A Transtextual Approach to Assyrian Royal Narratives

Johannes Bach, Freie Universität Berlin

The proposed talk will offer a condensed overview of the speakers recently submitted thesis which dealt with trans- and intertextual theory and methodology and its application to the literary history of Assyrian Royal Narratives. The talk aims at a) giving a concise introduction to the theory of transtextuality as laid out by G. Genette as well as to the necessary terminology, b) establishing a consistent methodology of trans- and intertextual analysis for Middle- and Neo-Assyrian Royal Texts and c) offering an exemplary analysis of TCL 3, the “Kings Report” of Sargon II from 714 BC and, if time allows, of Esh. 1, the “Apology of Esarhaddon”. Concerning points a) and especially b), a strong plea will be made for an openly structuralist approach that decisively favours the analysis of the generic “make-up” of a text over its interpretation, and turns onto the latter only if all recognizable transtextual constituents have been thoroughly discussed and evaluated. The analyses of the example texts TCL 3 and Esh. 1 will start with an outline of the discussed pieces’ generic features, then proceed to study various transtextual phenomena found within the main body of the narrative and finally undertake to correlate the obtained results with the specific historic situation at the time of the respective texts writing. Last but not least the proposed talk will call for a consistent interdisciplinary approach towards the establishment of a common analytic language for transtextual studies of ancient narratives.