The Reading Room
- 1 -
The Sumerians' Really Great Idea
THE SKY WAS PINK with dust as the small party of Bedouin wanderers trudged up the sand dune to look over the land.
Cecil B. DeMille, leader of the tribe, gingerly withdrew the cloak tightly wrapped around his face to survey this new land.
Naturally, he got sand in his face, and collapsed on the ground cursing and swearing.(1)
When the dust finally settled, he got up and again gingerly withdrew the cloak tightly wrapped around his face to survey the new land.
DeMille thought back to his old tribe. The tents parked by the ocean, his father, the snailworker(2) , and his mother, the basket weaver(3). He thought about what stupid, visionless people they were. He thought about the Village Elder, the most important man in the tribe, and how visionless he was. Boy, they were worthless people. How he was going to show them!
"Rand Mak Nalli!" he demanded of his royal valets. (Rand Mak Nalli is, of course, ancient Sumerian for "road map".)
He examined the land, cursing some more.
He turned to his valets. In ancient Sumerian, he said, "This can't be the Fertile Crescent! Look at how arid it is! Why did we bother to come at all?"
His valets examined the map and said, "Yes, this is the Fertile Crescent."
"Fertile? This is fertile? It's just a bunch of sand dunes! How can anybody find any kind of enrichment here?"
With these strong words, Cecil slammed his ceremonial walking-stick deep into the desert sands. Immediately, a vast fountain of unrefined oil shot out of the immense reservoirs hidden beneath the sands.
And thus, the first great corporation, Sumeri-Petro, was born. As a matter of fact, it was #1 in the Fortune 500 for 1400 years, starting in the September 3291 BC issue.
Needless to say, Cecil built his city around this vast well of wealth. So civilization as we know it today was born. As always, in Sumer the greedy filthy rich fed off of the virtuous poor, and enslaved any class of people willing to challenge their power.
Cecil was worshipped as god-king over the vast corporate empire of Sumer for eighty years. When he lay in his deathbed in 3214 BC, he called his son in and forced him to take the Sumerian God-King Oath, which ran like this :
"I, <name of god-king here>, do promise to demandeth all things that should be desired by any good god-king : the demand to be worshipped, the demand for blood-sacrifices, and the demand of a male heir to be born from my choice of countless concubines. I promise to demand that on my father's death (May He Be Held In Worshipful Memory Forever), all of the known employees of Sumeri-Petro shalt have a day off, without any pay from the Divine Treasuries, and on the first anniversary, and every anniversary thereafter, of my ascension to the god-king throne, the same said employees shalt have another day off. I promise to extol my worshipful slave-servants without any trace of mercy, and intend horrible fates on my adversaries of any magnitude. I shalt be ruthless, conceited, and just plain terrifying."(4)
Ebert-Bon-DeMille-Moniker, Cecil's son, was a terrible king. Sumeri-Petro stock lost ninety-eight points in the Dowki-Joneseth rating during his thirty-three year reign.
But since the further history of the Sumerian Empire would only be of interest to a stock broker, let us skip to the next chapter entitled :
"THE FALL OF THE SUMERIAN CORPORATE EMPIRE"
1. This is where the ancient custom of kissing the ground in a new land originated.
2. In ancient Sumeria, "snailworkers" were among the most important members of society. Besides being renowned as gourmets, the art they made with snail shells has lasted the millennia - well, centuries, - no, decades - O.K., they were worthless, alright? Their art was trashed is that fine with you? They were considered deadbeats. Just because they were different. I tell you. No wonder Mr. DeMille was so frustrated with his forefathers' stupid world order.
3. Officially known as "basket cases" in ancient Sumeria.
4. This oath was repeated in full only once, by Cecil's son, Ebert-Bon-DeMille-Moniker. The Sumerians were characteristically lazy, and at Ebert's death in 3181 BC, his son, Garth, took a much shorter version of the oath, which ran like this : "Yes, yes, I will be a good god-king, Daddy. Now just lay back and kick off."