Source: Black, J.A., Cunningham, G., Robson, E., and Zólyomi, G., The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford 1998-.
composition from the Ur III period, featuring Enmerkar, a historical king of
Uruk and the lord of Uruk´s arch-rival city, Aratta. It forms part of the so-called
Geste d´ Uruk, which also includes Enmerkar and the lord of Aratta, the story
of Lugalbanda and Gilgamesh and the Akka of Kish.
In this tale, we have for the first time the name of Enmerkar´s arch-rival, the ruler of Aratta, the priest-king Ensuhgir-ana. The poem begins with a description of the wealth and beauty of Uruk, which is said to be greatly superior to Aratta´s. The lord of Aratta, En-suhgir-ana, nevertheless, challenges Enmerkar, priest-king of Uruk, to surrender to him. To challenge Uruk, Enshukeshdanna declares himself to be the "true bridegroom" of Inanna, the Great Goddess of Love and War, and this offends Enmerkar beyond measure, because he also happens to be the priest-king of Uruk, and as such, both a worshipper and spouse of Inanna. Enraged, Enmerkar replies that it is he who is the legimate bridegroom of the Goddess, he who has the right to Inanna.
Back in Aratta, when En-suhgir-ana hears of Enmerkar´s claim to be the first in Inanna´s graces, he assembles a council in order to decide how to proceed against Enmerkar. A "sorcerer" volunteers, and is dispatched to the surroundings of Uruk, where he dires up the milk supply in the holy stables of Nisaba, the goddess who holds the pure stylus, the laws of the land and who knows of the numbers, the patroness of the learned scribes.
As a result, the milk production stops and the distraught shepherds leave the folds and ask the sun-god Utu for help. The sorcerer goes then to the river. But a wise old woman from Uruk, called Sagburru, arrives and the two specialists in magic begin a contest of transformations. Each throws a metal object into the river. The sorcerer pulls up a carp, whereupon the woman pulls out an eagle which seizes the carp. Next he brings forth a ewe and its lamb, she produces a wolf that devours them both. This pattern is repeated three more times, with Sagburru´s predators carrying off the domestic animals produced by the sorcerer of Aratta. The magician admits defeat. The old woman reprimands him for his interference with teh goddess´ milk supply and throws him into the river. When En-suhgir-ana knows the outcome of the contest, he sends a message to Enmerkar, acknowledging his superiority. The text closes with a praise to Nidaba.
Now, let´s see the clues hidden in the myth.
First, no man or woman can ever claim ownership towards the goddess, especially a Great Goddess like Inanna. However, Enmerkar and Enshukeshdanna selfishsly wanted Inanna for themselves only, showing that they could well be kings... but as priests they still had a lot of growing up to do! Repeating a basic principle already stated this site: all things precious cannot be possessed, but shared in an eternal flow. This is the reason why all Great Love Goddesses and Gods belong to all. Can one possess sunshine, wisdom, creatitivy and laughter? One has all these things at one´s reach. To be used, lived up and shared with.
Secondly, a closer look at the personalities of the two kings will show that Enmerkar is the doer, or the magician-king, whereas Enshukeshdanna is the mystic. In High Magic, eventually a magician, or the extrovert mystic, will thread the path to Mystical Vision, whereas the mystic, or the introvert magician, will become more of a doer. In this case though both are unbalanced, it is true, otherwise none would have not started a quarrel they could not win.... because no way would Inanna allow either Uruk or Aratta to be destroyed. The point was to see which city and proud en (priest-king) would concede defeat more graciously.
The magician from Aratta makes a fateful mistake when he tries to starve Uruk by drying up the milk of its cowherds. Indeed, he affronted Inanna indirectly through the goddess Nisaba, and as such a sorceress from Uruk comes into the scene. In the longer composition Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, there is a passage that tells of Aratta´s request for Uruk to find a champion that was not red, or white or yellow, and then is followed by broken lines, but we know that the champions from Uruk arrive in Aratta with a singer and the wise woman. I will say that the champion from Uruk, whose appearance was impossible to match, was not a man, but a woman, who came to Aratta all dressed in skins and with a turban around the head. Because in the longer composion it is also said that after the rites of Dumuzi, the old woman becomes a maiden after a time in the Mountain, and that she marries Enmerkar in the end.
So I will follow my mystical hunch and propose that the old woman was not that old.... but she came to fight Aratta as an old woman because this was the vision the broken Uruk that could never be. We have seen that the Mountain is an euphemism for the Underworld, and the rites of the Dumuzi means the rites of the priest-king. Enmerkar proved himself worthier than En-suhgir-ana in the battle of wits, and as such conquered the victory, but Aratta did not lose the battle, was not destroyed or turned into rubbles. As the goddess would rightly demand.
There is a line which is not mine, but Esharra´s of the Twin Rivers Rising, who knows of these sacred things so well. "Love changes, but doesn´t necessarily has to die". This is my experience of what the sorceress would have said to En-suhgir-ana, the phrase that made him understand that he was also equally loved by the goddess. For when Ensuhkesh concedes defeat in the myth, he does with such grace that we have to bow to his greatness of heart, mind, body and soul.
1-5 Brickwork rising out from the pristine mountain (on the edge of ms. C: of the shining plain) -- Kulaba, city which reaches from heaven to earth; Unug, whose fame like the rainbow reaches up to the sky, a multicoloured sheen, as the new moon standing in the heavens.
6-13 Built in magnificence with all the great powers, lustrous mount founded on a favourable day, like moonlight coming up over the land, like bright sunlight radiating over the land, the rear cow and ...... cow coming forth in abundance: all this is Unug, the glory of which reaches the highland and its radiance, genuine refined silver, covers Aratta like a garment, is spread over it like linen.
14-24 At that time the day was lord, the night was sovereign, and Utu was king. Now the name of the lord of Aratta's minister was minister Ansiga-ria. The name of the minister of Enmerkar, the lord of Kulaba, was Namena-tuma. He with the ...... lord, he with the ...... prince; he with the...... lord, he with the...... prince; he with the ...... lord, he with the ...... prince; he with the man born to be a god; he with a man manifest as a god, with the lord of Unug, the lord of Kulaba -- En-suhgir-ana, the lord of Aratta, is to make a contest with him, saying first to the messenger concerning Unug:
25-39 "Let him submit to me, let him bear my yoke. If he submits to me, indeed submits to me, then as for him and me -- he may dwell with Inana in the E-jar, but I dwell with Inana in the E-zagin of Aratta; he may lie with her on the splendid bed, but I lie in sweet slumber with her on the adorned bed, he may see dreams with Inana at night, but I converse with Inana awake. He may feed the geese with barley, but I will definitely not feed the geese with barley. I will ...... the geese's eggs in a basket and ...... their goslings. The small ones into my pot, the large ones into my kettle, and the rulers of the land who submitted will consume, together with me, what remains from the geese." This is what he said to Enmerkar.
40-51 The messenger runs like a wild ram and flies like a falcon. He leaves in the morning and returns already at dusk, like small birds at dawn, he ...... over the open country, like small birds at midnight, he hides himself in the interior of the mountains. Like a throw-stick, he stands at the side. Like a perfect donkey of Cakkan, he runs over (1 ms. has instead: cuts through) the mountains, he dashes like a large, powerful donkey. A slim donkey, eager to run, he rushes forth. A lion in the field at dawn, he lets out roars; like a wolf which has seized a lamb, he runs quickly. The small places he has reached, he fills with ...... for him; the large places he has reached, he ...... boundary (?).
52-69 He entered the presence of the lord in his holy jipar (1 ms. has instead: in his most holy place). (1 ms. adds the line: He entered the presence of Enmerkar in his most holy place.) "My king has sent me to you. The lord of Aratta, En-suhgir-ana, has sent me to you." (some mss. add the lines: "What does your king have to tell me, what does he have to add me? What does En-suhgir-ana have to tell me, what does he have to add me?" "This is what my king said, what he added, this is what En-suhgir-ana said, what he added. ") "This is what my king says: "Let him submit to me, let him bear my yoke. If he submits to me, indeed submits to me, then as for him and I -- he may dwell with Inana in the E-jar, but I dwell with Inana in the E-zagin of Aratta; he may lie with her on the splendid bed, but I lie in sweet slumber with her on the adorned bed, he may see dreams with Inana at night, but I converse with Inana awake. He may feed the geese with barley, but I will definitely not feed the geese with barley. I will ...... the geese's eggs in a basket and ...... their goslings. The small ones into my pot, the large ones into my kettle, and the rulers of the land who submitted will consume, together with me, what remains from the geese.""
70-76 The lord of Unug ...... he is their ......, he is their rudder. ...... he is the neck-stock which clamps down upon them, ...... to the place of its foundation. He is their falcon which flies in the sky, he is their bird-net. The brickwork of the great temple of Aratta ....... ...... in Aratta ...... great ....... ...... bring (?) .......
77-113 He patted it like a lump of clay, he examined it like a clay-tablet: "He may dwell with Inana in the E-zagin of Aratta, but I dwell with her ...... as her earthly companion (?). He may lie with her in sweet slumber on the adorned bed, but I lie on Inana's splendid bed strewn with pure plants. Its back is an ug lion, its front is a pirij lion. The ug lion chases the pirij lion, the pirij lion chases the ug lion. As the ug lion chases the pirij lion and the pirij lion chases the ug lion, the day does not dawn, the night does not pass. I accompany Inana for a journey of 15 leagues and yet Utu the sun-god cannot see my holy crown, when she enters my holy jipar. Enlil has given (?) me the true crown and sceptre. Ninurta, the son of Enlil, held me on his lap as the frame holds the water-skin. Aruru, the sister of Enlil, extended her right breast to me, extended her left breast to me. When I go up to the great shrine, the mistress screeches like an Anzud chick, and other times when I go there, even though she is not a duckling, she shrieks like one. She ...... from the city of her birth. No city was made to be so well-built as the city of Unug (?). It is Unug where Inana dwells and as regards Aratta, what does it have to do with this? It is brick-built Kulaba where she lives, and as regards the mount of the lustrous me, what can it do about this? For five or ten years she will definitely not go to Aratta. Since the great holy lady of the E-ana took counsel with me (?) about whether to go also to Aratta, since she let me know (1 ms. has instead: told me) about this matter, I know that she will not go to Aratta. He who has nothing shall not feed the geese with barley, but I will feed the geese with barley. I will ...... the geese's eggs in a basket and ...... their goslings. The small ones into my pot, the old ones into my kettle, and the rulers of the Land (some mss. has instead: of Sumer) who submitted will consume, together with me, what remains from the geese."
114-127 The messenger of Enmerkar reached En-suhgir-ana, reached his holy jipar, his most holy place, the most holy place where he was sitting, its ....... En-suhgir-ana asked for instructions, he searched for an answer. He summoned the icib priests, the lumah priests, the gudu priests, and girsiga attendants who dwell in the jipar and took counsel with them. "What shall I say to him? What shall I say to him? What shall I say to the lord of Unug, the lord of Kulaba? His bull stood up to fight my bull and the bull of Unug has defeated it. His man has been struggling with my man and the man of Unug has defeated him. His warrior (?) has been struggling with my warrior (?) and the warrior (?) of Unug ...... him."
128-134 The convened assembly answered him straightforwardly: "It was you who first sent a boastful (?) message to Unug for Enmerkar. You cannot hold back (?) Enmerkar, you have to hold back (?) yourself. Calm down; your heart will prompt you to achieve nothing, as far as can be known (?)." "If my city becomes a ruin mound, then I will be a potsherd of it, but I will never submit to the lord of Unug, the lord of Kulaba."
135-150 A sorcerer whose skill was that of a man of Hamazu, Ur-jirnuna, whose skill was that of a man of Hamazu, who came over to Aratta after Hamazu had been destroyed, practiced (?) sorcery in the inner chamber at the E-jipar. He said to minister Ansiga-ria: "My lord, why is it that the great fathers of the city, the founders in earlier times (?), do not ......, do not give advice. I will make Unug dig canals. I will make Unug submit to the shrine of Aratta. After the word of Unug ...... , I will make the territories from below to above, from the sea to the cedar mountain, from above to the mountain of the aromatic cedars, submit to my great army. Let Unug bring its own goods by boat, let it tie up boats as a transport flotilla towards the E-zagin of Aratta." The minister Ansiga-ria rose up in his city , he .......
151-162......Ansiga-ria ......, if only ....... "My lord, why is it that the great fathers of the city, the founders in earlier times (?), do not ......, do not give advice. I will make Unug dig canals. I will make Unug submit to the shrine of Aratta. After the word of Unug ......, I will make the territories from below to above, from the sea to the cedar mountain, from above to the mountain of the aromatic cedars, submit to my great army. Let Unug bring its own goods by boat, let it tie up boats as a transport flotilla towards the E-zagin of Aratta."
163-169 This made the lord extremely happy, so he gave five minas of gold to him, he gave five minas of silver to him. He promised him that he would be allotted fine food to eat, he promised him that he would be allotted fine drink to drink. "When their men are taken captive, your life ...... happiness (?) in your hand (?) prosperity (?)", he promised to him.
170-184 The sorcerer, farmer of the best seeds, directed his steps towards Erec, the city of Nisaba, and reached the animal pen, the house where the cows live. The cow trembled with fear at him in the animal pen. He made the cow speak so that it conversed with him as if it were a human being: "Cow, who will eat your butter? Who will drink your milk?" "My butter will be eaten by Nisaba, my milk will be drunk by Nisaba. My cheese, skilfully produced bright crown, was made fitting for the great dining hall, the dining hall of Nisaba. Until my butter is delivered from the holy animal pen, until my milk is delivered from the holy byre, the steadfast wild cow Nisaba, the first-born of Enlil, will not impose any levy on the people." "Cow, your butter to your shining horn; your milk to your back." So the cow's butter was ...... to its shining horn; its milk was ...... to its back .......
185-197 He reached the holy byre, the byre of Nisaba. The goat trembled with fear at him in the byre. He made the goat speak so that it conversed with him as if it were a human being. "Goat, who will eat your butter? Who will drink your milk?" "My butter will be eaten by Nisaba, my milk will be drunk by Nisaba. My cheese, skilfully produced bright crown, was made fitting for the great dining hall, the dining hall of Nisaba. Until my butter is delivered from the holy animal pen, until my milk is delivered from the holy byre, the steadfast wild cow Nisaba, the first-born of Enlil, will not impose any levy on the people." "Goat, your butter to your shining horn, your milk to your back." So the goat's butter was ...... to its shining horn; its milk was made to depart to its back.
198-205 On that day the animal pen and the byre were turned into a house of silence; they were dealt a disaster. There was no milk in the udder of the cow, the day darkened for the calf, its young calf was hungry and wept bitterly. There was no milk in the udder of the goat; the day darkened for the kid. The kid and its goat lay starving, its life ....... The cow spoke bitterly to its calf; The goat ...... to its kid. The holy churn was empty, ...... was hungry, ...... lay starving.
206-221 On that day the animal pen and the byre were turned into a house of silence; they were dealt a disaster. The cow-herd dropped his staff from his hand: he was shocked. The shepherd hung the crook at his side and wept bitterly. The shepherd boy did not enter (?) the byre and animal pen, but took another way; the milk carrier did not sing loudly, but took another road. The cow-herd and shepherd of Nisaba, sons born of the same mother, were brought up in the animal pen and byre. The name of the first one was Mac-gula, the name of the second one was Ur-edina. At the great gate, facing sunrise, the place marvelled at by the land, both of them crouched in the debris and appealed to Utu for help : "The sorcerer from Aratta entered the animal pen. He made the milk scarce, so the young calves could not get any. In the animal pen and the byre he caused distress; he made the butter and milk scarce 1 ms. has instead: ...... diminished ......, ...... he made the milk of the goat scarce. He threw its ......, ...... was dealt a disaster."
222-227...... approached. ...... caused damage (?)....... ...... turned toward Erec. ...... the Euphrates ...... the river of the gods. She made her way to the city whose destiny was decreed by An and Enlil ....... Wise Woman Sajburu ...... hand ...... for him.
228-231 Both of them threw fish spawn (?) into the river. The sorcerer made a giant carp come out (1 ms. has instead: arise) from the water. Wise Woman Sajburu, however, made an eagle come out (1 ms. has instead: arise) from the water. The eagle seized the giant carp and fled to the mountains (1 ms. has instead: The eagle seized the giant carp out of the waves and went up to the sky).
232-235 A second time they threw fish spawn (?) into the river. The sorcerer made a ewe and its lamb come out (1 ms. has instead: arise) from the water. Wise Woman Sajburu, however, made a wolf come out (1 ms. has instead: arise) from the water. The wolf seized the ewe and its lamb and dragged it to the wide desert.
236-239 A third time they threw fish spawn (?) into the river. The sorcerer made a cow and its calf come out (1 ms. has instead: arise) from the water. Wise Woman Sajburu, however, made a lion come out (1 ms. has instead: arise) from the water. The lion seized the cow and its calf and took (some mss. have instead: dragged) them to the reedbeds.
240-243 A fourth time they threw fish spawn (?) into the river. The sorcerer made an ibex and a wild sheep come out (1 ms. has instead: arise) from the water. Wise Woman Sajburu, however, made a mountain leopard come out (1 ms. has instead: arise) from the water. The leopard seized the ibex and the wild sheep and took them to the mountains.
244-248 A fifth time they threw fish spawn (?) into the river. The sorcerer made a gazelle kid come out from the water. Wise Woman Sajburu, however, made a tiger and a ......-lion come out from the water. The tiger and the ......-lion seized the gazelle kid and took (1 ms. has instead: dragged) them to the forest. What happened made the face of the sorcerer darkened, made his mind confused.
249-254 Wise Woman Sajburu said to him: "Sorcerer, you do have magical powers, but where is your sense? How on earth could you think of going to do sorcery at Erec, which is the city of Nisaba, a city whose destiny was decreed by An and Enlil, the primeval city, the beloved city of Ninlil?"
255-263 The sorcerer answered her: "I went there without knowing all about this. I acknowledge your superiority -- please do not be bitter." He pleaded, he prayed to her: "Set me free, my sister; set me free. Let me go in peace to my city. Let me return safely to Aratta, the mount of the lustrous me. I will make known (1 ms. has instead: declare) your greatness in all the lands. I will sing your praise in Aratta, the mount of the lustrous me."
264-273 Wise Woman Sajburu answered to him: "You have caused distress in the animal pen and the byre; you have made the butter and milk scarce there. You have removed the lunch-table, the morning- and evening-table. You have cut off butter and milk from the evening meal of the great dining hall, ......... distress ...... . Your sin that butter and milk ...... cannot be forgiven. Nanna the king ...... the byre ...... milk; ...... established that it was a capital offence and I am not pardoning your life." Wise Woman Sajburu ...... her decision about the sorcerer in the assembly (?). She threw her prisoner from the bank of the Euphrates. She seized from him his life-force and then returned to her city, Erec.
274-280 Having heard this matter, En-suhgir-ana sent a man to Enmerkar: "You are the beloved lord of Inana, you alone are exalted. Inana has truly chosen you for her holy lap, you are her beloved. From the west to the east, you are the great lord, and I am only second to you; From the moment of conception I was not your equal, you are the older brother. I cannot match you ever."
281-283 In the contest between Enmerkar and En-suhgir-ana, Enmerkar proved superior to En-suhgir-ana. Nisaba, be praised!
* according to Leick, Gwendolyn, the lord of Aratta can also be called Ensuhkeshdanna., and the source is her brilliant "A dictionary of Near Eastern Mythology", Routledge, 1991, London, NY. The Lord of Aratta is called En-suhgir-anna according to the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Language, Oxford University, UK.
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