Studies in Bible and Feminist Criticism

By Tikva Frymer-Kensky | Go to book overview

6 / Lolita-Inanna

2000

Inanna, as we all know, is the most changeable and mercurial of goddesses, a mistress of opposites and paradoxes, a god with radically changeable personality and functions, a god who not only bends gender but may also change sex in herself, and at least cultically, in her worshipers. Is there a rational order to these changes? To what degree can they be plotted according to the place in which she is worshiped, the time when the texts were written, or the type of texts we read?

In order to unravel the complex evidence about Inanna, it may be valuable to pick a genre of texts and approach them with radical ignorance, putting out of our mind everything we know about Inanna in order to see what these texts say in isolation. I chose to begin with the Dumuzi-Inanna songs, because this is a fairly large corpus and because of their inherent interest to us as sacred marriage texts. The study of these songs has been greatly facilitated by the critical edition prepared by Yitschak Sefati, “Love Songs in Sumerian Literature: Critical Edition of the Dumuzi-lnanna Songs.1

First, having just read through all these poems, I have to bear witness to the fact that, to this woman at least, they are not very interesting literature, and certainly not very erotic. These songs speak in two modes: in one, the inner meaning of the texts and ritual is apparent: Dumuzi is the king and Inanna bestows fertility on him. In this mode, Inanna is praised as the fertile and fructifying goddess, a vine and a furrow, the true plant who mates with the shepherd. She is the goddess who blesses Ama-usum-gal-anna2 and rewards him with abundance,3 giving him life and long days4 as he stands before her in prayer, blesses him on the wedding bed.5

In the other mode of the Dumuzi-Inanna texts, the pair speak as lovers, and the goddess/king aspect recedes into the distance. Mostly we hear Inanna's voice, describing Dumuzi, her love for him, and her

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