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𒊩𒌆 𒈨 𒄭 𒊏 𒌓 𒈦𒄘𒃼 𒌓𒁺 𒀀
nin me šar2-ra u4 dalla_e3-a
lady me all-of day shine-that
nin me šara u dalla ea
1 – Lady of all me, resplendent daylight,
The first two words of the poem, nin and me, are both keywords that play a crucial role throughout the text. On the nature of the me, see this page. The word nin, “lady,” recurs at regular frequencies, mostly to open or close a section of the poem. Note that šar2, “all,” can also mean “countless.” One manuscript renders the line as: “lady of sweet (du10) me”; this is likely due to a graphic confusion of the two signs šar2 and du10, which look almost identical.
𒊩 𒍣 𒈨 𒉈 𒅍 𒊒 𒆠 𒉘 𒀭 𒅁 𒀀
munus zi me-lam2 gur3-ru ki-aĝ2 an uraš-a
woman true terrifying_light carry-that beloved An Urash-of
munus zi melam guru kiaĝ An Uraša
2 – righteous woman, laden with a terrifying light, loved by An and Urash,
An and Urash are the deified forms of heaven and earth, respectively. The me-lam2 is the awe-inducing halo of light that surrounds gods and other supernatural beings. Zgoll (301–302) notes that the signs munus zi, “righteous woman,” also form an archaic spelling of the word zirru, which was one of Enheduana’s titles as high priestess. The writing of the word zirru had since changed into nunuz-zi, but it is possible that the older form lingered in the background, instilling a connection between Inana and Enheduana herself.
𒉡 𒈪𒉭 𒀭 𒈾 𒊑 𒆟 𒃲 𒃲 𒆷
nu-gig an-na MUŠ3 KEŠ2 gal-gal-la
nugig An-of jewels?-bound? great-of
nugig Ana suh? keše? galgala
3 – nugig of An, she of the great jewels,?
The nugig was originally a designation for a wetnurse or midwife, often of high status and sometimes affiliated with a temple. It is used as an epithet for Inana and other goddesses, but its meaning was confused already in antiquity: for the history of the term, see Brisch. The reading of the signs MUŠ3 KEŠ2 is unclear. Zgoll, Foster, and Black et al. take it to mean “pectoral jewels,” an emblem of power worn on the breast. Attinger understands it as “bound” (keše2) “coronets” (suh10): the phrase would then mean “she to whom the great coronets are bound,” that is, “she who holds the great coronets.”
𒂇 𒍣 𒉈 𒆠 𒉘 𒉆 𒂗 𒈾 𒁺 𒈠
aga zi-de3 ki-aĝ2 nam-en-na tum2-ma
crown righteous loves en-ship suitable_for-that
aga zide kiaĝ namena tuma
4 – she who loves the righteous crown, who is suitable for en-ship,
The en-ship can refer to the position of either a political ruler or a high priestess—en can mean both. The second part of the line is here taken to describe Inana, but it could also describe the crown, as in: “She who loves the righteous crown that befits the high priestess.” The ambiguity may be intentional, again implying a connection between Inana and Enheduana herself, who was the en of Nanna.
𒈨 𒅓 𒁉 𒋗 𒁲 𒅗 𒂵
me imin-bi šu_sa2_du11-ga
me seven-its take-that
me iminbi šu sa duga
5 – who has taken hold of its seven me!
“Its” may refer back to en–ship; alternatively, it can be read as “their” (of the gods) or just “these.” The number “seven” is not necessarily to be taken literally: it hints at Inana’s many me (which, as noted in l. 1, are innumerable), but also signposts the poetic structure of the following section, which consists of stanzas of seven lines, introduced by the phrase nin-ĝu10, “my lady.” Note that the emphasis of the line is on Inana taking her divine powers herself—the agency is clearly hers—perhaps recalling the story Inana and Enki, which tells of how she tricked Enki into giving her the me.
𒊩𒌆 𒈬 𒈨 𒃲 𒃲 𒆷 𒊕 𒆟 𒁉 𒍝 𒂊 𒈨 𒂗
nin-ĝu10 me gal-gal-la saĝ-keše2-bi za-e-me-en
lady-my me great-of guardian-their you-are
ninĝu me galgala saĝkešebi zaemen
6 – My lady! Of the great me, you are their guardian:
This is the first appearance of the phrase nin-ĝu10, “my lady,” which in this section introduces a new stanza.
𒈨 𒈬 𒂊 𒅍 𒈨 𒋗 𒍪 𒂠 𒈬 𒂊 𒇲
me mu-e-il2 me šu-zu-še3 mu-e-la2
me lift me hand-your-to hang
me mueil me šuzuše me muela
7 – You have lifted the me, you have hung the me from your hand,
Here as elsewhere, the me are depicted as physical objects, hanging from Inana’s hand perhaps like beads on a string.
𒈨 𒈬 𒂊 𒌴 𒈨 𒃮 𒍝 𒉈 𒋰
me mu-e-ur4 me gaba-za bi2-tab
me gather me breast-your-at clutch
me mueur me gabaza me bitab
8 – You have gathered the me, you have clutched the me to your breast.
This heavily patterned couplet (me–verb–me–body part–verb) is also structured by a heavy alliteration on m-, with all but the last verb beginning with mu-.
𒃲𒁔 𒁶 𒆳 𒊏 𒅜 𒁀 𒂊 𒋧
ušumgal-gin7 kur-ra uš11 ba-e-šum2
ušumgal–like mountain-upon venom give
ušumgalgin kura uš baešum
9 – Like an ušumgal, you have deposited venom on the foreign land,
The ušumgal, often translated “basilisk” or “dragon,” is a giant horned serpent with fangs and (evidently) a venomous spit. A relief depicting a similar creature, the mušhuššu, gives us an idea of what they were thought to look like. Note also that the word kur can mean “mountain,” “foreign land,” “enemy,” and just “land.” These multiple meanings are in play throughout the poem.
𒀭 𒅎 𒁶 𒆠 𒅲 𒄄 𒀀 𒍝 𒀭 𒊺𒊺𒉪 𒆷 𒁀 𒂊 𒅆 𒅅
diškur-gin7 ki še27_gi4-a-za dašnan la-ba-e-ši-ĝal2
Ishkur-like place shout-that-your-in Ashnan not-exist
Iškurgin ki še giaza Ašnan labašiĝal
10 – like Ishkur, where you shout, Ashnan disappears before you.
Ishkur is the god of storms and Ashnan the goddess of grain. The line thus compares Inana’s howl to a storm that flattens the farmland, by either bending the grain stalks or wrenching them from the ground.
𒀀 𒈠 𒊒 𒆳 𒁉 𒋫 𒇯𒁺 𒉈
a-ma-ru kur-bi-ta e11-de3
flood mountain-its-from stream
amaru kurbita ede
11 – Flood that streams down from these mountains,
Since kur can also mean “foreign land,” the line may refer to Inana as a destructive force descending upon the enemy, but the preposition -ta, “from,” makes it more likely that mountains are meant.
𒊕 𒆗 𒀭 𒆠 𒀀 𒀭 𒈹 𒁉 𒈨 𒂗
saĝ-kal an ki-a dinana-bi-me-en
foremost heaven earth-on Inana-their-are
saĝkal an kia Inanabimen
12 – supreme in heaven and earth: you are their Inana.
The ending of the line is striking, especially since Inana is almost never referred to by name in this poem. Various interpretations are possible. The word Inana could also mean “goddess” in general, leading to translations such as “you are their goddess,” or, in Foster, “you are their warrior goddess.” According to Attinger, the line is an attempt to explain Inana’s name. In- can be taken as a shortened form of nin, “lady” and An-a means “of heaven.” The line could thus be read: “leader of heaven and earth: this lady-of-heaven (Inana) is you.”
𒉈 𒉈 𒉈 𒊏 𒌦 𒂊 𒀀𒀭 𒂷
izi bar7-bar7-ra kalam-e šeĝ3-ĝa2
fire blaze-that land-upon rain-that
izi barbara kalame šeĝa
13 – Blazing fire raining on the land!
In this section, every seventh line begins with nin-ĝu10, “my lady,” except this line, where the expected phrase is replaced by another kind of repetition: the threefold repetition of the cuneiform sign ne.
𒀭 𒉌 𒈨 𒋧 𒈠 𒊩𒌆 𒌨 𒊏 𒄷𒋛 𒀀
an-ne2 me šum2-ma nin ur-ra u5-a
An me give-that lady beast-on ride-that
Ane me šuma nin ura ua
14 – She to whom An gave the me, lady riding on lions,
Here, in l. 128 below, and in l. 23 of the Hymn, the word ur, which generally means “beast” or “dog,” seems to refer to lions, which is the animal most often associated with Inana. Note also the play on sounds at the end of the line: ura ua.
𒅗 𒆬 𒀭 𒈾 𒋫 𒅗 𒅗 𒅗
inim ku3 an-na-ta inim du11-du11
word pure An-of-from word speak
inim ku Anata inim dudu
15 – who, by the holy order of An, gives orders.
The syntactical structure of the line is difficult—see the discussion in Attinger—but however one understands the grammar, it must refer to An empowering Inana to give orders. As in l. 13, the same cuneiform sign, here ka, is used three times in a row, representing different sounds.
𒉺𒀭 𒃲 𒃲 𒆷 𒃻 𒍪 𒀀 𒁀 𒀀 𒈬 𒌦 𒍪
biluda gal-gal-la niĝ2-zu a-ba-a mu-un-zu
rites great-of thing-your who know
biluda galgala niĝzu aba munzu
16 – Who can understand the great rites that are your possession?
Much as with the me, the “rites” mentioned in this line are best understood as activities that must be performed over and over again to keep the cosmos aright: other possible translations of biluda include “duties” and “ordinances.” The line thus makes the point that Inana plays a crucial, but unfathomable role in maintaining the world order—including the destruction of enemy lands. Note also the play on the syllable zu, which means first “your” and then “to know” (another play on the same syllable comes in l. 27).
𒆳 𒄢 𒄢 𒌓 𒉈 𒀉 𒁀 𒂊 𒋧
kur gul-gul u4-de3 a2 ba-e-šum2
mountain destroy storm-to strength give
kur gulgul ude a baešum
17 – Destroyer of mountains, you give force to the storm.
This couplet is tightly constructed. In the previous line, the second word was gal-gal, “great”; here, it is gul-gul, “to destroy.” In the previous line, the second-to-last word was aba,“who”; here, that same sound is split into two words, a2, “force,” and the prefix ba– in “you give.” Note that the description of Inana as “destroyer of mountains” alludes to the myth of Inana and Ebih.
𒆠 𒉘 𒀭 𒂗 𒆤 𒇲 𒌦 𒈠 𒉎 𒈪 𒅔 𒊑
ki-aĝ2 den-lil2-la2 kalam-ma ni2 mi-in-ri
beloved Enlil-of land-in fear impose
kiaĝ Enlila kalama ni minri
18 – Beloved by Enlil, you impose fear on the land.
Beside “impose,” ri can also mean “to inject” or “to pour.”
𒀉 𒉘 𒂷 𒀭 𒈾 𒆤 𒁀 𒁺 𒁉 𒂗
a2-aĝ2-ĝa2 an-na-ke4 ba-gub-be2-en
command An-of-at stand
aĝa Anake baguben
19 – At the command of Enlil, you stand ready.
Note the symmetry with the previous line: both begin with the sequence word-deity-of, and both have aĝ2as their second sign.
𒊩𒌆 𒈬 𒍝 𒉺 𒉘 𒍪 𒂠 𒆳 𒉌 𒃵𒃵 𒂊
nin-ĝu10 za-pa-aĝ2-zu-še3 kur i3-gigurum-e
lady-my scream-your-at mountain bends
ninĝu zapaĝzuše kur igigurume
20 – My lady! The enemy land bends at your battle cry.
A new section is introduced by the repetition of nin-ĝu10.
𒉎 𒈨 𒉈 𒍇 𒇻 𒁕 𒉆 𒇽 𒍇 𒇻
ni2 me-lam2 u18-lu-da nam-lu2-u18-lu
fear terrifying_light storm-from humanity
ni melam uluda namlu-ulu
21 – When humanity, (fleeing) from fear, terrifying light, and storms
Note the play on u18-lu, which means “storm,” but which also forms part of the word “humanity.” The u18-lu is in some texts identified as the south wind, which in southern Iraq was a sandstorm blowing in from the Arabian desert.
𒃻 𒈨 𒃻 𒄊 𒁉 𒅇 𒈬 𒊑 𒁺
niĝ2-me-ĝar ĝiri3-bi u3-mu-re-gub
silence feet-their foot-their walk
niĝmeĝar ĝiribi umuregub
22 – stood before you in silence,
This is the third line in a row to start with the sound ni; note also the similarity with the previous line: ni-me vs. niĝme. The expression ĝiri_gub, “to walk the foot,” is unclear: it might mean “to walk” or “to stand in attendance.” This translation follows Attinger in taking the movement in the previous line as implicit, resulting in humanity standing before Inana in this line, while Zgoll takes the couplet as describing one action: “When humanity directed its step to you in silence, through fear, terrifying light, and storms…”
𒈨 𒋫 𒈨 𒄭𒄊 𒁉 𒋗 𒁀 𒂊 𒊑 𒋾
me-ta me-huš-bi šu_ba-e-re-ti
me-from me-horrific-their take
meta mehušbi šu baereti
23 – you took the most terrifying of the me:
That is, Inana takes the most horrific of the cosmic duties upon herself. The sound me has been lurking in the background, as the second syllable of the previous two lines; here it is brought forth and emphasized.
𒄿 𒁾 𒀀𒅆 𒊏 𒆤 𒅅 𒈠 𒊏 𒀊 𒋺
i-dub er2-ra-ke4 ĝal2_ma-ra-ab-taka4
thresholds tears-of open
idub erake ĝal marabtaka
24 – the threshold of tears is opened for you.
This and the following two lines end with verbs that include the prefix -ra-, “for you,” in a subtle form of epistrophe (the repetition of a word at the end of the line).
𒂍 𒀀 𒉪 𒃲 𒃲 𒆷 𒋻 𒁀 𒈬 𒊑 𒁺
e2 A-NIR gal-gal-la sila-ba mu-re-du
house sighs great-of road-its-on walk
e anir galgala silaba muredu
25 – they walk on the road to the house of great grief for you,
Because of the verbal tense, Zgoll argues that the previous two lines should be read as an interjected clause, and that the sentence beginning in l. 21 ends here, leading to a translation such as: “When humanity came to stand before you—since you had taken the most terrifying of the me and the threshold of tears had been opened for you—then did they (humanity) walk to the house of great grief for you.”
𒅆 𒀞 𒋫 𒃻 𒈠 𒊏 𒋫 𒋛 𒅅
igi me3-ta niĝ2 ma-ra-ta-si-ig
front battle-from possession tear_off
igi meta niĝ maratasig
26 – before battle, (their) possessions are sacked for you.
That is, by Inana’s power, the grieving people are made to surrender all that they own without putting up a fight. It take l. 24–26 as listing some of the terrifying me that Inana acquired in l. 23: her cosmic duty is to cause grief and loss. L. 23 began with the word me-ta, “of the me”; that sound is here repeated as igi me3-ta, “before battle,” neatly rounding off the stanza.
𒊩𒌆 𒈬 𒀉 𒉎 𒍝 𒅗 𒅗 𒉌 𒅥 𒂊
nin-ĝu10 a2 ni2-za zu2-zu2 i3-ku2-e
lady-my strength self-your-of teeth? eat
ninĝu a niza zuzu iku
27 – My lady! The strength you have can eat through teeth.?
A new section is introduced by the repetition of nin-ĝu10. This is a difficult line, and the ancient scribes were clearly confused about. Scribes in Ur added the sign na4 before the first zu, which seems to indicate a pun between na4zu, “obsidian,” and zu, “tooth,” leading to a translation such as: “(With) your strength, teeth can eat flint.” Scribes in Nippur did not add this sign, so for them, the line may have turned on the irony of teeth—which normally do the eating—being eaten, by the force Inana’s huge strength.
𒌓 𒌌 𒌌 𒁶 𒉌 𒌌 𒌌 𒉈 𒂗
u4 du7-du7-gin7 i3-du7-du7-de3-en
storm charge-like charge
u dudugin idududen
28 – You charge like the charging storm,
Note how the sound zuzu of the previous line is here echoed by the repeated dudu. The reduplication of the verbal root (du7-du7) in Sumerian indicates an ongoing movement, and this redoubling is used for full aural effect in this and the following three lines. Note the symmetry of the half-lines, which have four syllables (of which two are identical) and a half-rhyme on -en.
𒌓 𒅗 𒊏 𒊏 𒁕 𒅗 𒅎 𒁕 𒀊 𒊏 𒊏 𒀭
u4 gu3_ra-ra-da gu3_im-da-ab-ra-ra-an
storm growl-with growl
u gu rarada imdabraran
29 – you roar with the roaring storm,
The line continues the doubled doubling introduced in the previous line, here of ra-ra.
𒀭 𒅎 𒁕 𒅲 𒈬 𒁕 𒀭 𒄄 𒄄 𒅔
Iškurda še mudangigin
30 – you shout with Ishkur.
The formulation recalls l. 10, where Inana’s shout (še27_gi4) is also compared to Ishkur, the storm god.
𒅎 𒅆𒌨 𒅎 𒅆𒌨 𒁕 𒅎 𒁕 𒊨 𒅇 𒉈 𒂗
31 – You exhaust yourself with each hurricane,
That is, Inana tires herself out by roaring and running with every tempest that arises (literally, im-hul means “evil wind”). The theme of redoubling is marvelously continued here. The reduplication of a noun in Sumerian makes it plural, often a comprehensive plural: kur-kur, for example, can mean “mountains” or “all the mountains.” The sound effect of the reduplication is particularly strong here, in part because imhul is a relatively long word, and in part because the following verb also begins with im- (note also the repetition of -da).
𒄊 𒍝 𒉡 𒊨 𒅇 𒅎 𒋛
ĝiri3-za nu-kuš2-u3 im-si
feet-your-in not-tiredness fill
ĝiriza nukušu imsi
32 – but your feet are filled with tirelessness.
That is, even as she tires herself out, Inana is endlessly refreshed. Attinger (562) suggested that the previous line forms a rhetorical question that is answered here: “Are you exhausted by the hurricanes? No, your feet are inexhaustible.”
𒁆 𒀀 𒉪 𒊏 𒋫 𒄿 𒇻 𒅎 𒁕 𒀊 𒁉
balaĝ A-NIR-ra-ta i-lu im-da-ab-be2
balaĝ sighs-of-with lamentation speak
balaĝ anirata ilu imdabbe
33 – With a harp of grief, they perform the lamentation.
The balaĝ was a musical instrument used to accompany ritual lamentations. It began as a stringed instrument, like a harp or lyre, but around the Old Babylonian period it was changed into a kettledrum (see Gabbay). This line is one of several references to the genre of ritual lamentations in the poem; see l. 98 below. It is not clear who is performing the lamentation: the people afflicted by the hurricanes? perhaps the winds themselves, or Ishkur? (see the discussion in Attinger). This translation follows a suggestion by Foster, who takes Inana’s feet as the subject: their heavy footfall beats out the rhythm along with the balaĝ, and so “intone” the lamentation.
𒊩𒌆 𒈬 𒀭 𒀀 𒉣 𒈾 𒀭 𒃲 𒃲 𒂊 𒉈
nin-ĝu10 da-nun-na diĝir gal-gal-e-ne
lady-my Anuna gods great
ninĝu Anuna diĝir galgalene
34 – My lady! The Anuna, the great gods,
A new section is again introduced by the repetition of nin-ĝu10. The Anuna are the highest circle of gods in the Sumerian pantheon.
𒊩𒌆 𒈬 𒀭 𒀀 𒉣 𒈾 𒀭 𒃲 𒃲 𒂊 𒉈
nin-ĝu10 da-nun-na diĝir gal-gal-e-ne
lady-my Anuna gods great
ninĝu Anuna diĝir galgalene
34 – My lady! The Anuna, the great gods,
A new section is again introduced by the repetition of nin-ĝu10. The Anuna are the highest circle of gods in the Sumerian pantheon.
𒊩𒌆 𒈬 𒀭 𒀀 𒉣 𒈾 𒀭 𒃲 𒃲 𒂊 𒉈
nin-ĝu10 da-nun-na diĝir gal-gal-e-ne
lady-my Anuna gods great
ninĝu Anuna diĝir galgalene
34 – My lady! The Anuna, the great gods,
A new section is again introduced by the repetition of nin-ĝu10. The Anuna are the highest circle of gods in the Sumerian pantheon.
𒋢 𒁷 𒄷 𒊑 𒀀 𒁶 𒇯 𒉈 𒈬 𒂊 𒅆 𒅁 𒊏 𒀸
su-dinmušen dal-a-gen7 du6-de3 mu-e-ši-ib-ra-aš
bats fly-that-like mounds-to flutter
sudin dalagen dude muešibraš
35 – flying like bats, flutter to the ruin mounds because of you,
The word braš, translated here as “flutter,” is very rare: it is a loanword from Akkadian naprušu that became an unusual construction in Sumerian. Attinger translates du6 as “crevasse,” not ruin mound.
𒅆 𒄭𒄊 𒀀 𒍝 𒆷 𒁀 𒁻 𒄀 𒌍 𒀀𒀭
igi huš-a-za la-ba-su8-ge-eš-am3
eyes furious-your not-stand-that
igi hušaza labasugešam
36 – as they could not withstand your terrifying gaze.
This line begins a set of three symmetrical units, all focused on Inana’s wrath: a couplet where the same adjective (huš, “terrifying”) modifies two different body parts (igi,“eyes,” and saĝ-ki, “face”), a couplet where the same body part (ša3, “heart”) is modified by two different adjectives (ib, “angry,” and hul-ĝal2, “wicked”), and a tightly symmetrical final line.
𒊕 𒆠 𒄭𒄊 𒀀 𒍝 𒊕 𒉡 𒈬 𒌦 𒉈 𒂷 𒂷
saĝ-ki huš-a-za saĝ_nu-mu-un-de3-ĝa2-ĝa2
face furious-your not_oppose
saĝki hušaza saĝ numundeĝaĝa
37 – No one can oppose your terrifying visage.
The line has a play on the syllable saĝ, which begins the two halves of the line: first as a part of the word for “face,” then of the word “oppose.” Literally, the gods cannot face Inana’s face.
𒊮 𒌈 𒁀 𒍝 𒀀 𒁀 𒀀 𒌈 𒋼 𒂗 𒋼 𒂗
ša3 ib2-ba-za a-ba-a ib2-te-en-te-en
heart angry-that-your who cool
ša ibaza aba ibtenten
38 – Your angry heart—who can soothe it?
The heart was generally thought to be the seat of the mood and mind, and since an angry heart was a hot heart, to “cool” someone’s heart was to calm them, much as in today’s idiom (e.g. “to chill”). Note the three words in a row starting with ib- or ab-.
𒊮 𒅆𒌨 𒅅 𒆷 𒍝 𒋼 𒂗 𒋼 𒁉 𒈤 𒀀𒀭
ša3 hul-ĝal2-la-za te-en-te-bi mah-am3
heart wicked-that-your cool-its mighty-is
ša hulĝalaza tentebi maham
39 – Your wicked heart—to soothe it is overwhelming.
Enheduana again refers to her task (praising and soothing Inana) as mah, “mighty” or “overwhelming,” in l. 64.
𒊩𒌆 𒄯 𒉌 𒊷 𒊩𒌆 𒊮 𒉌 𒄾
nin ur5 i3-sa6 nin ša3 i3-hul2
lady liver sweeten lady heart please
nin ur isa nin ša ihul
40 – Lady, will this mood be sweetened? Lady, will this heart be pleased?
The symmetries of the previous lines culminate in this highly compact line, which also rounds off the opening section. After this line, the poem is no longer structured by the repetition of nin-ĝu10 every seven lines. Note that the ur5, “liver” or “belly,” was another site of emotions, like the heart. It is unclear whether these two sentences are to be taken as questions: Attinger reads the sentence together with the next one, as “Lady, the mood may be good, lady, the heart may be happy, but when you become angry, they (the mood and the heart) cannot be cooled.” However, I take there to be a dividing line between these two verses, corresponding to the beginning of a new section, so I follow Zgoll in reading them as rhetorical questions.
𒌈 𒁀 𒉡 𒋼 𒂗 𒋼 𒂗 𒌉 𒃲 𒀭 𒂗𒍪 𒈾
ib2-ba nu-te-en-te-en dumu gal dsuen-na
angry-that not-cool child great Suen-of
iba nutenten dumu gal Suena
41 – Your anger cannot be cooled, great daughter of Suen.
Suen is an alternative name for Nanna. The new section is marked by a chiasm, consisting of an opening couplet (l. 41–42), the destruction of a mountain (l. 43–50), the destruction of a city (l. 51–57), and a repetition of the initial couplet (l. 58–59). But the first words of this line mark a transition from the previous section, by continuing the theme of Inana’s uncoolable wrath. As noted by Zgoll, the line could also be translated: “Angry and uncoolable great daughter of Suen.”
𒊩𒌆 𒆳 𒊏 𒋛𒀀 𒂵 𒀀 𒁀 𒀀 𒆠 𒍝 𒁀 𒀭 𒉐
nin kur-ra diri-ga a-ba-a ki-za ba-an-tum3
lady land-to exceed-that who place-your-from take
nin kura diriga aba kiza bantum
42 – Lady, greater than the land, who can take away from your dominion?
The line uses the word ki, “place,” in an unusual metaphorical sense, translated here as “dominion,” following Zgoll’s translation “Herrschaftsbereich.” Zgoll also notes the question could equally be translated “who can escape your dominion?” Note the four words in a row ending in -a at the center of the line.
𒄯 𒊕 𒆠 𒍝 𒁀 𒂊 𒉈 𒁍 𒉈 𒀭 𒊺𒊺𒉪 𒃻 𒈪𒉭 𒁉
hur-saĝ ki-za ba-e-de3-gid2-de3 dašnan niĝ2-gig-bi
mountain place-your extend Ashnan prohibition-its
hursaĝ kiza baedegiden Ašnan niĝgigbi
43 – You extended? your dominion over the mountain: Ashnan cannot be found there,
As in l. 17, the destruction of the mountain recalls the myth of Inana and Ebih, which Enheduana also recounts in the Hymn, l. 110–12. As in l. 10, the goddess Ashnan is used to refer metonymically to grain and the harvest: the line literally means “Ashnan became its prohibition,” meaning that harvests became impossible. The first part of the line can be understood in multiple ways. Zgoll takes Inana as the subject, extending her dominion over the mountain and thus invading it. Attinger takes the mountain as the subject, extending into Inana’s dominion: her destruction would thus be punishment for its attempted invasion. Both are possible, and either way, one should note the contrast to the rebellious city described in the next section: an external enemy (whether invader or invaded) v. an internal enemy (the rebel). Inana crushes both, thus cementing her unquestionable power.
𒆍𒃲 𒀀 𒁀 𒉈 𒈬 𒂊 𒊑 𒊑
abul-a-ba izi mu-e-ri-ri
city_gate-its-on fire put
abulaba izi mueriri
44 – its city gates were set on fire.
Literally, “fire was put on its city gates.”
𒀀𒇉 𒁀 𒌀 𒈠 𒊏 𒀭 𒌤 𒌦 𒁉 𒈠 𒊏 𒅘 𒅘
i7-ba uš2 ma-ra-an-de2 uĝ3-bi ma-ra-na8-na8
canal-its-in blood pour people-its drink
iba uš marande uĝbi maranana
45 – Because of you, blood flows in its canals; because of you, its people drink it.
Two manuscripts have instead “the people cannot drink,” drawing a different but equally painful consequence from the water having turned to blood.
𒆠 𒋢 𒇻 𒂠 𒃻 𒁉 𒉎 𒁉 𒀀 𒈠 𒊏 𒀊 𒁺𒁺 𒂊
uĝnim-bi ni2-bi-a ma-ra-ab-lah5-e
army-its together bring
uĝnimbi nibia marablahe
46 – Its army, all together, is brought to you,
This and the next two lines repeat the exact same structure. Zgoll notes that ni2-bi-a, normally “together,” can also be read “in their fear” (both here and in the following lines); the ambiguity could easily be intentional.
𒅗 𒆟 𒁉 𒉎 𒁉 𒀀 𒈠 𒊏 𒀊 𒋛 𒅋 𒇷
zu2-keše2-bi ni2-bi-a ma-ra-ab-si-il-le
elite_troops-its together split
zukešebi nibia marabsile
47 – its elite troops, all together, are disbanded for you,
The word translated as “elite troops” literally means “the bound ones” (perhaps indicating professional soldiers as opposed to conscripts), which makes for an ironic fate: the bound are unbound.
𒄨 𒀉 𒌇 𒁉 𒉎 𒁉 𒀀 𒈠 𒊏 𒀊 𒁻 𒄀 𒌍
ĝuruš a2-tuku-bi ni2-bi-a ma-ra-ab-su8-ge-eš
men strength-have-its together stand
ĝuruš atukubi nibia marabsugeš
48 – its strong men, all together, are presented to you.
The word ĝuruš specifically means “able-bodied man,” primarily meaning young men.
𒌷 𒁀 𒆠 𒂊 𒉈 𒁲 𒁀 𒂇 𒄿 𒌈 𒋛
iri-ba ki-e-ne-di-ba mir i-ib2-si
city-its-of place-merriment-of-in storm fill
iriba kienediba mir ibsi
49 – Its city’s place of play is filled up by the storm,
The ki-e-ne-di or “place of merriment” was presumably a locale for dancing and drinking. As always, the words could also be plural: “the cities’ places of merriment.”
𒄨 𒊮 𒃶 𒁉 𒈂 𒂠 𒈠 𒊏 𒀊 𒊬 𒊑 𒌍
ĝuruš ša3-gan-bi heše5-eš2? ma-ra-ab-sar-re-eš
men best-its bound chase
ĝuruš šaganbi hešeš? marabsareš
50 – its best men, captive, are driven before you.
It is uncertain how to transliterate the word rendered here as heše5-eš2—other possibilities include lu2še3 and heše5še3, as well as LU2xGANA2-eš2 or LU2xKAR2-še3 (the capital letters indicate that we are unsure how to transliterate the signs). But either way, the meaning is clear enough: “prisoner,” “chained,” or the like. Note that if it can be read heše5-eš2, that would yield three of four words in the line ending in -š.
𒌷 𒆳 𒍝 𒊏 𒇷 𒉈 𒅔 𒅗 𒂵 𒀀𒀭
iri kur za-ra li-bi2-in-du11-ga-am3
city country you-to not-say-that-is
iri kur zara libindugam
51 – To the city that did not say, “The country belongs to you,”
The second part of the chiastic section begins here, as the text turns from the mountain to the city. Some ancient manuscripts display a different understanding of this line: “the enemy (kur2) city that did not say, ‘(we belong) to you.’”
𒀀 𒀀 𒌋𒅗 𒍝 𒇷 𒉈 𒅔 𒌍 𒀀𒀭
a-a ugu-za li-bi2-in-eš-am3
father bear-your-to not-say-that-is
aya uguza libinešam
52 – that did not say, “To your father,”
The line literally reads, “your birth father.” While unusual in English, the specification of Nanna as Inana’s birth father, or “your father who bore you,” is conventional in Sumerian. Most manuscripts simply write “your father,” leaving the rest of the sentence implied. I take the implication to be, “(The country belongs to) your father,” Zgoll has instead “(The city god is) your father.”
𒅗 𒆬 𒍪 𒉈 𒅔 𒅗 𒆠 𒄊 𒍪 𒃶 𒅁 𒄄
inim ku3-zu bi2-in-du11 ki ĝiri3-zu he2-eb-gi4
word holy-your speak place foot-your return
inim kuzu bindu ki ĝirizu hebgi
53 – your holy order was spoken: the place returned to your feet.
This line concludes a fourfold repetition of the structure noun–noun–“your” (zu and za), a structure that opens the previous two lines (iri kur za-ra and a-a ugu-za) and is found twice here (inim ku3-zu and ki ĝiri3-zu).
𒊮 𒉣𒇬 𒁉 𒋫 𒄊 𒃶 𒅁 𒋫 𒀭 𒍢 𒅕
šaturbita ĝiri hebtanzer
54 – Its womb is disturbed,?
I take this reading from Attinger (6), but the line can also be read differently, parsing the signs ša3-tur3, “womb,” instead as ša3 tur3, “inside the cattle plen.” Karahashi (93), for example, translates the line as, “Your (?) slipped from its cattle pen,” implying that Inana has withdrawn her protection from the animals and thus, by extension, from the city as a whole. Following Hallo and van Dijk, Foster takes the latter option and translates: “No one, indeed, had set foot in its sheepfolds.” Zgoll understands ĝiri3, “foot,” to be an idiomatic expression for “responsible care”; following this logic, Black et al. translate “Responsible care is removed from its sheepfolds.” Here,I side with Attinger in understanding the signs ša3-tur3 as “womb,” since it makes better sense with the following passage, which speaks of the city’s inhabitants becoming unable to procreate. Attinger takes ĝiri3_ze2-er as an idiomatic expression meaning “to slip,” and so more generally to become displaced, out of order. Zgoll’s latest translation also adopts the reading “womb,” and translates the line by explicating the metaphor: “in its wombs, no new life can flourish.” Either way, it is highly likely that the ambiguity is deliberate, and that the reader can parse the signs as forming either one or two words, yielding different interpretations: whether one chooses to read womb or stall, the other sense lingers in the background, interweaving the welfare of the city and the citizens, food and procreation.
𒊩 𒁉 𒁮 𒀀 𒉌 𒋫 𒊷 𒂵 𒈾 𒀭 𒁕 𒀊 𒁉
munus-bi dam-a-ni-ta sa6-ga na-an-da-ab-be2
woman-its spouse-her-with sweet not-speak
munusbi damanita saga nandabe
55 – its woman does not speak sweet words with her spouse,
Note the implicit connection between eloquence and eroticism: to speak words that are sa6, “sweet,” but also “beautiful,” is a none-too subtle metonym for sex, as the next line also makes clear.
𒈪 𒅇 𒈾 𒀜 𒈾 𒀭 𒁕 𒀊 𒄄 𒄄
ĝiuna ad nandabgigi
56 – at nighttime she does not consult with him,
This line will be echoed later in the text, in l. 140, where Enheduana does consult with Inana at “night-time,” ĝi6-u3-na.
𒃻 𒆬 𒊮 𒂵 𒈾 𒉆 𒈬 𒁕 𒀭 𒁔 𒊑
niĝ2 ku3 ša3-ga-na nam-mu-da-an-bur2-re
thing pure heart-her-in not-reveal
niĝ ku šagana nammudanbure
57 – she does not show him the pure things within her.
Note again the ambiguity of the word ša3, which as discussed under l. 54 means “heart,” but also “inside” and “womb.” Likewise, the word ku3 can mean “pure,” “shining,” or “holy”—in this translation, I primarily use the latter meaning, but all three apply to most contexts: things that were sacred were also thought to be resplendent and pure. In the context of the woman’s interior, however, the meanings “pure” and “shining” seem more prominent.
𒅇 𒄢 𒍣 𒍣 𒄿 𒌉 𒃲 𒀭 𒂗𒍪 𒈾
u3-sun2 zi-zi-i dumu gal dsuen-na
aurochs rear-that child great Suen-of
usun zizi dumu gal Suena
58 – Rearing aurochs, great daughter of Suen.
The following couplet repeats l. 41–42 and so closes the chiastic structure. The aurochs is a now extinct breed of wild oxen (the name literally means ur-ox). They were larger than domesticated cattle, and they must have been a fearsome sight.
𒊩𒌆 𒀭 𒊏 𒋛𒀀 𒂵 𒀀 𒁀 𒀀 𒆠 𒍝 𒁀 𒀭 𒉐
nin an-ra diri-ga a-ba-a ki-za ba-an-tum3
lady heaven-to exceed-that who place-your-from take
nin anra diriga aba kiza bantum
59 – Lady, greater than heaven, who can take away from your dominion?
In the first appearance of this line, l. 42, Inana was said to exceed the earth, kur—here, symmetrically, she exceeds the skies, an. Note that some manuscripts mix up the two words, writing “heaven” for “earth” and “earth” for “heaven.”
𒈨 𒍣 𒉈 𒊩𒌆 𒃲 𒊩𒌆 𒂊 𒉈
me zi-de3 nin gal nin-e-ne
me righteous-for lady great ladies-of
me zide nin gal ninene
60 – Great lady of ladies, who, for the righteous me,
The next section—an autobiographical passage in which Enheduana introduces herself—is again introduced by two of the keywords of the poem, nin and me (see the note to l. 1). As noted by Attinger, the text could also mean that Inana was born according to, not for, the “righteous me,” since the me were also seen as the underlying patterns that regulate events.
𒊮 𒆬 𒋫 𒌓𒁺 𒀀 𒂼 𒌋𒅗 𒉌 𒅕 𒋛𒀀 𒂵
ša3 ku3-ta e3-a ama ugu-ni-ir diri-ga
heart holy-from come_forth mother bear-her-to exceed-that
ša kuta ea ama ugunir diriga
61 – was born from a holy womb, who surpasses her own mother!
Note the repetition of the words ša3 and ku3, which were also juxtaposed in l. 57. Again, ša3 is used to connote the womb, harkening back to l. 54. It is interesting that the self-referential announcement of the song which comes in l. 63–65 is immediately precede by the theme of birth, especially given that Enheduana will (arguably) later describe herself as “giving birth” to the poem. On the specification of Ningal as Inana’s “birth mother,” ama ugu-ni, see the notes to l. 52. Zgoll notes that there is a pun in this couplet: the text first refers to Inana as nin gal, “great lady”; then turns to Inana’s mother, Ningal, without naming her directly.
𒃲 𒍪 𒅆 𒅅 𒊩𒌆 𒆳 𒆳 𒊏
gal-zu igi-ĝal2 nin kur-kur-ra
clever wise lady lands-of
galzu igiĝal nin kurkura
62 – Clever and prescient lady of the lands,
The translation of igi-ĝal2 as “prescient,” specifically (as opposed to the more general “wise”) follows Zgoll.
𒍣 𒅅 𒌦 𒇻 𒀀 𒂡 𒆬 𒍪 𒂵 𒀀𒀭 𒅗
zi-ĝal2 uĝ3 lu-a šir3 ku3-zu ga-am3-du11
living people numerous-of song holy-your speak
ziĝal uĝ lua šir kuzu gamdu
63 – of living beings and countless people—I will sing your holy song!
Here, the “I” of the poem first appears as an active subject (as opposed to the passive role in the construction nin-ĝu10, “my lady”). It is also the first time that the text refers to itself, as the narrator announces that she will sing a hymn to Inana—which is what she is doing. Here and in the following, I translate the word du11 as “sing” when it occurs in connections with hymns and songs, but in fact, it is just the default word for “speak.” Note that the first part of the line can also be read differently, as by Zgoll: “who lets there be life for the countless people.”
𒀭 𒍣 𒈨 𒀀 𒁺 𒈠 𒃲 𒁉 𒅗 𒂵 𒍪 𒈤 𒀀𒀭
diĝir zi me-a tum2-ma gal-bi du11-ga-zu mah-am3
god righteous me-in bring-that greatly speak-that-your mighty-is
diĝir zi mea tuma galbi dugazu maham
64 – Righteous goddess, to whom the me are brought, it is overwhelming to exalt you.
As in l. 39, Enheduana refers to the task she has set herself—praising and soothing Inana—as mah, “mighty” or “overwhelming.” The phrase literally means, “your greatly speaking is mighty.” Zgoll interprets this differently, taking it as a description of Inana’s words: “your great speech is mighty.” While I consider this less likely, it would make for an interesting interweaving of Enheduana’s speech (in l. 63 and 65) and Inana’s (in this line); for a similar interweaving, see l. 153. Attinger interprets the phrase “to whom the meare brought” instead as “who was made for the me” (reading tum2 instead as du, for du3).
𒊮 𒋤 𒁺 𒊩 𒍣 𒊮 𒌓𒌓 𒂵 𒈨 𒍪 𒂵 𒈬 𒊏 𒀊 𒅗
ša3 su3-ra2 munus zi ša3 dadag-ga me-zu ga-mu-ra-ab-du11
heart distant woman righteous heart shining me-your speak
ša sura munus zi ša dadaga mezu gamurabdu
65 – Distant heart, righteous woman, shining heart! I will sing of your me.
Again, this is a clear instance of self-reference, since this poem is nothing if not a song about the me—as shown by its opening words. To have a “distant heart” means to be inscrutable, and this was a common description of the gods’ minds in Sumerian and Akkadian literature. Instead of me-zu, “your me,” some manuscripts have me zi, “righteous me,” or me ku3, “sacred me.” But note that me-zu would fit well with the pattern of the previous two lines, which also have zu as as the last syllable before the last word.
𒈪 𒁖 𒆬 𒂷 𒄷 𒈬 𒅆 𒅔 𒆭 𒊑 𒂗
ĝi6-par3 ku3-ĝa2 hu-mu-ši-in-ku4-re-en
ĝipar holy enter
ĝipar kuĝa humušinkuren
66 – For you, I entered the holy ĝipar.
For the ĝipar, the home of the high priestesses in the temple complex, see this page. Together with the next line, this is a turning point in the poem, in which the “I” that has been implicit so far—the narrator of the text—announces herself.
𒂗 𒈨 𒂗 𒂗 𒃶 𒌌 𒀭 𒈾 𒈨 𒂗
67 – I am the high priestess, I am Enheduana.
Note that in this striking line, Enheduana allows her name (which literally means “high priestess, ornament of heaven”) to emerge from her title: the words en-men, “I am the high priestess,” are unpacked into the longer phrase, en-heduana-men, “I am Enheduana,” as if one statement follows necessarily from the other. Enheduana—the implication goes—is naturally suited for her office (he2-du7 can also mean “may she be suitable”).
𒄀 𒈠 𒁲 𒀊 𒉌 𒅍 𒊒 𒂰 𒇲 𒉌 𒅗
gima-sa2-ab i3-gur3-ru asilal-la2 i3-du11
carry-that joyful_hymns speak-that
masab iguru asilala idu
68 – As I carried the basket, as I sang the hymns of joy,
The line refers to a ritual basket, containing offerings for the god. Note the vowel symmetry between the two half-lines: a-a-i-u.
𒆠 𒋧 𒂵 𒉈 𒅁 𒃻 𒂷 𒂊 𒉡 𒈬 𒌦 𒋾 𒂗
ki-si3-ga bi2-ib-ĝar ĝa2-e nu-mu-un-ti-en
funeral_offering stand I not-live
kisiga bibĝar ĝae numuntien
69 – funeral offerings were presented—did I no longer live there?
The ki-si3-ga, Akkadian kispu, were offerings regularly presented to the souls of the dead, to keep them fed and happy in the afterlife. The word clearly caused confusion in antiquity, and several manuscripts replace it with different, similar-sounding words (such as kin-sig-ga, “afternoon meal”). Some manuscripts have instead: “(as if) I were dead.”
𒌓 𒉈 𒁀 𒋼 𒌓 𒈬 𒁕 𒉋
u4-de3 ba-te u4 mu-da-bil2
light-to approach light burn
ude baten u mudabil
70 – I came toward the light—the light burned me.
The word u4, here translated “light,” can also mean “tempest,” hinting at the next line, where the shade becomes a storm. Note the tight construction of this line: two half-lines of four syllables each, both beginning with u. The line introduces two symmetrical couplets, where each line consists of first a positive half-line, then a negative one (matching the previous couplet, where a positive line was followed by a negative one).
𒄑𒈪 𒉈 𒁀 𒋼 𒍇 𒇻 𒁕 𒅎 𒈠 𒌋𒌆
ĝissu-ne ba-te u18-lu-da im-ma-dul
shadow-to approach storm-with cover
ĝissune baten uluda imandul
71 – I came toward the shade—it was covered in a storm.
On the u18-lu, see l. 21. Most manuscripts have not “it was covered,” but “I covered it”: Attinger takes this to mean that Enheduana, not intentionally but by her presence, transformed the shade into a storm.
𒅗 𒋭 𒈬 𒋗 𒆵 𒀀 𒁀 𒀊 𒅗
ka lal3-ĝu10 šu uh3-a ba-ab-du11
mouth honey-my hand spittle?-in speak
ka lalĝu šu uha babdu
72 – My honey mouth became froth,?
This crucial but difficult line describes Enheduana’s loss of eloquence. The main problem is that the phrase šu uh3-a is unclear; the translation therefore relies on two manuscripts that replace it with šu uh2-a. Since uh2(possibly to be read ahx) means “spit, saliva, mucus,” the phrase is taken to mean that Enheduana’s poetic skills somehow degenerated into drool. However, this remains a tentative reconstruction.
𒃻 𒄯 𒊷 𒊷 𒈬 𒅖 𒋫 𒁀 𒁕 𒄄
niĝ2 ur5 sa6-sa6-ĝu10 sahar-ta ba-da-gi4
thing liver sweeten-that-my dust-toward turn
niĝ ur sasaĝu saharta badagi
73 – My ability to sweeten moods is turned to dust.
The word “thing,” niĝ2, is generally used to mean “possession,” as in l. 16. But here, it seems to refer to something that Enheduana is able to do, not something she owns, leading to the translation “ability”: a thing she has, but she also exercises. For ur5, “liver,” in the meaning of “mood,” see l. 40, where it also juxtaposed with sa6, “to sweeten.” The English word “turn” captures an ambiguity in the Sumerian. The primary sense of the text is that Enheduana’s words are turned to dust, in the sense that it is directed at it. As noted by Attinger, this is a pun on the phrase an-ta gi4, “to turn towards heaven,” meaning “to pray to a god”—that is exactly what Enheduana seems unable to do, since Nanna ignores her. But just as clearly, the line suggests that Enheduana’s words have turned to dust, in the sense that they have become dust. This would normally be written sahar-ra, not sahar-ta, but the connotation is undeniably present.
𒉆 𒈬 𒀭 𒂗𒍪 𒈗 𒀭 𒉌
nam-ĝu10 dsuen lugal-an-ne2
fate-my Suen Lugal-Ane
namĝu Suen Lugal-Ane
74 – My fate, Suen, this Lugal-Ane:?
The meaning of the line is unclear, which is especially problematic, because it has consequences for how one understands the entire stanza (l. 74–80). I follow Foster and Black et al. in taking Nanna as the addressee of the entire stanza, meaning that Enheduana here turns from Inana to her father (before turning back to Inana in l. 81), which would explain why Inana is referred to in the third person in l. 77–80. The word “fate,” nam, is often used as a euphemism for death: one can thus take the identification of Lugal-Ane with Enheduana’s fate as suggesting that he will be the death of her. Black et al., however, take them as two separate objects (“Suen, tell An about Lugal-Ane and my fate!”), while Foster sees the line as a rhetorical question (“is this Lugalanne my destiny?”). But Zgoll and Attinger understand the line entirely differently. They see these words as still directed to Inana, meaning that both Suen and Lugal-Ane are described as Enheduana’s fate: “Tell An about my fate (which concerns) Suen and Lugal-Ane.” Such a reading is certainly possible, and it makes for a less awkward grammatical parsing of this line. But I would note that the word nam, “fate,” and Lugal-Ane are also juxtaposed in l. 77, where there is no mention of Nanna.
𒀭 𒊏 𒅗 𒈬 𒈾 𒀊 𒀭 𒉌 𒄩 𒈠 𒃮 𒂊
an-ra du11-mu-na-ab an-ne2 ha-ma-du8-e
An-to speak An loosen
Anra dumunab Ane hamadue
75 – tell An about it! May An resolve it for me!
Note the play between the two verbs of this line, du11 “say,” and du8, “unknot”: Enheduana uses this aural link to emphasize that one would lead directly to the other. The metaphor of “unknotting” a problem is a common metaphor, both in cuneiform sources and beyond (the English word “solution” comes from Latin solvere, “to unfasten”).
𒀀 𒁕 𒇴 𒀭 𒊏 𒁀 𒀭 𒈾 𒀊 𒁉 𒀭 𒂊 𒈬 𒂊 𒃮 𒂊
a-da-lam an-ra ba-an-na-ab-be2 an-e mu-e-du8-e
now An-to speak An loosen
adalam Anra banaben Ane medue
76 – Tell An about it now, he will resolve it for us.
In cuneiform sources, An holds a position of supreme moral authority in the pantheon. It was common in prayers and invocations to ask one god—typically a minor god with whom one had a personal connection—to intercede on one’s behalf with the most powerful gods. Note the heavy emphasis on the vowel a in the first half of the line.
𒉆 𒈗 𒀭 𒉌 𒊩 𒂊 𒁀 𒀊 𒋼𒀀 𒊑
nam lugal-an-ne2 munus-e ba-ab-kar-re
fate Lugal-Ane woman tear_away
nam Lugal-Ane munuse babkare
77 – The woman will tear off this fate, Lugal-Ane.?
The “woman” refers to Inana. I understand this line analogously to l. 74: Lugal-Ane would again be equated with Enheduana’s fate, and Enheduana would be petitioning for Inana to remove this fate from her, taking away Lugal-Ane’s threat to her life. Zgoll, Foster and Black et al. see the line as asking Inana to remove Lugal-Ane’s fate from him, taking away his victories; while Attinger takes it to mean that Inana is Lugal-Ane’s fate, that is, that she will be his death: “Lugala-Ane’s fate is a woman who will tear him away from himself.” Note that, for both Zgoll and Attinger, this line marks the beginning of An’s order to Inana, explaining why she is referred to in the third person (see notes to l. 74).
𒆳 𒀀 𒈠 𒊒 𒄊 𒉌 𒂠 𒉌 𒈿
kur a-ma-ru ĝiri3-ni-še3 i3-na2
land flood foot-her-at lie
kur amaru ĝiriniše ina
78 – Mountains and floods lie at her feet.
The two words kur, “mountain” (or “land”) and amaru, “flood,” are also juxtaposed in l. 11.
𒊩 𒁉 𒅔 𒂵 𒈤 𒌷 𒈬 𒁕 𒀊 𒇧 𒂊
munus-bi in-ga-mah iri mu-da-ab-tuku4-e
woman-this also?-mighty city shake
munusbi ingamah iri mundabtukue
79 – The woman is mighty, she makes cities tremble before her.
Attinger takes the word iri, “city,” to refer to Ur specifically, but most commentators see it as a more general description.
𒁺 𒁀 𒊮 𒂵 𒈾 𒄩 𒈠 𒈻 𒉈
gub-ba ša3-ga-na ha-ma-se9-de3
stand heart-her-in calm
guba šagana hamasede
80 – Stand by me! May her heart’s contents be reconciled with me.
This rather convoluted English translation reflects a much more straightforward Sumerian expression, literally: “may that which is in her heart be becalmed towards me.” I take the imperative “stand” as referring to Nanna, as do Black et al.; Foster sees it as a description of Inana (“She stands paramount”). Both Zgoll and Attinger read it as An’s order to Inana (“Step forward!”); they also take this to be the last line of An’s speech.
𒂗 𒃶 𒌌 𒀭 𒈾 𒈨 𒂗 𒀀 𒊏 𒍪 𒂵 𒈬 𒊏 𒀊 𒅗
en-he2-du7-an-na-me-en a-ra-zu ga-mu-ra-ab-du11
Enheduana-am prayer say
Enheduanamen arazu gamurabdu
81 – I am Enheduana. I will recite a prayer to you!
As noted in l. 63, the word du11, “speak,” must often be translated with different verbs in English, such as “sing,” “intone,” or, as here, “recite.” However one interprets the previous stanza, here Enheduana is clearly addressing Inana again.
𒀀𒅆 𒂷 𒁉 𒄭 𒂵 𒁶
er2-ĝa2 kaš du10-ga-gen7
tears-my beer sweet-like
erĝa kaš dugagen
82 – My tears, which are like sweet beer,
For the description of tears as “sweet,” and more generally for why expressions of grief were thought to please the gods, see the discussion of ritual laments.
𒆬 𒀭 𒈹 𒊏 𒋗 𒂵 𒈬 𒉌 𒊑 𒁇 𒁲 𒍪 𒂵 𒈬 𒊏 𒀊 𒅗
ku3 dinana-ra šu_ga-mu-ni-re-bar di-zu ga-mu-ra-ab-du11
holy Inana-to release judgment-your speak
ku Inanara šu gamunirebar dizu gamurabdu
83 – I will let flow free for you, holy Inana. I will say to you: “The decision is yours!”
This line introduces a metaphor that will become crucial to the poem as a whole: Enheduana describes her own situation as an unresolved court case, which Nanna has not settled, and which Enheduana therefore asks Inana to decide in his stead (Zgoll’s edition contains a thorough study of the legal metaphors in the poem). The word “di-zu,” “(It is) your decision,” is replaced in other manuscripts by “Judge!” (di ku5), “Greetings!” (silim-ma), and “Rise!” (zi-zi-i). Note also the echo of l. 24, which also describes the flow of tears as being “opened.”
𒀭 𒀸 𒁽 𒌓 𒈾 𒀭 𒊨 𒅇 𒉈 𒂗
84 – I cannot make Dilimbabbar care.?
Dilimbabbar is another of Nanna’s name; it can also be read Ashimbabbar. This is a difficult line. The word kuš2-u3can mean “to exert oneself, to worry about, to trouble, to be troubled.” Foster seems to parse the verb as “I do not trouble him for me” (with an indicative negative nu- assimilating to a dative -a-); Foster renders it as “I cannot make him . . . exert himself for me.” Attinger takes the verb to be subjunctive, leading to the translation, “I do not want to bother Dilimbabbar,” which, while grammatically sound, appears somewhat pat. He notes that this as a polite indication to Inana that an appeal to Nanna would be useless, since he has proved to be uninterested in the case, but such niceties seem to me at odds with the drama of the situation. Zgoll and Black et al. take a different approach, seeing the line as a reassurance to Inana: “Do not be anxious about Dilimbabbar.”
𒋗 𒈛 𒀭 𒆬 𒂵 𒆤 𒃻 𒉆 𒈠 𒉌 𒉌 𒉽
šu-luh an ku3-ga-ke4 niĝ2-nam-ma-ni i3-kur2
ritual An holy-of anything-his transform
šuluh An kugake niĝ namani ikur
85 – The rituals of holy An, all that belongs to him, have been disturbed,
The rituals in question, the šuluh, are specifically rituals of purification, which were used to cleanse priests and objects of all impurities. The word translated as “disturbed,” kur2, means more generally “to be or to make something different, strange, or hostile.”
𒀭 𒁕 𒂍 𒀭 𒈾 𒄩 𒁀 𒁕 𒀭 𒋼𒀀
an-da e2-an-na ha-ba-da-an-kar
An-from Eana tear_away
Anda Eana habadankar
86 – he has wrested the Eana from An:
The implicit subject must be Lugal-Ane. The Eana temple stood in the city of Uruk, which lay close to Ur (c. 35 miles), so this line implies that Lugal-Ane has conquered both cities. Since the Eana was the shared temple of An and Inana (see the Hymn, l. 106–7), Lugal-Ane’s defilement of this temple should obviously concern Inana was as well. Note the heavy emphasis on the vowel a.
𒀭 𒇽 𒄖 𒆷 𒋫 𒉎 𒁀 𒊏 𒁀 𒁕 𒋼
diĝir lu2 gu-la-ta ni2_ba-ra-ba-da-te
gods one great not-hold_in_awe
diĝir lu gulata ni barabadate
87 – the greatest of the gods he does not fear.
Note the symmetry of the half-lines, which have six syllables each, and the half-rhyme of their endings, -ata and -ate.
𒂍 𒁉 𒆷 𒆷 𒁉 𒁀 𒊏 𒈬 𒌦 𒄄 𒄭 𒇷 𒁉 𒁀 𒊏 𒈬 𒌦 𒌀
e2-bi la-la-bi ba-ra-mu-un-gi4 hi-li-bi ba-ra-mu-un-til
house-this charm-its not-satisfy delight-its not-complete
ebi lalabi baramungi hilibi baramuntil
88 – This temple, with whose charm he was not sated, whose delights he had not exhausted:
The word here translated as “temple,” e2, literally means “house.” The implicit subject of this line must be An, even though it is Lugal-Ane in both the preceding and the following line. Note the neatness of the line’s construction, with lalabi echoing hilibi, and baramungi echoing baramuntil.
𒊕 𒆗 𒀭 𒆠 𒀀 𒀭 𒈹 𒁉 𒈨 𒂗
saĝ-kal an ki-a dinana-bi-me-en
foremost heaven earth-on Inana-their-are
saĝkal an kia Inanabimen
89 – this house he transformed into a house of evil.
The verb includes a particle meaning “against him,” that is, “to An’s detriment.”
𒋰 𒈬 𒅆 𒅔 𒆭 𒊏 𒈾 𒊲 𒈠 𒉌 𒄷 𒈬 𒋼
tab mu-ši-in-ku4-ra-na ninim-ma-ni hu-mu-te
equal enter-that-his-in envy-his approach
tab mušinkurana ninimani humunte
90 – As he became equal to me, envy followed him.?
Note that the word ku4, “to enter” or “to make into,” appears in two lines in a row. I understand the line to mean, literally, “in the (moment) he became equal to me, his envy approached (him).” That is, in usurping Enheduana’s position, Lugal-Ane was motivated by envy (inim), which continues to follow or “draw near” to him even as he makes himself her equal by forcefully taking over her role. But other translators interpret it differently. Zgoll and Black et al. see it as referring to a kind of deception: “While he entered before me as if he was a partner (tab), really he approached out of envy.” Attinger sees Enheduana as the object of the second verb, that is, the person to whom the envy “draws near”: “When he entered at my side (tab), I fell victim to his jealousy.” Foster has a very different and in my view untenable interpretation, taking inim to mean “lust,” and the line as a reference to sexual violence (“he dared approach me in his lust”). But there is no suggestion elsewhere in Sumerian sources that the (admittedly rare) word inim can mean sexual desire.
𒀭 𒄢 𒍣 𒈬 𒇽 𒃶 𒅎 𒊬 𒊑 𒇽 𒃶 𒅎 𒈪 𒆪 𒁉
dsun2 zi-ĝu10 lu2 he2-em-sar-re lu2 he2-em-mi-dab5-be2
aurochs righteous-my man chase man seize
sun ziĝulu hemsare lu hemidabe
91 – My righteous Aurochs! May you chase this man, may you seize him!
The use of the divine determinative (the superscript d before the first word) makes clear that sun2 is here used as an epithet of the goddess: “(Divine) Aurochs.”
𒆠 𒍣 𒊮 𒅅 𒆷 𒅗 𒂷 𒂊 𒀀 𒈾 𒈨 𒂗
ki zi-ša3-ĝal2-la-ka ĝe26-e a-na-me-en
place life_giving-of-in I what-am
ki zišaĝalaka ĝe anamen
92 – In this life-giving land—what am I?
In her desperate situation, Enheduana asks where there is a place for her in the land of living—and if so, what that place is.
𒆠 𒁄 𒅆𒌨 𒈪𒉭 𒀭 𒋀𒆠 𒍝 𒆤 𒌍 𒀭 𒉌 𒄩 𒁀 𒀊 𒋧 𒈬
ki-bal hul-gig dnanna-za-ke4-eš an-ne2 ha-ba-ab-šum2-mu
rebel_land hateful Nanna-your-of-like An give
kibal hulgig Nannazakeš Ane hababšumu
93 – Like a rebel land hated by your Nanna: may An deliver it.
The word translated as “deliver,” šum2, here refers to passing something over to others. In this context, it would mean that An delivers it to destruction, giving it over so that it is no longer under divine protection.
𒌷 𒁉 𒀭 𒉌 𒄩 𒁀 𒊏 𒋛 𒅋 𒇷
iri-bi an-ne2 ha-ba-ra-si-il-le
city-this An split
iribi Ane habarasile
94 – This city—may An tear it to pieces,
Note the balance of the half-lines, which have five syllables each and a symmetrical sequence of vowels: i-i-i-a-e / a-a-a-i-e.
𒀭 𒂗 𒆤 𒇷 𒉆 𒄩 𒁀 𒁕 𒀭 𒋻 𒉈
Enlile nam habadankude
95 – may Enlil curse it.
As in l. 18–19, Enlil appears alongside An, as the two main gods of the pantheon.
𒌉 𒀀𒅆 𒅆𒊒 𒁕 𒁉 𒂼 𒉌 𒈾 𒀭 𒈹𒁲 𒂊
dumu er2_pad3-da-bi ama-ni na-an-se25-e
child cry-that-its mother-their not-calm
dumu er padabi amani nansede
96 – Its crying children—may their mother not comfort them.
The expression er2 pad3 may refer, not exactly to crying, but to the welling up on tears in one’s eyes.
𒊩𒌆 𒀀 𒉪 𒆠 𒃻 𒊏
nin A-NIR ki_ĝar-ra
lady sighs set_up-that
nin anir? ki ĝara
97 – Lady! When their grief has been set up,
That is, when the city establishes the rituals of lamentation, in response to the destruction wrought upon by the gods.
𒄑 𒈣 𒀀 𒉪 𒊏 𒍪 𒆠 𒉽 𒊏 𒃶 𒉈 𒅁 𒋺
ĝišma2 A-NIR-ra-zu ki kur2-ra he2-bi2-ib-taka4
boat sigh-of-your place other-in abandon
ma anirazu? ki kura hebibtaka
98 – your boat of grief should be left in a foreign land.
With l. 97, this couplet explicates the logic of ritual laments, for which see this page: when humans acknowledged the power of the gods through ostentatious grieving, the gods were expected to turn their destruction elsewhere. Note the parallel between anir ki ĝara and anirazu ki kura.
𒂡 𒆬 𒂷 𒆤 𒌍 𒉌 𒂦 𒄀 𒉈 𒂗
šir3 ku3-ĝa2-ke4-eš i3-ug5-ge-de3-en
song holy-my-for die
šir kuĝakeš iugeden
99 – Will I die because of my holy song?
It is unclear what precisely this line refers to, but perhaps it means that Enheduana fears that she will be put to death because of her previous service as high priestess.
𒂷 𒂊 𒀭 𒋀𒆠 𒈬 𒇷 𒈬 𒁀 𒊏 𒀭 𒋻
I Nanna-my not-examine
ĝae Nannaĝu enĝu barantar
100 – Me! My Nanna has not enquired about me.
In other words, Nanna has not shown interest in her case. Instead of “has not enquired,” one manuscript writes “has not made a decision.”
𒆠 𒈜 𒆷 𒃶 𒅁 𒄢 𒄢 𒂊
ki lul-la he2-eb-gul-gul-e
place false destroy
ki lula hebgulgulen
101 – This false land has completely destroyed me.
The word translated here as “false,” lul, can also mean “criminal” or “renegade.” The expression recalls the earlier phrase ki zi-ša3-ĝal2-la, “life-giving land.”
𒀭 𒀸 𒁽 𒌓 𒂊 𒁲 𒈬 𒁀 𒊏 𒉈 𒅔 𒅗
ddil-im2-babbar-e di-ĝu10 ba-ra-bi2-in-du11
Dilimbabbar verdict-my not-speak
Dilimbabbare diĝu barabindu
102 – Dilimbabbar has not pronounced my verdict.
For the name Dilimbabbar, see l. 84 above.
𒉈 𒅔 𒅗 𒉆 𒈬 𒇷 𒉈 𒅔 𒅗 𒉆 𒈬
bi2-in-du11 nam-mu li-bi2-in-du11 nam-mu
speak what_then not-speak what_then
bindu nammu libindu nammu
103 – If he pronounced it—what then? If he did not pronounce it—what then?
Dilimbabbar’s verdict in the figurative court case no longer matters to Enheduana, either because it is too late (she is already on the verge of death), or because she has turned for support to Inana instead.
𒅇 𒈠 𒁺 𒁺 𒁀 𒂍 𒋫 𒁀 𒊏 𒌓𒁺
u3-ma gub-gub-ba e2-ta ba-ra-e3
victorious stand house-from come_out
uma gubguba eta barane
104 – Standing victorious, he stepped out of the temple.
The implicit subject of the line must again be Lugal-Ane. The word translated here as “victorious” means more precisely “having achieved one’s desires.” As observed by Attinger, the traditional reading of the line as “he forced me out of the temple,” is complicated (if not, in my view, made entirely impossible) by the way most manuscripts write the final verb. This is another well-balanced line, with half-lines of five syllables each and a symmetrical vowel sequence: u-a u-u-a / e-a a-a-e.
𒋆 𒄷 𒁶 𒀊 𒋫 𒁀 𒊏 𒀭 𒊑 𒂊 𒍣 𒈬 𒅎 𒈪 𒅥
simmušen-gen7 ab-ta ba-ra-an-dal-e zi-ĝu10 im-mi-ku2
swallow-like window-from make_fly life-my eat
simgen abta barandalen ziĝu immiku
105 – Like a swallow, he made me fly through the window—my life has been devoured.
Other manuscripts have instead “he has devoured my life.”
𒄑 𒄉 𒆳 𒊏 𒆤 𒉈 𒅔 𒂄 𒂊 𒂗
ĝiškiši16 kur-ra-ke4 bi2-in-du24-e-en
thorn land-of-to decree
kiši kurake binduen
106 – Have you dispatched me to the thorns of foreign lands?
Again, Attinger observes that the traditional reading of this line—“He has made me walk through the thorns of foreign lands”—is rendered improbable by the way the word is written. Instead, the line seems to be a question addressed to Inana.
𒂇 𒍣 𒉆 𒂗 𒈾 𒈬 𒁕 𒀭 𒋼𒀀
aga zi nam-en-na mu-da-an-kar
crown righteous en-ship-of tear_away
aga zi namena mudankar
107 – He wrested the righteous crown of the high priestess from me,
The phrase aga zi nam-en-na, “righteous crown of en-ship,” refers back to l. 4, where the same three words appear together. One manuscript has “garment” instead of “crown.”
𒄈 𒁀 𒁕 𒊏 𒈠 𒀭 𒋧 𒀀 𒊏 𒀊 𒌌 𒈠 𒀭 𒅗
ĝiri2 ba-da-ra ma-an-šum2 a-ra-ab-du7 ma-an-du11
knife dagger give suit say
ĝiri badara manšum arabdu mandu
108 – he gave me a knife and dagger. “They suit you,” he said.
Lugal-Ane’s taunting action can be interpreted in different ways. The suggestion may be that Enheduana should commit suicide, or that she will have to defend herself while in exile. Note that the “knife and dagger,” ĝiri2 ba-da-ra, were also the traditional attributes of the gender-bending ritual performers with whom Enheduana also compares herself in the Hymn, l. 250: perhaps Lugal-Ane is rebuking Enheduana for her “masculine” behavior? Note the neat construction of the last three words: the third word combines the prefix of the first (man-) with the ending of the second (-du).
𒊩𒌆 𒆗 𒆗 𒆷 𒀭 𒉌 𒆠 𒉘
nin kal-kal-la an-ne2 ki_aĝ2
lady precious An love
nin kalkala Ane kiaĝ
109 – Precious lady, beloved by An!
Once again, the word nin serves to mark the beginning of a new section. This fifth and penultimate section is framed by the three-fold repetition of the phrase “lady, beloved by An.”
𒊮 𒆬 𒍪 𒈤 𒀀𒀭 𒆠 𒁉 𒄩 𒈠 𒄄 𒄄
ša3 ku3-zu mah-am3 ki-bi_ha-ma-gi4-gi4
heart holy-your mighty-is return
ša kuzu maham kibi hamagigi
110 – Your holy heart is mighty—may it return to me!
In the Sumerian idiom, the heart “returning to its place” means a restoration of affection.
𒊩𒍑𒁮 𒆠 𒉘 𒀭 𒃲𒁔 𒀭 𒈾 𒅗
nitlam ki-aĝ2 dušumgal-an-na-ka
spouse beloved Ushumgal-An-of
nitlam kiaĝ Ušumgal-Anaka
111 – Beloved wife of Ushumgal-An,
Ušumgal-An—literally “the basilisk of heaven”—is an epithet of Inana’s lover, Dumuzi.
𒀭 𒌫 𒀭 𒉺 𒊩𒌆 𒃲 𒁉 𒈨 𒂗
an-ur2 an-pa nin gal-bi-me-en
horizon zenith lady great-of-are
anur anpa nin galbimen
112 – you are the greatest lady from horizon to zenith.
The words translated as “horizon” and “zenith” literally mean “heaven-foundation,” an-ur2, and “heaven-top,” an-pa.
𒀭 𒀀 𒉣 𒈾 𒆤 𒉈 𒄘 𒄑 𒈠 𒊏 𒀭 𒃻 𒊑 𒌍
Anunakene guĝiš maranĝareš
113 – The Anuna have submitted to you.
This is the first of three lines in quick succession to begin with the name of the “Anuna,” marking Inana’s superiority over the other gods of the pantheon.
𒅇 𒌅 𒁕 𒋫 𒊩𒌆 𒌉 𒁕 𒈨 𒂗
u3-du2-da-ta nin ban3-da-me-en
ududata nin bandamen
114 – From birth, you were a minor lady,
Intriguingly, the line implies that Inana was not always held to be a major figure in the pantheon—perhaps to explain why the goddess needs to be exalted.
𒀭 𒀀 𒉣 𒈾 𒀭 𒃲 𒃲 𒂊 𒉈 𒀀 𒁶 𒁀 𒂊 𒉈 𒋛𒀀 𒂵
da-nun-na diĝir gal-gal-e-ne a-gen7 ba-e-ne-diri-ga
Anuna gods great how exceed-that
Anuna diĝir galgalener agen baenediriga
115 – but now—how you surpass the great Anuna gods!
The Sumerian language is very sparing with conjunctions like “and” or “but,” so the words “but now” are not there in the original, though the sentiment is clearly the same.
𒀭 𒀀 𒉣 𒈾 𒀝 𒉈 𒅻 𒅻 𒁉 𒋫 𒆠 𒋢 𒌒 𒈠 𒊏 𒀝 𒉈
da-nun-na-ke3-ne nundum-nundum-bi-ta ki su-ub_ma-ra-AK-ne
Anuna lips-their-with place kiss
Anunakene nundum-nundumbita ki sub marakne?
116 – The Anuna kiss the ground for you.
Literally, “rub the place with their lips.”
𒁲 𒉎 𒂷 𒉡 𒈬 𒌦 𒌀 𒁲 𒉽 𒁲 𒈬 𒁶 𒅆 𒂷 𒈬 𒌦 𒆸 𒆸
di ni2-ĝa2 nu-mu-un-til di kur2 di-ĝu10-gen7 igi-ĝa2 mu-un-ni10-ni10
case self-my not-complete case hostile case-my-like face-my encircle
di niĝa numuntil di kur diĝugen igiĝa munnini
117 – The trial against me is not over. A hostile verdict surrounds me, as if it were my verdict.
As noted under l. 83, Enheduana interprets the ambiguity of her situation (exiled, but still alive) as an open court case: she feels a negative verdict looming toward her, but insists that the matter is not yet fully resolved, giving Inana time to intervene. Note that the word here translated as “trial” and “verdict” is the same, di.
𒄑 𒈿 𒄀 𒆸 𒈾 𒋗 𒉡 𒌝 𒈪 𒇲
ĝišna2 gi-rin-na šu_nu-um-mi-la2
bed resplendent? not-defile
na girina šu numila
118 – I have not defiled? the flourishing? bed,
It is unclear what this line refers to, in part because the expressions gi-rin-na, here translated “flourishing,” and šu_la2, here translated “defile,” are unclear. Zgoll translates that later expression literally, as “I have not stretched out my hands over the resplendent bed,” which Foster takes to be a description of prayer: “My hands are no longer clasped together on the god’s bed.” Attinger argues that the subject of the line is Lugal-Ane (“he has not defiled”). The new translation by Zgoll follows him on this point, but it seems to me unlikely. One manuscript has “my flourishing? bed.” Note the balance of the half-lines, which have the same syllable structure: one, then three.
𒅗 𒅗 𒂵 𒀭 𒊩𒌆 𒃲 𒇽 𒊏 𒉡 𒈬 𒈾 𒁔
inim du11-ga dnin-gal lu2-ra nu-mu-na-bur2
word spoken Ningal anyone-to not-reveal
inim duga Ningal lura numunabur
119 – I have not revealed Ningal’s speech to anyone,
Again, the meaning of this line is unclear. As high priestess of Nanna, Enheduana would have had a special connection to Ningal—see this page.
𒂗 𒌓𒌓 𒂵 𒀭 𒋀𒆠 𒈨 𒂗
en dadag-ga dnanna-me-en
high_priestess shining Nanna-am
en dadaga Nannamen
120 – I am the shining high priestess of Nanna.
Though the previous two lines are unclear, it is possible to see them as averring that Enheduana has not betrayed her profession, meaning that she is still Nanna’s legitimate priestess, even as she has been cast into exile.
𒊩𒌆 𒆠 𒉘 𒀭 𒈾 𒈬 𒊮 𒍪 𒄩 𒈠 𒈻 𒉈
nin ki-aĝ2 an-na-ĝu10 ša3-zu ha-ma-se9-de3
lady beloved An-of-my heart-your calm
nin kiaĝ Anaĝu šazu hamasede
121 – My lady, beloved by An, may your heart be reconciled with me!
The phrase “My lady, beloved by An,” introduces a new section: a final paean to Inana’s greatness.
𒃶 𒍪 𒃶 𒍪 𒀀𒀭 𒀭 𒋀𒆠 𒇷 𒉈 𒅔 𒅗 𒂵 𒍝 𒀀 𒄰 𒉈 𒅔 𒅗 𒂵
he2-zu he2-zu-am3 dnanna li-bi2-in-du11-ga za-a-kam bi2-in-du11-ga
know know Nanna not-speak yours speak
hezu hezuam Nanna libinduga zakam binduga
122 – May it be known, may it be known! Nanna has not spoken, so he has said: “It is yours.”
The line returns to the theme of the open court case, for which see l. 83 and 117: because Enheduana’s situation is ambiguous, Nanna must not have decided her case one way or the other, effectively leaving the matter to Inana. Attinger has an alternative, much more convoluted, and in my view unnecessary parsing of the line: “The ‘It is well known, it is well known”: I did not say, ‘(It is) about Nanna,’ I said, ‘(It is) about you.”
𒀭 𒁶 𒈤 𒀀 𒍝 𒃶 𒍪 𒀀𒀭
an-gen7 mah-a-za he2-zu-am3
heaven-like mighty-that-your know
angen mahaza hezuam
123 – That you are as mighty as heaven—may it be known.
The following section enumerates Inana’s majestic traits, which each line ending in he2-zu-am3, “may it be known” (this structure is called an epistrophe). Attinger translates this expression instead as “It is well known.”
𒆠 𒁶 𒂼 𒀀 𒍝 𒃶 𒍪 𒀀𒀭
ki-gen7 daĝal-a-za he2-zu-am3
earth-like broad-that-your know
kigen daĝalaza hezuam
124 – That you are as wide as the earth—may it be known.
It is a traditional trope in cuneiform literature to describe the gods as being as large as the earth and the heavens.
𒆠 𒁄 𒄢 𒄢 𒇻 𒍝 𒃶 𒍪 𒀀𒀭
ki-bal gul-gul-lu-za he2-zu-am3
rebel_land destroy-that-your know
kibal gulguluza hezuam
125 – That you destroy the rebel land—may it be known.
From this line onward (until the end of the list, in l. 132), the ancient manuscripts order the lines differently; accordingly, Zgoll and Delnero also structure the section differently (see the overview in Delnero, 2094–96). For the sake of convenience, I follow Zgoll, whose line ordering has been most widely adopted; though it should be noted that Delnero’s ordering is based on a larger selection of manuscripts.
𒆳 𒊏 𒅗 𒌤 𒂊 𒍝 𒃶 𒍪 𒀀𒀭
kur-ra gu3_de2-e-za he2-zu-am3
land shout-that-your know
kura gu deza hezuam
125a – That you roar against the enemy land—may it be known.
This line further complicates the different line orderings described above. Zgoll decided to count this line as 125a, presumably because it is placed after l. 125 in some manuscripts, but last in several others, suggesting (to her) that it was treated as an extraneous addition. Delnero (I think rightly) argues that there is not sufficient evidence for discounting the line, and in his new ordering, he gives it the number 133. However, as a result, the two editions yield different line counts from here and on to the end of the poem, which has 153 lines by Zgoll’s count and 154 by Delnero’s. Again, I follow Zgoll for the sake of convenience and ease of comparison across translations.
𒊕 𒄑 𒊏 𒊏 𒍝 𒃶 𒍪 𒀀𒀭
saĝ ĝiš_ra-ra-za he2-zu-am3
head beat-that-your know
saĝ ĝiš raraza hezuam
126 – That you smash heads—may it be known.
The phrase saĝ ĝiš ra is also used in the more general, less graphic sense, “to kill.”
𒌨 𒁶 𒇿 𒅥 𒅇 𒍝 𒃶 𒍪 𒀀𒀭
ur-gen7 ad6 gu7-u3-za he2-zu-am3
beast-like corpse eat-that-you know
urgen ad guza hezuam
127 – That you devour corpses like a lion—may it be known.
On the meaning of ur as “beast” or “lion,” see l. 14.
𒅆 𒄭𒄊 𒀀 𒍝 𒃶 𒍪 𒀀𒀭
igi huš-a-za he2-zu-am3
eye furious-that-your know
igi hušaza hezuam
128 – That your eyes are furious—may it be known.
The word igi can also mean “face,” but in l. 130, it does seem to refer to eyes.
𒅆 𒄭𒄊 𒁉 𒅍 𒅍 𒄿 𒍝 𒃶 𒍪 𒀀𒀭
igi huš-bi il2-il2-i-za he2-zu-am3
eye furious-this lift-that-you know
igi hušbi ililiza? hezuam
129 – That you lift these furious eyes—may it be known.
One advantage of Zgoll’s ordering of the section is that it puts the three lines beginning with igi next to each other, in a neat crescendo.
𒅆 𒁯 𒁯 𒈾 𒍝 𒃶 𒍪 𒀀𒀭
igi gun3-gun3-na-za he2-zu-am3
eye iridescent-that-your know
igi gungunaza hezuam
130 – That your eyes are iridescent—may it be known.
The word gun3-gun3, which is often applied to eyes, means “shining, multi-colored, dappled, beautiful.”
𒂗 𒈾 𒉡 𒊺 𒂵 𒍝 𒃶 𒍪 𒀀𒀭
uru16-na nu-še-ga-za he2-zu-am3
towering-that disobedient-that-your know
uruna nušegaza hezuam
131 – That you are obstinate and defiant—may it be known.
The word nu-še-ga, here translated as “defiant,” literally means, “one who does not obey.”
𒅇 𒈠 𒁺 𒁺 𒁍 𒍝 𒃶 𒍪 𒀀𒀭
u3-ma gub-gub-bu-za he2-zu-am3
victorious stand-that-your know
uma gubgubuza hezuam
132 – That you stand triumphant—may it be known.
Note the parallel to l. 104, where Lugal-Ane was said to stand triumphant, using the same expression: the implication is that Inana will rob him of his victory.
𒀭 𒋀𒆠 𒇷 𒉈 𒅔 𒅗 𒂵 𒍝 𒀀 𒄰 𒉈 𒅔 𒁺 𒌋 𒁹 𒂵
dnanna li-bi2-in-du11-ga za-a-kam bi2-in-du11-ga
Nanna not-speak yours speak
Nanna libinduga zakam binduga
133 – Nanna has not spoken, so he has said: “It is yours.”
The line repeats the second part of l. 122.
𒊩𒌆 𒈬 𒌈 𒄖 𒅋 𒂗 𒉌 𒈤 𒂗
nin-ĝu10 ib2-gu-ul-en i3-mah-en
lady-my make_great make_mighty
ninĝu ibgulen imahen
134 – My lady, this has made you great, this has made you mighty.
By letting Inana decide the case for him, Nanna has allowed Inana to become a ruler among gods, paving the way for her exalted position in the pantheon. One can also translate it as “he has made you, he has made you mighty.”
𒊩𒌆 𒆠 𒉘 𒀭 𒈾 𒈬 𒂇 𒂇 𒍝 𒂵 𒀀𒀭 𒅗
nin ki-aĝ2 an-na-ĝu10 mir-mir-za ga-am3-du11
lady beloved An-of-my wrath-your speak
nin kiaĝ Anaĝu mirmirza gamdu
135 – My lady, beloved by An—I will sing of your wrath.
This is the third and final repetition of the phrase, “My lady, beloved by An,” marking the beginning of the climactic section of the poem.
𒉈 𒄯 𒈬 𒁾 𒋗 𒈛 𒋛 𒉈 𒅔 𒁲
ne-mur mu-dub šu-luh si_bi2-in-sa2
coal pile ritual prepare
nemur mudub šuluh si binsa
136 – I have piled up the coals, I have performed the ritual.
On the šuluh as rituals of purification, see l. 85. In this context, si sa2 specifically means “to perform without fault.”
𒂠 𒁮 𒆬 𒈠 𒊏 𒀭 𒅅 𒊮 𒍪 𒈾 𒈠 𒈻 𒉈
eš2-dam-ku3 ma-ra-an-ĝal2 ša3-zu na-ma-se9-de3
Eshdamku be_available heart-your not-calm
ešdamku maranĝal šazu namasede
137 – The Holy Inn is ready for you. Will your heart not be reconciled with me?
𒅎 𒈠 𒋛 𒅎 𒈠 𒋛𒀀 𒂵 𒋫 𒊩𒌆 𒌦 𒃲 𒈠 𒊏 𒌅
im-ma-si im-ma-diri-ga-ta nin UN-gal ma-ra-du2-ud
fill exceed-that-after lady queen? give_birth
imasi imadirigata nin ungal ? maradu
138 – As my heart was filled, overfilled—lady, queen—I gave birth to it for you.
Zgoll identifies the first part of the line—which literally reads “it was full for me, it was exceeding for me”—as a Sumerian idiomatic expression of overwhelming sorrow, with the heart as the implicit subject. The implicit object of the last verb refers to the poem itself, as made clear by the following lines: the narrator is here describing how she produced the text we have been reading so far. Crucially, however, the manuscripts write the last sign differently, leading to four different descriptions of Enheduana’s authorship. Four manuscripts have du11, “to speak,” or “to sing” (see note to l. 63); three manuscripts have du3, “to create”; one manuscript has du2, “to give birth”; and one manuscript has du8, “to release.” Since all four meanings of the sound du make sense in this context—authorship can be understood as both creation, recitation, birth, and release—the ambiguity may well be intentional. Zgoll (490) defends the reading du2, “give birth,” in part because of the parallelism to l. 544 of the Temple Hymns, where Enheduana’s authorship is also described through the metaphor of birth.
𒃻 𒈪 𒅇 𒈾 𒈠 𒊏 𒀭 𒅗 𒂵 𒀀𒀭
niĝ2 ĝi6-u3-na ma-ra-an-du11-ga-am3
thing nighttime-in speak-that-is
niĝ ĝiuna marandugam
139 – That which I sang to you at nighttime,
The mention of the ĝi6-u3-na, “dead of night,” alludes back to l. 56 and the description of the rebel woman. The link between the scenes establishes the rebel woman as Enheduana’s foil: where the woman cannot speak beautiful words to her spouse and so cannot give birth, Enheduana does speak eloquently to Inana, and so gives birth to the poem.
𒍑𒆪 𒀭 𒉈 𒆤 𒋗 𒄷 𒈬 𒊏 𒀊 𒄄 𒄄
gala an-bar7-ke4 šu_hu-mu-ra-ab-gi4-gi4
gala midday repeat
gala anbarka šu humurabgigi
140 – may a gala repeat to you at midday.
On the gala, see this page.
𒁮 𒆪 𒁀 𒍝 𒆤 𒌍 𒌉 𒆪 𒁀 𒍝 𒆤 𒌍
dam dab5-ba-za-ke4-eš dumu dab5-ba-za-ke4-eš
spouse seized-your-for child seized-your-for
dam dabazakeš dumu dabazakeš
141 – Because of your captive spouse, because of your captive child,
It is unclear which spouse and child are meant. This line is also found in the genre of ritual lamentations, and seems to be a deliberate allusion to that genre (see Zgoll 431), indicating that the gala has taken over as the narrator of the text (see l. 144). Note the heavy alliteration on d.
𒌈 𒁀 𒍪 𒌈 𒄖 𒌌 𒊮 𒍪 𒉡 𒋼 𒂗 𒋼 𒂗
ib2-ba-zu ib2-gu-ul ša3-zu nu-te-en-te-en
anger-your make_great heart-your not-cool
ibazu ibgul šazu nutenten
142 – your anger grows, your heart is not soothed.
It is again unclear how this line fits into the narrative of the poem. If Enheduana identifies herself as Inana’s child (or spouse?) in the preceding line, it might mean that Inana goes from raging against Enheduana to raging on her behalf, but this is highly uncertain. Attinger suggests that the second part of the line is a question, paralleling l. 137: “Will your heart not be soothed?” Note the tight construction of the line: the repetition of ib- and -zu and the syllable structure 3-2//2-3.
𒊩𒌆 𒄘 𒌇 𒉪 𒅅 𒄘 𒂗 𒈾 𒆤
nin gu2-tuku nir-ĝal2 gu2-en-na-ke4
lady powerful authoritative assembly
nin gutuku nirĝal guenake
143 – The powerful lady, who is respected in the assembly,
Once more, the word nin introduces a new section: the epilogue of the poem. Note that the two words of each half-line begin with the same syllables: ni- and gu-.
𒀬𒀬 𒊏 𒈾 𒋗 𒁀 𒀭 𒅆 𒅔 𒋾
sizkurana šu banšinti
144 – received her prayer.
Enheduana refers to herself in the third person, suggesting that the narrator is now the gala who repeated Enheduana’s hymn on the day after its composition. This is a striking moment in the text, as the grammatical structure reflects Enheduana’s transformation from character to composer, narrator to author. As noted by Zgoll, sizkur2is specifically a prayer and an offering performed together.
𒊮 𒆬 𒀭 𒈹 𒆠 𒁉 𒁀 𒀭 𒈾 𒀊 𒄄
ša3 ku3 dinana ki-bi_ba-an-na-ab-gi4
heart holy Inana-of return
ša ku Inana kibi banabgi
145 – Inana’s holy heart returned to her.
For the idiomatic expression of the heart returning to its place, signaling a restoration of affection, see l. 110. Because Inana is clearly the subject of this line and l. 149, it is assumed that she is also the subject of the intervening lines, though any of these could also refer to Enheduana, since she is now likewise referred to in the third person. As noted by Hallo and van Dijk (62), “it is hard to tell whether the narrator . . . is speaking of one or the other,” an ambiguity that is particularly clear in l. 151.
𒌓 𒁀 𒀭 𒈾 𒄭 𒆷 𒆷 𒁀 𒀭 𒋤 𒋤 𒄭 𒇷 𒈠 𒊍 𒁀 𒀭 𒃮 𒃮
u4 ba-an-na-du10 la-la ba-an-su3-su3 hi-li ma-az ba-an-du8-du8
light be_pleasant charm spread delight lust release
u banadu lala bansusu hili maz bandudu
146 – The light pleased her: she was spreading charm, she was exuding passionate delight.
The juxtaposition of la-la, “charm,” and hi-li, “delight,” refers back to l. 88 and the description of the Eana temple, perhaps suggesting that the damage done by Lugal-Ane has been reversed. Note also that the u4, “light,” being pleasant in this line contrasts with its appearance in l. 70, where it turned burning hot, again indicating a resolution of the crisis. Note the aural patterning of the verbs: banadu—bansusu—bandudu.
𒌓𒀭𒋀𒆠 𒌓𒁺 𒀀 𒁶 𒆷 𒆷 𒁀 𒀭 𒅍
iti6 e3-a-gen7 la-la ba-an-gur3
moonlight come_forth-like charm carry
iti eagen lala bangur
147 – Like the moonlight shining forth, she was laden with charm.
This line refers back to the very beginning of the poem: iti6 e3-a, “moonlight shining forth,” mirrors u4 dalla e3-a (l. 1), “resplendent daylight”; and la-la ba-an-gur3, “she was laden with charm,” mirrors me-lam2 gur3-ru, “laden with a terrifying light” (l. 2). Note especially the transition from daylight at the beginning of the poem to moonlight at its end. As pointed out to me by Fumi Karahashi (personal communication), this shift from day to night also reflects the dual aspect of Inana’s planet Venus, which appears at dawn and at dusk.
𒀭 𒋀𒆠 𒅆𒂍 𒍣 𒉈 𒌍 𒈬 𒌦 𒌓𒁺
dnanna u6 zi-de3-eš mu-un-e3
Nanna admiration properly come_forth
Nanna u zideš mune
148 – Nanna rightly expressed his admiration for her,
Note the parallel between the writing of the word iti6, “moonlight,” at the beginning of the previous line (UD-dŠEŠ-KI) and of the name Nanna, at the beginning of this line (dŠEŠ-KI).
𒂼 𒉌 𒀭 𒊩𒌆 𒃲 𒆷 𒊏 𒆃 𒈬 𒈾 𒀭 𒊮 𒀸
ama-ni dnin-gal-la-ra šudu3_mu-na-an-ša3-aš
mother-her Ningal-to greet?
amani Ningalara šudu munanšaš
149 – she blessed her mother Ningal,
The manuscripts from Ur have instead: “Her mother Ningal blessed her.”
𒄑 𒆍 𒈾 𒆤 𒁲 𒈠 𒈬 𒈾 𒀊 𒁉
ĝiš-ka2-na-ke4 silim-ma mu-na-ab-be2
doorframe greetings say
ĝiškanake silima munabe
150 – the doorframe said to her: “Welcome!”
The mention of the doorframe at the very end of the poem is significant: the line is also a threshold of the text itself.
𒉡 𒈪𒉭 𒊏 𒅗 𒂵 𒉌 𒈤 𒀀𒀭
nu-gig-ra du11-ga-ni mah-am3
nugig-to say-that-her mighty-is
nugigra dugani maham
151 – Her speech to the nugig was mighty.
Note that the mention of the nugig again refers back to the beginning of the text: it was mentioned in the third line of the poem and appears again here, in the third-to-last line. As noted in l. 3, it originally designated a wetnurse or midwife, but came to refer more generally to high-status women associated with the temple, and it was used as an epithet of Inana and other goddesses. Crucially, its use in this line is ambiguous: does it refer to Inana, as it does in l. 3? In that case, the line would describe Enheduana’s recitation of the poem to Inana. Or does nugig refer to Enheduana, in which case the line would describe Inana’s order that Enheduana be restored as high priestess? Different translators have taken different views, but the ambiguity seems to me deliberate (see Helle, 61), as it shows the goddess and the priestess exalting one another.
𒆳 𒄢 𒄢 𒀭 𒁕 𒈨 𒁀 𒀀
kur gul-gul an-da me ba-a
mountain destroy An-with me alloted
kur gulgul Anda me ba
152 – Destroyer of mountains, to whom the me were allotted by An,
The phrase kur gul-gul, “destroyer of mountains,” parallels l. 17, and again alludes to Inana’s battle against Mount Ebih.
𒊩𒌆 𒈬 𒄭 𒇷 𒄘 𒌓𒁺 𒀭 𒈹 𒍠 𒊩
nin-ĝu10 hi-li gu2_e3 dinana za3-mi2
lady-my delight covered Inana praise
ninĝu hili gu e Inana zami
153 – My lady, wrapped in delight: Inana be praised!
The phrase nin-ĝu10 isrepeated one final time to mark the end of the poem. It is conventional for Sumerian hymns to end with the name of the deity followed by za3-mi2, meaning “(to) the deity (let there be) praise.”
The translation and commentary was carried out by Sophus Helle. If you find any mistakes in the text, or if you have additions to the commentary, please contact me at email at sophushelle dot com.