Inanna and the king

Blessing on the wedding night

Translation by Samuel Noah Kramer

There are a number of Sumerian texts which seem to describe the official marriage of the king (physical, human) to Inanna. This claim gives the king sacred mana, in spite of the fact the everyone knew that the “real” Inanna is married to Dumuzi (also in spite of her various romantic excursions, if we listen to Gilgamesh). During what has been termed “the annual renewal festival” the real king would consummate his “marriage” with the real representative of the goddess, the priestess of Inanna. This text describes the ritual events leading to king Iddin-Dagan’s (early 2nd millennium, BC) consummation with the goddess’s earthly representative.
This translation is entirely that of Samuel Noah Kramer (1969), from ANET (full citation below).

Notes are ‘mouse hover style’, connected to passages in green.

Please report errors to me (link at end of page). -Alan Humm


Kramer, Samuel Noah (1969). Inanna and the king. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament with Supplement. Pritchard, James B. (Ed.). Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. Pp. 640f.


column 1

    “ . . . ,
    Of the house of Eridu - its guidance,
    Of the house of Sin - its radiance,
    Of the Eanna - its habitation;
    The house - it has been presented (to you).
     (In) my enduring house which floats like a cloud,
     (Whose) name in truth, is a goodly vision,
     (Where) a fruitful bed, lapis-bedecked,
    Gibil had purified for you in the great shrine,
1.10       He who is well-suited for ‘queenship,’
         The lord has erected his altar,
    In his reed-filled house which he has purified for you,
        he performs your rites.

    “The sun has gone to sleep, the day has passed,
    As in bed you gaze (lovingly) upon him,
    As you caress the lord,
    Give life unto the lord,
    Give the staff and crook unto the lord.”

She craves it, she craves it, she craves the bed,
She craves the bed of the rejoicing heart, she craves the bed,
1.20   She craves the bed of the sweet lap, she craves the bed,
     She craves the bed of kingship, she craves the bed,
She craves the bed of queenship, she craves the bed.
By his sweet, by his sweet, by his sweet bed,
By his sweet bed of the rejoicing heart, by his sweet bed,
By his sweet bed of the sweet lap, by his sweet bed,
By his sweet bed of kingship, by his sweet bed,
By his sweet bed of queenship, by his sweet bed,
He covers [the bed] . . . for her, covers the bed for her,
He covers [the bed] . . . for her, covers the bed for her.

column 2

[To] the k[ing] . . . ,
The beloved speaks on his sweet bed,
Speaks to him words of life, words of “long days.”

Ninshubur, the trustworthy vizier of the Eanna,
Took him by his right forearm,
Brought him blissfully to the lap of Inanna:
    “May the Lord whom you have called to (your) heart,
    The king, your beloved husband,
        enjoy long days at your holy lap, the sweet,
    Give him a reign favorable (and) glorious,
2.10       Give him the throne of kingship on its enduring foundation,
         Give him the people-directing scepter,
        the staff (and) the crook,
    Give him an enduring crown,
        a diadem which ennobles the head,
    From (where) the sun rises, to (where) the sun sets,
    From south to north,
    From the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea,
    From (where grows) the halub-tree
        to (where grows) the cedar,
    Over all Sumer and Akkad
        give him the staff (and) the crook,
    May he exercise the shepherdship
        of the blackheads (wherever) they dwell,
    May he make productive the fields like the farmer,
2.20       May he multiply the sheepfolds like a trustworthy shepherd.
    “Under his reign may there be plants, may there be grain,
    At the river, may there be overflow,
    In the field may there be late-grain,
    In the marshland may the fish
        (and) birds make much chatter,
    In the canebrake may the ‘old’ reeds,
        the young reeds grow high,
    In the steppe may the mashgur-trees grow high,
    In the forests may the deer and the wild goats multiply,
    May the watered garden produce honey (and) wine,
    In the trenches may the lettuce and cress grow high,
2.30       In the palace may there be long life.

column 3

     “Into the Tigris and Euphrates may flood water be brought,
    On their banks may the grass grow high,
    may the meadows be covered,
    May the holy queen of vegetation
        pile high the grain heaps and mounds,
    O my queen, queen of the universe,
        the queen who encompasses the universe,
    May he enjoy long days [at your holy] lap.”

The king goes with lifted head [to the holy lap],
He goes with lifted head to [the holy] lap [of Inanna],
The king going with [lifted head],
3.10   Going to my queen with lifted head,
     From . . . ,
Embraces the hierodule. . .

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