Meter and Meaning in Akkadian Poetry

Sergio Tang (Yale, NELC)
Event time: 
Friday, November 30, 2018 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
LingSem (DOW 201) See map
370 Temple Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

The Akkadian literary tradition is one of the oldest in the world and was productive over three millennia. It has given us well-known classics such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Babylonian Creation Epic, and the Babylonian Flood Story as well as hundreds of other myths, epics, narratives, hymns, poems, and prayers. Much has been said about the content of these literary texts, but discussions on the formal characteristics of Akkadian literature are comparatively scarce. What is Akkadian poetry and what can distinguish it from prose? One of the most salient features of Akkadian poetry is meter. In this talk, basic rules for a metrical system in Akkadian poetry will be presented, and its implications for the construction and conveying of meaning in the composition will be discussed. Rather than counting syllable lengths like in Greek and Latin, Akkadian meter counts units of stress that are grammatically and semantically self-sufficient. It will also be argued that meter is used to formulate elements of parallelism within verses, in couplets, and at the strophic level.

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Event Type: 
Lunch Talks