Kristin Kleber, "Rhetorical strategies in letters of Babylonian officials", in: Zeitschrift für Altorientalische und Biblische Rechtsgeschichte, 18 (2012), 221–237


The contribution directs attention to a hidden side of administration: aspects of the mentality of Babylonian officials, their bureaucratic ethos, and their interaction with colleagues. It is a study of the pragmatics of their letters, that is, the use of language in a social context, here in particular the strategies used by officials to persuade other officials to act in a certain way. The letters come mostly from building sites where the temple had to perform corvée work for the king. The spatial distance between them and their ‘home-tempel’ made is necessary to write down argumentation lines that would otherwise be communicated orally. Therefore these letters are a unique chance to get a glimpse into rhetorical strategies used to communicate “upwards” to higher authorities, on equal level, and “downwards” to subordinates.

Published In