I am indebted to Rob Howard for drawing to my attention the inscription which the Assyrian king Ashur-nasir-pal II (884 – 859 BC) had carved, repeatedly, all over his palace. As Mr Howard says, it reminds us, in its verbosity and boastfulness, of Prince Fulgencio, of whom you will have read here from time to time.
The so-called Standard Inscription was carved across the centre of every wall panel in the North-West Palace, forming a decorative band around each room. Occasionally, on narrow panels, part of the text was omitted. Otherwise there was no significant variation and the catalogue of royal titles, claims and achievements was simply repeated over and over again.
Palace of Ashur-nasir-pal, priest of Ashur, favourite of Enlil and Ninurta, beloved of Anu and Dagan, the weapon of the great gods, the mighty king, king of the world, king of Assyria; son of Tukulti-Ninurta, the great king, the mighty king, king of the world, king of Assyria, the son of Adad-nirari, the great king, the mighty king, king of Assyria; the valiant man, who acts with the support of Ashur, his lord, and has no equal among the princes of the four quarters of the world; the wonderful shepherd who is not afraid of battle; the great flood which none can oppose; the king who makes those who are not subject to him submissive; who has subjugated all mankind; the mighty warrior who treads on the neck of his enemies, tramples down all foes, and shatters the forces of the proud; the king who acts with the support of the great gods, and whose hand has conquered all lands, who has subjugated all the mountains and received their tribute, taking hostages and establishing his power over all countries.
When Ashur, the lord who called me by my name and has made my kingdom great, entrusted his merciless weapon to my lordly arms, I overthrew the widespread troops of the land of Lullume in battle. With the assistance of Shamash and Adad, the gods who help me, I thundered like Adad the destroyer over the troops of the Nairi lands, Habhi, Shubaru, and Nirib. I am the king who has brought into submission at his feet the lands from beyond the Tigris to Mount Lebanon and the Great Sea, the whole of the land of Laqe, the land of Suhi as far as Rapiqu, and whose hand has conquered from the source of the river Subnat to the land of Urartu.
The area from the mountain passes of Kirruri to the land of Gilzanu, from beyond the Lower Zab to the city of Til-Bari which is north of the land of Zaban, from the city of Til-sha-abtani to Til-sha-Zabdani, Hirimu and Harutu, fortresses of the land of Karduniash, I have restored to the borders of my land. From the mountain passes of Babite to the land of Hashmar I have counted the inhabitants as peoples of my land. Over the lands which I have subjugated I have appointed my governors, and they do obeisance.
I am Ashurnasirpal, the celebrated prince, who reveres the great gods, the fierce dragon, conqueror of the cities and mountains to their furthest extent, king of rulers who has tamed the stiff-necked peoples, who is crowned with splendour, who is not afraid of battle, the merciless champion who shakes resistance, the glorious king, the shepherd, the protection of the whole world, the king, the word of whose mouth destroys mountains and seas, who by his lordly attack has forced fierce and merciless kings from the rising to the setting sun to acknowledge one rule.
The former city of Kalhu, which Shalmaneser king of Assyria, a prince who preceded me, had built, that city had fallen into ruins and lay deserted. That city I built anew. I took the peoples whom my hand had conquered from the lands which I had subjugated, from the land of Suhi, from the whole of the land of Laqe, from the city of Sirqu on the other side of the Euphrates, from the furthest extent of the land of Zamua, from Bit-Adini and the land of Hatte, and from Lubarna, king of the land of Patina, and made them settle there.
I removed the ancient mound and dug down to the water level. I sank the foundations one hundred and twenty brick courses deep. A palace with halls of cedar, cypress, juniper, box-wood, meskannu-wood, terebinth and tamarisk, I founded as my royal residence for my lordly pleasure forever.
Creatures of the mountains and seas I fashioned in white limestone and alabaster, and set them up at its gates. I adorned it, and made it glorious, and set ornamental knobs of bronze all around it. I fixed doors of cedar, cypress, juniper and meskannu-wood in its gates. I took in great quantities, and placed there, silver, gold, tin, bronze and iron, booty taken by my hands from the lands which I had conquered.
It’s a shame it ends when it does. The final two paragraphs promise so much.