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Inanna, Lady of Largest Heart: Poems of the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  162 ratings  ·  16 reviews
The earliest known author of written literature was a woman named Enheduanna, who lived in ancient Mesopotamia around 2300 BCE. High Priestess to the moon god Nanna, Enheduanna came to venerate the goddess Inanna above all gods in the Sumerian pantheon. The hymns she wrote to Inanna constitute the earliest written portrayal of an ancient goddess. In their celebration of En ...more
Paperback, 225 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by University of Texas Press (first published -2270)
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May 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: archaeology
Enheduanna's poetry remains fantastic, however this book is let down greatly by De Shong Meador's shoddy interpretation of archaeological evidence. She is not an archaeologist and it shows. Some of her interpretations and assertions are directly contradicted by archaeological sources and textual evidence. For example she infers that Enheduanna's poetry was perhaps a rebellion against a male dominated society, and whilst I certainly agree Sumerian/Akkadian society was male dominated, her poetry w ...more
Oct 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
An interesting attempt at personal interpretation, but ultimately passable as an academic and spiritual source.

The major contention I found with the book is that Betty De Shong Meador's personal theories are given more weight than academic and archaeological material, such that, even though she freely quotes from more learned scholars, their interpretations are often twisted out of true to support her claims.

An underlying problem for me was her use of "translations," of the three poems by Enhedu
Oct 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Incredible. Both the poems and the interpretation are rich and rewarding. Enheduanna's verse oustrips the most post-modern of poets in its rawness and immediacy. Betty De Shong Meador is a Jungian analyst, not an archaeologist, and this needs to be taken into account as the purpose of this book is interpretation not a historical study.

Top marks for bypassing all the tired and worn out ideas Graves perpetuated and actually embracing what is there, rather than trying to bend it to an agenda. Extra
Meador illuminates the heart and purpose of Inanna and the High Priestess Enheduanna like no other writer. Meador may not be an Assyriologist but she has the mind of a mystic and she captures the potency of Inanna, who was once greatest of all the gods. She explains the divine/human relationship in clear, readable prose. Meador is the go to writer for anyone who wants to know how Inanna manifested herself here on Earth.
The first poem ever written [okay, that has survived to the present day to be discovered] was composed by a woman, Enheduanna, daughter of Sargon the Akkadian ruler of Mesopotamia. These poems are powerful appeals to Inanna, the goddess of love and war, and they still retain their emotional weight to the present day. A terrific read.
Saga Höök
Oct 08, 2019 added it
Shelves: favorites
omg Inanna!! och Enheduanna!!<3<3<3 ...more
Fascinating discussion of these original texts! I was especially interested in the connections between Inanna and Lilith/eve. I'm not sure I agree with the author's interpretations, but I understand them. To me, the Inanna of the first poem seems childish and petulant; in the second poem I wonder if the priestess is being punished not by Inanna but by Nanna (for raising Inanna above him); and in the third I also wonder if the voice isn't more whiny than not (although indeed terrible things seem ...more
Aaron Meyer
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book centers on the three poems to and about Inanna which the High Priestess Enheduanna had written around 2300 BC. This doesn't contain any of her Temple Hymns which are found in another book I believe. You get an interesting story about the author's attraction to Inanna and then to Enheduanna. The early history she presents is very interesting and gives one ideas to jump off in other areas of research. You also get a nice history of Enheduanna, her father was Sargon, so it isn't like she ...more
Kimberly Nagy
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book features some extraordinary scholarship and I am not only enjoying it, but studying it for a six-year path of research I've been weaving together for my own forthcoming book, The Triple Goddess Trials. I am deeply impressed by Meador's top-notch writing, thorough research and far-reaching arguments. I also loved the forward by poet and activist, Judy Grahn. An inspiring, edifying and deeply important book!
This was a fascinating eye-opener. It astounds me still, since reading Gilgamesh how much depth and emotion such ancient writing portrays. I loved Enheduanna's passion for her goddess. This book provided so much insight into the nature of religons impact on female roles in society, how it dictates the appropriate and sacred, and how it can often change and create societies stigmas.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Inanna is a fascinating figure, but I prefer the poem which tells her story.
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I wish most of Enheduanna's writing hadnt been lost her work is beautiful and
surprisingly modern for its time. Its rather difficult but worth it.
Steve Mihaylo
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the oldest known writings. Written by a priestess of Inanna, Enheduanna, in praise. Inanna is the the planet we call Venus.
Nike Spalletti Pinotti
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Un tuffo nel passato basato sulle fonti, su scritti di 4000 anni, redatti da una donna e sacerdotessa vissuta prima dell'avvento degli dei maschili e del monoteismo.

Da leggere per approfondire il tema delle grandi Dee, per conoscere Inanna, Dea dai molti aspetti, di luce ed ombra, di amore e morte, di compassione e spietatezza, e per avere un'idea dei cambiamenti storici e culturali che ci hanno portato alla nostra attuale visione del mondo!
Devan Marques
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Extremely interesting translation and analysis of the first named writer in human history. Makes me want to learn more, which is high praise.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Review originally published at Eternal Haunted Summer.

Inanna: Lady of the Largest Heart opens with Meador recalling a dream she once had — a dream in which Inanna, who she had never heard of at the time, appeared to her. In the wake of this dream, which came to her at a time of great personal change, Meador began searching for Inanna, though she didn’t yet know it. It was through this search that she came to discover the surviving poems of Enheduanna, high priestess of the Sumerian moon god Nann
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“In the process of monotheism's development, women suffered a great loss. The essential role women had played in ancient religions as guardians who contained opposites diminished. Women's roles became marginalized and secondary to the roles of men not only in the religious sphere, but also in the realms of politics, economics, social, and cultural life.

We who come of age within the basic assumptions of monotheism rarely think about how this paradigm infiltrates every corner of our psychological lives. It does not occur to us that our most entrenched values of good and evil, perfection and impurity, worthiness and corruption are strongly influenced by the splitting which male monotheism imposes on our socialization from birth. It takes a concentrated awareness to realize that this paradigm excludes all other possibilities, and to conceive that our most fundamental presumptions could be different.”
“Inanna was the only Mesopotamian deity whose character so prominently included contradictions... In her actions, Inanna exhibits both benevolent light and threatening dark. Her violence and destructiveness go beyond the boundaries of tolerable human behavior. She carries light and dark to their extremes. Inanna's immense popularity in antiquity must be related in part to the fact that she could reflect not only the best in human nature, but she could also exhibit what is abhorrent, unpleasant, dirty, sinful, terrifying, abnormal, perverse, obsessive, murderous, mad and violent.

Inanna is a mirror of what Jung called ¨the abysmal contracictions of human nature.¨ She shows us our oppositions in sharp relief. She is a divine manifestation of the ultimate conjunction of opposites, displaying for humankind its contradictory nature.”
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