Debate between Sheep and Grain
The Debate between Sheep and Grain or Myth of Cattle and Grain is a Sumerian creation myth and disputation, written on clay tablets in the mid to late 3rd millennium BCE. The story centers in a quarrel between the cattle-goddess, Lahar, and the grain goddess, Ezina.
- When, upon the hill of heaven and earth, An spawned the Anuna gods, … there was no small grain, grain from the mountains or grain from the holy habitations. There was no cloth to wear; … the people of those days did not know about eating bread. They did not know about wearing clothes; they went about with naked limbs in the Land. Like sheep they ate grass with their mouths and drank water from the ditches.
- At that time, at the place of the gods' formation, in their own home, on the Holy Mound, they created Lahar and Ezina. Having gathered them in the divine banqueting chamber, the Anuna gods of the Holy Mound partook of the bounty of Lahar and Ezina but were not sated; the Anuna gods of the Holy Mound partook of the sweet milk of their holy sheepfold but were not sated. For their own well-being in the holy sheepfold, they gave them to mankind as sustenance.
At that time Enki spoke to Enlil: "Father Enlil, now Lahar and Ezina have been created on the Holy Mound, let us send them down from the Holy Mound." Enki and Enlil, having spoken their holy word, sent Lahar and Ezina down from the Holy Mound.
Lahar being fenced in by her sheepfold, they gave her grass and herbs generously. For Ezina they made her field and gave her the plough, yoke and team. Lahar standing in her sheepfold was a shepherd of the sheepfolds brimming with charm. Ezina standing in her furrow was a beautiful girl radiating charm; lifting her raised head up from the field she was suffused with the bounty of heaven. Lahar and Ezina had a radiant appearance.
They brought wealth to the assembly. They brought sustenance to the Land. They fulfilled the ordinances of the gods. They filled the store-rooms of the Land with stock. The barns of the Land were heavy with them. When they entered the homes of the poor who crouch in the dust they brought wealth. Both of them, wherever they directed their steps, added to the riches of the household with their weight. Where they stood, they were satisfying; where they settled, they were seemly. They gladdened the heart of An and the heart of Enlil.
- From sunrise till sunset, may the name of Ezina be praised. People should submit to the yoke of Ezina. Whoever has silver, whoever has jewels, whoever has cattle, whoever has sheep shall take a seat at the gate of whoever has grain, and pass his time there.
- I foster neighbourliness and friendliness. I sort out quarrels started between neighbours. When I come upon a captive youth and give him his destiny, he forgets his despondent heart and I release his fetters and shackles.
- When the beer dough has been carefully prepared in the oven, and the mash tended in the oven, Ninkasi mixes them for me while your big billy-goats and rams are despatched for my banquets. On their thick legs they are made to stand separate from my produce. Your shepherd on the high plain eyes my produce enviously; when I am standing in the furrow in the field, my farmer chases away your herdsman with his cudgel. Even when they look out for you, from the open country to the hidden places, your fears are not removed from you: fanged snakes and bandits, the creatures of the desert, want your life on the high plain.
- To Lahar.
- Every night your count is made and your tally-stick put into the ground, so your herdsman can tell people how many ewes there are and how many young lambs, and how many goats and how many young kids. When gentle winds blow through the city and strong winds scatter, they build a milking pen for you; but when gentle winds blow through the city and strong winds scatter, I stand up as an equal to Ickur. I am Ezina, I am born for the warrior -- I do not give up.
- To Lahar.
- As for you, Ickur is your master, Cakkan your herdsman, and the dry land your bed. Like fire beaten down in houses and in fields, like small flying birds chased from the door of a house, you are turned into the lame and the weak of the Land. Should I really bow my neck before you? You are distributed into various measuring-containers. When your innards are taken away by the people in the market-place, and when your neck is wrapped with your very own loincloth, one man says to another: "Fill the measuring-container with grain for my ewe!".
- To Lahar.
- After I have conferred my power on the warrior, when he goes to war he knows no fear, he knows no faltering.
- An, king of the gods, made me descend from the holy place, my most precious place. All the yarns of Uttu, the splendour of kingship, belong to me.
- Cakkan, king of the mountain, embosses the king's emblems and puts his implements in order. He twists a giant rope against the great peaks of the rebel land.
- The watch over the elite troops is mine. Sustenance of the workers in the field is mine: the waterskin of cool water and the sandals are mine. Sweet oil, the fragrance of the gods, mixed oil, pressed oil, aromatic oil, cedar oil for offerings are mine.
- In the gown, my cloth of white wool, the king rejoices on his throne. My body glistens on the flesh of the great gods. After the purification priests, the incantation priests and the bathed priests have dressed themselves in me for my holy lustration, I walk with them to my holy meal.