tablet texts of the 14th and 13th centuries B.C., written in Ugaritic cuneiform. The tablets were discovered on the site of the ancient city-state of Ugarit and were deciphered in 1930 by the French scholars E. Dhorme and C. Virolleaud and the German scholar H. Bauer.
The Ugaritic texts are verse narratives concerning the gods and semimythical ancient rulers; they are also a kind of service book, recorded so that participants could perform religious rites. The legends of the gods center on the mighty Baal and Anat, his sister and consort. Baal struggles for power with Mot, the god of death, and Yam, the god of the sea. These texts also include a poem on the birth of the gods Sahar and Salem, which is also the office for the sacred marriage ritual. The cycle of legends concerning King Keret describes Keret’s quest for a bride, his illness, and his eldest son’s revolt against him. The legend of Danel and his son Aqhat, both of whom enter into conflict with the goddess Anat, is one of the earliest narratives describing the revolt of mortals against the gods.
Ugaritic literature is characterized by verse parallelism and an emphasis on the actions of the characters.
REFERENCESVinnikov, I. N. “Nekotorye nabliudeniia nad iazykom ugaritskoi po-vesti o Kerete.” In Trudy dvadtsat’ piatogo Mezhdunarodnogo kongressa vostokovedov, vol. 1. Moscow, 1962. Pages 321–27.
Gordon, C. H. Ugaritic Literature. Rome, 1949.
Gray, J. The Legacy of Canaan. Leiden, 1957.
Gaster, T. H. Thespis. New York, 1961.
Oldenburg, U. The Conflict Between El and Ba’al in Canaanite Religion. Leiden, 1969.
I. SH. SHIFMAN