In The Descent of Inanna, the word "me" is used as a noun in several places:
With the me in her possession, she prepared herself:
She who receives the me of the underworld does not return.
What does the word "me" mean in this context?
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In Sumerian mythology, a me (Sumerian, conventionally pronounced [mɛ]) or ñe [ŋɛ] or parşu (Akkadian, [parsˤu]) is one of the decrees of the gods foundational to those social institutions, religious practices, technologies, behaviors, mores, and human conditions that make civilization, as the Sumerians understood it, possible. They are fundamental to the Sumerian understanding of the relationship between humanity and the gods.
Kramer and Maier explain the concept of mes, but also the relationship of Inanna with them :
Another important concept in Sumerian theology, was that of me. The me were universal decrees of divine authority. They are the invocations that spread arts, crafts, and civilization. The me were assembled by Enlil in Ekur and given to Enki to guard and impart to the world, beginning with Eridu, his center of worship. From there, he guards the me and imparts them on the people. He directs the me towards Ur and Meluhha and Dilmun, organizing the world with his decrees. Later, Inanna comes to Enki and complains at having been given too little power from his decrees. In a different text, she gets Enki drunk and he grants her more powers, arts, crafts, and attributes - a total of ninety-four me. Inanna parts company with Enki to deliver the me to her cult center at Erech. Enki recovers his wits and tries to recover the me from her, but she arrives safely in Erech with them.
There are over 100 mes (around 80 are known to us and are listed here), some of which are:
- The exalted shrine
- The flood
- Sexual intercourse
and are some times represented as physical objects:
In Uruk, by the big apple tree, Dumuzi, the husband of Inanna, was dressed in his shining me garments.
Eridu was long considered the earliest city in southern Mesopotamia, and is still today argued to be the oldest city in the world.
In addition to being one of the first cities, Uruk was the main force of urbanization during the Uruk period (4000–3200 BC). This period of 800 years saw a shift from small, agricultural villages to a larger urban center with a full-time bureaucracy, military, and stratified society.