The Great Fatted Bull
Tablet #36
Sumerian Images
Sumerian History
The Royal Tombs of Ur
The Standard of Ur:  War
The Standard of Ur:  King
The "Standard" of Ur?
Vulture Stele Translation
Sumerian War Chariots
War Chariot Deconstructed
Gudea Translation
The Face of Gudea
The Face of Ur-Ningirsu
The Face of Lugal-agrig-zi
Ur-Namma Translation
The Face of Ur-Namma
Face of Ur-Namma, part II
I am Ur-Namma
The Face of Shulgi
Who Were the Sumerians?
Other Sumerian Kings
The Princess Wife
BE 31,28 Sign List
Sumerian Trick Signs
The Great Fatted Jackass
Sargon's Victory Stele
Helmet: the King of Kish
The Standard of Mari?
The Invention of Writing
Adventures in Cuneiform
The Sumerian Scribe
A Masterpiece
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 A royal couple in a loving embrace.

Translation of Tablet BE 31,28, the story of The Prince's Wife
by: Jerald Jack Starr

[x-] = Missing or damaged text      {… } = explanatory comments

The Princess Wife

The story opens in Mulu's palace. He and Zuzu have recently returned from a campaign of plundering the countryside. The scene is Mulu's banquet hall. He has just sat down to enjoy his victory feast. A servant girl waits in attendance..

[x,x] . . . with sweet words on her lips

the servant without equal bows down before Mulu, the powerful [x, x].

She says, “Earth and the heavens feel worried when the strong man is not near.”

Zuzu, with much plundering, has become a wealthy man.

He says to Mulu, “Behold the lord!  You are a satisfied man of riches.

“You are a trusted man of authority, a man generous with his rations and his verdicts.”

Mulu eats his food like a pig. He divides his captured fodder, and with his hands

he crams it into his mouth and chokes it down.

“My flanks grow fat!" he brays, while eating all the food his hands can grab.

Night comes. His rivals wander in by themselves. One of the men is stealing

a bowl of malted cakes.

{Someone in the darkness calls out to Mulu}

“The people’s rations will make you bray with great burning indigestion!


Nose to his fat nose, the “man not his servant” {rebel, enemy} throttles the lord.

Mulu opens his mouth and swears two oaths to his adversary.

He gasps, “All this malt and fodder ... to abandon!  This great eating to diminish!"

In the people’s judgment he is not lordly. The god Enlil does not support him.

His wife decides to split his grain between her female servants and his slave women.

He gets one single twig of his henbur grain.

“Why? For what reason?" he cries out. His stomach knows a great hunger.

Filled with wine, he clutches his henbur grain while his heaps of plunder

are spread out before the happy slave women.

Mulu goes away acting like a man defeated.

Outside, he walks in the manure of the country. He has become a pauper.

While the women live in abundance, he is a man without power, without women,

and without virtue.

Like a storm, Mulu flies to his father Bantu, the Supreme Lord.

His father says, “This will open her pure heart. Behold these jewelry beads of stone.”

“These you can barter for baskets of food.”

{Mulu returns to his wife. He shows her the beads and he tells her . . . }

“Behold the great gifts I made for you!  I fashioned them to be so splendid and magnificent.

"They are not from the marketplace.”


The wife does not give her princess heart to the hero.

She says, “You planned to [x,x …]

“but my trusty maidservant has informed me about your lack of character.

“The selling price for each bead also reveals that the lord gave you these stones.

“I will purchase them for a half basket of [x,x…]

"So you don't know beads . . .

“And you don’t know women!"  [x, x…]

{The wife continues . . .}

“To men who rob and plunder, all women are prostitutes [x, x…]”

“So I decree that the baskets of food will go to the person [x, x…]”

For his elder brother’s possessions, Zuzu brays like a happy replacement donkey [x,x…]

To Zuzu she gives Mulu’s abundant fields of grain. 

{She exclaims to Zuzu . . . }

“Long may you live!  You are the man of great abundance!

"You will be the Lord of the Cakes, of all the cakes!

"And I will be the Princess of the Fodder, for ever and ever again!”

Take a moment and try to solve this murder mystery. Who tried to kill Mulu, and why?
Do you think you know what just happened?  Really?  Read the Annotations to find out.

© April 2015.  All rights reserved.