Tuesday, February 10, 2015

She's having babies!

Although the number of the first two verb forms are somewhat lost behind the dab (ṣabātu) and us2 (redû) logograms, it is clear that the noun māmūt is singular. She is the active agent. She seizes and pursues. In the next line however one verb is written syllabically, ušaḫḫaḫū, a D durative from šaḫāḫu, a masculine plural verb. The tense of the second verb GUB- zu, izuzzu, is more difficult to place. It could be a G preterite or durative, although the latter is most likely. Even so, the syllabic complement -zu clearly indicates that it too is a plural, izzazzū. Here, māmītu has become “pluralized,” so to speak; she is now the leader of a pack of beings that consume flesh and stand ready to “cut off” life. Once released, māmītu multiplies and spreads. She readily expands into a variety of ills so that, by the time she reaches the victim, she has become a collective. At this point, māmītu and her nameless minions have become nothing other than the harbingers of death itself.— Cursed Are You!, pages 180-181

<idle musing>
That's part of the scariness of curses; they multiply and have babies! Faster than mice or rabbits! They become a screaming mob that brings death and disaster to their victims—and yes, grammar matters!

Are you beginning to understand why those who could afford it had professionals watching out for them? The kings had legions of scribes reading the entrails (guts) of the sacrificial animals, watching the skies, listening for strange portents. All in an attempt to turn away curses and keep the gods happy.

The common person couldn't afford that, so they hoped they could keep their personal god (lamassu) happy and avoid the attention of the greater gods.

Totally different world from a benevolent God, isn't it? (And understand the significance of the singular—God, not gods...)
</idle musing>

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