To Bloggers Everywhere – You Might Be Giants

They wouldn’t understand a word we say, so we’ll scratch it all down into the clay, half believing there will sometime come a day, someone gives a damn, maybe when the concrete has crumbled to sand.

I love They Might Be Giants so I thought I might start out the New Year with their video “The Mesopotamians.” For all my fellow bloggers, I thought I would counter the depressing message in the song with a few words about the “Giants” mentioned in the lyrics.

Sargon - While only a baby, his high priestess mother placed him in a basket of rushes and cast him adrift in a river (sound familiar, this was way before Charlton Heston). Found and raised by a court gardener, he rose in the royal household to become king. He reigned from 2270 to 2215 BCE and is sometimes regarded as the first person in recorded history to create a multiethnic, centrally ruled empire. Sargon's vast empire is known to have extended from Elam to the Mediterranean Sea, including Mesopotamia, parts of modern-day Iran and Syria,

Hammurabi - 1792 to 1750 BCE, is known for the set of laws called Hammurabi's Code, one of the first written code of law in recorded history. These laws were written on a stone tablet standing over eight feet tall and were actually found by archeologists in 1901. They contain one of the earliest examples of the idea of presumption of innocence, and also suggest that the accused and accuser must have the opportunity to provide evidence. Because of his reputation as a lawgiver, Hammurabi's image is depicted on a marble bas-relief in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ashurbanipal - He established the Library of Ashurbanipal, the first systematically organized library in the ancient Middle East, which survives in part today at Nineveh. There have been over 30,000 clay tablets uncovered in the library including hymns and prayers, medical, mathematical, and astrological texts. Reigning Mesopotamia from 668 to 627 BCE, he was the last great king of the first real empire in recorded history. In his time, Ashurbanipal was known as the "King of the Universe."

Gilgamesh ruled around 2500 BC. He is the central character in the aptly named “Epic of Gilgamesh." The latter part of the epic focuses on Gilgamesh's reaction to his friend’s death, which takes him on a quest for immortality. Ultimately the poignant words addressed to Gilgamesh in the midst of his quest foreshadow the end result: "The life that you are seeking you will never find. When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping."

I don’t think the guy talking to Gilgamesh was correct on this point. I think, if you scratch it all down into the clay (for those of us who give a damn) maybe you do get to live forever.   .


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