Sumer 2300 BC: a special dialect called “language of women” was used for speeches of women and goddesses in various types of genre, including love poetry between the genders

Sumerian woman condition 2300 BC:

Being a priestess was the most prestigious position for females, which meant that they were the chief attendants to the goddesses and gods.

As was done later in Christianity, wealthy families sent one daughter with a considerable dowry, to be sequestered in the temple, whose duty was to offer up prayers for her family’s health and well-being.

As the high priestess to the moon god, Nanna, at Ur and to An, the heaven god at Uruk and to Inanna, the goddess of love and war at Uruk, Enheduanna, circa 2300 b.c.e. was the earliest known priestess, and one of the most famous women in ancient history.

While she was appointed by her father, the ruler Sargon the Great, her ability and administration of her duties was superb.

As chief priestess she presided over a huge temple complex, including a library, granaries, schools, hostels, and large land ownership. The stepped mud-brick pyramidal structures were called ziggurats and could be as big as cathedrals.

For instance, the temple in the city-state of Lagash circa 3000 b.c.e. provided daily bread and ale for 1200+ people. The temple to Nanna at Ur is extant.

One of the chief priestess’s duties was to communicate the deity’s wishes to humans by way of omens. These omens could be found in the shape of the liver in sacrificed sheep.

Failure to revere and propitiate the deities could bring catastrophes like floods, drought, pestilence, and enemy raids.

It was Enheduanna’s devotion and composition of hymns to Inanna that has brought her lasting fame. In Enheduanna’s eulogies of Inanna, she described her as the equal in rank to the deity An, who became head of the Sumerian pantheon sometime in the third millennium, supplanting Inanna.

Enheduanna wrote forty-two hymns to Inanna. In her Exaltation of Inanna, she relates how Inanna rescued the tree of life (like the biblical tree of knowledge) from the world flood and planted it in her garden.

As the first known author by name, her poetry was copied and studied, greatly influencing the development of literature in the ancient Near East.

While most literature from ancient Sumer was written in Sumerian, there was a special dialect called “language of women,” used for speeches of women and goddesses in various types of genre, including love poetry between the genders.

Ten royal priestesses followed Enheduanna over the next five hundred years (some sources say one thousand years), with each holding office for life like Enheduanna.

Written tablets exist recording the commercial activities of the priestesses, indicating their business acumen. Probably this relates to the middle and upper classes.

source: web.clark.edu/afisher/HIST251/lecture_texts/mesopotamia.doc

 

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: literature

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: