Utopic and Dystopic Images in Mesopotamian Literature: The Conflict Between Order and Chaos in Ur III

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Tension between Order and Chaos is central to Mesopotamian literature. “To overturn the appointed times, to obliterate the divine plans, the storms gather to strike like a flood”, thus starts the Lament for Sumer and Urim. Tempest, disease, drought and plague were symptomatic of the dislike the celestial society expressed towards their human counterpart. The chaotic consequences of the divine disfavor set the tone for human action. The dystopian idea shaped from the fall of Ur III allows us to understand how this was a key political moment which endured in the cultural production of years to come.
On the other hand, this same period allowed the construction of utopian images, where the maintenance of order was seen as imperative. The answer Enki gives to Inanna, in Enki and the World Order, is expressive of this logic: “now, the heart has overflowed, the Land is restored”. With this statement, the god of wisdom refrains the belligerent impetus of Inanna, thus legitimating a time of peace and harmony, under the rulership of Enlil and Ur III.
Hence, compositions that refer to the Ur III period present themselves as a fertile case- study to explore the constructions of both utopic and dystopic images in literary narratives. With this communication, we intend to examine the possibility of applying the theoretical framework that utopianism studies have been developing in recent decades regarding Mesopotamia, hoping to shed some new light on the topic about the tension between chaos and order in this civilization.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventRencontre Assyriologique Internationale - University of Pennsylvania, United States
Duration: 11 Jun 201615 Jun 2016
Conference number: 62


ConferenceRencontre Assyriologique Internationale
Abbreviated titleRAI
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • Mesopotamian Literature
  • Oriental Antiquity


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