The Era Epic is the expression of frustrated patriotism. Babylonia had been reduced to ruins and impotence by a people called the Sutû, and the author is trying to explain the reason and to give promises of a glorious future. The reason given is that the god Era, a god of pestilence, had been angry. No grounds, ultimately, for this anger are suggested: it was the god's nature. His commander-in-chief, the god Išum, finally persuaded him to relent. The last of the five tablets, in which the text is written, begins at the point in the narrative where Era has been appeased.
One distinctive feature is a long epilogue. The Epic of Creation is the only other Babylonian epic with a similar ending, but this is less detailed. The Era Epic names its author, and specifies the particular blessings that would come upon gods, kings, nobles, rhapsodists, scribes, and houses that heed this ‘song’. These promised blessings account for many of the copies which have come down to us. The whole epic inscribed in minute writing on a single tablet, single tablets of the five, or short extracts, were used as amulets. Miss E. Reiner has written on this use of the Epic in J.N.E.S. 19 (1960), pp. 148–155. Often the tablets have two corners cut away and a horizontal hole through the remaining tab, as though to fit the tablet into a frame. Such a tablet forms the basis of the present publication. It is a Neo-Late-Babylonian tablet from Ur, U.18122, which contained the whole of Tablet Five written in a minute hand. Unfortunately only illegible traces of the obverse remain, but most of the reverse is preserved, if legible with difficulty. In addition to the copy (Plate XXXVI), we give a full edition of the Fifth Tablet based on collations of all the London fragments. A copy is also given of Bu. 91–5–9, 69+177+225, which has previously been read from inadequate photographs. In view of the useful list of MSS. of the Epic given, with full bibliography, by B. Kienast in Z.A. 54, pp. 244–249, we leave readers to refer to that for details.