Inanna, Lady of Largest Heart

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

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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 Enheduanna's relationship with Inanna, they also represent the first existing account of an individual's consciousness of her inner life.

This book provides the complete texts of Enheduanna's hymns to Inanna, skillfully and beautifully rendered by Betty De Shong Meador, who also discusses how the poems reflect Enheduanna's own spiritual and psychological liberation from being an obedient daughter in the shadow of her ruler father. Meador frames the poems with background information on the religious and cultural systems of ancient Mesopotamia and the known facts of Enheduanna's life. With this information, she explores the role of Inanna as the archetypal feminine, the first goddess who encompasses both the celestial and the earthly and shows forth the full scope of women's potential.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 245 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 18.54mm | 680g
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 22 b&w photos, 1 map
  • 0292752423
  • 9780292752429
  • 199,714

Table of contents

Foreword by Judy Grahn
Part I. The Cultural and Historical Context

Introduction: "Through the Gate of Wonder": An early cuneiform sign of the goddess Inanna appears in the author's dream
"Great Lady Inanna":Paradoxical goddess encompasses heaven, earth, and the underworld
"The Robes of the Old, Old Gods":Ancient mythologems: Neolithic Mesopotamian parallels to Inanna's iconography
Unearthing Enheduanna: Leonard Woolley's excavations at Ur identify the high priestess Enheduanna
Enheduanna's Life Story: Sargon's daughter Enheduanna matures in an era of new consciousness of the individual
The High Priestess at Ur: Enheduanna manages the extensive temple estate and directs ritual tending of moon goddess and god from her quarters, the house of women, the gipar.
The Poems and Hymns of Enheduanna: The first literary texts disclose the emotion and imagery of the poet and the systematic theology of the priestess

Part II. The Three Inanna Poems: Introduction

The First Poem: Inanna and Ebih

Inanna and Ebih: Text of the Poem
"Terror Folds in Her Robes": Inanna, the force of nature, combats a mountain paradise
"I Will Not Go There With You": The sky god An deserts Inanna
"Fury Overturns Her Heart": Inanna assumes her full stature and autonomy
"Because You Puff Yourself Up": Parallels between Ebih and the creation story in Genesis

The Second Poem: Lady of Largest Heart

Lady of Largest Heart: Text of the Poem
"Eldest Daughter of the Moon": The paradox of dark and light
"The Carved-Out Ground Plan of Heaven and Earth": Inanna's world without illusion
"Look at Your Tormenting Emotions": Primary emotions and the goddess
Four Spiritual paths
Warrior: Creative autonomy and senseless destruction
Priestess: Lunar spirituality and the internal sanctuary
Lover: Sexuality, sacred marriage, and the swelling of desire
Androgyne: Gender crossing and gender ambiguity

The Third Poem: The Exaltation of Inanna

The Exaltation of Inanna: Text of the Poem
"He Robbed Me of the True Crown"
Enheduanna's expulsion: portents of things to come
"Rekindle Your Holy Heart"
Woman's self-love and the goddess
Legacy of a woman's voice

Captions for Illustrations
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Review quote

"That these poems deal immediately with the very popular 'goddess literature' and with an individual woman in a most important historical situation should give this work widespread appeal." John Maier, SUNY College at Brockport, cotranslator of the Epic of Gilgamesh "The Epic of Gilgamesh is well-known as the earliest extant work of literature, but try the Bronze Age poems if Inanna. Written around 2,300BC, they contain fabulous lines: "Lady of blazing dominion, clad in dread. Riding on red fire-power." Stand in the Middle East today and you can feel the heat of the great goddess coming at you." - Bettany Hughes, The Week, May 12th 2012
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About Betty De Shong Meador

Betty De Shong Meador is a Jungian analyst in private practice, who also teaches at the California Institute of Integral Studies and at New College, both in San Francisco, and at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara.
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Rating details

197 ratings
4.31 out of 5 stars
5 55% (109)
4 26% (51)
3 14% (27)
2 5% (10)
1 0% (0)
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