“A Ghost’s Entreaty” (OBTR 150)

To: My lady

From: Yasitna-abum, your slave

May Shamash and Marduk keep my lady healthy for endless days, on account of the ghost’s son – me.  I am well, but the health of my lady never reached me, so I was worried.

In Andariq, through bird-divination, you inspired trust in me.  You said, “Learn the scribal art, and I will raise you to a gentleman’s stature.”  You inspired me to trust in that; you had me give up even water and tea.

But you’ve now decided that the ghost’s son – me! – should wander back and forth amongst my family.  You forgot that you once inspired trust in me, that you once fought fiercely for me.  You felt none of women’s mercy for me.  Truly, do you not know that a ghost’s son deserves more mercy than a corpse?

Now then, for the favor of Shamash, bestow endless favor upon a ghost’s son.  Because I have nothing, I cannot serve in the palace.  What should I do differently?  Should I write to you?  Do I really know more about this than you?  Don’t you know that “he who treats his friends with malice / faces scandal at the palace”*?  And don’t you know that he’ll be spurned?

I’ve been writing to you constantly, ceaselessly!  Just as a father wouldn’t reject his own sons, so may my lady empower me, the ghost’s son.  Just as men trust their fathers and brothers, I myself trust in my lady.  May my lady not neglect me.

* Translated literally, this phrase means “a man who is unreliable in his own household will lose face at the palace.”  However, it sounds like the scribe is quoting an alliterative proverb, so I’ve translated it to sound more proverbial.