Ugaritic Literature

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ugaritic Literature


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.


Vinnikov, 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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Al-Hussein added that the archeological finds in the city show that it used to enjoy an original culture in all the domains of literature, art and writing, indicating that the Ugaritic literature used to handle social and mythological issues.
(17) In Ugaritic literature this applies to important deities such as El, Baal, Anat, Yam and Mot.
One of the most famous stories in Ugaritic literature is the legend of Aqht that was found at Ras Shamra, Syria, during the early 1930s.
My criticisms are only two: the authors' late dating of creation as a theme (creation themes in Ugaritic literature show up in the Bible) and their restriction to German scholarship.
And so we reach the most famous and beloved psalm of all, Psalm 23, which begins "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." In a note published in the scholarly journal, Vetus Testamentum, several years ago, I proposed that the Canaanite background to the psalm was a bloody passage from Ugaritic literature called by one scholar "the Bloodbath of Anat." Anat was the Canaanite goddess of war and love.
Yitzchak Avishur, "Common language shared between the Song of Moses and Ugaritic literature," L 'shoneinu 66 (2004) pp.7-29, esp.
While Baal also appears as the son of Dagan in Ugaritic literature, this relationship is purely formulaic, being expressed solely in the fixed phrases "Baal, son of Dagan" (b'l bn dgn) and "Baal, offspring/lineage of Dagan (b'l htk dgn)." (4) In contrast to El and despite his appearance in rituals and sacrificial lists, Dagan is a shadowy figure in Ugaritic epic.
(22) Indeed, nowhere in the Bible does there seem to be any account of descending to and returning from the nether regions, a familiar characteristic of Mesopotamian and Ugaritic literature; nor is there any description of someone going down to a place of judgment beneath the earth.
(42) A similar pair of gods called Sahr and Salim, judging by the former's name associated with at least the dawn, appear as early as in the Ugaritic literature; these have been interpreted as the dawn and the evening twilight "oderes sind die entsprechenden Reprasentanten des Venusplaneten, Morgen- und Abendstern." (43) Two flaming torches placed on the shoulders of Helios on a sculpture from Khirbet et-Tannur, Jordan, are taken by Glueck to "symbolize the morning and evening stars, respectively ..." (44) And the Mithraic equivalent of these was the motif of the two torchbearers, Cautes and Cautopates, seen at the sides of Mithra, the sun god, who have often been interpreted similarly.
Gordon, Ugaritic Literature (Roma: Pontificum Institutum Biblicum, 1949) p.
No mention is made of the theme of "the Combat against the Dragon" as the clearest example of a "cosmic and celestial" (KTU 1.5 1 1ss), even "astral," revolt in the Ugaritic literature. Although evidently this Combat theme is not the "prototype" of the myth that the author is seeking, it is clearly reflected in the Bible (in the form of Leviatan), and it plays an important role in the eschatological combat; it cannot therefore be ignored in a study of the "celestial rebellion," such as this one.