Greetings to all the forum members. Not being, in the strict sense, a scholar of the mesopotamian culture,(at least yet), I need to apologize beforehand for my questions to occur untutored. Now I'll get to the point. There's comparatively little information given on the net, considering the issue of the MEs. So, couldn't you cast some light upon the subject? Or, perhaps, you can reccomend me some sources?
Post by us4-he2-gal2 on Oct 31, 2019 17:08:05 GMT -5
Welcome to the board. You're welcome to ask anything you'd like, there is no requirement that you have prior learning or anything of that sort.
A good primer on Mesopotamian religion, written 2015, is Ancient Mesopotamian Religion A Descriptive Introduction by Ivan Hrůša see amazon link here
on page 35, Hrůša discusses the me under the heading "me: offices, rites and attributes ofthe divine cult and rule" and he describes this as follows:
"The divine power over the human world is made concrete in the concept of the Sumerian "me", a word which is translated into Akkadian as parṣu or with the Akkadianised Sumerian expression mu. The Akkadian word parṣu belongs, in the first place, to the cultic environment and designates a "rite", a "cultic regulation", an "office". However, its meaning also includes concrete objects, such as "symbols" or "emblems". More generally, parṣu can mean "decision", "rule", "custom".
In modem translations, the me is often rendered as "divine powers" or else as "divine decrees", "norms", "rituals", "rites".32 Nevertheless, the Sumerian concept remains elusive, designating both abstract and concrete things, and, in some texts, the precise significance remains uncertain."
Hrůša's footnote 32 reads: The glossary of ETCSL translates me with "essence"; the electronic Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary gives as tbe meaning "being, divine properties enabling cosmic activity; office; (cultie) ordinance". However, the interpretation of me as abstract principles behind concrete things, such as "essence" or "being" or analogically to the Platonic ideas, does not correspond with the concrete thinking of the pre-philosophical cultures of the ancient Orient, that generally avoid the formulating of overall rules or principles. Therefore, it seems to me preferable to conceive the me in a more concrete way, connecting them with concrete divinities, their attributes, and offices, rites and symbols of their cult.
Hrůša notes that Enlil is the primary holder of the me, although they also change hands: "The supreme administrator of the me is the god Enli!, the source of authority and power. It is he, less often the god An, who assigns the me to the individual gods. He does this in the Ekur, in his temple in the city of Nippur. The me are assigned not only to the gods but also to the cities and their temples which are the centres of the divine cult and the earthly abodes of these gods. The location of the me in the cities and in the temples demonstrates their cultural and cultic character.
But not only Enlil, other gods too can give the me to another god: so Ninurta gives the me to his mother, Ninhursaga, or Suen gives the me to his daughter, Inanna." Numerous me were collected by Enki and deposited in his subterranean residence, in Apsû.
The me which are assigned to the individual gods correspond to the performance of the competences or functions of the respective divinities (the same goes for the me of kingship conferred on a terrestrial king). The clearest example is the goddess Inanna/lshtar, who, according to the myth Inanna and Enki, obtains from her father Enki more than a hundred me: all of them have a connection with tbe divine rule and cult of Inanna."
However, as Hrůša notes, the me have also a cult connotation: In many texts, the word me occurs in connection with the rites (garza/parṣu), regulations/designs/plans (giš-hur/ uṣurtu) and rites of purification (šuh-luh/šuluhhû), and seems to designate the "cult" or the "rite, ritual", especially when it is a question of the performance of regular cultic occasions (every month, New Year): "Each month at the new moon the great me, my festival of An, are performed for me magnificently."
The author provides the following reading list for the me. In general, it's rather difficult for the lay person to access this material, one really needs access to a university library, and often online library database access that comes with student membership. This is to access journals such as JCS (Journal of Cuneiform Studies), an so forth. Before I became a student, my solution was to go to my local university library; some university libraries provide free access to the public, others require a library card be purchased.
FARBER,G., "me (garza,par$u)", in RIA 7 (1987-90) 61G-613 FARBER-FLUGGE,G., Der Mythos .Lnanna und Enki" unter besonderer Berucksichtigung der Liste der me (StPohl 10; Roma 1973) ROSENGARTEN, Y., Sumer et Ie sacre. Le jeu des prescriptions (me), des dieux, et des destins. Avec la collaboration de Andre Baer (Paris 1977) CAVIGNEAux,A., "L'essence divine", JCS 30 (1978) 177-185 GLASSNER,U., "Inanna et les me", in deJong Ellis, M. (ed.), Nippur at the Centennial. Papers Read at the 35e Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Philadelphia, 1988 (philadelphia 1992) 55-86 KLEIN,J., "The Sumerian me as a Concrete Object", AoF24 (1997) 211-218