Publicationes

Zgoll, C. 2019, Tractatus mythologicus. Theorie und Methodik zur Erforschung von Mythen als Grundlegung einer allgemeinen, transmedialen und komparatistischen Stoffwissenschaft, MythoS (Mythological Studies) 1, Berlin / Boston. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110541588)

The volume is a programmatic manifesto for the new series MythoS. The author develops new methods – the hyleme analysis and the stratification analysis – and applies them on mythological materials, reconstructing myths as “Stoffe” and making them understandable in their polymorphic nature. In this groundbreaking work, the author sets the stage for a general theory of myth based on a new comprehensive, transmedial and comparative Stoff-research.


Zgoll, C. 2020, Myths as Polymorphous and Polystratic Erzählstoffe: A Theoretical and Methodological Foundation, in: A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Methodisch neue Zugänge zu antiken Mythen in Orient und Okzident, MythoS 2, Berlin / Boston, 9-82. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110652543-002)

In a critical reckoning with methods and results from the field of literary studies, with functional as well as structural analyses, and with structuralist methods, the present paper aims to bring an innovative theoretical approach to working with myths and their variants as self-contained sequences of minimal action-bearing units (“hylemes”). The method of hyleme analysis will be developed as a tool for extracting Stoff variants from their concrete manifestations in a specific medium, such as texts or images, and for reconstructing an individual variant’s underlying Stoff sequence. Hyleme analysis, moreover, constitutes an important preliminary part of the process which enables us to conduct objectively verifiable transmedial comparisons of different Stoffe and their variants. Mythical Stoffe, because they have a strong claim to relevance in the interpretation of, and in coping with, the human condition, are being fought over and are continually being reworked. Individual variants of a mythical Stoff are therefore, as a rule, rarely all of one piece. Rather, as products of these processes, they display the traces of continual reworkings, and indeed, they are comprised of multiple layers. A serious interpretation of myths can only do justice to the many variants of a Stoff and to the complexity of its variants if the chosen approach is specifically tailored to accommodate both its variants and their strata (method of stratification analysis).


Zgoll, C. 2021, Grundlagen der hylistischen Mythosforschung. Hylemanalyse, Stratifikationsanalyse und komparative Analyse von mythischen Erzählstoffen, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 9-50. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-002)

Myths are narrative materials (Erzählstoffe) that find expression in various medial manifestations (text, image, pantomime etc.). Myths must therefore be reconstructed from these manifestations. The extraction method is that of hyleme analysis: the smallest action-bearing building blocks (hylemes) of a myth variant will be filtered out of the medial manifestations, then categorized according to their durative or single-event content, placed in their proper chronological order and finally completed where necessary (and possible). A new finding we hope to present will be the distinction between durative and single-event hylemes, both of which occur in every myth. It will be shown that many durative hylemes, which by definition extend from the past to include the mythical hyleme sequence, are the result of other mythical traditions. Myths are battlefields for competing world views and consequently subject to perpetual modification, i.e. each variant usually incorporates elements of multiple origins and thus has multiple layers. Here, stratification analysis provides the tools for further investigation. Deconstruction of the Stoff by means of such a stratification analysis, which relies on the hyleme analysis of individual Stoffvariants for their hyleme composition, is however not an end in itself. It is a fundamental prerequisite for the semantic, functional, and historical interpretation and classification of both individual layers and the multi-layered (polystratic) final product of the Stoff variant. Hyleme analysis and stratification analysis form the basis on which comparative analyses can be conducted across medial boundaries. The methodological steps for such a transmedial comparative approach will also be discussed.


Zgoll, A. / Cuperly, B. / Cöster-Gilbert, A. 2023, In Search of Dumuzi: An Introduction to Hylistic Narratology, in: S. Helle / G. Konstantopoulos (ed.), The Shape of Stories. Narrative Structures in Cuneiform Literature, CM (Cuneiform Monographs) 54, Leiden / Boston, 285–350. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004539761_013)

The following introduction to hylistic narratology is based on two decades of collaborative effort in the field of mythological studies, which has aimed to establish a new branch of cultural studies: hylistics, i.e., the study of narrative materials or Erzählstoff-Forschung. 1 The present introduction to hylistic narratology examines implications of hylistics for narratology and develops a hylistically founded method for narratological issues. In this paper, we focus on the question of how to analyze and explain the textual shape of stories and their narrative material using hylistic methodology (Annette Zgoll); this theoretical framework is then applied through a series of textual and hylistic analyses of multiple sources relating to the death of Dumuzi (Annika Cöster-Gilbert), including its depiction in Innana’s Descent (Bénédicte Cuperly), as well as other myths about Innana2 (Annette Zgoll).


Zgoll, A. / Cuperly, B. / Cöster-Gilbert, A. 2023, In Search of Dumuzi: An Introduction to Hylistic Narratology, in: S. Helle / G. Konstantopoulos (ed.), The Shape of Stories. Narrative Structures in Cuneiform Literature, CM (Cuneiform Monographs) 54, Leiden / Boston, 285–350. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004539761_013)

The following introduction to hylistic narratology is based on two decades of collaborative effort in the field of mythological studies, which has aimed to establish a new branch of cultural studies: hylistics, i.e., the study of narrative materials or Erzählstoff-Forschung. 1 The present introduction to hylistic narratology examines implications of hylistics for narratology and develops a hylistically founded method for narratological issues. In this paper, we focus on the question of how to analyze and explain the textual shape of stories and their narrative material using hylistic methodology (Annette Zgoll); this theoretical framework is then applied through a series of textual and hylistic analyses of multiple sources relating to the death of Dumuzi (Annika Cöster-Gilbert), including its depiction in Innana’s Descent (Bénédicte Cuperly), as well as other myths about Innana2 (Annette Zgoll).


Gabriel, G. / Kärger, B. / Zgoll, A. / Zgoll, C. (ed.) 2021, Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS (Mythological Studies) 4, Berlin / Boston. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005)

In ancient myths, the sky is a numinous space. What comes from it is of outstanding importance. This transdisciplinary volume by the Collegium Mythologicum explores myths that involve transfers from the sky. The volume utilizes the hylistics established by Christian Zgoll to combine and compare its findings. Ultimately, transfers from the sky prove to be indicators of numinosity in mythical garb.


Zgoll, A. 2020a, Durch Tod zur Macht, selbst über den Tod. Mythische Strata von Unterweltsgang und Auferstehung der Innana/Ištar in sumerischen und akkadischen Quellen, in: A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Methodisch neue Zugänge zu antiken Mythen in Orient und Okzident, MythoS 2, Boston / Berlin, 83-159. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110652543-003)

Myths about Innana’s changing of cosmic spheres were highly valued in antiquity. Today, several problems still challenge the fundamental understanding of these myths: is the descent to the netherworld a failure? Why then was it an integral part of the cult of Innana? Why does Innana die twice? The new methods of mythological research presented in this volume enable a reconstruction of different versions of a myth Innana Brings the Netherworld’s Instruments of Power to the Earth which were incorporated into the epic praise songs angalta / Innana’s Descent and innin me galgala / Innana and Šukaleduda. In angalta this myth has been integrated as a mythical stratum into a complex conglomerate myth with a comprehensive claim, namely into the myth Innana Becomes Ruler over Life and Death . Here Innana, incorporating the power of Ereš-ki-gal, becomes the new Ereš-ki-gal, the “Mistress of the Great Earth”. This myth was incorporated into the Akkadian epic song ana kurnugî / Ištar’s Descent where the powerful status of the goddess was extended even into the beginning of the Erzählstoff. The analyses of the myths lead furthermore to an understanding of central elements of the Innana-cult, and offer new insights into a historically differentiated perception of the goddess Innana.


Zgoll, A. 2020b, Sphärenwechsel innerhalb des Totenreichs. Schutzgott, Totengericht und die Hoffnung auf ein gutes Leben nach dem Tod im akkadischen Gebet Sb 19319, dem hebräischen Psalm 23 und anderen antiken Quellen, in: A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Methodisch neue Zugänge zu antiken Mythen in Orient und Okzident, MythoS 2, Berlin / Boston, 213-249. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110652543-005)

Death brings a changing of spheres, from the world of the living to the world of the dead. The Akkadian prayer Sb 19319, found in a grave at Susa, shows that the dead person expects another changing of spheres, namely one within the netherworld. His protective deity will, he firmly hopes, conduct him to the judgement of the dead, succour him there, and then lead him to a pleasant region of the netherworld. This place is the ultimate goal after death: it is a place with enough food supply, visualised by the image of a leafy meadow, the place where the ancestors live. In the prayer one finds an Erzählstoff about a god helping his protege to change the dangerous spheres of the netherworld, which reveals itself as mythical in the sense given in this volume. Similar notions concerning the hope to live a good life even after death can be detected in other ancient sources from Sumer, Greece, Israel, and Phoenicia. Based on the findings in the Akkadian prayer, a fresh consideration of the Hebrew prayer psalm 23 leads to the discovery of a comparable Erzählstoff in distinct form.


Zgoll, A. / Zgoll, C. 2020a, Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Eine Einleitung, in: A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Methodisch neue Zugänge zu antiken Mythen in Orient und Okzident, MythoS 2, Berlin / Boston, 1-8. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110652543-001)
Zgoll, A. / Zgoll, C. 2020b, Innana-Ištars Durchgang durch das Totenreich in Dichtung und Kult: Durch Hylemanalysen zur Erschließung von Spuren mythischer Stoffvarianten in kultischer Praxis und epischer Verdichtung, in I. Arkhipov / L. Kogan / N. Koslova (ed.), The Third Millennium. Studies in Early Mesopotamia and Syria in Honor of Walter Sommerfeld and Manfred Krebernik, CM 50, Leiden / Boston, 752-802.

Innana's passage through the netherworld, which culminated in a resurrection feast, was an important part of the Innana cult in archaic Uruk. Traces of such a myth can also be found in an Early Dynastic song in which Sumer´s gods praise Innana. Here one learns that Innana brought the Numinous Instruments of Power (Sumerian me) from the netherworld. Votive offerings from the Ur III period point to a corresponding cultic context. The Old Babylonian praise song angalta / Innana´s Descent also mentions Innana's gain of these Instruments of Power; here, too, there is evidence of its use in the cult. In Neo-Assyrian Assur, cult installations and names show how important a version of the myth was in the 1st millennium. In various forms the Innana / Ištar cult celebrated that Innana or Ištar dared to pass through the realm of the dead in order to bring the precious Instruments of Power of the netherworld into her temples.



Zgoll, C. 2014, „... und doch sind auch Wahrheitskörner darin.“ Zum Verhältnis von ‚Mythos‘ und ‚Wahrheit‘ am Beispiel des Erechtheus-Mythos, in: M. Rothgangel / U. Beuttler (ed.), Glaube und Denken: Jahrbuch der Karl-Heim-Gesellschaft 27. Jahrgang, Frankfurt a. Main et. al., 181- 205.

“… Nevertheless It Contains Also Grains of Truth.” In considering the relationship between myth and truth, one should first give an account of the underlying concepts of “myth” and “truth”. Moreover, “myth” is a very complex phenomenon, and the study of it can only be productive if one establishes clearly which elements of a myth the question about “truth” meaningfully relates to. Normally, myths contain some elements which make references to the real world. The question is, whether these references can already be interpreted as “truths” themselves, or whether their existence is merely an essential condition for a not absolutely verifiable but justified claim to truth, which specifically refers to the sphere of interpretive elements in myths. In the latter case, the fundamental question arises whether the predication “true” can be applied to interpretations at all. Sanctioning the possible truth of interpretive elements will always depend on the degree to which one accepts the premises which are embedded in the world of thought and perception specific to a certain culture. It follows that the question of “truth” is also closely linked to the distinction between emic and etic perspectives.


Zgoll, A. / Kratz, R. G. (unter Mitarbeit von K. Maiwald) (ed.) 2013a, Arbeit am Mythos. Leistung und Grenze des Mythos in Antike und Gegenwart, Tübingen.

Die hier versammelte Arbeit am Mythos (Blumenberg) umfasst Beiträge zu Leistung und Grenze von Mythen, die in der Ringvorlesung von Akademie und Universität Göttingen im Sommersemester 2010 vorgetragen wurden: Was macht Mythen aus, wie kann man sich ihnen adäquat annähern, was können sie für ihre Zeit leisten? Den Auftakt bilden systematische Beiträge zur Mythosforschung aus Philosophie, Religionswissenschaft und Kulturanthropologie. Es folgen exemplarische Untersuchungen: Von den frühesten, noch weitgehend unbekannten Schrift-und Bildquellen aus dem Alten Orient, dem Alten Ägypten und der griechisch-römischen Antike über Mythisches im Alten Testament, im spätantiken Christentum und in den arabischen Kulturen bis hin zum heutigen Kurdistan tun sich neue Perspektiven auf die vielschichtigen Phänomene im Kontext von Mythen auf.


Zgoll, A. / Kratz, R. G. 2013b, Von Blumenbergs „Arbeit am Mythos“ zu Leistung und Grenze des Mythos in Antike und Gegenwart, in: A. Zgoll / R. G. Kratz (unter Mitarbeit von K. Maiwald) (ed.), Arbeit am Mythos. Leistung und Grenze des Mythos in Antike und Gegenwart, Tübingen, 1-12.
Nesselrath, H.-G. 1999, Mythos – Logos – Mytho-Logos: Zum Mythos Begriff der Griechen und ihrem Umgang mit ihm, in: P. Rusterholz / R. Moser (ed.), Form und Funktion des Mythos in archaischen und modernen Gesellschaften, Berner Universitätssschriften 43, Bern / Stuttgart / Wien, 1-26.

This paper discusses the development of the meaning of the term μῦθος (and, correspondingly, the term λόγος as its counterpart) in Greek Literature from Homer to Plato and Aristotle.



Zgoll, A. / Cuperly, B. / Cöster-Gilberta, A. 2023, In Search of Dumuzi: An Introduction to Hylistic Narratology, in: S. Helle / G. Konstantopoulos (ed.), The Shape of Stories. Narrative Structures in Cuneiform Literature, CM (Cuneiform Monographs) 54, Leiden / Boston, 285–350. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004539761_013)

The following introduction to hylistic narratology is based on two decades of collaborative effort in the field of mythological studies, which has aimed to establish a new branch of cultural studies: hylistics, i.e., the study of narrative materials or Erzählstoff-Forschung. 1 The present introduction to hylistic narratology examines implications of hylistics for narratology and develops a hylistically founded method for narratological issues. In this paper, we focus on the question of how to analyze and explain the textual shape of stories and their narrative material using hylistic methodology (Annette Zgoll); this theoretical framework is then applied through a series of textual and hylistic analyses of multiple sources relating to the death of Dumuzi (Annika Cöster-Gilbert), including its depiction in Innana’s Descent (Bénédicte Cuperly), as well as other myths about Innana2 (Annette Zgoll).


Zgoll, A., 2022, Sacred Texts and the First Myth about the Creation of Writing, JANER 22 (2), 258–314. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1163/15692124-12341333)

No myth about the origin of writing is known so far for Mesopotamia (only a legend). By applying the new Hylistic methodology for research into mythology, the first known myth of the creation of writing can be reconstructed. The myth we call Nissaba Creates Writing for the Sacred Song of Enlil narrates the creation of writing, which serves to immortalise the divine song at the very moment when the supreme god is creating it orally.
Results of this investigation bear important implications for two phenomena, concerning sacred texts and the origin of writing. (1) From an emic perspective, texts created by the gods turn out to be sacred, even numinous, in their conception. Further analysis of the subscript “Nissaba praise!” or of the subscript ka enim-ma, the latter properly understood as “wording of the divine words,” demonstrates that many Sumerian and Akkadian texts were indeed regarded as sacred texts. Ancient Mesopotamia thus proves to be a culture based on sacred texts. (2) The myth Nissaba Creates Writing for the Sacred Song of Enlil sheds new light on the origins of writing as perceived from the culture of the inventors of writing: the decisive function of the creation of writing was seen not in overcoming economic challenges, but in coping with ritual needs. Re-examining the historical evidence from this perspective opens up new possibilities for a cultural history of the origins of writing.


Cöster-Gilbert, A. 2021, Akteure von Transfers vom Himmel, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS (Mythological Studies) 4, Berlin / Boston, 555-558. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-015)

Actors who initiate transfers from heaven are usually numinous, mainly high-ranking male and female deities, who sometimes cooperate with lower-ranking deities. Unlike myths, ritual-magical narratives can involve characters in the process such as witches and sorcerers.


Cuperly, B. 2021, Betrayal, Regrets, Flies and Demons: Philological and Historical Analysis of Dumuzi’s Catabasis in the Sumerian Epic Innana’s Descent to the Netherworld. PhD diss., Georg-August-Universität Göttingen.
Zgoll, A. / Zgoll., C. 2021, Lugalbandas Königtum und das Feuer des Prometheus, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 563- 607. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-018)

Mythical narratives (Erzählstoffe) about someone or something coming down from heaven have a strong claim to relevance in the interpretation of, and in coping with, the human condition. The attribution of a heavenly origin to certain beings, phenomena, or objects, marks them out as special because they are either viewed (a) as prototypical or (b) as divine or numinous. Using the example of the myth of Zeus bringing the Palladion down to Earth, we will show the extent to which (a) can affect the interpretation of myths where the prototypical character is not explicitly mentioned. The consequences for the interpretation of myths which can result from (b) are illustrated by the myths of The Gods making Lugalbanda a divine Ruler while the goddess Innana is taking away the kingship from the former ruler Enmerkara, and Prometheus stealing the Fire. Because of its divine origin, the taming of fire is seen in these mythical traditions not as a cultural but as a cult technique, related not primarily to the culinary arts but rather to cultic practices.


Zgoll, C. 2021, The Hittite 'Theogony' or Song of Going Forth (CTH 344). Stratification of Mythical Traditions. With a suggested translation for KUB 33.120 Vs. I 19 f., Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions 21, 208-227. (Open Access: https://brill.com/view/journals/jane/21/2/article-p208_4.xml)

The present paper deals with the controversially discussed relationships between the gods Alalu, Anu, Kumarbi, and Tarḫunnaš in the Hittite Song of Going Forth (CTH 344). On the basis of a new philological analysis, of comparisons with theogonies or succession myths in other ancient cultures and on the background of considerations on the cross-cultural stratification of various mythical traditions in the surviving Hittite text, various proposals on the genealogical relationship of the deities in question are weighed against each other and reasons are presented for the plausibility of the proposed new translation and general reconstruction that the divine kingship always passes from father to son within a single genealogical line.


Zgoll, A. 2020a, Condensation of Myths. A Hermeneutic Key to a Myth about Innana and the Instruments of Power (me), Incorporated in the Epic angalta, in: W. Sommerfeld (ed.), Dealing with Antiquity: Past, Present & Future. RAI Marburg, AOAT (Alter Orient und Altes Testament) 460, Münster, 475-493.

In the epic about Innana´s Descent to the Netherworld the ancient technique of myth-condensation gives clues of how the narrated deed of Innana was evaluated in Old Babylonian times. This technique was used to correlate the myth Innana brings the Netherworlds Instrument’s of Power to Earth with the myth Innana brings the House of Heaven to Earth, both celebrating the goddess as bringing most essential elements of life from different cosmic regions and from their powerful rulers to earth. This hermeneutic key fundamentally changes our understanding of the emic ancient perspective on Innana in Old Babylonian times. Innana must die in order to bring the precious Instruments of Power of the netherworld to the Earth and more precisely to her temple. Against this background it is understandable why this myth enjoyed wide popularity. From the perspective of the ancients, both the acquisition of the divine Instruments of Power and of the House of Heaven represent essential heroic deeds for the well-being of Sumer and Akkad.


Zgoll, A. 2020b, Wege der Lebenden ins ‚Land ohne Wiederkehr‘ in Mythen und Ritualen der mesopotamischen Antike. Der Unterweltstraum eines assyrischen Kronprinzen und Innanas Gang zur Unterwelt, in: M. Egeler / W. Heizmann (ed.), Between the Worlds. Contexts, Sources, and Analogues of Scandinavian Otherworld Journeys, Ergänzungsbände zum Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde 118, Berlin / Boston, 432-458.

Is it possible to go into the realm of the dead while alive, and – more problematically – to come back? In Ancient Mesopotamian thought, yes! It is difficult and dangerous. But it is nonetheless possible, namely through rituals of dream incubation. This becomes clear from analysis of mythical and ritual sources from the 21st to the 7th century BC. The analysis is based on new readings of central passages of the Sumerian epic Innana’s Descent to the Netherworld and the Akkadian Netherworld Dream of an Assyrian Crown Prince.


Zgoll, A. 2020c, Durch Tod zur Macht, selbst über den Tod. Mythische Strata von Unterweltsgang und Auferstehung der Innana/Ištar in sumerischen und akkadischen Quellen, in: A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Methodisch neue Zugänge zu antiken Mythen in Orient und Okzident, MythoS 2, Berlin / Boston, 83-159. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110652543-003)

Myths about Innana’s changing of cosmic spheres were highly valued in antiquity. Today, several problems still challenge the fundamental understanding of these myths: is the descent to the netherworld a failure? Why then was it an integral part of the cult of Innana? Why does Innana die twice? The new methods of mythological research presented in this volume enable a reconstruction of different versions of a myth Innana brings the Netherworld’s Instruments of Power to the Earth which were incorporated into the epic praise songs angalta / Innana’s Descent and innin me galgala / Innana and Šukaleduda. In angalta this myth has been integrated as a mythical stratum into a complex conglomerate myth with a comprehensive claim, namely into the myth Innana becomes Ruler over Life and Death. Here Innana, incorporating the power of Ereš-ki-gal, becomes the new Ereš-ki-gal, the “Mistress of the Great Earth”. This myth was incorporated into the Akkadian epic song ana kurnugî / Ištar’s Descent where the powerful status of the goddess was extended even into the beginning of the Erzählstoff. The analyses of the myths lead furthermore to an understanding of central elements of the Innana-cult, and offer new insights into a historically differentiated perception of the goddess Innana.


Zgoll, A. 2020d, Sphärenwechsel innerhalb des Totenreichs. Schutzgott, Totengericht und die Hoffnung auf ein gutes Leben nach dem Tod im akkadischen Gebet Sb 19319, dem hebräischen Psalm 23 und anderen antiken Quellen, in: A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Methodisch neue Zugänge zu antiken Mythen in Orient und Okzident,MythoS 2, Berlin / Boston, 213-249. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110652543-005)

Death brings a changing of spheres, from the world of the living to the world of the dead. The Akkadian prayer Sb 19319, found in a grave at Susa, shows that the dead person expects another changing of spheres, namely one within the netherworld. His protective deity will, he firmly hopes, conduct him to the judgement of the dead, succour him there, and then lead him to a pleasant region of the netherworld. This place is the ultimate goal after death: it is a place with enough food supply, visualised by the image of a leafy meadow, the place where the ancestors live. In the prayer one finds an Erzählstoff about a god helping his protégé to change the dangerous spheres of the netherworld, which reveals itself as mythical in the sense given in this volume. Similar notions concerning the hope to live a good life even after death can be detected in other ancient sources from Sumer, Greece, Israel, and Phoenicia. Based on the findings in the Akkadian prayer, a fresh consideration of the Hebrew prayer psalm 23 leads to the discovery of a comparable Erzählstoff in distinct form.


Zgoll, A. / Zgoll, C. 2020, Innana-Ištars Durchgang durch das Totenreich in Dichtung und Kult: Durch Hylemanalysen zur Erschließung von Spuren mythischer Stoffvarianten in kultischer Praxis und epischer Verdichtung, in I. Arkhipov / L. Kogan / N. Koslova (ed.), The Third Millennium. Studies in Early Mesopotamia and Syria in Honor of Walter Sommerfeld and Manfred Krebernik, CM 50, Leiden / Boston, 752-802.

Innana's passage through the netherworld, which culminated in a resurrection feast, was an important part of the Innana cult in archaic Uruk. Traces of such a myth can also be found in an Early Dynastic song in which Sumer´s gods praise Innana. Here one learns that Innana brought the Numinous Instruments of Power (Sumerian me) from the netherworld. Votive offerings from the Ur III period point to a corresponding cultic context. The Old Babylonian praise song angalta / Innana´s Descent also mentions Innana's gain of these Instruments of Power; here, too, there is evidence of its use in the cult. In Neo-Assyrian Assur, cult installations and names show how important a version of the myth was in the 1st millennium. In various forms the Innana / Ištar cult celebrated that Innana or Ištar dared to pass through the realm of the dead in order to bring the precious Instruments of Power of the netherworld into her temples.


Zgoll, A. (unter Mitarbeit von B. Cuperly) 2019, Mythos als rituell aufgeführtes Drama. Inthronisation, Tempelschöpfung und Stadtgründung im altbabylonischen Lied auf Bazi, in: G. Chambon / M. Guichard / A.-I. Langlois (ed.), De l’argile au numérique. Mélanges assyriologiques en l’honneur de Dominique Charpin, PIPOAC (Publications de l’Institut du Proche-Orient Ancien du Collège de France) 3, Leuven / Paris / Bristol, 1209-1242.

Das akkadische Lied auf den Gott Bazi ist durch die Publikation von Andrew George 2009 bekannt geworden. Der Beitrag enthält eine religionswissenschaftliche Auswertung dieses Liedes: Unter anderem wird aus einer Glosse des Textes und anderen Indizien das Szenario einer Aufführung des Liedes im Kult rekonstruiert. In diesem Kult findet ein Eliminierungsritual statt, in dem „Übeltäter“ durch Götter getötet werden; zu diesen Göttern gehört eine Ordalflussgöttin, die sich als Gemahlin des Bazi erweist. Im Anschluss feiert die Gemeinschaft der „Reinen“ das Inthronisationsfest ihres Gottes. Der Anhang des Beitrags enthält eine akkadisch-deutsche Bilingue des Liedes auf Bazi.


Zgoll, C. 2019, Tractatus mythologicus. Theorie und Methodik zur Erforschung von Mythen als Grundlegung einer allgemeinen, transmedialen und komparatistischen Stoffwissenschaft, MythoS 1, Berlin / Boston. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110541588)

Programmatischer Auftakt der Reihe MythoS: Die vom Autor entwickelten Methoden der Hylemanalyse und der Stratifikationsanalyse stecken den Rahmen einer neuen Mythosforschung ab. Auf der Grundlage eines präzisierten Stoffbegriffs, der Stoffe als Sequenzen kleinster Stoffbausteine (Hyleme) begreift, die nicht auf bestimmte mediale Konkretionen festgelegt sind, werden Mythen durch Hylemanalysen nicht als Texte oder Bilder, sondern als Stoffe erforschbar. Mythen, so zeigt der theoretische Zugriff, sind durch vielfältige Einflüsse und Überarbeitungen umkämpfte und daher komplex geschichtete Stoffe. Stratifikationsanalysen eröffnen die Möglichkeit, dieser Vielschichtigkeit durch einen entsprechend differenzierten Interpretationsansatz gerecht zu werden. Darüber hinaus werden quantitativ und qualitativ objektivierbare Kriterien für Mythenvergleiche erarbeitet. Theorie und Methodik werden durch exemplarische Untersuchungen v. a. anhand griechischrömischer und altorientalischer Mythen veranschaulicht. Mit einer wegweisenden Arbeit wird hier das Fundament gelegt für die Ausarbeitung einer Mythostheorie auf der Basis einer neu aufgestellten allgemeinen, transmedialen und komparatistischen Stoffwissenschaft (Hylistik).


Zgoll, A. 2017, The Creation of the First (Divinatory) Dream and Enki(g) as the God of Ritual Wisdom, رشق ال / Ash-sharq (Bulletin of the Ancient Near East: Archaeological, Historical and Societal Studies) 1/1, 155-161.

It is through a dream that the hero of the ANE Flood Stories gets the important information of how to save himself and mankind. Only the Sumerian version seemed to be different and explicitly without a dream. A new philological analysis shows that the Sumerian version on the contrary stresses that it is in fact a dream which warns the hero: the first (divinatory) dream ever. The god who sends this dream (Enki) creates with it the power of dream rituals. He himself emerges as god of a specific kind of wisdom: ritual wisdom.



Fechner, J., 2022, In Search of the Seven Sages of Ancient Mesopotamia: Analysis of an Ancient Near Eastern Concept of Mysticism and Symbolism, IHAMNE (Intellectual Heritage of the Ancient and Mediaeval Near East) 4, Münster.

In this book, a comprehensive overview of the ancient Mesopotamian tradition(s) of the antediluvian Seven Sages is presented for the first time, including all relevant source material of their textual and archaeological documentation available at present as well as a chapter in which their correlations with the famous ancient Mesopotamian apkallu sage Adapa are investigated in detail. Their history, their myth(s) and their manifestations in ancient Mesopotamian religious, epic, scholarly and historiographical literature are pursued systematically from their very beginnings in the early Old Babylonian period (and even much earlier) until the late Hellenistic period and are concluded by an outlook summarizing their impact on neighbouring and succeeding ancient Near Eastern cultures. Thanks to important new textual evidence and the systematic and comprehensive approach to the subject applied in this book fascinating new insights into long-lasting streams of tradition of the Seven Sages are revealed. These different streams of tradition of the Seven Sages and of Adapa served different geo-political interests of Mesopotamian scholars of different historical periods and yielded the complex erudite, esoteric and seemingly contradictory combined apkallu-Adapa tradition of the 1st millennium, which is essentially of a “mythopoetic” nature.


Gabriel, G. 2021, Von Adlerflügen und numinosen Insignien, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS (Mythological Studies) 4, Berlin / Boston, 195-294. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-008)

The various ways by which political power is transferred from heaven to earth was an important topic treated in Sumerian and Akkadian myths which are incorporated in different texts, such as royal hymns, epics, debate poems, and mytho-historical chronicles dating from the third to first millennium BC. The new method of hylistic analysis allows for the comprehensive reconstruction of all deviating mythical traditions regarding the origin and nature of political rulership by isolating alternate mythological explanations as superimposed, or opposing, conceptual “strata.” As an example, in one explanatory framework, An, the god of heaven, is the initiator of the transfer of power to earth, and the divine king Ellil serves as the actual carrier of the numinous insignia of kingship, the scepter and the crown. In an alternate myth, the king and hero Etana ascends to heaven on the back of an eagle in order to receive the requisite basis of hereditary rule from the goddess Innana/Ištar. During the second phase of hylistic analysis, these conceptual strata are interpreted, in order to assess the development of the ideas underlying the nature of rulership as it was exercised in the historical past. Kingship possesses both an ineffable quality (a result of religion and tradition) and a material aspect, as it is personified through human rulers and cities which rise and fall in terms of their influence. In sum, the abundant mythical tradition of ancient Mesopotamia is herein utilized to report upon a rich intellectual tradition of ideas pertaining to political power.


Gabriel, G. / Kärger, B. / Zgoll, A. / Zgoll, C. 2021, Was vom Himmel kommt. Einführender Überblick, in: idd. (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 1-7. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-001)
Kärger, B. 2021a, Götter, Tempel, numinose Machtmittel, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus 19 Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 51-156. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-003)

The present paper aims to provide an overview of heavenly descents in Sumerian literary texts: who and what comes from heaven, who is responsible for such “special events”, and how do these events usually take form. It is shown that entities coming from heaven are always important. Their appearance must in many cases be understood as a first-time event for humankind. Various gods are responsible for this, but they are mentioned by name only in very few cases. Furthermore, this paper will focus on the investigation of isolated hylemes, i. e. the minimal action-bearing units of an Erzählstoff that are found outside their own narrative context (Erzählstoff), but continue to represent it. In result, such minimal components of a Stoff can indeed be taken as reference to (often hitherto unknown) mythical Erzählstoffe. By analysing and comparing such isolated hylemes, we gain a new perspective on the God of Heaven (An) who, as it turns out, is not a deus otiosus by any means, but quite the reverse: An has a prominent position and plays a more important role within the Mesopotamian pantheon than previously assumed.


Kärger, B. 2021b, Ausgangs- und Zielpunkte des Transfers vom Himmel in antiken Mythen, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 539-544. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-013)

In the various written sources that are known to us, the sky is named in a variety of ways, generally as heaven or as inner heaven, as the ziggurat of heaven or as ether. However, in many cases where beings or objects emanate from the heavenly sphere, their point of departure is implied by the context rather than stated explicitly. Their destination is usually the earth. Where more specific information is given, something quite fundamental becomes evident: these destination places are not random locations (or persons); they typically play a central role in their respective cultures.


Maiwald, K., 2021, Mesopotamische Schöpfungstexte in Ritualen: Methodik und Fallstudien zur situativen Verortung, MythoS 3, Berlin / Boston.

Schöpfung ist ein zentrales Thema in mesopotamischen Texten, das in verschiedenen Textgattungen aus drei Jahrtausenden behandelt wird. Dabei zeigt sich, dass mündliche Darbietung und schriftliche Konkretion solcher Mythen in Mesopotamien gleichermaßen als performativ wirkmächtig angesehen wurden. Der Band entwickelt erstmals eine Methodik für die Rekonstruktion der situativen Verortung von Schöpfungstexten und wendet sie auf konkrete Quellen an. Dabei zeigen sich detaillierte Bezüge zwischen Schöpfungstext und zugehörigem Ritualkontext mit Blick auf Ritualziel, Ritualteilnehmer und Ritualrahmen. Indizien aus Schrift, Sprache, Struktur und Inhalt, eingeschobene Ritualanweisungen im Schöpfungstext und die Rolle von Preisliedern werden untersucht. Zehn berühmte Schöpfungstexte werden so in ihrer Performanz und Bedeutung innerhalb der mesopotamischen religiösen Praxis erschlossen und eröffnen Einblicke in die Verwendung von Schöpfungsmythen innerhalb von Ritualen, insbesondere im Tempelkult. Der theoretisch-methodische Zugang ist für die Erforschung weiterer mythischer Texte relevant und öffnet neue Horizonte für die Tempel-, Ritual- und Mythosforschung.


Zgoll, A. 2021a, Wie der erste Tempel auf die Erde kommt: Der Mythos Innana bringt das Himmelshaus auf die Erde, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, 24 Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 157-194. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-007)

It is a great adventure: bringing the first temple out of heaven. The master plan is devised by Innana, and multiple gods carry out the scheme: Innana, her brother Utu and other gods, against the will of the god of heaven, An. This is the outline of the myth named Innana brings the House of Heaven for Earth, told in the epic format of a hymn to Innana. In order to bring the house of heaven for earth, Innana must expose herself to great danger: she must defeat the cosmic Scorpion Gatekeeper and drink up the entire contents of the river that forms the boundary to the underworld. Innana’s actions have fundamental cosmic consequences for gods and humans. The first temple comes into existence: this temple is heaven on earth! In fact, it is the arrival of the temple which creates space (Sumer and the earth) and time (day and night). The message of this myth is especially important from the perspective of the first great city of the ancient world, Uruk.


Zgoll, A. 2021b, Wer oder was vom Himmel kommt, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 545-554. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-014)

Numinous beings and other important entities descend or are transferred from heaven to earth. They include deities and images of gods, godlike rulers, and demonic powers. Gods make rain and similar “celestial phenomena” and even celestial bodies fall. Gods bring temples and their cities down from heaven, as well as cult objects and cultural assets; they bring rulership, justice, and order from heaven to earth. The present contribution attempts to categorize these entities from an emic perspective; this will also lead to the discovery of new approaches to ancient perceptions of the world.


Zomer, E. 2021, Demons and Tutelary Deities from Heaven, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 295-322. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-004)

This paper is concerned with the phenomenon of heaven-sent entities in Mesopotamian magical texts. The heavenly travellers can be malevolent (demons bringing diseases) as well as benevolent (tutelary deities coming to the aid of ailing humans), and their descent from heaven to earth can take place in a variety of ways, and with the aid of various implements such as a rope, by being transformed into falling stars, or simply falling down to earth by accident.


Zomer, E. / Naether, F. 2021, Mittel des Transfers vom Himmel, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 561f. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-017)

This contribution aims to shed light on the tools and the media that facilitate the transfer of subjects and objects from heaven to earth and possibly back again. Among these are ladders, stairs, ropes, plants, animals, vehicles, and wings.


Gabbay, U., 2020, A New Manuscript of Ninĝišzida’s Journey to the Netherworld. A Sumerian Myth in its Scribal and Literary Context, AoF (Altorientalische Forschungen) 47/1, 67-90.

The article presents an edition of a new manuscript of the Old Babylonian Sumerian myth Ninĝišzida’s Journey to the Netherworld from the Louvre museum. The article deals with the complex literary transmission of this composition, known in different versions with much variation. The myth, lamentful in tone, and including Emesal vocabulary and litanies, is compared to the corpus of Emesal prayers, especially the laments over Damu. The myth is also examined in light of an Old Babylonian Akkadian myth on Ninĝišzida’s descent to the netherworld.


Zgoll, A. 2019a, Inanna — City Goddess of Uruk, in: N. Crüsemann et. al. (ed.), Uruk. First City of the Ancient World, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 50-59. (= englische Übersetzung von = English translation of Zgoll, A. 2012, Inanna – Stadtgöttin von Uruk, in: M. van Ess et. al. (ed.), Uruk. 5000 Jahre Megacity. Begleitband zur Ausstellung „Uruk. 5000 Jahre Megacity“ im Pergamonmuseum – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, in den Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen Mannheim, 70-79.)

Inanna, the “queen of heaven”, is a provider for her city Uruk: she brings the first temple from heaven and she robs the numinous instruments of power from the Subterranean Ocean Abzu. In general, Innana has power over love and fertility and over defense against enemies. The paper shows how these two belong together: the goddess’s aggressive aspect appears as a consequence of her amorous one. To protect her darling, the king, her rage is directed against his enemies and thus protects his city and land.


Zgoll , A. 2019b, Früheste Träume. Zeugnisse aus dem antiken Mesopotamien ab dem dritten Jahrtausend v. Chr., in: B. Dieterle / M. Engel (ed.), Historizing the Dream / Le rêve du point de vue historique, Cultural Dream Studies / Kulturwissenschaftliche Traum-Studien / Études Culturelles sur le Rêve 3, Würzburg, 17-35.

Clay tablets from Ancient Mesopotamia from the 3rd to the 1st millennium BC contain the earliest written documents about human dream-experiences. The relevant sources are mainly letters, inscriptions, and epic-mythical texts. These sources give insight into both ordinary dreams and literary reflections about dreams, and thereby show a wide range of dream-practices (including rituals of incubation and dreaming dreams for other people) and reveal important elements of ancient dream theory. In the Mesopotamian perspective, while dreaming the dream-soul is able to leave the body and be visited by other beings, in a phenomenon known as ›external dreaming‹. Its anthropological basis is the conception of the human being as a house which is inhabited by different souls and visited by other beings. It becomes clear that people in Antiquity did not dream in a physiologically different way from people of today, but that they instead had a different dream culture.
After a brief introduction (section 1), the essay will aim at reconstructing the dream theory (section 2) and the practices of dealing with dreams (section 3) in ancient Mesopotamia and to outline the importance of dreams in Mesopotamian culture (section 4). The main examples of dreams are: a dream-report by Addu-dūrī, mother of the king, in a letter to her son (18th century BC); a dream prophesying the deluge from the epic poem Atram-ḫasīs (18th century BC); a dream of King Gudea inaugurating his temple building project (21st century BC) and its interpretation by the goddess Nanše; a dream of Sammētar, a high Mari official (18th century BC); and the so-called ›Assyrian Dreambook‹ (7th century BC).


Gabbay, Uri, 2018, Drums, Hearts, Bulls, and Dead Gods: The Theology of the Ancient Mesopotamian Kettledrum, JANER (Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions) 18, 1-47.

The article deals with the theology of the lilis kettledrum, used to accompany prayers in ancient Mesopotamian temple cult. The article analyses the ritual in which the head of the kettledrum was covered with the hide of a bull and the ancient commentary on this ritual, showing that the ancient understanding of this ritual was that it reflected the primordial battle between the gods Enlil and Enmešara over the rule of the universe. The article connects this myth to other mythical episodes, such as the myths of the Bull of Heaven, Anzu, and Atra-asīs. The analysis of these materials leads to the conclusion that the playing of the kettledrum during the performance of ancient Mesopotamian prayers symbolised the beating heart of the deities to whom the prayers were addressed.


Zgoll, A. 2015a, Innana holt das erste Himmelshaus auf die Erde. Ein sumerischer Mythos aus der Blütezeit der Stadt Uruk, in B. Janowski / D. Schwemer (ed.), Weisheitstexte, Mythen und Epen, TUAT NF (Texte aus der Umwelt des Alten Testaments. Neue Folge) 8, Gütersloh 2015, 45-55.

Completely new translation und first consistent interpretation of the myth as a whole, reconstruction of its situational contextualization.


Zgoll, A. 2015b, Nin-me-šara - Mythen als argumentative Waffen in einem rituellen Lied der Hohepriesterin En-ḫedu-Ana, in B. Janowski / D. Schwemer (ed.), Weisheitstexte, Mythen und Epen, TUAT NF 8, Gütersloh, 55-67.

New translation, first hylistic and ritual study of the text, terminus ante quem for the myth Innana Brings the First House-of-Heaven down to Earth; revised translation (as compared to the translation offered by Zgoll 1997). For the history of literature and the historical interpretation it is important to consider that this praise song was handed down not “simply” as a literary composition but as a famous ritual. Therefore, the authorship of the famous priestess En-ḫedu-Ana was of crucial importance for this composition and its reception. A further novelty of the study is the attempt at a systematic detection and evaluation of mythical strata in the text.


Zgoll, A. 2015c, Der akkadische Bazi-Mythos und seine Performanz im Ritual. Wie der Gott Bazi Königtum und Tempel erlangt, in B. Janowski / D. Schwemer (ed.), Weisheitstexte, Mythen und Epen, TUAT NF 8, Gütersloh, 68-73.

New translation and interpretation of the Bazi Myth firstly edited by A. R. George 2009, reconstruction of its situational contextualization as a dramatic performance in a feast of dedication of a temple.


Gabriel, G., 2014, enūma eliš Weg zu einer globalen Weltordnung. Pragmatik, Struktur und Semantik das babylonischen „Lieds auf Marduk“, ORA (Orientalische Religionen in der Antike) 12, Tübingen.

Das Lied auf Marduk (enūma eliš) ist der vermutlich bedeutsamste mythische Text der babylonischen Kultur und berichtet vom Aufstieg des Gottes Marduk zum absoluten Herrscher über alle Götter und die Welt. Gösta Gabriel liefert die erste umfassende Gesamtinterpretation des Textes, wobei er ihn aus sich selbst heraus analysiert. Dabei wird zwischen der außertextlichen Wirkdimension (Pragmatik) und seiner inneren Verfasstheit (Struktur) und Bedeutung (Semantik) unterschieden. Zentral für das Verständnis des Werkes ist zudem die Festsprechung (šīmtu) und die Namensgebung, die mit Blick auf ihre textinterne Funktion beleuchtet werden. Abschließend führt die Untersuchung die verschiedenen Betrachtungsstränge zusammen, wodurch sich der Text in seiner Außen- und Binnenwirkung als Weg und Schlüssel zu einer ewigen friedlichen Weltordnung offenbart, die durch und in Marduk begründet ist – die Pax Mardukiana.


Zgoll, A. 2014, Der Sonnengott als Transporteur von Seelen (Psychopompos) und Dingen zwischen den Welten im antiken Mesopotamien. Mit einem Einblick in den konzeptuellen Hintergrund des taklimtu-Rituals, in: N. Koslova / E. Vizirova / G. Zólyomi (ed.), Studies in Sumerian Language and Literature: Festschrift für Joachim Krecher, Babel & Bibel 8, Orientalia et Classica 56, Winona Lake, 617-633.

In Graeco-Roman Antiquity we find the notion that the shades are escorted to their realm through the god Hermes. The present survey of Sumerian and Akkadian sources shows for the first time that a conception of such a psychopompos s is found in cuneiform cultures of the 2nd and 1st Mill. Different from the Graeco-Roman Mediterranean area we find an astral god of high status in exercise of this function. It is the sun-god who functions as leader to the realm of the dead and who also leads out of this realm. Even more: The sun-god escorts not only the dead but he is also transporting donations for the netherworld or for the heavenly gods; he even helps that temples come from heaven to earth. So the Mesopotamian sun-god is the cosmic transporter par excellence.


Zgoll, A. 2013, Fundamente des Lebens. Vom Potential altorientalischer Mythen, in: A. Zgoll / R. G. Kratz (unter Mitarbeit von K. Maiwald) (ed.), Arbeit am Mythos. Leistung und Grenze des Mythos in Antike und Gegenwart, Tübingen, 79-107.

This article explores the potential of Ancient Near Eastern myths on the basis of the mythical epic Enlil and Ninlil. Large parts of this epic remain incomprehensible to date. With the methodical approach of a stratification analysis it can be recognized that large parts of the epic deal with a myth that aims at the creation of the god of canals, Enbilulu. Chronologically, a treatment of this stratum can be anchored in the 21st century BC. The situational embedding („Sitz im Leben“) points to rituals during canal construction. The potential of such ancient myths is much more than just a cognitive explanation; the mythical text also has affective potential for meaning and offers a prototypical foundation for human action.


Zgoll, C. 2012, From Wild Being to Human to Friend: Reflections on Anthropology in the Gilgamesh Epic and in Homer’s Odyssey, KASKAL 9, 137-155.

The story of Enkidu, Šamhat und Gilgameš in the Gilgameš Epic and of Odysseus, Nausikaa and Alkinoos in Homer’s Odyssey exhibit many differences in point of detail. These can in part be attributed to different premises, e.g. one hero being born wild, the other being wild only temporarily. Other differences concern culturally specific details, e.g. beer versus wine being regarded as the drink proper to humans. Such features of the stories are brought into relief precisely by the fact of comparing them. But despite the differences in detail, the parallels between the two works are remarkable, in terms of both structure and content. I do not think they suffice to prove a direct connection, but it is also hard to exclude one for certain. Finally, in my view the two passages revolve around the same themes: 1) Important events and friendships are determined by the gods and accompanied by divine signs such as dreams. 2) Foodstuffs, bodily hygiene and clothing distinguish humans from animals not only superficially, but at the level of being and essence. 3) But: A human in the true sense of the word is only the socially integrated man. 4) One of the highest forms of social tie is friendship. Therefore the ultimate concern of the two episodes is not humanisation per se, but friendship: from wild being to human to friend.


Zgoll, A. 2011, Der Mythos Enlil und Ninlil. Vom Schrecken des Kanalbaus durch Stadt und Unterwelt, in L. Vacín (ed.), U4 DU11-GA-NI SÁ MU-NI-IB-DU11. Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Memory of Blahoslav Hruška, Dresden, 287-299.

Irak, Iran, Ägypten – es sind diese Länder des Nahen Ostens, aus welchen die ältesten bekannten Texte der Menschheit stammen. Auf irakischem Boden, dem antiken Mesopotamien, finden sich die frühesten Keilschrifttexte gegen Ende des vierten Jahrtausends in sumerischer Sprache verfasst. Über 40.000 Zeilen sumerischer Literatur waren vor 17 Jahren bekannt – fast doppelt soviel wie im Alten Testament – und seither ist viel Neues gefunden worden. Derzeit sind über vierzig ausführlich erzählte Mythen in sumerischer Sprache aus Mesopotamien bekannt. In diesem Beitrag wird es um den Mythos Enlil und Ninlil gehen. Enlil galt den Sumerern als oberster Gott des Pantheons. Der wichtigste Kultort Sumers, die Stadt Nippur, in welcher das zentrale Heiligtum des Gottes Enlil lag, ist Schauplatz der Erzählung.



Zgoll, C. 2021a, Göttergaben und Götterstürze. Wesen und Dinge, die in griechisch-römischen Mythen vom Himmel kommen, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 355-402. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-006)

The present contribution aims to provide an overview of who or what in Greek and Roman myths (and beyond) is heaven-sent: gods, omina, natural phenomena, and, in the context of fertility, also humans, animals, and plants. Rather more rarely do cult objects, cultural techniques, and cultural assets come from heaven. In later sources, the explicit attribution of a heavenly origin to such entities occurs more often where the older texts either do not define the exact origin or point to Mount Olympus. This often causes the two places to appear interchangeable, especially in poetic adaptations of mythical narratives (Erzählstoffe). In the view of these sources it seems to be important to stress not so much that certain beings or objects are heavenly, but that they are divine. Where the seat of a deity is obscured in this way, the origin of their gifts (or punishments) must remain speculative as well. Hephaistos in particular emerges as such an elusive entity.


Zgoll, C. 2021b, Vom Himmel gefallen. Mythen von Pallas, Athene, Pallas Athene, Athena Polias, dem Palladion und den Palladia, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 453-486. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-010)

The Greek mythographer Apollodoros (c. 1st/2nd century AD), among other things, tells of the foundation of Ilion (Troy) by Ilos. A central aspect of the narrative concerns the fall from heaven of a numinous object called “Palladion”. After analyzing the sequence of hylemes (hyleme analysis) and the stratification (stratification analysis) of the mythic narrative, we will be able to reconstruct the underlying (variants of) Erzählstoffe, point to inconsistencies, discuss them, and extract the different layers, that form the fabric of Apollodoros’ text. The existence of further mythic variants of the Palladion’s heavenly origin, as well as the multiplication of the one unique Palladion into several identical copies among those variants, serves to underline the significance of the object.


Zgoll, A. / Zgoll., C. 2021, Lugalbandas Königtum und das Feuer des Prometheus. Merkmale, Funktionen und Interpretationen von Mythen über eine Herkunft vom Himmel, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 563- 607. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-018)

Mythical narratives (Erzählstoffe) about someone or something coming down from heaven have a strong claim to relevance in the interpretation of, and in coping with, the human condition. The attribution of a heavenly origin to certain beings, phenomena, or objects, marks them out as special because they are either viewed (a) as prototypical or (b) as divine or numinous. Using the example of the myth of Zeus bringing the Palladion down to Earth, we will show the extent to which (a) can affect the interpretation of myths where the prototypical character is not explicitly mentioned. The consequences for the interpretation of myths which can result from (b) are illustrated by the myths of The Gods making Lugalbanda a divine Ruler while the goddess Innana is taking away the kingship from the former ruler Enmerkara, and Prometheus stealing the Fire. Because of its divine origin, the taming of fire is seen in these mythical traditions not as a cultural but as a cult technique, related not primarily to the culinary arts but rather to cultic practices.


Egelhaaf-Gaiser, U. 2020, An der Schwelle zur Unterwelt. Liminalität und mythische Stratigraphie in Vergils Polydorus-Erzählung (Aen. 3,13-68), in: A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Methodisch neue Zugänge zu antiken Mythen in Orient und Okzident, MythoS (Mythological Studies) 2, Berlin / Boston, 251-307. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110652543-006)

This contribution points out the difficulties that heroic figures may find themselves faced with when striving to shift spheres into the underworld, with the myths of Polydorus serving as examples: for these heroes do not merely change their locations but rather cross a boundary, for which an orderly burial is ritually required. This is why those that are dead and remain unburied constitute liminal figures par excellence; like prisoners, they are doomed to an existence “in between”. This article’s central thesis is that the inconsistencies, which Zgoll identifies as an indication of multiple mythical layers overlapping, symbolically conjoin in Polydorus’ liminality: the contradictory status of this (un)dead figure on the threshold between two adjoining spheres, both of which still have an influence on him, reveals the rivalling nature of different mythical layers. Liminality and inconsistency are, therefore, closely related. So Polydorus proves to be an ambiguous and complex figure, characterised by different traditions of the same material. Besides the Euripidean version, especially older variations of the myth, which have already made their mark on the Ilias, play a much more central role than has been assumed so far: as a close analysis of the mythical material shows, this begins with this hero’s name already. For his ambivalent name, which actually denotes a “many-gifted man” but can be easily mistaken for a “man = victim of many spears”, presents us with a plethora of possible components in the plot. It is clear that the name’s polysemy, which continues to be read in varying ways yet always finds its conclusion with the hero on a fatal note, is not a literary invention but already contained in the mythical narrative. For this reason, it may even be seen as this hero’s trait. In addition to that, Vergil also updates Polydorus’ ill-fated death by a spear in Thrace in order to remind the readers of the disastrous impact the Roman civil wars (in particular the bloody Battle of Philippi nearby) had and to commemorate the most recent victims of war.


Nesselrath, H.-G. 2020a, Zum Hades und darüber hinaus. Mythische griechische Vorstellungen zum Weg des Menschen über den Tod ins Jenseits von Homer bis Platon, in: A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Methodisch neue Zugänge zu antiken Mythen in Orient und Okzident, MythoS 2, Berlin / Boston, 161-212. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110652543-004)

Where does a human end up when he dies and how does he do it? Is he at the mercy of his postmortal fate, or is he able to do something to influence this fate, if possible, in a positive way for himself? To these questions, Greek religion and mythology have developed a series of various answers from the first extant texts up to classical times (i.e. the 5th and 4th centuries BCE). These answers are partly based on ideas from different, older cultures; they become, on the one hand, more elaborate through time and, on the other, they develop the concept of differentiated - meaning: more agreeable and less agreeable - areas of the Netherworld. Especially the criteria for the attainment of the more agreeable ones change remarkably throughout this development. This contribution begins with the ideas that are recognisable in the epics of Homer and ends with the imaginative myths about the underworld created by Plato.


Nesselrath, H.-G. 2020b, Die Reise zu den Inseln der Seligen von Hesiod bis Lukian, in: M. Egeler / W. Heizmann (ed.), Between the Worlds. Contexts, Sources, and Analogues of Scandinavian Otherworld Journeys, Ergänzungsbände zum Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde 118, Berlin / Boston, 373-388.

A look at the entries “Elysium” and “Fortunate Isles” in several electronic Wikipedias shows that there is considerable confusion regarding the identity or nonidentity of these mythical notions or locations. This paper, therefore, first seeks to establish a reliable ‘literary pedigree’ for the notion of the ‘Fortunate Isles/Isles of the Blessed’ and traces its development from Hesiod to Plato. After that the history of the notion of ‘Elysium/Elysian Fields’ from Homer onwards and its often overlapping relationship with the notion of the ‘Fortunate Isles/Isles of the Blessed’ is looked at: while there are many similarities, one main difference is that Elysium can also be located within an underworld, while the Isles of the Blessed always seem to remain on the surface of the Earth, which is also reflected by the fact that there were several attempts in antiquity to identify them with real islands within the Atlantic Ocean. The last section of the paper is devoted to the picture of the ‘Island [singular] of the Blessed’ that the satiric writer Lucian develops in his True Stories.


Zgoll, C. 2020, Märchenhexe oder göttliche Ritualexpertin? Kirke und Kult im Kontext der homerischen Nekyia, in: M. Egeler / W. Heizmann (ed.), Between the Worlds. Contexts, Sources, and Analogues of Scandinavian Otherworld Journeys, Ergänzungsbände zum Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde 118, Berlin / Boston, 389-416.

Odysseus’ journey to Hades in Odyssey 11 is framed by, and thus closely connected with, two stays on the island of Circe. Not without reason, for on closer inspection Circe turns out to be not so much a fairy-tale witch or a seductress as a divine ritual expert, on whose knowledge and instructions depends entirely the success of Odysseus’ encounter with the dead.


Zgoll, C. 2019, Tractatus mythologicus. Theorie und Methodik zur Erforschung von Mythen als Grundlegung einer allgemeinen, transmedialen und komparatistischen Stoffwissenschaft, MythoS 1, Berlin / Boston. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110541588)

The volume is a programmatic manifesto for the new series MythoS. The author develops new methods – the hyleme analysis and the stratification analysis – and applies them on mythological materials, reconstructing myths as “Stoffe” and making them understandable in their polymorphic nature. In this groundbreaking work, the author sets the stage for a general theory of myth based on a new comprehensive, transmedial and comparative Stoff-research.



Jäger, N. 2021, Himmelsschilde und Blitze, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 487-520.

The present paper aims to illustrate the way in which C. Zgoll’s hyleme analysis facilitates the interpretation of myths. The arrival of the ancile shield at Rome during the reign of King Numa provides an opportunity to analyze and compare the plot structures of the relevant passages in Ovid, Plutarch, and Dionysius Halicarnassus in an exemplary format. Ovid lends meaning to Jupiter’s three lightening bolts that accompany the arrival of the ancile by combining his version of the myth with the myth of Jupiter Elicius. Analysis of the plot in Plutarch leads to the discovery of a heretofore undocumented parallel between his and Ovid’s version of the myth. In all three variants Numa is presented as having a special relationship with the gods. Attempts to postulate a version of the myth where all twelve ancilia are sent from heaven are often not born out by the evidence.


Theißen, M. 2021, Wie Hypnos nach Lemnos kam, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 521-538.

The present paper seeks to highlight a singular and puzzling phenomenon in Homer’s Iliad: the association of Hypnos, god of sleep, with the Island of Lemnos. Several explanations for his encounter with Hera on Lemnos have been presented, but they appear to be lacking more in substance than in plausibility. Applying the hylistic hermeneutics for the analysis of myths developed by Christian Zgoll, I will argue that Hypnosʼ presence on Lemnos can be explained not so much by content and logic as by the cross-contamination of multiple disparate mythical materials. Zeus’ failed attempt to eject Hypnos from heaven follows the hylistic pattern laid down by his actual expulsion of Hephaistos, who fell to earth and landed on the island of Lemnos. Both myths are moreover part of the myth of Hera diverting Heracles on his return voyage after the sack of Troy. It is therefore quite conceivable that a cross-contamination occurred between the two myths, with the result that now Hypnos is located on Lemnos as well.


von Alvensleben, J. 2021, Vom Himmel oder nicht vom Himmel?, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS (Mythological Studies) 4, Berlin / Boston, 403-452.

The present contribution will consider the question whether Prometheus steals the fire from heaven or from another place. A range of Greek and Latin texts on the subject, from Hesiod to Servius, will be presented for discussion. A detailed comparison will show that earliest Greek sources do not give us an exact location for the theft, whereas later sources present multiple variants.


von Alvensleben, J. / Jäger, N. 2021, Art und Weise des Transfers vom Himmel, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 559f.

The present contribution will consider groups of verbs that describe the ways in which different entities or objects are transferred from heaven to earth. The groups to be distinguished include verbs of falling down and flying down, coming out of (in a general sense), raining down, and speaking from heaven. The description of the transfer is less specific where it concerns the mere delivery of an object.


Nesselrath, H.-G. 2018, Down There and Back Again: Variations on the Katabasis Theme in Lucian, in: G. Ekroth / I. Nilsson (ed.), Round Trip to Hades in the Eastern Mediterranen Tradition: Visits to the Underworld from Antiquity to Byzantium, Leiden / Boston, 260-272.

Discusses a number of Lucianic writings (Necyomantia, Philopseudeis, Verae Historiae II, and Charon) in which the phenomenon of katabasis (i.e. descent of living human beings into the Underworld and their return) is handled with admirable versatility.


Nesselrath, H.-G. 2017, Skeletons, shades and feasting heroes. The manifold underworlds of Lucian of Samosata, in: I. Tanaseanu-Döbler et al. (ed.), Reading the Way to the Netherworld. Education and the Representations of the Beyond in Later Antiquity, Göttingen, 45-60.

This paper presents a survey of the various entertaining and vivid underworlds which Lucian presents in a number of his writings (De Luctu, Necyomantia, Cataplus, Dialogi Mortuorum, Verae Historiae 2) and which sometimes – mirror-like – reflect all-too-earthly phenomena of Lucian’s own time.


Egelhaaf-Gaiser, U., 2013, Mythenbild und Ahnenmaske: Augusteische ‚Heldenlieder‘ für den Triumphator Messalla, in: A. Zgoll / R. G. Kratz (unter Mitarbeit von K. Maiwald) (ed.), Arbeit am Mythos. Leistung und Grenze des Mythos in Antike und Gegenwart, Tübingen, 217-248.
Nesselrath, H.-G. 2013, Triptolemos – ein mythischer Kulturheld im Wandel der Zeiten, in: A. Zgoll / R. G. Kratz (unter Mitarbeit von K. Maiwald) (ed.), Arbeit am Mythos. Leistung und Grenze des Mythos in Antike und Gegenwart, Tübingen, 195-216.

This paper traces the history and development of the Triptolemus myth, using as evidence both written texts (often fragments and summaries of lost plays, among which Sophocles’ tragedy Triptolemus may have had a prominent position) and depictions in ancient art.


Zgoll, C. 2012, From Wild Being to Human to Friend: Reflections on Anthropology in the Gilgamesh Epic and in Homer’s Odyssey, KASKAL 9, 137-155.

The story of Enkidu, Šamhat und Gilgameš in the Gilgameš Epic and of Odysseus, Nausikaa and Alkinoos in Homer’s Odyssey exhibit many differences in point of detail. These can in part be attributed to different premises, e.g. one hero being born wild, the other being wild only temporarily. Other differences concern culturally specific details, e.g. beer versus wine being regarded as the drink proper to humans. Such features of the stories are brought into relief precisely by the fact of comparing them. But despite the differences in detail, the parallels between the two works are remarkable, in terms of both structure and content. I do not think they suffice to prove a direct connection, but it is also hard to exclude one for certain. Finally, in my view the two passages revolve around the same themes: 1) Important events and friendships are determined by the gods and accompanied by divine signs such as dreams. 2) Foodstuffs, bodily hygiene and clothing distinguish humans from animals not only superficially, but at the level of being and essence. 3) But: A human in the true sense of the word is only the socially integrated man. 4) One of the highest forms of social tie is friendship. Therefore the ultimate concern of the two episodes is not humanisation per se, but friendship: from wild being to human to friend.


Nesselrath, H.-G. 2011, Geschichte der Homerforschung, in: A. Rengakos / B. Zimmermann (ed.), Homer-Handbuch, Stuttgart / Weimar, 175-199.

A survey of research on the origin and development of the Homeric Epics from the 17th to the early 21st century.


Nesselrath, H.-G. 1999, Mythos – Logos – Mytho-Logos: Zum Mythos Begriff der Griechen und ihrem Umgang mit ihm, in: P. Rusterholz / R. Moser (ed.), Form und Funktion des Mythos in archaischen und modernen Gesellschaften, Berner Universitätssschriften 43, Bern, 1-26.

This paper discusses the development of the meaning of the term μῦθος (and, correspondingly, the term λόγος as its counterpart) in Greek Literature from Homer to Plato and Aristotle.



Pannach, F., 2023, „Orpheus Came to His End by Being Struck by a Thunderbolt": Annotating Events in Mythological Sequences, in: Proceedings of the 17th Linguistic Annotation Workshop (LAW-XVII), pages 10–18, Toronto, Canada, July 2023. Association for Computational Linguistics (Open Access: https://aclanthology.org/2023.law-1.2/; DOI: 10.18653/v1/2023.law-1.2)

The mythological domain has various ways of expressing events and background knowledge. Using data extracted according to the hylistic approach (Zgoll, 2019), we annotated a data set of 6315 sentences from various mythological contexts and geographical origins, like Ancient Greece and Rome or Mesopotamia, into four categories: single-point events (e.g. actions), durative-constant (background knowledge, continuous states), durative-initial, and durative-resultativ. This data is used to train a classifier, which is able to reliably distinguish event types.


Pannach, F. / Blaschke, T., 2023a, Modeling and Comparison of Narrative Domains with Shallow Ontologies (Poster), in: Proceedings of the 4th Conference on Language, Data and Knowledge (LDK2023), 12-15 Sept. 2023, Vienna, Austria.
Pannach, F. / Blaschke, T., 2023b, Beloved, Brother, Friend: Comparing Dumuzi Myths using Shallow Ontologies (Poster), in: Proceedings of the first meeting of the Digital Ancient Near Eastern Studies Network DANES 2023, 19–21 February 2023, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Dumuzi is presented in different ways in Near Eastern myths. He is described as wild bull or man, sometimes he is part of a dedicated family structure or a separated entity. This poster presents eigth different views on the Mesopotamian deity, modelled as minimal (or shallow) ontologies, used to compare Dumuzi's diverse representations.



Werning, D. A. 2020, Der mythische Stoff des Sonnenaufgangs in ägyptischen Texten und Bildern des 15.-10. Jahrhunderts v. Chr., in: A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Methodisch neue Zugänge zu antiken Mythen in Orient und Okzident, MythoS (Mythological Studies) 2, Berlin / Boston, 309-364. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110652543-007)

The paper examines the mythical narrative material (German Stoff, pl. Stoffe) of the sunrise, i.e., the change of the sun god from a chthonic to a heavenly sphere in the eastern horizon as it is attested in selected text and text/image compositions from ancient Egypt of the 15th-10th centuries BCE. First, the elementary action-bearing units attested in these texts are collected and classified and an attempt is made to bring them into a natural chronological order. Subsequently, some of these units found in sunrise texts are pursued that obviously come from other mythical Stoffe (The Myth of Chnum with the Pottery Wheel of the Creation of the World, The Myth of Osiris). It is proposed to understand these units, in the context of the course of the sun, as (originally) metaphorical ways of speaking, as a metaphorical instrumentalization. In a following section, another element of sunrise-texts, the door of heaven, is investigated, which is documented in texts that are not specifically about the sunrise at their core, but that are dealing with another type of changing spheres or border crossing (spells from the Pyramid Texts and Book of the Dead, temple ritual). A functional network of lending and borrowing of elements of mythical Stoffe emerges around the mythical Stoff of the sunrise.


Naether, F., 2021, Skyfall oder mythische Hyleme zum Herabkommen aus dem Himmel, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS (Mythological Studies) 4, Berlin / Boston, 323-354. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-005)

This contribution deals with passages from ancient Egyptian literature (narratives, wisdom teachings, speeches and discourses as well as select epics and spells of the Graeco-Roman magical papyri) mentioning subjects and objects descending from sky to earth. Among these are e.g. divinities, demons and heavenly bodies such as stars and comets. Furthermore, the sky itself could fall down on earth. Additionally, an excursus discusses rain and other weather phenomena, prominently the ‘rain miracle’ during the reign of emperor Marcus Aurelius.


Naether, F. / Zomer, E. 2021, Mittel des Transfers vom Himmel, in: G. Gabriel / B. Kärger / A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Was vom Himmel kommt. Stoffanalytische Zugänge zu antiken Mythen aus Mesopotamien, Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom, MythoS 4, Berlin / Boston, 561f. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110743005-017)

This contribution aims to shed light on the tools and the media that facilitate the transfer of subjects and objects from heaven to earth and possibly back again. Among these are ladders, stairs, ropes, plants, animals, vehicles, and wings.


Scheer, T. S. 2020, Helden am Himmel – Helden im Himmel. Sphärenwechsel zu den Sternen im griechischen Mythos, in: A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Methodisch neue Zugänge zu antiken Mythen in Orient und Okzident, MythoS (Mythological Studies) 2, Berlin / Boston, 365-445. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110652543-008)

The Catasterisms of Pseudo-Eratosthenes and the Astronomia, written by an author named Hyginus are the most important extant sources concerning ancient Greek star-myths. Analysing these texts this paper discusses questions about the reasons and circumstances that lead mythical heroes and heroines to changing the earthly sphere for the heavens in Greek myth. Which consequences did these changes inflict on the protagonists concerned? What did it mean to be put among the stars? The texts allowed their audience a wide range of possibilities “to think with”, including divine compassion, gratitude and eternal memory of great deeds as well as presenting warning examples for mankind on earth. Since when these examples were told, is difficult to assess. The case of the Arkadian heroine Callisto shows how strata of mythical subjects (mythische Stoffe) changed over the centuries. The Homeric Odysseus was told of the ‘Bear’ as an important heavenly constellation, but it seems that it took some centuries before the heroine Callisto reached the sky and this bear finally got a personal name. Authors like Pseudo-Eratosthenes and Hyginus do not express the belief that such a changing of spheres included a happy afterlife or immortal feasting in the presence of the Olympic gods. Nevertheless their readers were at liberty to hope for it.


Scheer, T. S. 1993, Mythische Vorväter. Zur Bedeutung griechischer Heroenmythen im Selbstverständnis kleinasiatischer Städte, Münchner Arbeiten zur Alten Geschichte 7, München.
(in preparation in FOR Phase 2)
Lorenz, K. 2018, Distributed Narrative: A Very Short History of Juxtaposing Myths on Pompeian Walls, in: B. Dignas / L. Audley-Miller (ed.), Wandering Myths: Transcultural Uses of Myth in the Ancient World, Berlin / Boston, 139-162.

My discussion examines an aspect of the Roman practice of juxtaposing pictures which has received little attention in earlier scholarship: that is, the possible origins of these forms of distributed narrative in pendant compositions and their historical development, specifically focusing here on the period from the late Republic until the Vespasianic era (and the destruction of Pompeii). Such a diachronic exploration is key to a better understanding of the display of myth in the Roman domestic context and Roman practices of visual story-telling more broadly because it provides us with an understanding of the formal and iconographic templates that the Romans appropriated and the protocols of viewing and meaning production to which they aspired.


Lorenz, K. 2016, Ancient Mythological Images and their Interpretation. An Introduction to Iconology, Semiotics, and Image Studies in Classical Art History, Cambridge.

When we try to make sense of pictures, what do we gain when we use a particular method - and what might we be missing or even losing? Empirical experimentation on three types of mythological imagery - a Classical Greek pot, a frieze from Hellenistic Pergamon and a second-century CE Roman sarcophagus - enables Katharina Lorenz to demonstrate how theoretical approaches to images (specifically, iconology, semiotics, and image studies) impact the meanings we elicit from Greek and Roman art. A guide to Classical images of myth, and also a critical history of Classical archaeology's attempts to give meaning to pictures, this book establishes a dialogue with the wider field of art history and proposes a new framework for the study of ancient visual culture. It will be essential reading not just for students of classical art history and archaeology, but for anyone interested in the possibilities - and the history - of studying visual culture. This book: - Proposes a new framework for the study of (ancient) visual culture based on engagement with Greek and Roman mythological imagery, appealing to those seeking to better their understanding of Greek and Roman cultural history. - Relates historiography and method development in Classical archaeology and ancient art history to the art history of more modern periods, and will therefore be of interest to readers interested in the Classical world and those concerned with more recent historical periods. - Tracks intellectual developments in different contexts and carves out their similarities and differences, speaking to readers from different intellectual backgrounds and familiarising them with broader developments in western European art history.


Lorenz, K. 2014, Rhetoric on the Wall? The House of Menander and its Decorative Structure, in: J. Elsner / M. Meyer (ed.), Art and Rhetoric in Roman Culture, Cambridge, 183-210.
Lorenz, K. 2011, Image in Distress? The death of Meleager on Roman sarcophagi, in: Janet Huskinson / J. Elsner (ed.), Life, Death and Representation. Some New Work on Roman Sarcophagi, Millennium-Studien / Millennium Studies (Studien zu Kultur und Geschichte des ersten Jahrtausends n. Chr. / Studies in the Culture and History of the First Millennium C.E.) 29, Berlin, 305-332.
Lorenz, K. 2008, Bilder machen Räume. Mythenbilder in pompeianischen Häusern, ICON (Image & Context) 5, Berlin.

In this analysis of mythological paintings in the houses of Pompeii, Katharina Lorenz produces a stimulating model of the contextual relationship between observer and object in the early Roman Empire. In contrast to the more general approach of earlier studies it is the painting itself that is the focus of attention, alone and in combination, as well as the strategies of the pictorial narratives in influencing the spatial atmosphere. The work creates new perspectives on Roman lifestyle, Pompeian wall painting, and the social dimensions of mythology as a factor in communication.


Lorenz, K. 2007, The Anatomy of Metalepsis. Visual Narrative on Athenian Pottery, in: R. Osborne (ed.), Debating the Athenian Cultural Revolution. Art, Literature, Philosophy, and Politics 430-380 BC, Cambridge, 116-143.
Gemeinhardt, P. 2021, Christologie oder Christusmythos? Neue Zugänge zu einer alten Frage, in: M. Frenschkowski / L. Seehausen (ed.), Im Gespräch mit C.F. Georg Heinrici: Beiträge zwischen Theologie und Religionswissenschaft, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2. Reihe, Tübingen, 205-231.
Feldmeier, R. 2020, Carmen Christo quasi Deo. Die Sphärenwechsel in der paulinischen Tradition, in: A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Methodisch neue Zugänge zu antiken Mythen in Orient und Okzident, MythoS (Mythological Studies) 2, Berlin / Boston, 483-538. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110652543-010)

This article demonstrates how early Christianity ‘stratified’ its memories of Jesus of Nazareth through various sequences of mythical hylemes, in order to bring the Christ event to expression adequately as the action of God visa-vis and through Christ. The focal point is the Corpus Paulinum and the writings produced in the sphere of influence of Pauline theology: the Letter to the Colossians, the Letter to the Ephesians, the First Letter of Peter, and Luke-Acts.


Gemeinhardt, P. 2020, Sphärenwechsel im Christusmythos. Höllen- und Himmelfahrt Christi als mythische Strukturmomente in spätantiken christlichen Glaubensbekenntnissen und ihren Kontexten, in: A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Methodisch neue Zugänge zu antiken Mythen in Orient und Okzident, MythoS 2, Berlin / Boston, 539-622. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110652543-011)

The present contribution examines early Christian theological texts with regard to mythical narratological structures. It focuses especially on two transitions between spheres which are employed in Creeds in order to depict Christ’s salvific work: the descent to hell or the netherworld respectively and his ascension to heaven. The basic assumption is that Christians, while being overtly critical of traditional myths, nonetheless relied on the latters’ narrative potential in order to plausibilize the distinctively Christian story of salvation.


Spieckermann, H. 2020, Jhwh, die David-Dynastie und ihre Erben. Die Entdeckung des Sphärenwechsels im Psalter, in: A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Methodisch neue Zugänge zu antiken Mythen in Orient und Okzident, MythoS 2, Berlin / Boston, 447-481. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110652543-009)

The change of spheres in the Psalms is a discovery which results from intense theological reflection, a process that began with the loss of the Davidic dynasty. During the pre-exilic period, Zion is the site of palace and temple, a space where the spheres of God and king, heaven and earth permanently interchange. Those spheres were neither regarded as identical nor were they clearly distinguished from each other. In fact, it is impossible to bring them closer together. The loss of the Temple and of the Davidic dynasty due to the destruction of Jerusalem in 587/6 B.C.E. marks the end of the pre-exilic symbiosis. During the exile, the spheres of God and the world drift apart because the Davidic kingship as the mediating agency does not exist any longer. During the post-exilic period, the Second Temple and the personalisation of Zion gave rise to new ways how to conceptualise God’s presence in the world. God himself is determined to change spheres. As divine king he is stooping down into the sphere of the destitute, who regard themselves as heirs of the lost Davidic dynasty. God raises them royally into his own sphere, granting them a permanent home in Zion-Jerusalem. The city is personified as a woman who has a unique relationship with God and, at the same time an unshakable relationship with her children, the heirs of the promises given to the Davidic dynasty.


Zgoll, A. 2020, Sphärenwechsel innerhalb des Totenreichs. Schutzgott, Totengericht und die Hoffnung auf ein gutes Leben nach dem Tod im akkadischen Gebet Sb 19319, dem hebräischen Psalm 23 und anderen antiken Quellen, in: A. Zgoll / C. Zgoll (ed.), Mythische Sphärenwechsel. Methodisch neue Zugänge zu antiken Mythen in Orient und Okzident, MythoS 2, Berlin / Boston, 213-249. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110652543-005)

Death brings a changing of spheres, from the world of the living to the world of the dead. The Akkadian prayer Sb 19319, found in a grave at Susa, shows that the dead person expects another changing of spheres, namely one within the netherworld. His protective deity will, he firmly hopes, conduct him to the judgement of the dead, succour him there, and then lead him to a pleasant region of the netherworld. This place is the ultimate goal after death: it is a place with enough food supply, visualised by the image of a leafy meadow, the place where the ancestors live. In the prayer one finds an Erzählstoff about a god helping his protege to change the dangerous spheres of the netherworld, which reveals itself as mythical in the sense given in this volume. Similar notions concerning the hope to live a good life even after death can be detected in other ancient sources from Sumer, Greece, Israel, and Phoenicia. Based on the findings in the Akkadian prayer, a fresh consideration of the Hebrew prayer psalm 23 leads to the discovery of a comparable Erzählstoff in distinct form.


Gemeinhardt, P. 2019, Europa in patristischer Perspektive. Geographie, Mythologie, Heilsgeschichte, in: M. Meyer-Blanck (ed.), Christentum und Europa: XVI. Europäischer Kongress für Theologie (10.-13. September 2017 in Wien), VWGTh (Veröffentlichungen der Wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft für Theologie) 52, Leipzig, 436-456.
Krusche, M. 2019, Göttliches und irdisches Königtum in den Psalmen, FAT (Forschungen zum Alten Testament) 2. Reihe 109, Tübingen.

Impliziert die Rede von Gott als König Kritik an der Institution menschlichen Königtums? Gehören göttliches und irdisches Königtum eng zusammen? Oder stehen sie unverbunden nebeneinander? Auf der Grundlage der Psalmen und im Horizont altorientalischer Königtumsvorstellungen vergleicht Marcel Krusche die Konzeptionen von göttlichem und irdischem Königtum und beschreibt deren Verhältnis. Daraus ergibt sich, dass in den Psalmen zwar vereinzelt antithetische Verhältnisbestimmungen zur Sprache kommen, aber über weite Strecken eine harmonische Verbindung zwischen göttlicher und menschlicher Königsherrschaft vorausgesetzt ist, auch wenn sie in den JHWH-König-Psalmen und den Königspsalmen selten explizit ausgesprochen wird. Diese Zusammengehörigkeit zeigt sich nicht nur auf der Ebene der Einzelpsalmen, sondern auch in deren Anordnung in der Komposition des Psalters.


Feldmeier, R. 2018, Auslegung und Apotheose: Ps 110 und die lukanische Interpretation der Auferstehung, in: Wilk, F. (ed.), Scriptural Interpretation at the Interface between Education and Religion: In Memory of Hans Conzelmann, Themes in Biblical Narrative: Jewish and Christian Traditions 22, Leiden / Boston, 112-122.
Gemeinhardt, P. 2013, „Nicht Mutige, sondern Flüchtlinge bedürfen des Mythos“. Distanzierungen und Annäherungen an den Mythos im spätantiken Christentum, in: A. Zgoll / R. G. Kratz(unter Mitarbeit von K. Maiwald) (ed.), Arbeit am Mythos. Leistung und Grenze des Mythos in Antike und Gegenwart, Tübingen, 249-271.
Kratz, R. G. 2013a, Der Mythos von der großen Flut, in: A. Zgoll / R. G. Kratz (unter Mitarbeit von K. Maiwald) (ed.), Arbeit am Mythos. Leistung und Grenze des Mythos in Antike und Gegenwart, Tübingen, 167-193.
Kratz, R. G. 2013b, The Flood as a Preeamble to the Lives of the Patriarchs: The Biblical Perspective, in: D. Dimant / R. G. Kratz (ed.), Rewriting and Interpreting the Hebrew Bible: The Biblical Patriarchs in the Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls, BZAW (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft) 439, Berlin, 135-145.
Spieckermann, H. 2013, Der Mythos Heilsgeschichte. Veränderte Perspektiven in der alttestamentlichen Theologie, in: A. Zgoll / R. G. Kratz (unter Mitarbeit von K. Maiwald) (ed.), Arbeit am Mythos. Leistung und Grenze des Mythos in Antike und Gegenwart, Tübingen, 145– 166.

Jennifer Brand, Altorientalistik
"Die Nungal-Hymne „Haus, schrecklicher Sturm von Himmel und Erde“. Edition, Mythenschichten, Unterweltsvorstellungen"
Felix Müller, Altorientalistik
"Die sumerisch-akkadische Komposition „Innanas/Ištars Erhöhung“. Edition, Mythenanalyse, Kulturhistorische Auswertung" (Arbeitstitel)
Natalia Kruglova, Ägyptologie
"„Re wurde gebissen“. Hylem- und Stratifikationsanalysen eines ägyptischen mythischen Stoffes"
Franziska Pannach, Digital Humanites
"Narrative Echoes across Time and Space. Comparative Analysis of Structural Similarities in Myth and Folktale Sequences"