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Monday, September 1, 2014

The Refined Reader (24) The First Author

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

The Refined Reader aims to take a look at the journey to where we are as readers today.  It's part history, part commentary - providing a brief, conversational summary of various aspects of our bookish past and comparing it to how it has affected us in modern times.  I love history, but I am no historian, and while I plan to do my research, if there are any errors, please let me know!  This is as much a learning venture for me as I hope it is for my blog visitors!

Enheduanna was a princess and high priestess in ancient Sumeria.  She lived in the 3rd millenium B.C. (over 4,000 years ago) and her biggest claim to fame is that she is the first person we know of who ascribed her name to her writing - the first author we are aware of.  She wrote many hymms and devotionals dedicated to the goddess Inanna.

Enheduanna was a priestess in her father's empire and worked to unite the local religions which in turn joined the city-states of the region and helped gain her father more power.  She may have been the first female to hold the office of high priestess in which case her rule would have been an important occasion in their history.  There was a coup during her time as priestess which caused her to be exiled, but she was reinstated some time after, which is detailed in her work "The Exaltation of Inamma."

She composed over forty hymms which reflected her "personal frustrations and hopes, religious devotion, her response to war, and feelings about the world she lived in." Her hymms were very influential and inspired the forms and subjects of hymms and psalms of the Bible and the Homeric hymms of Greece.  Her works are known as The Temple Hymms and contain a wealth of information on the life and beliefs of that time.  It's inspiring to me to think of this creative woman as an author and a leader such a long time ago and how influential her work has been even if not many people have heard of her today.

Here's a sample of her work, where she talks about her exile:

You asked me to enter the holy cloister,
The giparu,
and I went inside, I the high priestess
Enheduanna!
I carried the ritual basket and sang
Your praise.
Now I am banished among the lepers.
Even I cannot live with you.
Shadows approach the light of day, the light
Is darkened around me,
Shadows approach the daylight,
Covering the day with sandstorm.
My soft mouth of honey is suddenly confused.
My beautiful face is dust.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Ancient History Encyclopedia
Transoxiana

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