The Courtship Of Inanna and Dumuzi

Alternate versions Actual transcripts in inverted commas. Ie "text"

Samuel Noah Kramer mentions in his book at least 6 different versions of the Courtship story. One alternate version does not have the start of Utu convincing Inanna that Dumuzi is the best choice. Instead, it starts with Inanna says: "I cast my eye over all the people, Called Dumuzi to the godship of the land, Dumuzi the beloved of Enlil, My mother holds him dear, My father exalts him."

Another version has Dumuzi comparing himself with the farmer in this way with Kramer's notes in between:

"The farmer, more than I, the farmer more than I , The farmer, what has he more than I? If he gives me his black flour, I give him, the farmer, my black ewe, If he gives me his white flour, I give him, the farmer, my white ewe, If he pour me his prime beer, I pour him, the farmer, my yellow milk, If he pour me his goodly beer, I pour him, the farmer, my kisim-milk, If he pour me his mellow beer, I pour him, the farmer, my plant-milk, If he give me his hahala plant, I give him, the farmer, my itirda-milk, If he give me his goodly bread, I give him, the farmer, my honey cheese, If he give me his small beans, I give him, the farmer, my small cheeses. From what I have eaten, I have drunk, I could leave him the surplus cream, I could give him the surplus milk, More than I , the farmer, what has he more than I?"

This outburst seemed to have its intended effect, and Inanna must have a change of heart. For the poet tells us that:

"He rejoiced, he rejoiced, On the breast of the river bank he rejoiced, On the river bank, the shepherd, on the riverbank, rejoiced."

But then who should come up the riverbank? None other than Enkimdu (the farmer), which puts Dumuzi once again into a fighting mood, or as our poet puts it:

"The shepherd pastured his sheep on the riverbank, To the shepherd pasturing his sheep on the riverbank, The farmer approached, the farmer Enkimdu approached. To Dumuzi, the king of dikes and ditches approached. In his steppe, the shepherd, in his steppe starts a quarrel, The shepherd Dumuzi, in his steppe starts a quarrel."

Happily, however, the farmer is a meek fellow who craves peace and friendship; he refuses to quarrel with the shepherd, and even offers him pasturing ground and water for his sheep:

"I with you shepherd, with you shepherd, I with you, why shall I strive? Let your sheep eat the plants of the river bank, Let your sheep pasture on my cultivated ground, Let them eat my grain on the stalk, Let them eat grain in the bright fields of uruk, Let your kids and lambs drink the water of my canal, Surugal."

And so the story has a happy ending. Dumuzi invites the farmer to his wedding:

"I, the shepherd, at my marriage, farmer, you will be counted as my friend, Farmer, Enkimdu, as my friend, Farmer, as my friend, you will be counted as my friend."

The farmer is more than gratified and promises to bring suitable gifts for the bride from the produce of his fields:

"I will bring you wheat, I will bring you beans, I will bring you lentils [?] ….. Maid, whatever is fit for you, Maid Inanna … grain and … beans, I will bring for you."

Dumuzi thus finally succeeded in convincing his bride to be of the immensity of his wealth and possessions. But she has also some misgivings of his pedigree [and continues roughly as per Wolksteins version except that Geshtinanna is compared to someone, though it does not match Inanna's sister, the Lady Of the Holy Reed]

There comes a loving tête-à-tête between the two after the text "Comes the hearts desire" [refer Wolkstein version], full of obscure allusions and enigmatic metaphors. There are references to Dumuzi filling Inanna's roof and wells with water, and to his plowing the shuba stones that the goddess seems to wear about her sacred body. But what attracts her most about her lover is his beard of lapis lazuli, or in her own words:

"Who was made for me, who was made for me, His beard is lapis lazuli, The wild ox who was made by An for me in accordance with the me, his beard is lapis lazuli, The king [?] - his beard is lapis lazuli, His beard is lapis lazuli."

Inanna, as the poem suggests, was the proud daughter of her father, Sin, the great moon god of Ur, one of Sumer's major metropolises. It is not surprising to find, therefore, that according to another of the courting tales, she felt the need of asking Sin's approval before giving herself to her lover, who was waiting for her lovingly in the gipar of her temple Eanna in uruk. This is told in a narrative poem that begins with a detailed, itemised account of the goddesses bedecking the various parts of her body with precious stones, jewels, and ornaments. From a treasure brought her by a devotee she selects lapis lazuli stones for her breast, egg shaped beads for her buttocks and head, duru-lazuli stones for her chignon, gold ribbons for her coiffure, gold earrings for her ears, bronze ear drops for her ear lobes, diverse ornaments for her face, nose and loins, bright alabaster for her navel, willow for her vulva, sandals for her feet. Thus bedecked and bejeweled, Dumuzi, standing at the lapis lazuli door of the gipar, met her, no doubt burning with passion and desire. But first Inanna sends a message to her father, telling him of the planned union with her lover in these joyous words:

"My house, my house, he will make it long for me, I the queen - my house, my house, he will make it long for me, My gipar house, he will make it long for me, The people will set up my fruitful bed, They will cover it with plants of duru lapis lazuli, I will bring there the man of my heart, I will bring there Amaushumgalanna, He will put his hand by my hand, He will put his heart by my heart, His putting hand to hand - its sleep [?] is so refreshing, His pressing of heart to heart - its pleasure is so sweet."

Not unexpectedly, however, the goddess was far closer to her mother Ningal than to her father; it is to her 'mother's house' that the bridegroom must come to ask for her hand, and it is to her mother that she turns for advice and approval when Dumuzi comes knocking at her door. Thus we find the poet relating how Dumuzi came to the house where Inanna lived with her mother, carrying gifts of milk, cream and beer, and pleading for admittance. But Inanna seems to hesitate, and it is her mother who urges her to let him in saying: "Lo, the youth, he is your father, Lo the youth, he is your mother, His mother cherishes [?] you like your mother, His father cherishes [?] you like your father, open the house, my queen, open the house."

And so Inanna prepares herself to meet her spouse-to-be as benefits a Sumerian queen: "Inanna, at her mother's command, Bathed herself, anointed herself with goodly oil, Covered her body with the noble pala-garment Took along the … her dowry, Arranged the lapis-lazuli about her neck, Grasped the seal in her hand, The Lordly Queen waited expectantly, Dumuzi pressed open the door, Came into the house like moonlight, Gazed at her joyously, Embraced her, kissed her…"

But though Inanna loved her mother and on occasion followed her advice, she was not beyond deceiving her, at her lover's suggestion, in order to tarry with him by the silver light of the moon. At least that is what happened according to one of the more tender and ardent love lyrics, that begins with Inanna, who was also the venus-goddess, soliloquizing:

"Last night, as I, the queen, was shining bright, Last night, as I, the queen of heaven, was shining bright, Was shining bright, was dancing about, Was uttering a chant at the brightening of the oncoming light, He met me, he met me, The lord Kulianna met me, The lord put his hand in my hand, Ushumgalanna embraced me."

To be sure, she claims she tried to free herself from his embrace, since she did not know what to tell her mother: "Come now, wild bull, set me free, I must go home, Kuli-Enlil, set me free, I must go home, Whatever can I say to to deceive my mother, What can I say to deceive my mother, Ningal."

But her lover had the answer that Inanna, known for her frequent deceits, was only too happy to hear from his lips:

"Let me inform you, let me inform you, Inanna, most deceitful of women, let me inform you, Say my girl friend took me with her to the public square, There she entertained me with music and dancing, Her chant the sweet she sang for me, In sweet rejoicing I whiled away the time there. Thus deceitfully stand up to your mother, While we by the moonlight indulge our passion, I will prepare for you a bed pure, sweet, and noble, Will while away sweet time with you in plenty and joy."

But Dumuzi evidently so relished the savor of Inanna's love that he must have promised to make her his rightful spouse. [I feel the last two lines above are a euphemism for getting married, he making the sacred bed as described in the 'Sacred Marriage Ceremony', and the holy bed Inanna had made in the 'Huluppu Tree'.] For the poem ends with the goddess singing exhaltingly and ecstatically:

"I have come to our mother's gate, I, in joy I walk, I have come to Ningal's gate, I, in joy I walk. To my mother he will say the word, he will sprinkle cypress oil on the ground, To my mother Ningal he will say the word, he will sprinkle cypress oil on the ground, He whose dwelling is fragrant, Whose word brings deep joy. My lord is seemly for the holy lap, Amaushumgalanna, the son-in-law of Sin, The lord Dumuzi is seemly for the holy lap, Amaushumgalanna, the son-in-law of Sin."

From courting and wooing we turn to the Sacred Marriage itself, and the manner in which it was celebrated, although as will soon become only too evident, our information on what actually took place during the ceremony is vague and contradictory. All in all we have five compositions that shed some significant light on the rite. Two of these involve well known rulers of Sumer, Shulgi of Ur and Iddin-Dagan of Isin, but the accounts presented in the two compositions differ in almost every important detail. In the case of Shulgi, the rite takes place in the goddesses temple in Uruk, whither the king has traveled by boat. As far as the ceremony itself is concerned, all the poet tells us is that the king has changed into a ritual garment and has put on a crown like wig, and that Inanna is so taken by the wonder of his appearance that she breaks into a passionate song of desire, followed by a precious blessing. We are not even told when the ceremony was performed, whether annually or at more prolonged intervals - one gets the impression it took place but once, sometimes early in the king's reign in the course of a journey to several Sumerian cities to receive their blessings of the tutelary deities. In the case of Iddin-Dagan on the other hand, the poet tells us that the rite was performed on the eve of the New Year's day in the kings palace, presumably located in his capital city Isin, and that step by step this is what took place: first a bed of rushes and cedar was set up, and over it was spread a specially prepared coverlet[ as described in the start of the courtship poem by Wolkstein] ; then Inanna was washed and soaped and presumably laid on the bed; the king the 'proceeded to the holy lap' with 'lifted head', on the ground fragrant with cedar oil, and blissfully bedded with the goddess. The following day a rich banquet was prepared in the large reception hall of the palace; there was much eating and drinking, music and song, as the people paraded before the divine couple sitting side by side on their thrones. Even if all this actually took place as recorded by the poet- and some of the description seems to contain more fancy than fact - there are still some important questions left unanswered. Did the ceremony take place annually? Who were the 'black heads'? Who actually participated? It certainly could not have been all the people of the city. And who, finally, played the role of the goddess throughout the ceremony? It must have been some specially selected votary of the goddess, but this is never stated - it is Inanna herself who, according to the poets, bedded with the king during the night and sat by his side during the banquet on the day following.[ there is some thought it was a specially named priestess the lukur-priestess] Something of what took place during the scared marriage rite may be gleaned from the composition recording Inanna's selection of Dumuzi to the godship of the land. According to this text, the ceremony seems to have taken place in the goddesses temple and shrine, and only later did she go to live in the king's palace, 'the house of life'. We also hea of the bathing of the goddess, and her dressing in special garments to meet her husband to be, but nothing is said about the preperation of the bed and its coverlet. There is of course, music and song; and in fact, the goddess herself, inspired by her lovers presence at her side, breaks into song, just as she did when beholding the ritually garbed and bewigged Shulgi - the two songs are quite different in content, but both are passionate and rapturous.