Trivium Art HistoryMesopotamia

The Dialogue of Pessimism

1000 BCE

I. DRIVE TO PALACE

—Slave, listen to me!
Here I am, master, here I am!
—Quickly! Fetch me the chariot and hitch it up. I want to drive to the palace.
Drive, master, drive! It will be to your advantage. When he will see you, the king will give you honors.
—O well, slave, I will not drive to the palace!
Do not drive, master, do not drive! When he will see you, the king may send you God knows where, He may make you take a route that you do not know, He will make you suffer agony day and night.

II. BANQUET

—Slave, listen to me!
Here I am, master, here I am
—Quickly! Fetch me water for my hands, I want to dine!
Dine, master, dine! A good meal relaxes the mind! [incomplete] the meal of his god. To wash one´s hand passes the time!
—O well, slave, I will not dine!
Do not dine, master, do not dine! To eat only when one is hungry, to drink only when one is thirsty is best for man!

III. HUNT

—Slave, listen to me!
Here I am, master, here I am!
—Quickly! Fetch me my chariot. I am going to hunt!
Drive, master, drive! A hunter gets his belly filled! The hunting dog will break the bones of the prey! The raven that scours the country can feed its nest! The fleeting onager finds rich pastures!
—O well, slave, I will not hunt!
Do not go, master, do not go! - The hunter´s luck changes! The hunting dog´s teeth will get broken! The raven that scours the country has a hole in the wall as a home. The fleeting onager has the desert as his stable?

IV. MARRIAGE

—Slave, listen to me!
Here I am, master, here I am!
—I want to set up a home, I want to have a son!
Have them, master, have them! The man who sets up a home [incomplete]
—How could I set up a home!
Do not set up a home; otherwise you will break up your father´s home!

V. LITIGATION

[Note: only fragments of this stanza remain. They allow us to see that the master wants to go to court. For that purpose he decides first to let his opponent act, without saying a word. Then, changing his mind as usual, he does not want to remain silent anymore.]
Do not remain silent, master, do not remain silent! If you do not open your mouth, your opponent will have a free hand! Your prosecutors will be savage to you, if you speak!

VI. REVOLUTION

—Slave, listen to me!
Here I am, master, here I am!
—I want to lead a revolution!
So lead, master, lead! If you do not lead a revolution, where will your clothes come from? And who will enable you to fill your belly?
—O well, slave, I do not want to lead a revolution!
Do not lead, master, do not lead a revolution! The man who leads a revolution is either killed or flayed, Or has his eyes put out, or is arrested and thrown to jail!

VII. LOVEMAKING

—Slave, listen to me!
Here I am, master, here I am!
—I want to make love to a woman
Make love, master, make love! The man who makes love to a woman forgets sorrow and fear!
—O well, slave, I do not want to make love to a woman!
Do not make love, master, do not make love! Woman is a real pitfall, a hole, a ditch, Woman is a sharp iron dagger that cuts a man´s throat!

VIII. SACRIFICE

—Slave, listen to me!
Here I am, master, here I am!
—Quick! Fetch me water for my hands and give it to me. I want to sacrifice to my god
Sacrifice, master, sacrifice! The man who sacrifices to his god is satisfied at heart. He accumulates benefit after benefit.
—O well, slave, I do not want to sacrifice to my god!
Do not sacrifice, master, do not sacrifice! You will teach your god to run after you like a dog. Whether he asks of you "Rites" or "Do you not consult your god?" or anything else!

IX. BUSINESS

—Slave, listen to me!
Here I am, master, here I am!
—I want to invest silver.
Invest, master, invest. The man who invests keeps his capital while his interest is enormous!
—O well, slave, I do not want to invest silver!
Do not invest, master, do not invest! Making loans is as sweet as making love, but getting them back is like having children! They will take away your capital, cursing you without cease. They will make you lose the interest on the capital!

X. PHILANTROPY

—Slave, listen to me!
Here I am, master, here I am!
—I want to perform a public benefit for my country!
So do it, master, do it! The man who performs a public benefit for his country His actions are exposed to the circle of Marduk!
—O well, slave, I do not want to perform a public benefit for my country!
Do not perform, master, do not perform! Go up the ancient tells and walk about. See the mixed skulls of plebeians and nobles. Which is the malefactor and which is the benefactor?

XI. CONCLUSION

—Slave, listen to me!
Here I am, master, here I am!
—What then is good? To have my neck and yours broken, Or to be thrown into the river, is that good?
Who is so tall as to ascend to heaven? Who is so broad as to encompass the entire world?
—O well, slave, I will kill you and send you first!
Yes, but my master would certainly not survive me for three days!...

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Mesopotamia
Poetry, war, and the invention of law

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