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Image: 87.160.796 (The Israel Museum, Jerusalem)

The so-called Divine Love Lyrics (DLL) is a corpus of several 1st millennium BCE texts, stemming from Assyria and Babylonia. The texts describe in detail the complex rituals and verbal ceremonies that involved Marduk, his wife Zarpanitu and his lover Ištar of Babylon. These texts may be connected in more than one way to other compositions dating from the Old Akkadian period to the Hellenistic times, dealing with rituals of divine love (Nissinen 2001).

Considering the blunt and provocative language of the texts, the term "lyric" is hard to maintain; but following W. G. Lambert, the first to treat this difficult corpus (Lambert 1975), we keep this term in our project. Thematically, more than love, the DLL deals with amorous jealousy, so "divine jealousy lyrics" might be a more appropriate appellation... Jealousy is expressed in the texts with salacious and offensive words, with vivid, even daring metaphors and similes. No doubt, this group of texts should be viewed from a gender perspective, as they probably made part of women's rituals which allowed the verbalization of jealousy and sexual desire in the framework of otherwise typically patriarchal society.

The DLL texts had clear cultic setting. The colophon of the ritual tablet of the set – after listing the cultic instructions and the incipits of the dicenda – informs that the series is a qinayyâtu, "rites against a (female) rival." Thus, it appears that the DLL texts record a ritual in which a divine ménage-à-trois, involving Marduk, his wife Zarpanitu and his lover Ištar of Babylon, was performed publically in different locations in the city of Babylon, mirroring, so we believe, human, not only divine, emotions.

When accomplished, this project will offer a complete edition, translation, commentary, and indices of the DLL texts – and present them online and in a book-form.

Because our work on the DLL corpus is still very much a work in progress, we kindly ask you to be patient with us and to bear in mind that the information included on this site is not yet complete and will change and expand over the course of time.


Da Riva, R. 2017. A new attestation of Ḫabigalbat in Late Babylonian sources. WeOr 47/2: 259–264.

Da Riva, R. and E. Frahm. 1999/2000. Šamaš-šumu-ukīn, die Herrin von Ninive und das babylonische Königssiegel. AfO 46/47: 156–182.

Edzard, D.O. 1987. Zur Ritualtafel der sog. 'Love Lyrics.' Pp. 57–67 in Language, Literature, and History. Philological and Historical Studies presented to Erica Reiner, ed. Rochberg-Halton, F. AOS 67. New Haven: American Oriental Society.

Fincke, J. 2013. Another fragment of the 'Love Lyrics' from Babylon (BM 47032). NABU 2013/76.

Frahm, E., and E. Jiménez. 2015. Myth, Ritual, and Interpretation. The Commentary on Enūma eliš I–VII and a Commentary on Elamite, Month Names. HeBAI 4/3: Interpreting the Interpreters: Hermeneutics in Ancient Israel and Mesopotamia: 293–343.

Groneberg, B. 1999. Brust(irtum)-Gesänge. Pp. 169–95 in Munuscula Mesopotamica: Festschrift für Johannes Renger, eds. Böck, B., Cancik-Kirschbaum E. and Richter, T. AOAT 267. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag.

Hibbert, Ph. M. 1984. Liebeslyrik in der arsakidischen Zeit. WeOr 15: 93–95.

Lambert, W.G. 1959 Divine Love Lyrics from Babylon. JSS 4: 1–15.

– 1975. The Problem of the Love Lyrics. Pp. 98–135 in Unity and Diversity: essays in the history, literature, and religion of the ancient Near East, eds. Goedicke, H. and Roberts, J. J. M. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Nissinen, M., 2001. Akkadian Rituals and Poetry of Divine Love. Pp. 93–136 in Mythology and Mythologies. Methodological Approaches to Intercultural Influences, ed. Whiting, R. M. Melammu Symposia 2. Helsinki, The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2001.

Wasserman, N. 2016. Akkadian Love Literature of the Third and Second Millennium BCE. Leipziger Altorientalistische Studien 4 []. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

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© LoveLyrics online, 2017–. The LoveLyrics Project is led by Rocío Da Riva and Nathan Wasserman. Content released under a CC BY-SA 3.0 [] license, 2007-17.
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