The World's First Author

Enheduana was a Sumerian princess who lived around 2300 BCE and composed what is now regarded as the earliest poetry by a known author. Her father, Sargon of Akkad, is said to have created the world’s first empire, stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, and as part of his imperial mission he installed his daughter as the high priestess of the temple of the moon god, Nanna, in the city of Ur. In that capacity, Enheduana composed hymns of remarkable beauty, often governed by a powerful authorial voice.

Anna Della Subin joins Tom to discuss a new translation of Enheduana’s complete poems, read some of them in the original Sumerian, and consider the ways in which they challenge our ideas of authorship and literary history.

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