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ANAHITA  August 1997

ANAHITA August 1997

Subject:

Re: Priestesses as god's wives & politics

From:

mac566f <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 5 Aug 1997 13:29:14 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (67 lines)

> Winter's article:
>   Winter, Irene J. 1987 Women in public: The disk of Enheduanna,
>  the beginning of the office of en-priestess, and the weight of
>  visual evidence. In J. Durand, ed., +La Femme dans le Proche
>  Orient antique+.  RAI, 33, pp. 189-201.  Paris: Editions
>  Recherche sur les Civilisations.
> .... while there were women in high-status roles in Early
> Dynastic and Akkadian Mesopotamia, they were usually religious roles without
> much political clout ....The status of the women that Winter is
> referring to, by the way, was based on their relationship with a male
>deity.>>

Winter's article concerns "Women in Public", and she notes that her
sources are public representations of women. There are private
representations too, for instance, on seals (see the article by Julia
Asher-Greve in the same volume). In public art from the Early Dynastic
and Sargonic period men are shown leading soldiers, slaughtering
prisoners, drinking at banquets, and constructing temples. Women are
depicted overseeing rituals and seated in proximity to a king/husband.
Winter concludes that "if the subjects of public art are public themes,
and the protagonists of public acts are seen to be men, then the absense
of women asserts their lack of publicness, to the extent that "woman" is
to be equated with "private" - our priestesses being a notable
exception."
>
>Now, no one is saying that the king's role as husband in the _hieros gamos_
> with the goddess robs him of political clout or makes his power suspect.  So
>why is the wife of a god insignificant?
>
>Also, some step is missing here: Enheduanna --the first known author in
>antiquity-- was an _en_ priestess, wife of Nanna, the moon god.  She was
>placed in office by her father, the great Sargon of Akkad.  So one cannot say
>that this office carried little political clout.  It was important to Sargon
>that she be there & it was important to his successor that she be gone.  We
>have no indication of the clout wielded by Sargon's daughter (or other
>members of the royal family) or why he would make her Nanna's wife.

The scholarship is not quite this bad. Enheduanna was the en of Nanna
(the moon god at Ur). She was not his wife. According to a Sumerian story
Nanna the moon god and Ningal (her name means "great lady" or "lady of
the drinking cup.") fell in love and then married. Enheduanna complains,
"The fruitful bed has been abolished and I have not interpreted to man
the commands of Ningal." She means by this that she has been removed from
her office so that she can't sleep in her bed. It was there that Ningal
sent Enheduanna oracular dreams. Those oracles must have had considerable
political influence, so much so, that Sargon E's father and Sargon's sons
wished to keep their loyal daughter/sister in office.

--------------------------------------------------------------
Marc Cooper, History, Southwest Missouri State University
Springfield, Missouri 65804 USA
[log in to unmask]

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