Episode 12 – Anunnaki 3 Enlil Lord of Wind

He is a little bit creepy and king of the gods. He is Enlil, lord of wind, and today’s episode is focused on the him as the head of the Sumerian pantheon.

Curiously, Enlil was never depicted personally in ancient art. Rather, he was represented by a horned helmet, which would be worn by rulers. The horned helmet on the Achemanid king is a very late surviving example of this tradition.

Looking at academic secondary sources for the two main stories today, the two marriage tales, and scholarship seems to be pretty universally more positive on the interpretations of these than I am, and honestly I have looked through every translation I could find (2 of them, it is a pretty small field) and simply can’t see the second as anything but a serial rape being celebrated as a win for masculinity. The first I can maybe see as a standard marriage, though with a slightly creepy suitor, but seriously either I am missing something here or the academics are being way to generous to Enlil.

For the Debate between Winter and Summer, this is one of the seven disputations. I may go through disputation literature one episode, since it is a particularly interesting genre, not in itself but in the fact that it exists at all. These are not Socratic Dialogues, and winter vs summer is a particularly tame one. Many of them devolve into the participants just hurling invective at each other for paragraphs at a time. Here we are at the dawn of writing and the Sumerians invent a genre that would basically vanish from the world until the time of daytime talk shows like Jerry Springer (is he even still a thing anymore?)

I also mentioned Enlil and Nam-zid-tara, and I know some people will hear that mention and want to know even more, so I will just copy the translation from the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, my main source for cunieform translations.

1-10. Nam-zid-tara walked by Enlil, who said to him: “Where have you come from, Nam-zid-tara?” “From Enlil’s temple. My turn of duty is finished. I serve at the place of the gudug priests, with their sheep. I am on my way home. Don’t stop me; I am in a hurry. Who are you who asks me questions?”
11-16. “I am Enlil.” But Enlil had changed his appearance: he had turned into a raven and was croaking. “But you are not a raven, you really are Enlil!” “How did you recognise that I am Enlil, who decrees the destinies?”
17-18. “When your uncle En-me-šara was a captive, after taking for himself the rank of Enlil, he said: “Now I shall know the fates, like a lord.””
19-23. “You may acquire precious metals, you may acquire precious stones, you may acquire cattle or you may acquire sheep; but the day of a human being is always getting closer, so where does your wealth lead? Now, I am indeed Enlil, who decrees the fates. What is your name?”
24-27. “My name is Nam-zid-tara (Well-blessed).” “Your fate shall be assigned according to your name: leave the house of your master, and your heirs shall come and go regularly in my temple.”

Pretty obscure, yeah? Apparently Nam-zid-tara is referencing some other myth that we only know from other oblique references like this one, and though I puzzled over it for a while, I am still not quite sure what to make of it.

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