Amarna letters–phrases and quotations

Amarna letters–phrases and quotations

Amarna letters–phrases and quotations is an article for the 1350 BC Amarna letters, the correspondence to the pharaohs of Egypt.

Of the 382 Amarna letters, many are direct in describing the conditions of the author in their local regions. Many authors/letters are requesting aid of the pharaoh's army forces in relation to the overtaking of lands by external forces-the Hittites for example, or the external forces of the attacking Hapiru who are capturing cities and changing allegiances.

The quotes and phrases

A small number of the Amarna letters are in the class of poetry. An example is EA 153, (EA is for 'el Amarna'). EA 153, entitled: "Ships on hold", from Abi-Milku of Tyre is a short, 20-line letter. Lines 6-8, and 9-11 are parallel phrases, each ending with "...before the troops of the king, my lord."-('before', then line 8, line 11). Both sentences are identical, and repetitive, with only the subject statement changing.

The entire corpus of Amarna letters has many standard phrases. It also has some phrases, and quotations used only once. Some are parables: (EA 252: "...when an ant is pinched (struck), does it not fight back and bite the hand of the man that struck it?"....)

List of phrases

Bird in a Cage

:"A bird in a cage (Trap)"—Rib-Hadda subcorpus of letters. (Rib-Hadda was trapped in Gubla-(Byblos), unable to move freely.)

"A brick may move.."

:"A brick may move from under its partner, still I will not move from under the feet of the king, my lord."—Used in letters EA 266, 292, and 296. EA 292 by Adda-danu of Gazru.

"For the lack of a cultivator.."

:"For the lack of a cultivator, my field is like a woman without a husband."—Rib-Hadda letter EA 75

"Hale like the Sun..."

:"And know that the King-(pharaoh) is Hale like the Sun in the Sky." For his troops and his chariots in multitude all goes very well...."—See: Endaruta, for the "Short Form"; See: Milkilu, for a "Long Form". Also found in EA 99: entitled: "From the Pharaoh to a vassal"." (with addressee damaged)

"I looked this way, and I looked..."

:"I looked this way, and I looked that way, and there was no light. Then I looked towards the king, my lord, and there was light."—EA 266 by Tagi (Ginti mayor); EA 296 by Yahtiru.

"May the Lady of Gubla.."

:"May the Lady of Gubla grant power to the king, my lord."—varieties of the phrase in the Rib-Hadda letters

a pot held in pledge

:"a pot held in pledge"—The Pot of a Debt. EA 292 by Adda-danu of Gazru.

7 times and 7 times again

:"7 times and 7 times"—Over and over again:"7 times plus 7"—EA 189, See: "Etakkama of Kadesh"(title)-(Qidšu)

I fall ... 7 times and 7..."on the back and on the stomach"

:I fall, at the feet, ... 7 times and 7 times, "on the back and on the stomach"—EA 316, by Pu-Ba'lu, and used in numerous letters to pharaoh. See: Commissioner: Tahmašši.

"when an ant is struck.."

:"...when an ant is pinched (struck), does it not fight back and bite the hand of the man that struck it?"—A phrase used by Labayu defending his actions of overtaking cities, EA 252. Title: "Sparing one's enemies"."


*Moran, William L. "The Amarna Letters." John Hopkins University Press, 1987, 1992. (softcover, ISBN 0-8018-6715-0)

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