was established as triple; the ration of a single man was established as single; but the ration ofMartu, though being single, was also established as double.

41-52 Martu went home to his own mother, and spoke to her: "My mother, find me a wife to marry and I will bring you my ration." His own mother replied to Martu: "Su-henuna, my son, I will give you advice; may my advice be heeded. I shall say a word to you; you should pay attention to it. Marry a wife of your choice, marry a wife of your heart's desire, give me thus a companion, ...... me a slave-girl. Having built the houses of (?) your people living around the city, and ...... gardens, you will dig the wells of (?) your mates. Martu, ...... mates ......"

53-66 At that time a festival was announced in the city; a festival was announced in the city of Inab. (Martu said:) "Come, friends, let us go, let us go there, let us visit the ale-houses of Inab, let us go there." The god Numucda participated in the festival; his beloved daughter Adjar-kidug participated in the festival, his wife Namrat, the lovely woman participated in the festival. In the city, bronze cem drums were rumbling, and the seven ala drums resounded as strong men, girdled champions, entered the wrestling house to compete with each other for Numucda in the temple of Inab. There were many coming to Inab, the city where the festival was taking place, to marvel at this. There were many coming to Inab, the city where the festival was taking place, to marvel at this.

67-75 For Numucda, because he was holy (?), Martu too strode around the great courtyard to compete in wrestling at the gate of Inab. They kept looking for strong fighters for him, they kept offering him strong fighters. Martu strode around in the great courtyard. He hit them with a destructive ...... one by one. In the great courtyard, in the battle he caused them to be bandaged; in the great courtyard of Inab he lifted the bodies of the dead.

76-90 Rejoicing over Martu, Numucda offered him silver, but he would not accept it. He offered jewels, but he would not accept them. Having done so a second time, having done so a third time (Martu says): "Where does your silver lead? Where do your jewels lead? I, Martu, would rather marry your daughter, I would rather marry your daughter Adjar-kidug."

7 lines missing

91-97 (Numucda says:)"You ...... the wife with calves, as a marriage gift. Milch cows shall feed the calves. In the byre the calf and the cow shall lie down. Milch cows shall live in the ....... Suckling calves shall stay at their right side. You must give your word thus and only thus, and then I will give you my daughter Adjar-kidug."

98-104 "You ...... the wife with lambs, as a marriage gift. Milch ewes shall feed the lambs. In their sheepfold the lamb and the ewe shall lie down. Milch ewes shall live in the ...... and suckling lambs shall stay at their left side. You must give your word thus and only thus, and then I will give you my daughter Adjar-kidug."

105-111 "You ...... the wife with kids as a marriage gift. Milch goats shall feed the kids. In their stall the kid and the goat shall lie down. The goats shall live in the ...... and suckling kids shall stay ....... You must give your word thus and only thus, and then I will give you my daughter Adjar-kidug."

112-114 He ...... great ....... He shouted like ....... At the quay of Inab he .......

115-126 He gratified the elders of Inab with golden torcs. He gratified the old women of Inab with golden shawl- ....... He gratified the men and women of Inab with golden ....... He gratified the slaves of Inab with ...... and gratified them also with coloured ...... cloths. He gratified the slave-girls of Inab with silver jugs.

127-141 The days have multiplied, no decision has yet been made. (Adjar-kidug's girlfriend speaks to her:) "Now listen, their hands are destructive and their features are those of monkeys; he is one who eats what Nanna forbids and does not show reverence. They never stop roaming about ......, they are an abomination to the gods' dwellings. Their ideas are confused; they cause only disturbance. He is clothed in sack-leather ......, lives in a tent, exposed to wind and rain, and cannot properly recite prayers. He lives in the mountains and ignores the places of gods, digs up truffles in the foothills, does not know how to bend the knee, and eats raw flesh. He has no house during his life, and when he dies he will not be carried to a burial-place. My girlfriend, why would you marry Martu?" Adjar-kidug replies to her girlfriend: "I will marry Martu!"

142 Inab -- ulum, alam!

 

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