Marduk’s Penis

Queering Enūma Eliš

  • Sophus Helle (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


The paper examines the depiction of gender in the Babylonian epic Enūma Eliš. I approach the text

from the perspective of queer theory, basing my argument on the assumption that the gender binary

is not a natural given but is culturally constructed, and that the process of cultural construction can be

traced in the sources at our disposal. I do not argue that Enūma Eliš is somehow a ‘queer’ text in and

of itself, but rather that a conscious mismatch between text and theory can reveal new aspects of the

ancient epic. I focus on two aspects of the construction of gender in Enūma Eliš: the depiction of the

female body as constantly restless, disquieting, and impossible to subdue decisively, and the creation of

an all-male sphere of discourse, where men become powerfully invested in the company of other men.