The Two-Act Structure: A Narrative Device in Akkadian Epics

In: Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions
Sophus Helle Aarhus University, Department of Comparative Literature Aarhus Denmark

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Most Akkadian epics are organized according to the same structure: the narrative arc is divided into two acts, of which the second mirrors and expands the first. The structure has already been observed in Atra-hasis, Enuma Elish, Gilgamesh, and Etana, but the recurrence of the pattern has not previously been noted. The essay explores the widespread application, individual adaptations, and literary significance of this device, noting its presence in nine cuneiform compositions.

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