Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Hymn to Shamash for the Times-Picayune

"Sunlight is the best disinfectant."
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

New Orleans will soon become the largest U.S. city without a daily newspaper. The Times-Picayune, one of the best newspapers in the country, and one that helped New Orleans immeasurably after the flood, will soon be delivered only three days per week.  One third of the Times-Picayune employees were fired yesterday. One half of the people in the newsroom were let go. Kevin from the Gambit did a good job covering the devastationThe villain in all of this is Advance Publications, and especially publisher Ricky Mathews, who is my new nemesis (I'll deal with you later Adrastos!). The paper is profitable, and it has the highest saturation rate of any newspaper in the country. Despite calls to sell the newspaper or keep it daily, Advance Publications is determined to move forward. It's a good day to be one of the many corrupt people in New Orleans, as your chances of escaping justice improved dramatically thanks to Mr. Mathews and company.

What we need is for the Mesopotamian sun deity Shamash to open up a big can of solar whoop-ass. Here's a picture of Shamash traveling round the sky in his solar tent:
Shamash from a tablet in the British Museum

Shamash, like most sun deities, is responsible for justice. He shines light on dark situations, and he's in charge of law and order, as well as prophecy. He gave Hammurabi his famous law code. He allows us to see clearly what is transpiring. Ultimately, in my opinion, he solved every mystery on Scooby Doo. Below is a portion of the Assyrian text known as the Hymn to Shamash. It's about 2,900 years old. In my mind, it's what journalism is meant to do. Most important though, notice that Shamash brought his solar disinfectant DAILY, not three times per week with an enhanced web presence.

Hymn to Shamash 
Translation B. Foster 
Illuminator of all, the whole of heaven,
Who makes light the d[arkness for mankind]
            above and below,
Shamash, illuminator of all, the whole of heaven,
            and below,
Your radiance [spre]ads out like a net [over the
You brighten the g[loo]m of the distant mountains.

Your beams are ever mastering secrets,
            At the brightness of your light, humakind’s
            Footprints become vis[ible].
            You blunt the horns of a scheming villain,
The perpetrator of a cunning deal is undermined.
You show the roguish judge the (inside of) a jail,
He who takes the fee but does not carry through,
            You make him bear the punishment.
The one who receives no fee but takes up the case
            of the weak,
            Is pleasing to Shamash, he will make long his
The careful judge who gives just verdicts,
Controls the government, lives like a prince.
What return is there for the investor in dishonest
 The feeble one calls you as much as his speech
            allows him,
The meek, the weak, the oppressed, the submit-
Daily, ever, and always come before you.
            He whose family is far off, whose city is dis-
The shepherd [in] the afflictions of the wilderness,
The herdsman in trouble, the keeper of sheep
            among the enemy, come before you.
O Shamash, there comes before you the
            fishermen with his net,
The hunter, the archer, the driver of the game,
The fowler among his snares comes before you,
The skulking thief comes before Shamash,
The bandit on the wilderness paths comes before
            The wandering dead, the vagrant spirit come
            before you,
O Shamash, you have listened to them all.
You did not hold back (?) those who came before
            you, you heeded them,
For my sake, O Shamash, do not despise them!
You grant wisdom, O Shamash, to humankind,
            You grant those seeking you your raging,
            fierce light.


Editor B said...

I will keep this in mind for the solstice.

adrastos said...

We have a shared nemesis. Cool.