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Enheduanna (c.

2285-2250 BCE), Nin-me-shr-ra: The Exaltation of Inanna Enheduanna of Akkadia, princess, poet, and priestess, would be worth remembering as the first named author of a literary work as well as the first identifiable woman author, but her accomplishments extend beyond even these remarkable achievements. She began an important literary tradition of hymnic poetry, and through it, transformed her civilization, both culturally and politically. Some details of Enheduannas life are known for certain; others can be reconstructed through reasonable interpretations of the archaeological record. She was the daughter of Sargon (2234-2279 BCE) of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great. He rose to power in the court of Kish, a Sumerian city, and after becoming its king, conquered neighboring Uruk and Ur, eventually ruling a multi-ethnic empire covering nearly all of Mesopotamia. He ruled from Akkad, a city he had founded himself (although some doubts remain as to its true origins), and made Akkadian, formerly a local ethnic dialect, the official language of his court, effectively ending Sumerian civilization of city-states and beginning the era of the Akkadian nation-state. Such an enormous political transformation could not occur by force of arms alone; Enheduanna played a vital role in solidifying the legitimacy of Sargons rule by becoming the high priestess, or En (her name is a combination of her title, En, and her personal name, Heduanna) of the temple of Nanna, the Sumerian moon god and guardian of the city. She may have held that position in the city of Uruk as well, further emphasizing her dual political and religious role in protecting the city from its enemies by appealing to Nanna and performing religious rites in his name. The practice of placing a daughter of the king in the role of high priestess of Nanna, or as he was later called in Akkadian, Suen, continued for five centuries. In addition, Sargon began the process of equating Nannas daughter, Inanna, with the Akkadian Ishtar, as part of the consolidation of the Sumerian cities into the newly founded Akkadian empire. This continuity of political and religious leadership did not come without cost. After Sargons, a series of revolts began that would continue through the accession of his sons Rimush and Manishtushu and his grandson, Naram-Sin. One usurper, Lugalanne, managed to conquer the city of Ur and remove Enheduanna from the temple and send her into exile. After Naram-Sin put down the revolt and restored Enheduanna to her position, she composed this poem in praise of Inanna, Nannas daughter and the goddess of love, fertility, and war. Significantly, Nanna does not come to Enheduannas aid, and the poem changes from a traditional hymnic appeal to a divine being to a first-person narrative the first in recorded historyto describe her exile. Once Enheduanna has been restored to her position, she describes the composition of the poem itself (another first), then praises Inanna again. This text, a translation from the Sumerian (still the language of religious ritual at the beginning of the Akkadian period) by William Hallo and J. J. A. Van Dijk, consists of about thirty cuneiform tablets, with emendations from about fifty duplicates made during the period. To mimic the original text, Hallo and Van Dijk put the text in two columns,

meant to be read primarily across from left to right, but with interesting literary effects emerging in the parallel elements that appear when the text is scanned from top to bottom. On occasion, the lines go straight across and do not observe the column division when the original text has done the same. Nin-me-shr-ra: The Exaltation of Inanna

A. EXORDIUM (i) Inanna and the mes resplendent light beloved of Heaven and Earth, you of all the great ornaments, suitable for the high priesthood all the seven mes of all the great mes! you have clasped the mes to your breast.

Lady of all the mes,1 Righeous woman clothed in radiance Hierodule2 of An3 Enamored of the appropriate tiara, Whose hand has attained Oh, my lady, you are the guardian You have picked up the mes, (ii) Inanna and An

Like a dragon you have deposited venom on the land When you roar at the earth like Thunder, no vegetation can stand up to you. A flood descending from its mountain, Oh foremost one, you are the Inanna of heaven and earth! Raining the fanned fire down upon the nation Endowed with mes by An, lady mounted on a beast, Who makes decisions at the holy command of An, You of all the great rites, who can fathom what is yours? (iii) Inanna and Enlil4 you are lent wings by the storm. you fly about in the nation. of the decrees of An. the lands bow down. comes before you at your tempestuous radiance,

Devastatrix of the lands, Beloved of Enlil, You are at the service Oh my lady, at the sound of you When mandkind In fear and trembling
1

A me is a divine attribute, such as the ability to send storms, fly through the air, etc., characteristic of a particular god or goddess. A significant part of most Sumerian and Akkadian hymns is a recitation of the mes as a means of identifying and describing the god or goddess being praised. 2 A slave assigned to a temple. 3 An (Sumerian) or Anu (Akkadian) is the sky-god, all-powerful, but somewhat distant from human affairs. 4 Enlil, the god of wind and breath, served as an intermediary between An and the more immediate world and was therefore the model for kingship among the lesser gods. He was Nannas father and Inannas grandfather.

They receive from you Proffering a song of lamentation, They walk toward you along the path (iv) Inanna and Ishkur5

their just deserts. they weep before you, of the house of all the great sighs.

In the van of battle Oh my lady, propelled on your own wings, In the guise of a charging storm With a roaring storm With Thunder Your feet are filled To the accompaniment of the harp of sighs (v) Inanna and the Anunna6

everything is struck down by you. you peck away at the land. you charge. you roar. you continually thunder. with restlessness. you give vent to a dirge.

Oh my lad, the Anunna, Fluttering like bats They who dare not walk Who dare not proceed Who can temper Your malevolent heart Lady who soothes the reins, Whose rage is not tempered, Lady supreme over the land, (vi) Inanna and Ebih8

the great gods, fly off from before you to the clefts, in your terrible glance, before your terrible countenance, your raging heart? is beyond tempering. lady who gladdens the heart, oh eldest daughter of Suen7! who has ever denied you homage?

In the mountain where homage is withheld from you, vegetation is accursed, Its grand entrance you have reduced to ashes. Blood rises in its rivers for you, its people have nought to drink. It leads its army captive before you of its own accord. It disbands its regiments before you of its own accord. It makes its abel-bodied young men parade before you of the own accord. A tempest has filled the dancing of its city. It drives its young adults before you as captives. (vii) Inanna and Uruk9

5 6

Iskur is the Sumerian storm god. The Anunna, or Anunnaki, are a group of Sumerian and Akkadian deities. 7 Another name for Nanna. 8 A country whose rebellion is repressed by Inanna in another poem by Enheduanna. 9 A major Sumerian city conquered by Sargon. Enheduanna was High Priestess of Nanna in Ur; there is evidence to suggest that she also held that role in Ur. Having Sargons daughter occupy this position in both cities would have been a strong sign of his ability to control both cities, even in his absence.

Over the city which has not declared Which has not declared You have spoken your holy command Its woman no longer speaks of love At night they no longer She no longer reveals to him Impetuous wild cow, Lady supreme over An (viii) Invocation of Inanna You of the appropriate mes Issued from the holy womb, Omniscient sage, Sustenance of the multitudes True goddess, fit for the mes Merciful one, brilliantly righteous woman, B. THE ARGUMENT (ix) The Banishment from Ur

The land is yours, It is your fathers, your begettors have verily turned it back from your path, with her husband. have intercourse. her inmost treasures. great daughter of Suen, who has ever denied you homage?

great queen of queens, supreme over the mother who bore you, lady of all the lands, I have verily recited your sacred song! it is exalting to acclaim you, I have verily recited your mes for you!

Verily I had entered my holy giparu10 at your behest, I, the high priestess, I, Enheduanna! I carried the ritual basket, I intoned the acclaim. But now I am placed in the lepers ward, I, even I, can no longer live with you! They approach the light of day, the light is obscured about me, The shadows approach the light of day, it is covered with a sandstorm. My mellifluous mouth is cast into confusion, My choicest features are turned to dust. (x) The Appeal to Nanna-Suen

What is he to me, oh Suen, this Lugalanne11! Say thus to An: May An release me! Say but to An Now! and An will release me. This woman will carry off the manhood of Lugalanne. Mountain and flood lie at her feet. That woman is as exalted as he she will make the city divorce him. Surely she will assuage her heartfelt rage for me. Let me, Enheduanna, recite a prayer to her. Let me give free vent to my tears like sweet drink for the holy Inanna! Let me say Hail to her!

10 11

The residence of the High Priestess within the temple. The usurper who temporarily controlled Ur and banished Enheduanna.

(xi)

The Indictment of Lugalanne

I cannot appease Ashimbabbar12 Lugalanne has altered the lustrations of holy An and all his other rites. He has stripped An of his temple Eanna13, He has not stood in awe of An-lugal14 That sanctuary whose attractions are irresistible, whose beauty is endless, That sanctuary he has verily brought to destruction. Having entered before you as a partner, he has even approached his sister-in-law, Oh my divine impetuous wild cow, drive out this man, capture this man! (xii) The Curse of Uruk

In the place of sustenance what am I, even I? Uruk is a malevolent rebel against your Nannamay An make it surrender! This city may it be sundered by An! May it be cursed by Enlil! May its plaintive child not be placated by its mother? Oh lady, the harp of mourning is placed on the ground. One had verily beached your ship of mourning on a hostile shore. At the sound of my sacred song they are ready to die. (xiii) The Indictment of Nanna As for me, my Nanna takes no heed of me. He has verily given me over to destruction in murderous straits. Ashimbabbar has not pronounced my judgment. Had he pronounced it: what is it to me? Had he not pronounced it: what is it to me? Me who once sat triumphant he has driven out of the sanctuary. Like a swallow he made me fly from the window, my life is consumed. He made me walk in the bramble of the mountain, He stripped me of the crown appropriate for the high priesthood. He gave me dagger and sword it becomes you, he said to me. (xiv) The Appeal to Inanna beloved of An, may it be assuaged on my behalf! of Ushumgalanna15 of the heavenly foundations and zenith.

Most precious lady, Your holy heart is lofty, Beloved bride You are the senior queen
12 13

Another name for Nanna. The Sumerian name for the temple for Nanna in Uruk. 14 Literally, An-king, a name used to praise An, the sky god. 15 Another name for Dumuzi, god of vegetation and fertility and husband of Inanna. He is the subject of a cycle of poems by Enheduanna, including the story of his elevation to divinity and marriage to Inanna. In some myths, he is an ancestor of Gilgamesh.

The Anunna have submitted to you. From birth on you were the junior queen. How supreme you are over the great gods, the Anunna! The Anunna kiss the ground with the lips in obeisance to you. But my own sentence is not concluded, a hostile judgment appears before my eyes as my judgment, My hands are no longer folded on your ritual couch, I may no longer reveal the pronouncements of Ningal16 to man. Yet I am the brilliant high priestess of Nanna, Oh my queen beloved of An, may your heart take pity on me! (xv) The Exaltation of Inanna

That one has not recited as a Known! That one has recited as a Tis Thine!: 17 Be it Known! of Nanna! That you are loft as Heaven (An) be it known! That you are broad as the earth be it known! That you devastate the rebellious land be it known! That you roar at the land be it known! That you smite the heads be it known! That you devour cadavers like a dog be it known! That your glance is terrible be it known! That you lift your terrible glance be it known! That your glance is flashing be it known! That you are ill-disposed toward the18 be it known! That you attain victory be it known! That one has not recited this of Nanna, that one has recited it as a Tis Thine! That, oh my lady, has made you great, you alone are exalted! Oh my lady beloved of An, I have verily recounted your fury! C. PERORATION (xvi) The Composition of the Hymn prepared the lustration let your heart be appeased! oh exalted lady, to this song for you, at midnight at noon! on account of your captive child, your heart unassuaged.

One has heaped up the coals in the censer, The nuptial chamber awaits you, With It is enough for me, it is too much for me! I have given birth, That which I recited to you May the singer repeat it to you Only on account of your captive spouse, Your rage is increased,
16 17

Goddess of reeds, consort of Nanna, and Inannas mother. The phrase Known! Be it Known! refers to a ritual incantation of a gods divine mes. Here, Enheduanna is pointedly declaring that Inanna possesses a divine attribute (me) that Nanna does not. 18 The text is missing a word at this point.

(xvii) The Restoration of Enheduanna The first lady, Has accepted her offerings Inannas heart The day was favorable for her, she was clothed sumptuously, Like the light of the rising moon, When Nanna appeared They all blessed The heavenly doorsill (xviii) Doxology19 For that her (Enheduannas) speaking to the Hierodule was exalted, Praise be to the devastatrix of the lands, endowed with mes from An, To my lady wrapped in beauty, to Inanna! the reliance of the throne room, has been restored. she was garbed in womanly beauty, how she was sumptuously attired! in proper view, her (Inannas) mother Ningal, called Hail!

Study Questions for The Exaltation of Inanna by Enheduanna Literature: 1. What accounts for Enheduannas shifts in voice from ritual praise (Let it be known!) to first-person narrative and back again? How does the shift reflect her exile and restoration thematically? 2. What patterns can you see in metaphorical language of the poem? What kinds of images characterize Enheduannas exile? How does she describe the creative process? 3. Ancient literature frequently deploys a technique of repetitions known as parallelism to emphasize similarities or create vivid contrasts. How does Enheduannas parallelism make a particular point about the difference between Nanna and Innana? Political Science 1. The Exaltation of Inanna can be understood as an indirect argument for the legitimacy of the Sargonic dynasty. How does the poem maintain Enheduannas status as high priestess despite her exile? How does this shift in understanding of political status help Naram-Sin keep his throne? 2. How do the curses placed on Lugalanne show him to be unworthy of the throne? What can we understand about what makes a good ruler from what Enheduanna says about a bad one?
19

The translators have borrowed this term taken from Christian liturgy for a short prayer of praise.

Religious Studies 1. What can we determine about the role of the high priestess as an intermediary between the gods and human beings from this poem? What does Enheduanna do that serves the community? 2. Enheduannas poem describes both the ineffectiveness of appealing to Nanna, the god of her temple, for aid, and the effectiveness of Inannas intervention on her behalf. What significance does Enheduannas theological explanation of her exile and restoration have for your understanding of the role of the temple god of a city? How has Enheduanna exchanged the power of the god of a particular temple for one whose power extends to all the cities of the Akkadian empire?