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Embracing Inana: legitimation and mediation in the ancient Mesopotamian sacred marriage hymn Iddin-Dagan A.

The sacred marriage ceremony from ancient Mesopotamia is one of the most dramatic ways of conceptualizing the relationship between king and gods known from the ancient world. According to a number of literary texts, kings from the late third and early second millennia (1)--and perhaps even earlier--consummated a ritual union with Inana, the goddess of love and war. Given the literary nature of our evidence, this ceremony may have been only an intellectual construct, rather than an event in real life. (2) Irrespective of this, however, it remains a major source, not only for early Mesopotamian religious thought in general, but for ideas of kingship in particular.

The specific implications of the ceremony for the king, however, have not been central to scholarly debate on the meaning of the sacred marriage. Traditionally, Assyriologists disagreed over whether the ceremony involved the bestowing of fertility on the homeland, (3) or of power on the king. (4) In more recent years, while attention continues to be paid to these issues, they are more often subsumed under considerations of liminality, sexuality, and gender. (5)

Within the context of these studies, kingship has tended to be treated in two ways. In functional terms, the ceremony is seen as legitimizing the king. Either he himself is the recipient of divine favor, (6) or he is the means whereby his subjects enjoy such benefits. (7) In cosmological terms, the marriage is seen as marking the king as the figure who mediates between the human and divine worlds. (8)

Concepts of legitimation and mediation, however, are not without ambiguity. Does, for example, a ritual legitimize a king by "rubber-stamping" his pretensions or by subverting them? In what manner may a king be said to mediate between human and divine? In considering these questions, this paper will focus on one of our major sources for the sacred marriage, the Old Babylonian royal hymn conventionally known as Iddin-Dagan A. It will examine how an ancient audience might have understood issues of legitimation and mediation in the hymn's presentation of the eponymous king's marriage to the goddess. The first section will consider how the theme of the transfer of divine power to the human world is explicitly handled in the composition itself. (9) The second will then explore certain aspects of the hymn's rhetoric in the light of other Old Babylonian literary tablets. (10)

I hope to show that, in characterizing the mediation of divine power as dangerous, the hymn presents the king in anything but a glorious light. Far from augmenting the king's status, the sacred marriage marks him as a vulnerable and ultimately feminized figure.


The transfer of power from the divine to the human world is conveyed in Iddin-Dagan A on at least two levels. Syntagmatically, the narrative describes the goddess coming down from the heavens and consummating a marriage with the king. Paradigmatically, motifs recurring throughout the composition limn this union as a means whereby divine power as a whole may be instantiated safely in the human sphere.

Thus, Iddi-Dagan A appears to describe a festival spanning two days. (11) The liturgical rubrics included allow a rough division of the hymn into ten sections. Until the final section, the outline of events is quite clear. The first two sections invoke the goddess in heaven. She is first acclaimed as an astral body visible in the sky and comparable to the sun and the moon. The hymn then turns to her relationship to the three major deities of the pantheon: An, Enlil, and Enki. Thereafter, the focus shifts to the terrestrial plane. Sections three through six describe a daytime procession. The mood is carnivalesque. Musical instruments resound. The king, much of the populace, and various exotic cultic personnel parade beneath the heavenly gaze of the goddess. The description focuses on cross-dressing, bondage, and self-mutilation. I will return later to the significance of this transgressive behavior. Section six ends with a refrain imagining Inana as looking down on the proceedings from the sky above. Each of the succeeding sections concludes with a variant of this refrain. In sections seven through nine, as evening falls, all creatures go to their place of rest, while the people eat, drink, and be merry. After the storehouses have been filled, the people go to sleep on the walls and rooftops. Inana appears to them in their dreams. She judges the evil and determines a good fate for the just. The people then prepare offerings of all kinds of foodstuffs for the goddess. Prior to daybreak, a second procession wends its way out into the steppe-lands away from the city walls.

The tenth and final section describes the consummation of the marriage. The spatial and syntactical relationships in this crucial section are not entirely clear, making it difficult to understand the hymn as a whole. In particular, there are problems as to where actions take place and who is undertaking them. Three successive locations are mentioned in this section: [e.sub.2]-gal (literally "great house"), (12) [e.sub.2]-gal mah (literally, "exalted great house"), (13) and a further [e.sub.2]-gal. (14) It is not clear whether egal or egalmah refers to divine or royal residences. Egal could connote either "palace" or "great temple," egalmah either "exalted palace" or "exalted great temple." Nor is it clear how many separate locations they indicate. The two egal could refer to the same place and either one or both of them could be an abbreviation for egalmah.

At least the use of the verb ku[r.sub.9] "to enter" in line 202 at the transition from the first to the second locales suggests that the first [e.sub.2]-gal is distinct from the [e.sub.2]-gal mah. This first [e.sub.2]-gal is qualified in lines 169-70 as: [e.sub.2] na-d[i.sub.5] kalam-ma-ka [.sup.gis]4r ab kur-kur-ra-kam / [e.sub.2]-i[d.sub.2]-l[u.sub.2]-ru-gu[d.sub.x] sag gi[g.sub.2]-ga u[g.sub.3] g[u.sub.2] si-a-ba. Following Frymer-Kensky, I would translate these lines as "in their great house, which is the house that counsels the Homeland and the neck-stock of all foreign lands, the River Ordeal House where the Black Headed Ones, the people, assemble." (15) Given that the previous section of the hymn involved a procession into the steppe, this egal may refer to a structure--possibly temporary (16)--erected beyond the city walls. (17) The second location, the [e.sub.2]-gal mah, is the name of the temple of Ninisina, a form of Inana, in Isin, Iddin-Dagan's capital. (18) It is probably this building to which one hymn refers rather than a palace. Whether the final egal is an abbreviation for this temple or refers to a palace is unclear. I interpret it as the latter.

The action appears to begin before dawn. A dais and a bed are set up in the River Ordeal House. Inana and the king consummate their marriage there:
 lugal u[r.sub.2] kug-s[e.sub.3] sag i[l.sub.2]-la mu-un-gen
 u[r.sub.2] [.sup.d]inana-k[a.sub.3] sag i[l.sub.2]-la mu-un-gen
 u[r.sub.2] [.sup.d]i-din-[.sup.d]da-gan-s[e.sub.3] sag i[l.sub.2]-la
 [.sup.d]ama-usumgal-an-na ki-nud mu-un-da-ab-ak-e
 u[r.sub.2] kug-ga-ni-a m[i.sub.2] zid a[m.sub.3]-i-i-d[e.sub.3]
 nin-e u[r.sub.2] kug-ga ki-nud mi-ni-in-su[g.sub.4]-ga-
 kug [.sup.d]inana-k[e.sub.4] u[r.sub.2] kug-ga ki-nud mi-ni-in-
 ki-nud-a-na sa[g.sub.4] sa-mu-di-ni-in-ku[s.sub.2]-[u.sub.3]
 [.sup.d]i-din-[.sup.d]da-gan-s[e.sub.3] ki-a[g.sub.2]-mu he-me-en

 The king goes proudly to the holy loins. He goes proudly to the loins
 of Inana. She goes proudly to the loins of Iddin-Dagan.
 Amaushumgalanna (19) takes er to bed and caresses the holy loins.
 After the lady has made the bed joyful with her holy loins, after holy
 Inana has made the bed joyful with her holy loins, she intimately
 declares: "O Iddin-Dagan, you are my beloved." (20)

What happens next is less clear. The king seems to enter the Egalmah with Inana:
 ne-sag si[g.sub.10]-ga-s[e.sub.3] su-luh gar-gar-ra-s[e.sub.3]
 na-izi si[g.sub.10]-ga-s[e.sub.3] na-li m[u.sub.2]-a-s[e.sub.3]
 nindaba su[g.sub.2]-ga-s[e.sub.3] bur su[g.sub.2]-su[g.sub.2]-
 [e.sub.2]-gal-mah-a-ni-a im-ma-da-an-ku[r.sub.9]-ku[r.sub.9]

 He goes in to her Egalmah (21) with her (22) to the first-fruit
 offerings set there, to the established purification rites, to the
 incense set there, to the wafted smoke, to the offerings set up there,
 to the bowls set up there. (23)

The two then seem to be enthroned in the Egalmah. A banquet follows in the palace.

Supplementing the poem's use of the figure of Inana to embody divine power are two further motifs: the activity of decision-making, and the quality of luminosity, especially as exemplified by the sun and the moon. To elicit a sense of this power moving from the divine to the human, the hymn associates these motifs with a range of discrete locales. The action progresses from a heavenly location suggesting divine power beyond human control to the Egalmah temple in the heart of the city representing divine power in a form contained and channeled for human benefit.

Thus the hymn opens with images of Inana, sun and moonlight, and divine decision-making in an astral context:
 [an-ta e[d.sub.2]-a-ra an-ta e[d.sub.2]-a]-ra [silim-ma ga]-na-ab-
 [nu-[u.sub.8]-g]ig an-ta e[d.sub.2]-a-ra [silim]-ma ga-na-ab-
 [nin] gal an-na [.sup.d]inana-ra silim-ma ga-na-ab-b[e.sub.2]-en
 izi-gar kug an-e si-a-ra
 sud-r[a.sub.2]-a[g.sub.2] [.sup.d[??]]inana[.sup.[??]]-ra ud-
 gi[n.sub.7] zalag-ge-ra
 nin gal an-na [.sup.d]inana-ra sislim-ma ga-na-ab-b[e.sub.2]-en
 nir-ga[l.sub.2] an-ki si gal si-a
 dumu gal [.sup.d]suen-na [.sup.d]inana-ra silim-ma ga-na-ab-

 Let me say "hail" to the one who ascends above, to the one who ascends
 above. Let me say "hail" to the hierodule, to the one who ascends
 above. Let me say "hail" to the great lady of heaven, Inana. Let me
 say "hail" to the holy torch who fills the heavens, the light, Inana,
 her who shines like sunlight, the great lady of heaven, Inana! ... the
 respected one who fills heaven and earth with her huge brilliance, the
 eldest child of the Moon-god, Inana! (24)

The epithet "eldest daughter of the Moon-god" is one repeatedly ascribed to her throughout the rest of the hymn. (25) The introduction continues with further astral imagery:
 []usa[n.sub.x]-na dalla e[d.sub.2]-a-na
 izi-gar kug an-e si-a-na
 [.sup.d]nanna [.sup.d]utu-gi[n.sub.7] an-na gub-ba-na
 sig-ta igi-nim-s[e.sub.3] kur-kur-re zu-a[m.sub.3]

 When she radiantly ascends at evening, when she fills the heaven like
 a holy torch, when she stands in the heavens like the Moon-god and the
 Sun-god, she is known by all lands from South to North. (26)

Finally, imagery of decision-making in this astral context is added:
 an-da barag gal-la du[r.sub.2] mu-un-da-an-gar
 [.sup.d]en-li[l.sub.2]-da kalam-ma-na nam mu-un-di-ni-ib-tar-re

 She takes her seat with An on the great dais and is decreeing the fate
 for her land with Enlil. (27)

In the middle of the hymn, the imagery of light is reiterated in an astral context:
 an-[.sup.[??]]zib[.sub.2.sup.[??]]-ba zag hi-li an-na me-te an
 g[i.sub.6]-[u.sub.3]-na it[i.sub.6]-gi[n.sub.7] mu-un-e[d.sub.2]
 []ba[r.sub.7]-GAN[A.sub.2] ud zalag-gi[n.sub.7]

 At night, Anziba, the joy of An, the ornament of broad heaven, appears
 like moonlight; at noon, she appears like bright sunlight. (28)

However, in terms of decision-making, Inana is depicted as meeting the terrestrial world halfway, as she judges those asleep on the rooftops and the walls:
 u[r.sub.3]-[.sup.[??]]ra[.sup.[??]] nud-a ba[d.sub.3]-da nud-a
 x x KA KA mu-na-an-su[g.sub.2]-ge-es inim-bi mu-na-an-tu[m.sub.3]-us
 ud-bi-a [.sup.[??]]si sa[.sub.2.sup.[??]] mu-ni-in-zu NE.RU-du mu-ni-
 NE.RU-du di NE.RU-e ba-ab-su[m.sub.2]-mu hul-ga[l.sub.2] mu-un-gul-le
 si s[a.sub.2]-ra igi zid mu-si-in-bar nam du[g.sub.3] mi-ni-in-tar

 Those who sleep on the roofs and those who sleep by the walls step up
 before her ... and bring her their cases. She makes her order known
 and makes known evildoers, rendering an evil verdict for the evildoer
 and destroying the wicked. She looks favorably on the just and decrees
 a good fate for them. (29)

The tenth section begins in a further intermediate location, the steppe. This is the abode of wild animals, but traversable by the city population. There, the preparation for the consummation of the marriage in the E'idlurugud shrine is presented as taking place: nam-kur-kur-ra tar-re-da-ni "when she is decreeing the fate of all lands." (30) Finally, the solar qualities for which Inana was praised in the opening section are instantiated in the city's central temple, the Egalmah, by the king:
 [.sup.gis]gu-za barag gal-la ud-d[e.sub.3]-e[s.sub.2] a[m.sub.3]-
 lugal [.sup.d]utu-gi[n.sub.7] zag-g[e.sub.4] mu-un-di-ni-ib

 Shining sunnily, the king, like the Sun-god, sat down next to her on
 the throne, the great dais. (31)

At the subsequent banquet, in the mundane space of the palace, Inana is praised not only through astral associations, as she was at the beginning of the hymn, but also through more human ones:
 hi-li sag-gi[g.sub.2] me-te unkin-na (var: an-edin-na)
 [.sup.d]inana dumu gal [.sup.d]suen-na

 Joy of the people, ornament of the assembly (var: steppe), Inana
 eldest daughter of Suen. (32)

Thus, viewed in isolation, Iddin-Dagan A seems to have a fairly simple view of the king's role. On both a syntagmatic and a paradigmatic level, it presents him as ensuring the transfer of the benefits of divine power to his subjects through his marriage.


Scribes copying Iddin-Dagan A, however, would not have been viewing it in isolation. The composition shares vocabulary and imagery with many other literary texts found on Old Babylonian tablets. We obviously cannot define precisely which of these would have been familiar to our own copyists. (33) Nevertheless, the Old Babylonian corpus as a whole at least provides us with a guide to the rhetorical inventory that would have been available to them. Therefore, in this section, I shall look at two sets of seemingly anodyne imagery that take on extra resonance when viewed against the wider Old Babylonian literary background. The first set links the marriage of the king and the goddess to that of Inana and her mythological spouse, Dumuzi; the second to that of Enlil, the head of the pantheon, and his wife Ninlil. If the links to Dumuzi and Inana would have conjured up an air of general disaster, those to Enlil and Ninlil would have suggested a startling reversal of gender roles in the relationship of Inana and the king.

Thus, a number of times, as has already been noted, our hymn refers to the king himself as Ama-ushumgal-ana, an alternative name for Dumuzi. (34) Other imagery in the hymn explores both the positive and negative implications of this equation. On the positive side is the mention of Inana and the me:
 abzu eridu[]-ga me su ba-ni-in-ti
 a-a-ni [.sup.d]en-ki-k[e.sub.4] sag-e-es mu-ni-in-ri[g.sub.7]

 She received the me in the Abzu, in Eridu.
 Her father Enki bestowed them on her. (35)

The precise nature of the me is problematic, (36) but their function in Old Babylonian literary tablets is less uncertain. They either embody or symbolize the divine archetypes of the individual elements that comprise Mesopotamian culture in its widest sense. Their transference to the human world would be imagined in a number of ways. Most fully articulated is the tale told in the poem Inana and Enki. Inana goes down to the Abzu, the mythical subterranean lake of fresh water, steals the me from Enki their guardian, and brings them back to her city of Uruk. The mode of transfer envisaged in Iddin-Dagan A does not involve theft. However, the association of Inana's gaining the me with her conjugal relations with the royal incarnation of Dumuzi may be parallel to the fragmentary opening of Inana and Enki. There, explicit self-praise of Inana's sexual organs is combined with possible invocations of Dumuzi by his titles of "shepherd" and "lord." (37)

From the perspective of other images in the hymn, however, the king's identification with Dumuzi does not bode well for the king's marriage. The functionary known as the kur-gar-ra e[d.sub.3]-da who appears in the sixth section recalls the role of the kur-gar-ra in the poem Inana's Descent. He is one of the two creatures who enable Inana to rise (e[d.sub.3]) from the Netherworld. While this is good for Inana, from Dumuzi's point of view it is a disaster. The Netherworld requires a substitute and it is he whom Inana so designates.

The relationship of Inana and Dumuzi is not always depicted in such a fraught fashion. In liturgical laments, Inana mourns the death of Dumuzi. In love lyrics, Dumuzi woos the goddess. (38) Throughout Old Babylonian literary tablets as a whole, however, there is an implicit contrast between Dumuzi and the legendary demigod, Gilgamesh, in their respective relationships to Inana. In contrast to Dumuzi, Gilgamesh is very much his own man. In a composition such as Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld, he can choose to accede to Inana's pleas when she is in distress. However, in, for example, Gilgamesh and Bull of Heaven, he is quite capable of thwarting her when she is angry with him. Conversely, Dumuzi appears much more dependent on her. He possibly receives the me from her, as in Inana and Enki. He can have his death mourned by her, as in the liturgical laments, or ultimately, he can be destroyed by her, as in Inana's Descent.

Furthermore, Inana, Gilgamesh, and Dumuzi all share a common association with the world of the dead and the threat that it poses to the world of the living. Dumuzi and Gilgamesh were both considered to be judges in the Netherworld, imposing order on the dead and preventing them from harming the living. (39) Inana is associated with the eruption of infernal forces. (40) In Inana's Descent, she emerges from the Netherworld accompanied by a band of demons. In the poem Inana D, she can personify human fears of ghostly intrusion. (41)

The associations with Enlil and Ninlil are less explicit. Toward the end of Iddin-Dagan A, as Inana and the king leave the seclusion of the bed-chamber for a public banquet, they embrace (gu.da la):
 nitalam ki a[g.sub.2]-g[a.sub.2]-ni g[u.sub.2]-da mu-ni-in-1[a.sub.2]
 kug [.sup.d]inana-k[e.sub.4] g[u.sub.2]-da mu-ni-in-l[a.sub.2]

 His beloved spouse embraced him, Holy Inana embraced him. (42)

This is exactly the same action that Enlil and Ninlil perform in similar circumstances. When leaving the seclusion of their temple for public banquets, they too are depicted as embracing:
 [ama] kalam-ma [.sup.d]nin-li[l.sub.2] l[u.sub.2] sa[g.sub.9]-ga
 [e.sub.2]-t[a.sup.!] nam-x [... -e[d.sub.2]]
 [[.sup.d]e]n-li[l.sub.2]-le a[b.sub.2]-silam kug-gi[n.sub.7]
 g[u.sub.2]-da mu-[.sup.[??]]ni[.sup.[??]]-[in-l[a.sub.2]]
 [.sup.[??]]bara[.sup.[??]] kug-bi du[r.sub.2] im-mi-in-g[a.sub.2]-re-
 e[s.sub.2] ni[g.sub.2] mi-ni-i[b.sub.2]-[.sup/[??]]gu[.sup.[??]]-[ul]-

 The mother of the Land, Ninlil the beautiful one, came out(?) from the
 house. Enlil embraced her like a pure wild cow. They took their seats
 on the barge's oly dais, as provisions were lavishly prepared. (43)

 ezen gal-a-ni su d[u.sub.7]-[a[.sup.gis]gigir-ra] gir[i.sub.3]-ni gub-
 ama [.sup.d]nin-li[l.sub.2] [.sup.[??]]nitala[.sup.[??]]-[ma-ni]
 g[u.sub.2]-da mu-ni-[in-l[a.sub.2]
 [.sup.d]nin-urta ur-sag [.sup.[??]]kalag[.sup.[??]]-[ga-ni]
 [.sup.d]a-nun-na ki [.sup.d[??]]en[.sup.[??]?]-[li[l.sub.2]-
 l[a.sub.2]-ka] eger-ra-[.sup.[??]]a[.sup.[??]]-ni
 [.sup.gis]gigir [.sup.[??]]nim-gin[.sib.7.sup.[??]] gi[r.sub.2]-
 gi[r.sub.2]-re [g[u.sub.3] d[e.sub.2]] u[r.sub.5] s[a.sub.4]-bi
 du[r.sub.3.sup.ur3]-a-ni eri[n.sub.2]-na l[a.sub.2]-
 [.sup.d]en-li[l.sub.2] [.sup.gis]gigir ba mah-a-ni-[a] zalag-ga-ni
 giskim-ti [.sup.[??]]a[.sub.[??]]-[a-na] [.sup.d]nin-ur-ta-
 k[e.sub.4.sup.?] har-ra-[.sup.[??]]an[.sup.[??]] [mu]-na-ab-
 ki u[r.sub.5] sa[g.sub.9]-ge ki a nam tar-ra im-ma-ti-a-ra
 lugal x x ku[g.sup.?]-ta nam-ta-an-e[d.sub.2] ezen na-mu-un-gar

 After his great festival had been performed perfectly and he had
 stepped onto the chariot, he (Enlil) embraced mother Ninlil, his
 spouse. Ninurta, his mighty hero, and the Anuna of the place of Enlil
 followed behind him. The chariot shimmered like lightning; its
 rumbling noise was sweet. His donkeys were harnessed to the yoke.
 Enlil came out radiantly on his august votive(?) chariot. Ninurta,
 the support of his father, made the way pleasant. Having reached the
 place which gladdens the soul, where the seed is blessed, Enlil
 stepped down from his holy ... and established a festival. (44)

In a similar manner, evocations of Inana as the "great child of the Moon" (dumu gal Suen.ak), seem unsurprising. The epithet helps to emphasize her astral qualities. Nonetheless, repetition of the acclamation draws attention, not only to the Moon-god himself, but also to the parents who engendered him, Enlil and Ninlil.

Against the wider Old Babylonian literary background, these allusions emphasize both the liminality of the moment and the nature of the king's mediation between the divine and human worlds. The entwining of two bodies implied by the phrase gu.da la would appear to be a common rhetorical trope emphasizing the movement from mythologized to mundane space. Thus for example, when Enkidu, in the form of a ghost, is allowed out of the Netherworld, he embraces his old friend Gilgamesh. (45) When Lugalbanda emerges from the wilderness to rejoin his companions, they embrace him. (46)

As with its English equivalent, gu.da la has both an amicable and an erotic nuance. Whereas the examples with Gilgamesh and Lugalbanda would seem to be of the former kind, Enlil and Ninlil's ritual embrace probably has more of an erotic charge. The only Old Babylonian myths with Enlil as their protagonist highlight the sexual tensions underlying his relationship with Ninlil. In both Enlil and Ninlil and Enlil and Sud, agricultural prosperity is shown as ultimately following from the sexual abuse of Ninlil by her husband. (47) This is most apparent in Enlil and Ninlil. Enlil rapes Ninlil. Banished from Nippur for his crime, he thrice seduces her by deceit. Less overtly, in Enlil and Sud, seeing Ninlil in the street, Enlil assumes she is a prostitute and propositions her accordingly. Apprised of his error, he opens conventional marriage negotiations. His messenger, however, is instructed to offer the wedding gifts with his left hand. The meaning of this gesture is not completely transparent. It clearly, however, connotes a degree of disrespect for his future wife. (48)

In the light of these myths, Enlil's embracing of Ninlil in the ritual contexts of Shulgi R and Ishme-Dagan I has specific implications. Not only does it call to mind the erotic rather than the affectionate aspects of their relationship, it also links this to the manner in which Enlil can be instantiated in the human world as a constructive rather than a destructive force. Just as Ninlil's sexual resilience filters the raw power of Enlil in myth, so her acceptance of his embrace in ritual allows him to emerge from his temple without endangering humanity.

In Iddin-Dagan A, however, it is the goddess, Inana, who is the personification of violent divine power. She plays the dominant, masculinized role as she embraces the king. Although as the incarnation of Dumuzi, he is accorded divine status, in comparison with Enlil and Ninlil, the king takes on the role of the goddess, not the god. Like Ninlil, he becomes the much-abused filter whose forbearance is so necessary for the human world to function.


The confrontation of the king with the violent forces threatening the mundane realm is a common one in the ethnographic and historical record of human societies in general. Usually, however, this is a role that flatters the king. His plight may excite sympathy or fear, but it is only through his bravery and sense of self-sacrifice that his people escape disaster. (49)

The deployment of imagery in our hymn concerning the movements of the goddess, the making of decisions, and divine luminosity convey the beneficial impact of the divine on the human world. However, in contrast, motifs that associate our hymn with narratives involving Dumuzi and Inana or Enlil and Ninlil suggest some disquieting dangers in mediating the divine. As they copied Iddin-Dagan A, the scribes no doubt acknowledged the king's crucial contribution to cosmic stability. It is questionable, however, whether the feminized role the king had to adopt to achieve it elicited their admiration.

The themes I have highlighted do not exhaust the implications of our hymn. Neither should we assume that similar concerns are necessarily present in other texts pertaining to the sacred marriage ceremony. Iddin-Dagan A, however, is a poem animated by an underlying fear of the divine world and a recognition that mediating that power is a lonely, dangerous, and potentially humiliating task. Elsewhere, Inana is praised as the goddess who can turn men into women. (50) If the real Iddin-Dagan ever participated in the carnivalesque scenes--so redolent of sexual confusion--that begin our literary description of the sacred marriage, how secure would he have been feeling in his own masculinity?

I would like to thank J. S. Cooper, F. Karahashi, T. Sharlach, and S. Tinney for their comments and suggestions. However, the responsibility for all the material presented here is my own. Earlier versions of this paper were read in March 2002 at the University of Pennsylvania and at the annual conference of the American Oriental Society, in Houston. I would like to thank those present on each occasion for their time and their comments.

Texts cited in this paper are identified by full or abbreviated versions of the titles assigned to them in Black et al. 1998-. Apart from Iddin-Dagan A, all texts follow the transliterations (occasionally with slight changes) and line numberings of the composite texts published there. For convenience, citations of Iddin-Dagan A also follow the composite edition of the text published in Black et al. 1998-. Quotations from Iddin-Dagan A, however, are from the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary project manuscript by Ake Sjoberg with minor revisions by myself. For all texts quoted, the translations are my own, but draw heavily on the work of Black et al. 1998- and the philological works cited there in the respective bibliographies.

This paper uses the following conventions: transliterations tend towards long values, without claiming complete consistency, and are in spaced roman script; transcriptions are in italics.

1. All dates are B.C.

2. See the skepticism of Kraus 1974: 249-50; Sweet 1994: 102-4; and Sallaberger 1999: 155-56.

3. See, e.g., in their different ways: Hooke 1933; Jacobsen 1975; Klein 1992; Kramer 1969; Langdon 1914; Pallis 1926; Sefati 1998.

4. See Falkenstein 1950; Renger 1972-75.

5. See, e.g., Bahrani 2002; Cooper 1993; Frymer-Kensky 1992: 50-57; Glassner 1992; Leick 1994: 157-59; Nissinen 2001; Steinkeller 1999; Westenholz 1995; Westenholz 2000.

6. See, e.g., Frymer-Kensky 1992: 56.

7. See, e.g., Kramer 1969: 49.

8. See, e.g., Cooper 1993: 91-92.

9. I hope to deal with the implications of the fertility imagery in the hymn in a future paper.

10. Iddin-Dagan, third king of the first dynasty of Isin, reigned from 1974-1954 B.C. All surviving tablets containing the hymn, however, date to the eighteenth century B.C. It is reasonable to assume that the poem was composed during his reign. Nevertheless, lacking any certain knowledge of the intellectual life of Iddin-Dagan's day, we can only contextualize the hymn in terms of its copyists not of its composers.

11. For basic summaries of events in the hymn, see Romer 1965: 143-49; Groneberg 1997: 138-45; and Cooper 1993: 92-94.

12. Iddin-Dagan A 169.

13. Iddin-Dagan A 198.

14. Iddin-Dagan A 212.

15. Although g[u.sub.2] si-a-ba has a temporal nuance in 1. 116, as Frymer-Kensky (1977: 546) points out, to translate it so here leaves unexplained the lack of case ending on [e.sub.2]-i[d.sub.2]-l[u.sub.2]-ru-gu[d.sub.x]. We would expect a terminative in .se; see the examples cited in Karahashi 2000: 102.

16. For such uses of the term egal, see Frymer-Kensky 1977: 545-46.

17. Despite Romer 1965: 145-46. For the steppe in Old Babylonian rituals relating to Inana or her Akkadian equivalent Ishtar, see Groneberg 1997: 123-54.

18. See George 1993: 88-89 for Egalmah as the name of a number of temples or sanctuaries dedicated to either Ninisina or Gula in Isin, Babylon, Uruk, Nippur, and Assur. For the identification of Ninisina with Inana, see Edzard 1998-2001: 387.

19. A by-name of the god Dumuzi, Inana's divine spouse, whom the king incarnates.

20. Iddin-Dagan A 187-94.

21. Commentators divide as to whether the Egalmah is the king's palace or Inana's temple. Cf. Jacobsen (1987: 123), Jestin (1950: 69), and Kramer (1969: 65) with Romer (1991: 671), Reisman (1973: 191), and the translation in Black et al. (1998-).

22. The significance of the commitative infix with ku[r.sub.9] is unclear. It could refer to the king (cf. Jacobsen 1987: 123), Inana (cf. Kramer 1969: 65), the offerings (Romer 1965: 195), or be purely lexical (cf. Gragg 1973: 59-60; and the translation in Black et al. 1998-). Note that the variant im-ma-an-da-ku[r.sub.9]-[k]u[r.sub.9] in one manuscript, is probably the result of metathesis (n.da<da.n) and not an explicit reflection of animate reference. I take ku(r).ku(r) as the imperfective rather than a causative perfective (against Reisman 1970: 209; for the syntax of kur, see the comments of Yoshikawa 1993: 230-31, 247-49; Jacobsen 1988: 210-11 n. 53; and Wilcke 1988: 37-38 n. 125). Despite my translation, it is not certain whether Inana was imagined as physically accompanying the king into the Egalmah and to the subsequent banquet.

23. Iddin-Dagan A 195-98.

24. Iddin-Dagan A 1-9.

25. Iddin-Dagan A 43, 68, 221.

26. Iddin-Dagan A 11-14.

27. Iddin-Dagan A 25-26.

28. Iddin-Dagan A 112-14.

29. Iddin-Dagan A 117-21.

30. Iddin-Dagan A 173.

31. Iddin-Dagan A 201-2. I take the king to be the subject of both verbs in a compound sentence that extemporizes on the form exemplified by, for example:
 [.sup.d]nun-gal barag gal mah-bi-a zag-ge mu-un-di-ni-ib-si[g.sub.9]
 Nungal sat down on the great exalted dais. (Nungal A 28)

In this example, -n.di-(<n.da) with zag.e sig seems to be lexical. It can, however, refer to an animate noun in the commitative. See, for example:
 [.sup.d]nin-li[l.sub.2]-da ki gisbu[n.sub.x] (KI.BI)-na-ka zag-ge
 They sat down with Ninlil at the banqueting place. (Sulgi R 66)

 and, more problematically:
 nitalam-g[u.sub.10] [.sup.d]bi-ir-tum l[u.sub.2] n[e.sub.3] gal zag-ge
 My husband, Birtum, the great and powerful one, sat down next to me
 (n'.di). (Nungal A 85)

32. Iddin-Dagan A 220-21.

33. For an initial attempt to identify distinct "archives" of Old Babylonian literary texts, see Tinney forthcoming.

34. Iddin-Dagan A 189, 211, 214.

35. Iddin-Dagan A 22-23.

36. For this term and its attendant problems, see Farber 1987-90. For a recent suggestion, see Klein 1997.

37. Inana and Enki 1-11.

38. For a summary of the various aspects of Dumuzi in Mesopotamian thought, see Alster 1995.

39. For Gilgamesh and Dumuzi as underworld judges, see, for example, Death of Gilgamesh Meturan version 80-83. For the responsibilities of a judge in the Netherworld, cf. the actions of the Sun-god Utu towards the dead (Geller 1995: 102-9; Veldhuis 2001: 135-36).

40. For recent attempts to define the nature of Inana and Ishtar, see the works listed in Abusch 1995: 853-54.

41. Inana D 106.

42. Iddin-Dagan A 199-200. The form Inanak.e could be interpreted as agentive or locative-terminative. With Jacobsen 1987 and Black et al. 1998-, I analyze it as agentive. As can be seen from Karahashi 2000: 101-2, explicit nouns in the agentive are rarely expressed with gu.da la. To her citation of Sulgi A 67:
 se[g.sub.7] an-na-k[e.sub.4] a ki-ta g[u.sub.2]
 The rain of the sky embraced the water of the ground.
 may now be added:
 [[.sup.d]e]n-li[l.sub.2]-le a[b.sub.2]-silam kug-gi[n.sub.7]
 g[u.sub.2]-da mu-[.sup.[??]]ni[.sup.[??]]-l[a.sub.2]
 Enlil embraced her (Ninlil) like a pure wild cow. (Sulgi R 47,

43. Sulgi R 45-47.

44. Isme-Dagan I 66-75.

45. Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Nether World 243.

46. Lugalbanda 247.

47. For the underlying connections between the two myths of Enlil and Ninlil's courtship, see Michalowski 1998: 243-44.

48. See Civil 1983: 43-47.

49. For a comprehensive survey of the ideas surrounding traditional kingships, see Feeley-Harnik 1985.

50. For this topos, and a contrasting perspective on it, see Sjoberg 1975: 223-26.


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