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

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  210 ratings  ·  33 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, 245 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.
Nina ( picturetalk321 )
This morning I read the hymns of Enheduanna, written circa 2,200 BCE by the world's first known poet. Her hymns are older than the Epic of Gilgamesh. Enheduanna was the daughter of King Sargon and a High Priestess of the goddess Inanna in the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ur. She wrote her works in cuneiform letters, incised into tablets (or had them written down by scribes). There is no contemporary genre to describe what they are; we have lost these categories: temple hymns, paeans to the divin ...more
Dec 02, 2021 rated it did not like it
What a disappointment this book was. Enheduanna's poetry is incredible, and the translation by Betty De Shong Meador was acceptable, but the fact that De Shong Meador is not an archaeologist was glaringly evident throughout the entirety of her critical "interpretations" of Enheduanna's poems. Particularly egregious were her many instances of obvious presentism, applying more modern concepts and beliefs onto an ancient society, even at times contradicting the actual archaeological evidence.

De Sho
Saga Höök
Oct 08, 2019 added it
Shelves: favorites
omg Inanna!! och Enheduanna!!<3<3<3
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
Apr 24, 2021 rated it liked it
Evocative translations with some nice details peppered in but also lots of baseless speculation without evidence and sources to back things up. Would read again purely for the translations and bibliography but not really for anything else.
Naomi Ruth
I love this book so much. Fascinating. Changed my life. Made me cry. This would pair really well with the book When God Had a Wife, which is also one of my faves. So glad The Church didn't find this back in their slash/burn days because this would NEVER have seen the light of day. I have a lot of thoughts on this that are slightly more academic, but I'm still mulling them over. But I love it and want to research more about Enheduanna. ...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! ...more
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. ...more
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.
Light of Astarte - Bookgram

Libro: Inanna, Signora dal cuore Immenso
Autrice: Betty De Shong Meador

“Gli inni sumeri del 2300 a.C. di Endheduanna alla Dea Inanna, celebrano il legame della sacerdotessa con la Dea e con l’archetipo femminile, nel primo documento mai scritto a una divinità antica.

Sinossi: I primi testi di letteratura furono scritti da una grande sacerdotessa sumera, Enheduanna, che visse in Mesopotamia intorno al 2300 a.C. Enheduanna dedicò una serie di inni alla dea Inanna, che rappresentano sia poem
Aug 24, 2021 added it
This was my second stop on my quest to read all the religious texts in the world, and where better to go than the beginning?

Enheduanna is the first author whose name we know. This book contains her three long poems, exaltations to the goddess Inanna.

The poems were gorgeous. It’s clear that the translator, Betty De Shong Meador is a poet. But what she is not is an archaeologist or historian.

I’m a little confused about how this book was written to be honest. Meador says she cannot read cuneifor
Dec 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I originally picked up this book simply because I was interested in reading Enheduanna’s poems, but what I found was even better! Not only did I get to read her poems, but this book contains a very heartfelt account of what it would have been like to live during the times that Enheduanna lived in. At times I wished it could have been more focused on her, since there is little mention of her as an individual before we get to her poems. But I’m assuming that’s because we don’t have enough knowledg ...more
Jul 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
If you had told me that the oldest known work of literature was written by a bisexual priestess about yonic cults and gender bending… you’d be right. I’m exaggerating a bit, because it’s not right to apply modern-day labels to a writer so long ago, but these three poems contrasted starkly with the other, much more dour, poems from antiquity that I’ve read.

The poems themselves were actually really readable, and they felt like metal lyrics at times… I could imagine the lead singer from Jinjer scr
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!
Mar 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Spectacular account of the life and writings of the known first poet and writer of record. Such a wonderful reclamation of the attention this ancient high priestess so richly deserves. As delightful on the third reading as it was on the first!
Patricia Woodruff
Nov 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Well written translation of ancient poetry. It gives a great glimpse into the beliefs of Sumaria. It also has an uplifting underlying theme that a woman can make a huge difference with passion and determination.
Alfonso Elizondo
Mar 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A must read for every feminist out there.
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.
Nov 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal book about a goddess and her priestess, during a time that culture was going through immense shifts. Very helpful for understanding the early stages of patriarchy.
Dec 05, 2021 added it
the poems are cool i guess, but the interpretation can get tiresome.
Matt Miles
Nov 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The poems have a subtle complexity that point towards something flawed, human, and quietly desperate in the author’s devotion.
Mar 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Haha alle mænd der har skrevet noget de sidste 4300 år kan bare sut den, ingen over Enheduanna seriøst ✨💫
Charlotte Hukvari
Feb 18, 2021 rated it liked it
The topic is brilliant; I’m not sure it’s the best way to organize a book though. However it has inspired me to read more about the origins of religion, women and history.
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Akkadian princess, High Priestess of the Moon god Nanna, daughter of Sargon the Great. c 2285–2250 BCE
While millions of Mesopotamian women lived ordinary lives, an Akkadian princess, daughter of Sargon the Great, lived a life anything but ordinary. Enheduanna (2285 to 2250 B.C.) became one of the most prominent and powerful priestesses in all of Sumer and Akkad. She holds the unique position of b

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“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.”
“Throughout our lives we are confronted with what seems like a never-ending task: trying to grasp the full scope of reality. As children, we adapt to circumstances by using the psychological defenses available to us. As we mature, we have to confront the defensive illusions we have constructed. If our psyches can tolerate the loss, we continue to let in more and more of human nature's reality: its dark and shadowy aspects, its limitations, and finally, recognition of the fragility of our brief sojourn on this planet. Psychological maturity involves the ongoing process of integrating into our conscious, everyday selves the full range of elements that make up the psyche inside us as well as those elements that make up the world that surrounds us. Inevitably what we must face is a mixture of our motives and deeds, and the similar paradox in others.” 1 likes
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