Correspondence of the Kings of Ur
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The Correspondence of the Kings of Ur (CKU), also known as the Royal Correspondence of Ur, is a collection of 24 literary letters written in the Sumerian language and attributed to kings of the Ur III period, 2048-1940 BCE (2112-2004 middle chronology). They are known primarily from copies dating to the Old Babylonian period, ca. 1800-1600 BCE; their original date of composition and their historical accuracy are debated.
Letters addressed to and from Šulgi
Letter from Shulgi to Aradngu about Apillasha
- Letter from Shulgi to Aradngu about Apillasha, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.
- The man to whom I have sent you is not your subordinate -- he will not accept orders from your hand! [...] If I do not make my 'Sage of the Assembly' feel just as important as I am, if he does not sit on a throne on a dais, furnished with a high-quality cloth cover, if his feet do not rest on a golden footstool, if he is not allowed by his own highest authority both to appoint and then to remove a governor from his function as governor, an official from his charge, if he does not kill or blind anyone, if he does not elevate his favourite over others -- how else can he secure the provinces? If you truly love me, you will not bear him a grudge!
- As I myself ordered, you were to secure the provinces, and to correctly guide the people and make them obedient. [...] That was how I had instructed you. Why have you not acted as I ordered you?
- Let my roar be emitted over all the lands.
Let my powerful arm, my heroic arm, fall upon all the lands.
Let my storm cover the Land.
- You are important, but you do not even know your own soldiers. Your eyes have learnt something about these men, and about Apillaca's heroism. If you, Aradju, are indeed my servant, you should both pay attention to my written communications. Come to an understanding, you two! Secure the foundations of the provinces! It is urgent!
Letter from Aradngu to Shulgi about irrigation work
- Letter from Aradngu to Shulgi about irrigation work, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.
- My lord, you have given me instructions about every matter, from the waters of the sea and the land of Dilmun, from the salt waters and the borders of the land of the Martu, to the side of Simurrum. [...] Their various cities and all their environs, their canals, fields, arable tracts and their embankments and ditches. [...] All the cities are listening to my lord. [...] I have established strong guards for their fortresses, and I have made all their troops submit.
Letter from Aradngu to Shulgi about attentive citizens
- Letter from Aradngu to Shulgi about attentive citizens, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.
- My lord, the vast territory which has been given to you as booty has been made obedient: it is of one mind. The people, abundant as vegetation, belong to Culgi, shepherd of the reliable word. You are the god of mankind, in the south and the highlands. They keep their gaze fixed on you. The widespread people, abundant as vegetation, say: "Hail, my lord!", from the flooding Tigris and Euphrates.
- The citizens of the territory of Gutium, [..] Mari and Rapiqum, who will listen at all times, are before me. Whatever you say, my lord, I will do.
Letter from Aradngu to Shulgi about the fortress Igi-hursaja
- Letter from Aradngu to Shulgi about the fortress Igi-hursaja, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.
- My lord, your word is the word of An, [...] Your decreed destiny has been bestowed on you as on a god.
- My lord continues to maintain his sublime reputation in the south and the uplands, from the rising to the setting sun, as far as the borders of the entire Land.
Letter to Shulgi about bandits and brigands
- I have not neglected the instructions of my lord Culgi: both at night and in the noonday heat.
- A man such as he knows my heart, as your eyes know. My lord, with the open eye of a god.
- Your matter is an important matter, and your affairs are great affairs.
- How could I bear a grudge? I am securing the foundations of the province, and making it obedient. My lord, no king can rival you; let your heart be glad!
Letter from Puzur-Shulgi to Shulgi about the advance of the enemy
- Letter from Puzur-Shulgi to Shulgi about the advance of the enemy, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.
- Say to my lord: this is what Puzur-Culgi, the commander of the fortress Igi-hursaja, your servant, says:
All the gold and silver that my lord has been fashioning for the gods -- is it not for his own life? For the life of the troops and his land, my king has built the great fortress Igi-hursaja for the people of his land, because of the wicked enemy. [...] May it be known that, by night or by day the enemy's sins are forever grave. I am the loyal servant of my lord Culgi. Let this not be the death of me! May my lord know!
Letter from Shulgi to Puzur-Shulgi about work on the fortress Igi-hursanga
- Letter from Shulgi to Puzur-Shulgi about work on the fortress Igi-hursanga, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature
- When the master-builder has taken up the work concerned, he is to re-establish securely any place where the fortification has fallen into ruins. Let him reinforce and also rebuild it.
- Variant: The master builder has taken up his work. Where substantial work has been neglected, let him return to it. He is to reiforce and rebuild it.
- The orders are rigorous: you should not neglect your work load. They are to proceed with the building work by night and in the heat of noon. You will not be sleeping during the night or in the heat of noon!
- [O]ver all the foreign lands and the widespread people, each of their towns and all their provinces, and the people of the widespread Land lay in green meadows. I made them rest in spacious habitations, in peaceful dwelling places. As for their men and women: the man among them goes wherever he pleases, and the woman with spindle and hair clasp goes wherever she pleases. After they had set up stock-pens in the vastness of the desert, and established their tents and camps, the workmen and the labourers spend the days in the fields.
- Variant by an unknown author: These bandits and brigands applied their hoes to levelling the desert completely. As for their men and their women: the man among them goes wherever he pleases, the woman among them, holding a spindle and hair clasp in her hand, goes the way of her choice. In the vastness of the desert they set up animal pens, and after setting up their tents and camps, their workers and agricultural labourers spend the day together on the fields.
- Letter to Shulgi about bandits and brigands, 2nd millennium BCE, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.
- In order that the ruler and the general manager can build everything for you concerning the fortress, carry out this work on the fortress now. The reputation of this fortress shall not be diminished.
- About the fortress Igi-hursaja.
- By consulting omens and according to my heart's desire I have benefitted the life of the troops and the province.
Letter from Shulgi to Ishbi-Erra about the purchase of grain
- Letter from Shulgi to Ishbi-Erra about the purchase of grain, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.
- You have made me so happy with the news and everything. Who could give me a house-born slave such as you are? Who has such a capable man, so beneficial to his lord? [...] From today, you are my son who makes me happy. The cities of the province, the land of the Martu, Elam -- all of them I have placed before you: you are just as important as I am. So sit before them on a throne on a golden dais! [...] Let their messengers prostrate themselves in front of you! [...] Remove a governor -- appoint a governor! Appoint a commander! Designate a captain-general! Certainly you should put a man to death, a man who has killed: blind the man who has killed! Build your house of manhood for an attendant who has been favourably looked upon! Make sure your recompense is great! Now, you should not suddenly alter your word about all that I have been sending to you.
Letters addressed to and from Šu-Sin
Letter from Sharrum-bani to Shu-Suen about keeping the Martu at bay
- Letter from Sharrum-bani to Shu-Suen about keeping the Martu at bay, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.
- I stand at the disposal of the fame and word of my lord. [...] Let the storm cover all the lands! May my lord know!
Letter from Shu-Suen to Sharrum-bani about digging a trench
- Letter from Shu-Suen to Sharrum-bani about digging a trench, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.
- That was how I instructed you. Why did you not act as I ordered you? You were not empowered to kill anyone, to blind people or to destroy cities; but I gave you authority to do so.
- Concerning Lu-Enki, the ruler of the province of Zimudar, he should come to you, and should bring with him 60 troops. And as for you, with the soldiers who are under your authority, get the trench dug! So as not to change the attitude of the province, you people are not to release the workers while the land has not yet been secured. Let messengers bring me news about those eastern provinces. This is urgent!
Letters addressed to and from Ibbi-Sin
Letter from Ishbi-Erra to Ibbi-Suen about the purchase of grain
- Letter from Ishbi-Erra to Ibbi-Suen about the purchase of grain, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.
- I heard news that the hostile Martu have entered inside your territories. [...] They are stronger than me, while I am condemned to sitting around.
- The place there where the boats moor will be under my responsibility.
- If you have not got enough grain, I myself shall have grain brought in to you. My lord has become distressed about the battles in Elam. But the Elamites' grain rations have quickly been exhausted, so do not slacken your forces! Do not fall head first into their slavery, nor follow at their heels!
- My lord, I am without fear!
- Urim, your holy city, rivalling heaven and earth, whose great prince you are, [...] which dispenses the divine powers and makes the foundations and the plans firm both in the south and in the uplands, will surely escape from the grasp.
- Elam, a raging dog, a destroyer, will not defile E-kic-nu-jal, the sanctuary which covers heaven and earth. [...] Its protective spirits shall not be split apart!
- My lord: the loudest roarer.
Letter Letter from Ibbi-Suen to Ishbi-Erra about his bad conduct
- Letter Letter from Ibbi-Suen to Ishbi-Erra about his bad conduct, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.
- Say to Icbi-Erra: this is what your lord, Ibbi-Suen, says: As long as Enlil was my lord, what course were you following? And is this how you alter your word? Today Enlil detests me, he detests his son Suen (the principal deity of Urim), and is handing Urim over to the enemy. Its central part is gone, the enemy has risen up, and all the lands are thrown into disarray. But on the day when Enlil turns again towards his son Suen, you and your word will be marked out!
- How could you allow Puzur-Numucda, the commander of the fortress Igi-hursaja, to let the hostile Martu penetrate into my Land? Until now he has not sent to you word about engaging in battle. There are puny men in the Land! Why has he not faced the Martu?
Letter from Ibbi-Suen to Puzur-Shulgi hoping for Ishbi-Erra's downfall
- Letter from Ibbi-Suen to Puzur-Shulgi hoping for Ishbi-Erra's downfall, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.
- Say to Puzur-Culgi, the governor of Kazallu: this is what Ibbi-Suen, your lord, says: [...] [A]s in my own case, are not your troops proof of your importance? Why have you sent me somebody saying: "Icbi-Erra has got his eyes upon me -- so let me come to you when he falls upon me"? [...] How come you did not know how long it would take to make Icbi-Erra return to the mountain lands? Why have you and Girbubu, the governor of Jirikal, not confronted him with the troops which you had at hand? Today Enlil loathes Sumer and has elevated to the shepherdship of the Land an ape which has descended from those mountain lands. Now Enlil has given kingship to an idiot, a seller of asafoetida -- to Icbi-Erra, who is not of Sumerian origin.
- See, the assembly where the gods are and Sumer itself have been dispersed! Father Enlil, whose words prevail, said: "Until the enemy has been expelled from Urim, Icbi-Erra, the man from Mari, will tear out Urim's foundations. He will indeed measure out Sumer like grain." He has spoken just so.
- The others will defect to Icbi-Erra, in accordance with Enlil's word. Should you hand over your city to the enemy like your companions, Icbi-Erra will not recognise you as his faithful and agreeable servant? May it now be brought about that good words should be restored and treason extinguished. Let Icbi-Erra participate in the harvest among the people there; but you yourself, do not turn back, and do not come to me! His grasp should not get hold of the city! This man from Mari, with the understanding of a dog, should not exercise lordship!
- Now Enlil, my helper, has made the Martu rise from their mountain lands. They will repel Elam and seize Icbi-Erra. To regain the Land will indeed make our might known in all the foreign lands.
- Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature Transliterations and translations of most of the letters (Go to “Literary letters and letter-prayers," then “Royal correspondence,” then “Third Dynasty of Ur.”)