The very first author

We’ve been writing for a long time now. So who is the world’s first author? Of course we’ll never know, because so few people wrote their own names in their texts.

Enheduanna was a priest of Inana, in ancient Sumeria, nearly four and a half thousand years ago. Some scholars think she is the first author whose name we know.  She wrote hymns which have survived to come down to us, including three to Inana herself.

Below is the start of “A Hymn to Inana”: an ancient voice speaking to us about her wonder of the divine.

The great-hearted mistress, the impetuous lady, proud among the Anuna gods and pre-eminent in all lands, the great daughter of Suen, exalted among the Great Princes , the magnificent lady who gathers up the divine powers of heaven and earth and rivals great An, is mightiest among the great gods – she makes their verdicts final. The Anuna gods crawl before her august word whose course she does not let An know; he dares not proceed against her command. She changes her own action, and no one knows how it will occur. She makes perfect the great divine powers, she holds a shepherd’s crook, and she is their magnificent pre-eminent one.

(Black, J.A., Cunningham, G., Fluckiger-Hawker, E, Robson, E., and Zólyomi, G., The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (http://www-etcsl.orient.ox.ac.uk/), Oxford 1998- .)

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