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14 Poems of Enheduanna

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Poems of Enheduanna


14.2 The Exaltation of Inanna
14.6 The Temple Hymns

14.19 The Tale of Inanna and Ebih

14.23 The Great-Hearted Lady

14.27 Bibliography

Figure 1: A limestone disc found at Ur and partially restored, showing Enheduanna (centre) with three attendants making an offering.1

The Exaltation of Inanna

Also known from its incipit as nin-me-šár-ra, this poem claims to have been created by Enheduanna. This daughter of Sargon and priestess of Nanna at Ur is known as the author of three (maybe four) other compositions besides this one. In fact, she is the earliest author of any literature to be known by name (though she may only have taken the name by which we now know her – which means ‘priestess, fit for heaven’ – at the time of her appointment as priestess.) The purpose of this particular composition is fundamentally to exalt Inanna to the level of An. Inanna, or rather the Akkadian equivalent Ishtar, was specially favoured by the Sargonic dynasty. She may even have been the general favourite of the Akkadian people, in which case her exaltation might have been intended partly as an assertion of imperial power. The occasion of this poem seems to have been the temporary loss of Akkadian power in Uruk during the revolt against Naram-Sin. A certain Lugalanna is mentioned in legendary texts as having been involved in this.2 At that time Enheduanna was removed from her post, for reasons which we can well imagine, but she was apparently restored to honour with the reconquest of the south, however partial.

The poem appears to have been very popular. This translation by Hallo and van Dijk3 is reconstructed from about 50 sources.

Lady of all the mes, resplendent light,
Righteous woman clothed in radiance, beloved of Heaven and Earth,
Hierodule of An, (you) of all the great ornaments,
Enamored of the appropriate tiara, suitable for the high priesthood
Whose hand has attained (all) the “seven” mes,
Oh my lady, you are the guardian of all the great mes!
You have picked up the mes, you have hung the mes on your hand,
You have gathered up the mes, you have clasped the mes to your breast.

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 upon a beast,
Who makes decisions at the holy command of An.
(You) of all the great rites, who can fathom what is yours!

Devastatrix of the lands, you are lent wings by the storm.

Beloved of Enlil, you fly about in the nation.
You are at the service of the decrees of An.
Oh my lady, at the sound of you the lands bow down.
When mankind comes before you
In fear and trembling at (your) tempestuous radiance,
They receive from you their just deserts.
Proffering a song of lamentation, they weep before you,
They walk toward you along the path of the house of all the great sighs.

In the van of battle everything is struck down by you.

Oh my lady, (propelled) on your own wings, you peck away (at the land).
In the guise of a charging storm you charge.
With a roaring storm you roar.
With Thunder you continually thunder.
With all the evil winds you snort.
Your feet are filled with restlessness.
To (the accompaniment of) the harp of sighs you give vent to a dirge.

Oh my lady, the Anunna, the great gods,

Fluttering like bats fly off from before you to the clefts,
They who dare not walk(?) in your terrible glance
Who dare not proceed before your terrible countenance.
Who can temper your raging heart?
Your malevolent heart is beyond tempering.
Lady (who) soothes the reins, lady (who) gladdens the heart,
Whose rage is not tempered, oh eldest daughter of Suen!
Lady supreme over the land, 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 naught to drink.
It leads its army captive before you of its own accord.
It disbands its regiments for you of its own accord.
It makes its able-bodied young men parade before you of their own accord.
A tempest has filled the dancing of its city.
It drives its young adults before you as captives.

Over the city which has not declared “The land is yours”,

Which has not declared “It is your father’s, your begettor’s”
You have spoken your holy command, have verily turned it back from your path.
Have verily removed your foot from out of its byre.
Its woman no longer speaks of love with her husband.
At night they no longer have intercourse.
She no longer reveals to him her inmost treasures.
Impetuous wild cow, great daughter of Suen,
Lady supreme over An who has (ever) denied (you) homage?

You of the appropriate mes, great queen of queens,

issued from the holy womb, supreme over the mother who bore you,
Omniscient sage, lady of all the lands,
Sustenance of the multitudes, I have verily recited your sacred song!
True goddess, fit for the mes, it is exalting to acclaim you.
Merciful one, brilliantly righteous woman, I have verily recited your mes for you.

Verily I had entered my holy gipar 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 leper’s 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 (sand)storm.
My mellifluous mouth is cast into confusion.
My choicest features are turned to dust.

What is he to me, oh Suen, this Lugalanne!

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!

I cannot appease Ashimbabbar.

(Lugalanne) has altered the lustrations of holy An and all his (other rites).
He has stripped An of (his temple) Eanna.
He has not stood in awe of An-lugal
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!

In the place of sustenance what am I, even I?

(Uruk) is a malevolent rebel against your Nanna – may 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 his 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.

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 judgement.
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.

Most precious lady, beloved of An,

Your holy heart is lofty, may it be assuaged on my behalf!
Beloved bride of Ushumgalanna,
You are the senior queen of the heavenly foundations and zenith.
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 their lips (in obeisance) to you.
(But) my own sentence is not concluded, a hostile judgement appears before my eyes as my judgement.
(My) hands are no longer folded on the ritual couch,
I may no longer reveal the pronouncements of Ningal to man.
(Yet) I am the brilliant high priestess of Nanna,
Oh my queen beloved of An, may your heart take pity on me!

That one has not recited as a “Known! Be it known!” of Nanna, that one has recited as a “’Tis Thine!”:

“That you are as lofty as Heaven (An) – be it known!
That you are as 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 the ...
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!

One has heaped up the coals (in the censer), prepared the lustration

The nuptial chamber awaits you, let your heart be appeased!
With “It is enough for me, it is too much for me!” I have given birth, oh exalted lady, (to this song) for you.
That which I recited to you at (mid)night
May the singer repeat it to you at noon!
(Only) on account of your captive spouse, on account of your captive child,
Your rage is increased, your heart unassuaged.

The first lady, the reliance of the throne room,

Has accepted her offerings
Inanna’s heart has been restored.
The day was favourable for her, she was clothed sumptuously, she was garbed in womanly beauty.
Like the light of the rising moon, how she was sumptuously attired!
When Nanna appeared in proper view,
they (all) blessed her (Inanna’s) mother Ningal.
The heavenly doorsill called “Hail!”

For that her (Enheduanna’s) speaking to the hierodule was exalted,

Praise be (to) the devastatrix of the lands, endowed with the mes from An,
(To) my lady wrapped in beauty, (to) Inanna!

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