Dumuzi’s Wedding

(Dumuzid-Inana C1)

English interpretation by Alan Humm

This is a combination of the translation by Thorkild Jacobsen (1987) with that of a consortium of Oxford scholars associated with ETCSL (2003).

Jacobsen conjectures a good deal more than the scholars at ETCSL are willing to do. In the following, lines and words that are based on Jacobsen’s conjectures will be put in brackets (as he does, although in a few cases I have had to assume such brackets from the absence of the text in the ETCSL version). The speaker indicators are Jacobsen’s, although they are sometimes indicated in the text as well. Notes are mine and are mouse hover style. The links will take you to the Sumerian text at the ETCSL site.

Much of this text betrays a strange combination. Underlying it are the marriage customs of the ancient Mediterranean world. It often becomes necessary to forget that the characters are divine figures. If Jacobsen is correct in reading C.1-8, the goddess of fertility needs the help of a much lower family deity to become pregnant. She is the morning star and the goddess of war, but worries that she will be overworked by her mother-in-law.

There is disagreement among some scholars regarding Dumuzi’s divinity. It could be that Dumizi was a real historical person, perhaps one who rose to fame and power, about whom this divine romance was originally told. There are a couple of Dumzids in the Sumerian king list. One of these could have been promoted to divinity, like Utnapishtim, or assumed to be half divine (like Gilgamesh) because of his prowess. But there are also texts like the following from The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi, where Dumuzi is made to say:

     My father, Enki, is as good as your father, Nanna.
     My mother, Sirtur, is as good as your mother, Ningal.
     My sister, Geshtinanna, is as good as yours.
     I am as good as your brother, Utu

This seems to undercut the originally human argument. But it may well be unfair to insist on some exact consistency in this material. Certainly it is hard to find it in this piece. Never-the-less it is a wonderful window into Sumerian marriage practices, particularly in the upper class.

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


Jacobsen, T. (1987). The Harps that Once...: Sumerian Poetry in Translation New Haven: Yale University Press.

The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature [ETCSL] (2003). A song of Inana and Dumuzid (Dumuzid-Inana C1). Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford. Accessed 6/2011.

Segment A

     [“O you like a .....]
     [Your groomsmen are lords!]
     [You who like....]
     [Lady,] your groomsmen [are] lords!
     [O you who catch enemy countries like birds,]
     Ninegalla, your groomsmen are lords!
    [O you, cracking enemy countries like] someone cracking eggs,
     [Inanna, your groomsmen are lords!]
     [Ama-ushumgal] is the first,
     [The farmer in the inundation] is second,
     {1 line fragmentary}
     The fowler [is the third,]
     and the fisherman from the depths of the reedbeds
          [is the fourth.”]

     “I will send a messenger to the shepherd:
     he should bring me the best butter and milk!
     I will send a messenger to my farmer:
     he should bring me honey and wine!
     To the fowler, who has his net spread out,
     I, the lady, will send a messenger:
     he should bring me choice [birds!]
     I, Inanna, will send a messenger,
     to the fisherman, as well, with his nets in the reedbeds,
     he should bring me his precious carp!”

     Her groomsmen brought their gifts.
     The fowler brought choice birds;
     the fisherman brought precious carp, putting them in a .... my lady.
     The shepherd carried (pails of) butter in his hands,
     Dumuzi carried (pails of) milk over his shoulders,
     He carried butter and milk in containers on his shoulders,
     and cheese in a churn hung over his shoulders.
     [The shepherd] called out into the house,
     Dumuzi [thrust a hand against the door crying:]
     {approx. 4 lines missing}

Segment B

     “Open the house, my lady! Open the house!”

     The pure one....
     the Mother, hearing her, went,
     and was standing by the .... saying:

Ningal speaks:
     “Truly you are [his spouse, he is your spouse,]
     Truly you [....] for him
     Truly he is ..... for you
     Truly your father is (now) like a foreigner;
     Truly your mother is (now) like a foreigner,
     You will [respect] his mother as if she were your mother!
     You will [respect] his father as if he were your father!”

     “Open the house, my lady! Open the house!”

     Inanna bathed in water at her mother´s request,
     anointed herself with sweet oil,
     and put on her majestic royal robe.
     She also took her amulets,
     straightened the lapis lazuli stones on her neck,
     and held her cylinder seal in her hand.
     The young lady stood waiting—
     Dumuzi pushed the door open,
     and like a moonbeam she came out to him from the house.
     He looked at her, rejoiced in her,
     took her in his arms, and kissed her.
     {1 line fragmentary
     approx. 9 lines missing}

Segment C

     ...      Dumuzi, the lord Dumuzi [came to him saying:] Dumuzi:
     “ O my master, [I have come] home
     O my master, my bride [is with me]
     Dumuzi …….
     My master, take her into the house.”

The shepherd Dumuzi said to his bride:
     “O my bride, come out from the …..
     O Inanna...,
     the chapel of my personal god,
     I have brought you to the chapel of my personal god.
     You will sleep before my personal god,
     Inana, you will sit with me in my god’s seat of honor!”

     Though he spoke thus to her,
     she sat down [beside the sill, saying:]

     [This is hard!] I have always just obeyed [my mother!]

Segment D

     [He] stepped forward [to his personal god,]
     [greeted him and] uttered a prayer [as follows:]

     “O my master...”
     {5 lines fragmentary
     approx. 4 lines missing}

     {1 line fragmentary}
     “…… before you …….
     My Ama-ushumgal,
     [I do not know how to use] a loom.”

     [The shepherd] put his arm around the young lady [saying:]

     “I have not carried you off into slavery,
     your table will be a splendid table,
     You will eat at a splendid…
     Your table will be the splendid table,
     At a splendid table, you will eat ……..
     My mother does not eat there;
     Durtur's brother does not eat there;
     my sister Geshtinana does not eat there;
     But you, you will eat at [the splendid table!]

     “O my bride, you will not weave cloth for me!
     [O Inanna,] you will not spin yarn for me!
     [O my bride,] you will not comb fleece for me!
     [O Inanna,] you will not mount warp for me!
     {four lines too fragmentary for translation}
     [Have no fear...]
     You shall not knead dough for me
     O Ninegalla...”

Narrator :
     [She embraced] the wild bull Dumuzi.

     “I, who have pure splendor,
     glow as the morning Star on heaven,
     who glow as the morning Star on heaven....”

     {up to 5 lines missing}

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