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Rabies and Rabid Dogs in Sumerian and Akkadian Literature

Wu Yuhong
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Vol. 121, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 2001), pp. 32-43
DOI: 10.2307/606727
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/606727
Page Count: 12
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Rabies and Rabid Dogs in Sumerian and Akkadian Literature
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Abstract

An analysis of the symptoms of a disease described in incantations against the bite of a dog leads to its identification with rabies or hydrophobia. A particular type of dog, called ur-mu2-da or ur-idim in Sumerian literature, is equated with Akkadian kalbu šegûm, "rabid dog." This article discusses many Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform texts that mention the rabid dog and rabies: incantations against the rabid dog and rabies, extispicy and astrological omens predicting an epidemic of rabies, behavioral omens interpreting rabies as an ominous sign predicting disaster for a city, religious texts demonizing it among the monsters of Tiamat, proverbs and letters using it to satirize an evil person, and royal inscriptions describing the demon of the rabid dog among the monsters depicted on palace doors and gates.

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