Uncovering the propagandistic purpose: A qualitative analysis of the legend of Sargon in ancient Mesopotamia
Author(s): Tony Yuan
The Legend of Sargon of Akkad recounts Sargon’s origins, the adversities he faced, and his final rise to power as the king of Akkadian empire. It is widely acknowledged among scholars as one of the primary sources that help us understand the political and social circumstances of that period and the development of literature and storytelling. Using a qualitative analytical framework based on primary and secondary sources, this paper aims to parse the potential propagandistic purpose of the legend of Sargon. The results of my analysis indicates that some potential purposes of the story are to emphasize his exceptionalism, when compared to the ruling nobles of Sumerian city-states and to legitimize the rule of Sargon of Akkad. Because of Sargon’s humble beginnings, people who have been disaffected or oppressed under the rigid social structure of Sumerian city-states may recognize Sargon as a symbol of hope and protection from abuses of the nobilities. While the true purpose of ancient documents may be arduous to determine with confirmation, it is probable that the purpose of The Legend of Sargon is propagandistic, as there are similar propagandistic ancient texts, such as Stele of Vultures.