A Praise Poem to Iddin-Dagān - Louvre Prism


Iddin-Dagan (Akkadian: Iddin-Dagān, inscribed di-din dda-gan; fl. c. 1910 BC — c. 1890 BC by the short chronology of the ancient Near East or c. 1975 BC — c. 1954 BC by the middle chronology) was the 3rd king of the dynasty of Isin. Iddin-Dagan was preceded by his father Shu-Ilishu. Išme-Dagān (to be confused with neither Išme-Dagān I nor Išme-Dagān II of the Old Assyrian Empire) then succeeded Iddin-Dagan. Iddin-Dagan reigned for 21 years (according to the Sumerian King List.) He is best known for his participation in the sacred marriage rite and the risqué hymn that described it.


His titles included: “Mighty King” — “King of Isin” — “King of Ur” — “King of the Land of Sumer and Akkad.” The 1st year name recorded on a receipt for flour and dates reads: “Year Iddin-Dagān (was) king and (his) daughter Matum-Niatum (“the land which belongs to us”) was taken in marriage by the king of Anshan.” Vallat suggests it was to Imazu (son of Kindattu, who was the groom and possibly the king of the region of Shimashki) as he was described as the King of Anshan in a seal inscription, although elsewhere unattested. Kindattu had been driven away from the city-state of Ur by Išbi-Erra (the founder of the First Dynasty of Isin), however; relations had apparently thawed sufficiently for Tan-Ruhurarter (the 8th king to wed the daughter of Bilalama, the énsí of Eshnunna.)


There is only 1 contemporary monumental text extant for this king and another 2 known from later copies. A fragment of a stone statue has a votive inscription which invokes Ninisina and Damu to curse those who foster evil intent against it. 2 later clay tablet copies of an inscription recording an unspecified object fashioned for the god Nanna were found by the British archaeologist Sir Charles Leonard Woolley in a scribal school house in the city-state of Ur. A tablet from the Enunmaḫ at the city-state of Ur dated to the 14th year of Gungunum (fl. c. 1868 BC — c. 1841 BC) of Larsa, after his conquest of the city, bears the seal impression of a servant of his. A tablet described Iddin-Dagān’s fashioning of two copper festival statues for Ninlil, which were not delivered to Nippur until 170 years later by Enlil-bāni.[4] Belles-lettres preserve the correspondence from Iddin-Dagān to his general Sîn-illat about Kakkulātum and the state of his troops, and from his general describing an ambush by the Martu (Amorites).


The continued fecundity of the land was ensured by the annual performance of the sacred marriage ritual in which the king impersonated Dumuzi-Ama-ušumgal-ana and a priestess substituted for the part of Inanna. According to the šir-namursaḡa, the hymn composed describing it in 10 sections (Kiruḡu), this ceremony seems to have entailed the procession of: male prostitutes, wise women, drummers, priestesses and priests bloodletting with swords, to the accompaniment of music, followed by offerings and sacrifices for the goddess Inanna, or Ninegala.


The ceremony reached its climax with the assembly of the “black-headed people” around a dais specially erected for the occasion when the king and priestess copulated to gawking onlookers and is described thus:

She bathes (her) loins for the king. She bathes (her) loins for Iddin-Dagān. Holy Inanna bathes with soap, and sprinkles the floor with aromatic resin. The king then approached (her) loins with head raised high. Iddin-Dagān approached (her) loins with head raised high. Ama-ušumgal-ana lies down beside her and {caresses her holy thighs} (says:) "O my holy thighs! O my holy Inanna!." After the lady has made him rejoice with her holy thighs on the bed, after holy Inanna has made him rejoice with her holy thighs on the bed, she relaxes (?) with him on her bed: "Iddin-Dagān, you are indeed my beloved!" — šir-namursaḡa to Inanna for Iddin-Dagān, 9th Kiruḡu

There are 4 extant hymns addressed to this monarch, which, apart from the Sacred Marriage Hymn, include a praise poem to the king, a war song and a dedicatory prayer.

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