The Arts of Civilization

Enki, god of ancient Sumer

We have been blessed with the craft of writing, as well as the other arts. The ancient Sumerian god Enki allegedly allowed the gifts of civilized life to pass down to mankind. The story of Inanna and Enki tells how the young goddess and the great god of wisdom were having beer together, and she somehow convinced him to give the arts to the human race during the period erased from history because of 35 lines of missing text.

When the story resumes, old Enki proclaims, “In the name of my power, in the name of my abzu, I will give them to holy Inanna….” She received “the craft of the carpenter, the craft of the coppersmith, the craft of the scribe, the craft of the smith, the craft of the leather-worker, the craft of the fuller, the craft of the builder, the craft of the reed-worker.”

Inanna gets into the Boat of Heaven and eventually makes her way to the people below. Someone proclaims in the last section, “You have brought with you strife, you have brought with you triumph, you have brought with you counselling, you have brought with you comforting, you have brought with you judging, you have brought with you decision-making.”

Eventually Nidaba became the goddess of writing. The ancient Sumerian text The Dream of Gudea says:

The woman holding the gold stylus and studying a clay tablet on which the starry heaven was depicted—that is Nidaba, the goddess of writing, who directs you to build the house in accordance with the holy stars.

So we’re all civilized now. We have been endowed with gifts from on high. It is up to us to make something of them.

Nidaba, the goddess of writing

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