"To be wealthy and demand more is an abomination to a god."
October 2, 2019 1:34 AM   Subscribe

 
Using a donkey in place of a sheep will not allow you to recognise any omens.

I know, right?
posted by zompist at 1:40 AM on October 2, 2019 [27 favorites]


It's kind of fascinating that many of these make perfect sense in a modern context:

"To be sick is all right, to be pregnant is painful; to be pregnant and sick is just too much."
"A fox urinated into the Tigris. 'I am causing the spring flood to rise,' he said."
"He has not yet caught the fox, but he is making a neck-stock for it."

And some are ???:

"A goat is the gift of a large kid, the large kid which wears a beard."
"Make the donkey sit like this! I am making it lift its shrivelled penis!"
posted by kyrademon at 2:34 AM on October 2, 2019 [14 favorites]


The timelessness of this archetype was made clear in the Joseph Campbell classic, The @dril With a Thousand Faces
posted by condour75 at 3:38 AM on October 2, 2019 [17 favorites]


"A goat is the gift of a large kid, the large kid which wears a beard."
Sort of a "child is the father of the man" thing, right? The old dog barks backward without getting up/ I can remember when he was a pup.
posted by frobozz at 4:34 AM on October 2, 2019 [3 favorites]


There is an Android app that pulls from this list and gives a proverb of the day. It is a terrible app that displays them super small and can't be zoomed in on. I have had it on my phone for ages and sometimes, when things look bad, I pull one up and pretend it makes sense in my situation.

Today's is "My things changed things."
posted by cobaltnine at 5:30 AM on October 2, 2019 [12 favorites]


Based on this evidence ('The dog understands: "Take it!" It does not understand: "Put it down!"', etc., etc.) one might imagine that, while the ancient Egyptians were reputedly cat people, the Sumerians must have been dog people.

Some of the fragmentary ones are maddeningly enigmatic. Especially UET 6/2 209, 4-6, translated merely as: '…… genitals …… '.

MetaFilter: …… genitals ……
posted by misteraitch at 5:46 AM on October 2, 2019 [25 favorites]


Like a wild sheep up a poplar, he went up, he kept going up.

Is that the Sumerian version of failing upwards? It seems that theme is recurrent:

No matter how much wisdom exerts itself (?), you, fool, achieve what you need.

And also, obligatory

MetaFilter: Pleasure is created. Sins are absolved. Life is rejuvenated.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 7:01 AM on October 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


"In the city with no dogs, the fox is boss."
posted by mfoight at 7:16 AM on October 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, a list of Somersetian proverbs:

Including such examples as:

- T'is long of your eyes, the crows might have helped it when you were young. (A thing you've no memory of that would be better not remembered)

- Little mead little need. (A mild winter hoped for after a bad summer.)

- I love thee like pudding, if thou wert pie I'de eat thee. (You're sweet!)

- I will keep no more cats then will catch mice (i. e. no more in family then will earn their living)

- More malice then matter. (e.g. Boris Johnson)
posted by Eleven at 7:22 AM on October 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


He who has silver is happy, he who has grain feels comfortable, but he who has livestock cannot sleep.

Still true about the livestock. Not so much about the grain, though.

If a singer knows only a single song but he performs the melismas well, he is indeed a singer!

This is probably the equivalent of "what do you call the one who graduated last in his med school class? Doctor." But what it says to me is you already had singers doing that thing and looking super passionate while they did it.

You grind with the pestle like a fearful slave girl.

Down south I will still hear, from someone who has been very busy, "I've been working like a [mild to severe ethnic slur]." The group is not always what you would expect and, if pressed, this person would probably say it is a compliment to their work ethic.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:28 AM on October 2, 2019 [5 favorites]


UET 6/2 253

1. A man without a god -- for a strong man it is no loss.


New Atheists, meet the Old Atheists.
posted by kozad at 7:53 AM on October 2, 2019 [17 favorites]


I love how many are about dogs, 2 favorites

UET 6/2 264
1-3. (cf. 6.1.05.78) A dog said to his master: "If my pleasure is of no importance to you, then my loss should not be either!"


Pretty sure this one is about a greyhound.
UET 6/2 227
1-3. A dog sitting in a garden, a dog …… growing …… a dog …… demon of heaven and earth.

posted by DigDoug at 8:03 AM on October 2, 2019 [5 favorites]


Picking apart the Sumerian, it turns out to be a little more comprehensible; the translation misses that uzud (ud5, "nanny-goat") is in the directive (inanimate dative) and that the relative clause after the copula -am is actually the complement of the copula.

𒍚𒉈𒊕𒉺𒄸𒁺𒈧𒃲𒆷𒄰𒈧𒃲𒅾𒇲𒀀
ud5-de3 saĝ rig7 maš2 gal-la-kam, maš2 gal sun4 la2-a

uzud=e saŋ-rig maš gal=ak=am maš gal sun la=a

nanny-goat=DIR gift kid big=GEN=COP, kid big beard hang=REL

"It is the gift of the eldest kid to the nanny-goat that the eldest kid hangs (his) beard (long?)."

So it seems to be about pride of a mother in her child's accomplishments/appearance.
posted by likethemagician at 8:04 AM on October 2, 2019 [45 favorites]


UET 6/2 267
5-7. (cf. 6.1.02.54) A disgraced scribe becomes an incantation priest. A disgraced singer becomes a flute-player. A disgraced merchant becomes a con-man.


... and thus did the ancient Sumerians predict the current US political system.
posted by hanov3r at 8:07 AM on October 2, 2019 [14 favorites]


I love how they look down on flute-players, apparently the worst form of musician. Noise from a tube! Ugh!!

"A dog said to his master: "If my pleasure is of no importance to you, then my loss should not be either!"

This is a really progressive attitude toward pet ownership, especially for the beginning of civilization.

"The dog understands: "Take it!" It does not understand: "Put it down!""
"It is a dog's lot to collect bones."
"A dog was going to a party. After he had seen the bones, he went away. "Where I am going, I will be eating more than this," he said."

Ur dogs were something else! Dog walks into a party but leaves because the bones they had out to share were just not adequate.

"He who has silver, he who has lapis lazuli, he who has oxen and he who has sheep wait at the gate of the man who has barley."

It's kind of tragic how twisted things have become. Back then food producers were of upmost importance. Nowadays food producers might not even be able to "afford" their own crops, somehow.

"A ghost who had died said: "You shouldn't carry oil.""

Always listen to ghosts, they know all the real shit about oil carrying.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:18 AM on October 2, 2019 [12 favorites]


I think I've posted this here before, but the ETCSL was the source of the sig file I've used for more than 20 years now:

Half a shekel is half a shekel wherever you go; discarded, it is a shekel belonging to a place of wild cattle and serpents.
posted by talking leaf at 8:34 AM on October 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Noise from a tube! Ugh!!
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:16 AM on October 2, 2019 [6 favorites]


MetaFilter: Noise from a tube! Ugh!!

Even worse, it's from a series of tubes.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:35 AM on October 2, 2019 [10 favorites]



"He who has silver, he who has lapis lazuli, he who has oxen and he who has sheep wait at the gate of the man who has barley."

It's kind of tragic how twisted things have become. Back then food producers were of upmost importance. Nowadays food producers might not even be able to "afford" their own crops, somehow.


I’m not sure that is evidence that food producers were the most important. It feels more like a warning that one might think they have made it if they have material wealth but in the end, if you are starving your jewelry isn’t edible. Apparently they could get caught up in the trappings of wealth just as easily as we can.

It also seems very prescient to our current global climate crisis.
posted by double bubble at 10:03 AM on October 2, 2019 [5 favorites]


"A goat is the gift of a large kid, the large kid which wears a beard."

Pun intended?
posted by panama joe at 10:40 AM on October 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


@talkingleaf Here's the cuneiform original if you want to add to your sig:

𒈦𒂆𒈦 𒂆𒆠𒅎𒁺𒀀𒄰
𒊒𒂆𒆠𒄠𒈲𒀀𒄰

Transcription:
MAŠ giĝ4 MAŠ giĝ4 ki im-du-a-kam
šub giĝ4 ki am muš-a-kam

Grammar:
maš giŋ=Ø maš giŋ ki i=m=du='a=ak=am
šub=Ø giŋ=Ø ki am muš=ak=Ø=am

1/2 shekel=ABS 1/2 shekel=ABS place FINITE=VENTIVE=go=REL=GEN=COPULA
fall=TENSELESS shekel=ABS place wild.bull snake=GEN=ABS=COPULA

Frankly, ki-am-mušak "Wild Cattle & Serpent Country" sounds pretty badass.
posted by likethemagician at 10:52 AM on October 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


…… skin disease lasts forever; …… forever; …… skin disease lasts forever.

All I want to do is turn this into a jangly pop song.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:54 AM on October 2, 2019 [7 favorites]


Based on this evidence ('The dog understands: "Take it!" It does not understand: "Put it down!"', etc., etc.) one might imagine that, while the ancient Egyptians were reputedly cat people, the Sumerians must have been dog people.

Or mongoose people.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:09 AM on October 2, 2019 [3 favorites]


> …… skin disease lasts forever; …… forever; …… skin disease lasts forever.

All I want to do is turn this into a jangly pop song.


one eight seven seven skin disease, s-k-i-n skin disease...
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:24 PM on October 2, 2019 [6 favorites]


Man I would not like to run into an auroch out in the plains. It's weird to imagine that they experienced the threat of hazards we have long since driven to extinction, like European/Southwest Asian lions, aurochs, ostriches, etc.
posted by constantinescharity at 12:46 PM on October 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


UET 6/2 356
1-2. Give! -- Don't give! Don't let his hand touch it!

3-4. (cf. 6.1.02.1, 6.1.07.1, 6.2.1: Ni 9824 Seg. A ll. 1-2) The course of its rituals was changed. Its cults were annihilated.

5-6. (cf. 6.1.02.1, 6.1.07.1) Where there were ritual preparations, they were destroyed. You should not change the course of its rituals!

7-8. (cf. 6.1.02.1) You should not destroy their cult! Where there were ritual preparations, you should not destroy them!
-----

If there's one thing you could respect about the Sumerians, it's that they knew not to fuck with an Old One's cults and rituals.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:44 PM on October 2, 2019 [9 favorites]


you would know
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:49 PM on October 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


I would not like to run into an auroch out in the plains

'Aurochs' is both singular and plural, like 'deer'.
posted by hanov3r at 1:51 PM on October 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


"A fox urinated into the Tigris. 'I am causing the spring flood to rise,' he said."

Don't pee in the Tigris and tell me it's flooding.
posted by shenderson at 2:07 PM on October 2, 2019 [11 favorites]


Man I would not like to run into an auroch out in the plains.

you see what happens? you see what happens larry? this is what happens! see what happens? this is what happens when you meet an aurochs on the plains!!!
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:15 PM on October 2, 2019 [3 favorites]


one eight seven seven skin disease, s-k-i-n skin disease...

Was this supposed to be to the tune of 867-5309? Because that's how I sang it.
posted by Tehhund at 5:34 PM on October 2, 2019 [3 favorites]


What in the world is an aurochs? this is a real thing? not something from Star Wars?
posted by double bubble at 5:41 PM on October 2, 2019


it's a cow but with more hit dice
posted by prize bull octorok at 5:45 PM on October 2, 2019 [15 favorites]


likethemagician, do you happen to know what the "happy ear" refers to in this one? A human ear, i.e. happy listening?
posted by TwoLeaves at 6:29 PM on October 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


Aurochs - think Texas Longhorn with the disposition of a Cape Water Buffalo, or a land hippo. Dangerous, territorial herbivores that tasted great but would kill you as soon as look at you. From these we have bred domestic cattle. Humans are clever primates.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 8:20 PM on October 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


“Like a raven, you have your eyes on enormous quantities of malt.”

I do!
posted by daisyk at 12:00 AM on October 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


"UET 6/2 255
1-5. (cf. 6.1.03.134) A man's god is a man's shepherd. The god will not desert him. A shepherd should not ……. A man's god provides him with something to eat and water to drink."

Is this a source for Psalm 23 "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..." ?
posted by runincircles at 7:08 AM on October 3, 2019 [6 favorites]


TwoLeaves, the original says:

𒉿𒄾𒆷𒀭𒄾𒆷
ŋeštug hul2-la diŋir hul2-la
ear rejoice-REL god rejoice-REL
"Ear that rejoices, god that rejoices"

Oddly it's just two relative clauses with no copula or verb to connect them. Not atypical for an aphorism I suppose. The noun ŋeštug literally means "ear" but also metaphorically "wisdom, understanding, reason". However, I think you're on the right track when you suggest that it has to do with listening here. Perhaps the meaning is "pleasant music pleases the gods" or some such.
posted by likethemagician at 7:07 AM on October 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


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