Like the oath, the utterance of a curse was believed to have magic powers that could destroy its victim by an inherent force. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the hero Enkidu curses the courtesan who had introduced him to civilization, and only a subsequent, equally elaborate blessing could avert the inevitable actualization of the malediction.
   Public monuments could be protected from vandalism, theft, and misappropriation by curses. In such inscriptions, the gods are called upon to guarantee the effectiveness of the curse. The most common threat was to have the “seed cut off”—meaning to die without living offspring and to remain “without a name.” Royal grants and other publicly displayed legal decrees (see BOUNDARY STONES; LAWS) had curses that not only safeguarded the stele or actual monument but ensured that the contents of the inscribed stipulations were respected for all times.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

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