ISBN: 978-2-87457-145-9

The Ideal King as Athlete. Šulgi, Gilgameš, and the Sumerian Royal Hymn Tradition

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by Shane M. THOMPSON, in Res Antiquae 20, 2023.

This article reevaluates the hunting passage from Šulgi B, focusing on lines 102-106 which list the athletic attributes of the king. Noting additional attestations of these attributes from the Sumerian royal hymn corpus, I suggest that the origin of the ideal king as an athlete stems from the Šulgi corpus. Notably, I argue that the origin of this concept lies in the connection between Šulgi and Gilgameš, prompting Šulgi to regale his running, fighting, and ballplaying skills to further this connection, as well as the concept that he is an ideal king in the model of Gilgameš.

Keywords: Shulgi, Sumerian Hymns, Athlete, Running, Ballgame