We wish to call particular attention to the Assyrian reading to be given this evening by Prof. Lyon in Sever Hall. The poem to be read is the oldest existing epic, and has been discovered only in the last ten years. The interest centres chiefly about Izdubar, who has many points in common with the Bibical Nimrod with whom he has been partially identified. The poem was discovered a few years ago by George Smith while studying some baked tablets in the British Museum. It is impressed in cuneiform characters on twelve tablets of clay about ten by eight inches in dimension, each tablet containing one canto. The tablets are covered on both sides, and each side is divided into three columns of forty lines each, so that there are seventy-two columns in all. Of the poem about a third has been recovered, which includes fragments of all twelve cantos. Two cantos are preserved almost entire. In the eleventh canto is found a very interesting account of the deluge. It was the description of the sending out of the birds in this canto that was discovered first. This account resembles in many points the description given in Genesis, each account of course being affected by local influences.
The poem contains a very beautiful episode of the descent of Istar, the goddess of love, into hell, which is also preserved in other tablets. It is a curious fact that parts of several editions of the poem have been found which lead to the belief that there were at one time many editions. The only place where the poem can be found is in Sayce's edition of Smith's "Chaldaean Genesis," which contains about one-third of the poem.
As the poem is such a recent discovery its reading by Prof. Lyon will be an event of special interest to every one, as he has studied the poem from original sources and is one of the few persons in the world who have made it a study. In the course of the reading, which will be short, he will give a metrical version of the episode of Istar, which has been written by one of his colleagues.
We hope that the interest as well as the importance of the subject will attract a large audience to greet Prof. Lyon tonight. Any person who neglects this rare opportunity can not fail to regret it afterward.