Posted by: Lucila Cejas | November 5, 2014

The World’s First Author

In The Shallows, Nicholas Carr tells us that some of the earliest forms of writings were found in Sumerian clay tokens. While researching this for our presentation, I came across an interesting bit of information: the World’s first known author.

Enheduanna  was not only a poet, but an Akkadian princess and the High Priestess of Ur, a role her father gave her as a political move to expand his power. She composed several religious hymns, which “re-defined the gods for the people of the Akkadian Empire under Sargon’s rule and helped provide the underlying religious homogeneity sought by the king.”

But the most fascinating contribution of hers are the forty-two poems she left behind, filled with her thoughts on war, devotion and life:

“Her powerful narrative combines strong elements of pathos. She clearly establishes her own ethos by stepping forward in the first person to tell her own story, deliberately naming herself. The argument, the underlying the logos of the narrative, has variously been interpreted as political and as a court case.”

Four millenia after her existence, the region is experiencing a much different reality for women. The idea of publicly publishing political comments seems inconceivable when their daily lives are overwhelmed by rape and fear, and those who speak up get persecuted and killed.

When we study speech communication, we focus on the ancient Greek contributions, yet we fail to analyze influential communicators that preceded them. Should Enheduanna have a seat with the masters of Rhetoric?

Sources

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