History Nerd Girl's Homage to an Ancient of the Ancients...
“Funeral offerings were brought, as if I had never lived there.
I approached the light, but the light scorched me.
I approached the shade, but I was covered with a storm.
My honeyed mouth became scummed. Tell An about Lugal-Ane and my fate!
May An undo it for me! As soon as you tell An about it, An will release me.”
I’m no poet, but that was deep right?! Would you believe that this particular poem is over 4,000 years old? Yes sir and/or ma’am, it’s what I like to call and oldie but a goodie. That reminds me though. I have something to wish you all. So I’ll come back to my history rant in a minute.
*Drum roll* Happy New Year!!!
How exciting, we are now into the New Year proper! Holiday fun and empty wallets will soon be a distant memory as we ready for the next festivities, whatever they may be. I do hope everyone had a wonderful time. I know I did.
Now back to the scheduled history rant.
This history tidbit I’m going to share was actually a thoughtful gift my husband gave me during the holidays. (No, we didn’t literally time travel or anything, but how cool would have that been?! Science really needs to catch up to my imagination.)
Anywho, my husband gifted me a book that he thought I would love. And he was right! I freaking adore it!!! The book’s title is “Rad Women Worldwide” written by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl. The title says it all. It gives you tidbits into the lives of the ultra-cool women of our time and times past. So I thought “Why not let my history-nerd stew in the informational pot of women and their ‘rad’ ways just a bit longer?”
In my last post I wrote about a kick-ace woman assassin that fought in WWII. Her story was, and still is, truly amazing! However today I would like to change paths and write about another impressive lady that armed herself with beautiful words instead of a sniper rifle.
In one of the cradles of life, lived an Akkadian/Sumerian High Priestess during the years of 2285- 2250 BCE that went by the name of Enheduanna, which translates to 'High Priestess of An’ (the sky god) or 'En-Priestess, wife of the god Nanna'.
Her modern fame is derived from her status of being the world’s first author (poet) known by name. Additionally, she is credited with creating the models of poetry, psalms, and prayers used throughout the ancient world.
Scholar Paul Kriwaczek wrote:
"Her compositions, though only rediscovered in modern times, remained models of petitionary prayer for [centuries]. Through the Babylonians, they influenced and inspired the prayers and psalms of the Hebrew Bible and the Homeric hymns of Greece. Through them, faint echoes of Enheduanna, the first named literary author in history, can even be heard in the hymnody of the early Christian church."
Her sway over the people during and after her lifetime was as extraordinary as her literary heirloom. Being the daughter of Sargon of Akkad (Sargon the Great, 2334-2279 BCE) probably made privacy a non-existent notion for her, even if she dreamed of lacking notoriety. How she personally felt about all the attention is lost to history.
Sargon’s name was among the most famous in antiquity and because of that I believe he deserves his own entry. However, for this post, all you need to know about him is that he was the king and he elevated his daughter, Enheduanna, to the position of high priestess of the most important temple in Sumer (in the city of Ur).
He left his daughter the responsibility of merging the Sumerian gods with the Akkadian ones to foster a road towards stability and control, which the king needed to ensure his empire thrived.
And she did just that… Changing the very fabric of the Mesopotamian religion and the people’s perceptions. Well, for the most part.
Words can only do so much to soothe regions constantly plagued by uprisings since their conception. So it was only a matter of time before the boiling pot of aggression would make itself known to Enheduanna.
It’s also believed, but not verified, she was the first woman to hold the title of High Priestess of that particular region. It would seem in the case of Lugal-Ane, there was too much change for his liking. And at first glance, it looked as if Enheduanna had met her match. In her writings, she tells the story of being driven from her post as high priestess and cast into exile. The poem I opened my post with is the plea she wrote to the goddess Inanna requesting an appeal the god An for help.
Luckily for Enheduanna, it would appear, Inanna heard her prayer and through the gods’ intercession in her cause, she was restored to her rightful place in the temple.
She is best known for her hymns Inninsagurra, Ninmesarra, and Inninmehusa, which translate as “The Great-Hearted Mistress”, “The Exaltation of Inanna”, and “Goddess of the Fearsome Powers”. All three of these beautiful hymns are dedicated to the goddess Inanna (later identified with Ishtar and, still later, Aphrodite). For over forty years Enheduanna held the office of High Priestess. Within those years, in addition to her hymns, she penned forty-two poems. You have to love those over achievers!
Happy Thursday everyone!