En, Ensi and Lugal

We have to discuss 3 titles,

Lugal [Gal-Lu2]

Sumerian for "great man", the Akkadian equivalent is read "sharrum" (king);

En [En]

close to priest-lord and

Ensi [pa-te-si/ensi2]

conventionally translated as city ruler

The difference between En and Ensi:

Jacobsen in his 'Toward the Image of Tammuz' (1970), p.384 n.71, explains that Ensi[g/k] when attested at all, "seems to denote specifically the ruler of a single major city with it's surrounding lands and villages, whereas both "lord" (en) and "king"(lugal) imply ruler over a region with more than one important city....the ensi[g/k] seems to have been originally the leader of the seasonal organization of the townspeople for work on the fields: irrigation, ploughing, and sowing. " The author assigns the meaning of the word as "manager of the arable lands" and comments that it would not be difficult than, to see how the ensi[g/k] could gain high political influence in Early Dynastic times.

Differences between Lugal and En:

Jacobsen (1970) writes about (among other things) primitive democracy (pg.138) and explains that the assembly (mirrored in myth by the divine assembly) might in times of crises make certain essential decisions. When there was threat of war or dangers to the community they might elect a lugal - however, when there were "internal administrative crises- need for organization of large communal undertaking or for checking banditry and lawlessness" the assembly would elect a "lord" (en). That author describes: "The "lord" was chosen for proven administrative abilities (he would normally be the head of a large estate) and charismatic powers, magical ability to make things thrive, was the core of his office."

In a JNES article Jacobsen/Kramer touch briefly on the differences between en and lugal (JNES 12, 179, n.41):

"The traditional English rendering [of en] "lord" would be happier if it had preserved overtones of its original meaning "bread-keeper" (Blaford), for the core concept of En is that of the successful economic manager. The term implies authority, but not the authority of ownership, a point on which it differs sharply from bêlum (Sumerian has no term for owner but has to make shift with lugal and constructions with -t u k u) , and it implies successful economic management: charismatic power to make things thrive and to produce abundance."

Lugalship (Nam-Lugal)


Enship (Nam-En)

(Adapted from "Fischers Weltgeschichte - Die Altorientalischen Reiche I "1965)

Lugal is the royal title "par excellence", like that known from the Sumerian king-list. Nam-Lugal is the kingship as a form of ruling. Lugal connected with a name is found first in Kish and Ur (Mebaragesi, Meskalamdug), but the combination of the signs


is already known in UrukIII-Jemdat-Nasr-Time. Unlike the title Lugal and Ensi, the title En as a ruler title [with political as well as social powers] is only known from Uruk. Enmerkar, Lugalbanda and Gilgamesh are called "En of Kulaba" (Kulaba is a city district of Uruk) in the "hymn literature", also Meskianggasher, ancestor of the first dynasty of Uruk, and again Gilgame&#353 [have the same title] in the king-list.
The statement of Lugalkingene&#353dudu (ca. beginning 24th century), "he owns the Enship (Nam-En) of Uruk and the Kingship (Nam-Lugal) of Ur" is a characteristic for the connection of En and Uruk. Only one time, at the reign of Enshekushanna of Uruk (ca end of 25th century) the title "En of Sumer"(En Ki-En-Gi) appears.

Epigraphically En is earlier attested then Lugal. The cuneiform sign is found in texts from UrukIVa, at the time of the archaic Sumerian "high culture". The personal name "The En fills the Kulaba", from archaic Ur, shows the high prestige of the title En outside of Uruk.
The title En as a title for a priest was often used in Ur (since Akkadian times). Here it is the high priestess of Nanna, city-god of Ur, who used the title. If the En of Uruk was a ruler with a female city-god, Inanna, the title En would necessarily be opposite in gender to the city-god.
The En of Uruk-Kulaba was probably more involved into cultic functions then the Lugal, and so, the figure of the priest displayed in priestly functions on cylinder seals from UrukIV layers is to be identified as the En.

Important for Uruk was that the high priest also was the leader of the city, so he had also command over the military forces.
The politcal aspect of En only shows up in the stories of Lugalbanda and Gilgamesh. In cities like Ur or Girsu (the main city of the state of Lagash) the Lugal or Ensi didn't unify the highest cultic and worldly functions in one person from the beginning. Under Entemena of Lagash in Girsu there was a highpriest of the city-god Ningirsu, called Sangu who stood next to the Ensi. But this is a relatively late reference (end of 25th century).

*A classic note on the En is in Kramer's the Sumerians pg. 141, which states that while the Sanga was the administrative head of the temple, the En was the spiritual head of the temple who:

"..lived in a part of the temple known as the Gipar. The en's, it seems, could be women as well as men, depending upon the sex of the deity to whom their service were dedicated. Thus in Erech's main temple, the Eanna, of which the goddess Inanna became the main deity, the en was a man; the hero's Enmerker and Gilgamesh were originally designated en's though they may also have been kings and were certainly great military leaders. The en of the Ekishnugal in Ur, whose main deity was the moon-god, Nanna, was a woman and usually the daughter of the reigning monarch of Sumer. (We actually have the names of almost all, if not all, the en's of the Ekishnugal from the days of Sargon the Great.)

The Merging of En and Lugal:

Oppenheim calls the relationship between these two functions "complex" and "ill-defined" and referring back to Jacobsen 1970, pg. 144, its explained thats the distinctions between these roles is in fact sometimes blurred. "The related tendencies of kings and lords [en's] to strengthen their position by ruthlessly suppressing all rivals may be seen as a reason why in the various regions of Mesopotamia, as we find them in the epics, only one ruler, either a "king" or a "lord," is met with. With the regional unification of power in one hand goes a gradual merging of the various functions of the two offices, for all of them were needed for a community to thrive. The general warlike conditions would, in the case of the "lord," stress his powers of maintaining order and expand his police powers to full military scope. The "king" on th other hand, could not well disregard internal administrative and economic problems in his realm and would thus naturally came to assume also the "lord's" responsibilities for fertility and abundant crops. Thus the magic and ritual responsibilities were added to his earlier military and judiciary functions to form the combination so characteristic of later Mesopotamian kingship."


In rank, Ensi was lower then Lugal and En. Ensi's were called rulers that reigned independently over a city and the surrounding lands, or rulers, that were dependent from another king.This limitation of the title Ensi shows an inscription of Eanatum of Lagash;, who said that he owned "...additionally to the ensi-ship of Lagash the kingship of Kish". The rulers of Umma called themselves Lugal in their inscriptions, but from the view of Lagash they were called Ensi´s.

Further Perspective on En's:

Why the En makes such an appearance in Jacobsen's 1970 study "Toward the image of Tammuz" because apparent in referring to his note one page 375, n.32:

"The en's basic responsibility is toward fertility and abundance, achieved through the rite of "sacred marriage" in which the en participated as bride or bridegroom of a deity.In cities where the chief deity was a goddess, as in Uruk and Aratta, the en was male (akkadian enum) and attained, because of the economic importance of his office, to a position of major political importance as "ruler"." In cities where the chief deity was male, as in Ur, the en was a woman, (Akkadian enum or entum) and therefore, while important religiously, did not attain a ruler's position. Whether male and politically important as a ruler, or female and only cultically important, the en lived in a building of sacred character, the Giparu. Where the en was male and a ruler that building in time took on the features of an administrative center, a palace (see the epics of "Enmerker and the Lord of Aratta" and of "Enmerker and Ensukeshdanna"). Where the en was female this did not happen (Ur)."
In regards the Sacred Marriage, Jacobsen quotes a line from TRS 60: "At the lapis-lazuli door which stands in the Giparu she (Inannak) met the end, at the narrow(?) door of the storehouse which stands in Eannak she me Dumuzid.....The connection between the en and Giparu ["storehouse"] are made clear by the text as a whole, which, dealing with the "sacred marriage" shows it to be a rite celebrating the bringing in of the harvest. It describes first how Inannak, the bride, is decked out for her wedding with freshly harvested date clusters, which represent her jewelry and personal adornments. She then goes to receive her bridegroom, the en, Dumuzid, at the door of the Giparu- this opening of the door for the bridegroom by the bride was the main symbolic act of the Sumerian wedding, see BASOR 102 (1946 15- and has him led into the Giparu, where the bed for the sacred marriage is set up.......Summing up we may say thus that-at least in Uruk- the en lives in the storehouse, the Giparu, because the crops are in the storehouse and the en is the human embodiment of the generative power, Dumuzid or Amaushumgalanak, which produces and informs them."

Enheduanna and en-priestesses (and princesses):

The Gipar at Ur was uncovered by Woolley and was found to be a self-contained residence with kitchens, ceremonial rooms etc and even a crypt. The was the residence of the en priestesses and a bedroom was incorporated within the shrine which presumably relates to the Sacred Marriage ritual. J.N Postgate (1992 ph.130) relays: "The earliest En known to us was a daughter of Sargon of Akkad called Enheduana. She is also the most famous, since she is one of the very few authors of a Mesopotamian literary work whose name is known, but she was followed by a long line of important ladies, most if not all of whom were close relatives of the current royal family. Thus among others we find the daughters of Naram-Sin of Akkad, Ur-Bau of Lagash;, Ur-Nammu, $ulgi, (and probably subsequent Ur III kings),Ishme-dagan of Isin, and Kudu-mabuk - the last being sister of Warad-Sin and Rim-sin of Larsa. The memory lived on for well over a thousand years, when the last king of Babylon, Nabonidus, in a consciously traditional gesture made his daughter priestess of the moon-god at Ur."


The GAR.ÉNSI of Adab


gar.énsi (nig2-pa-te-si)



[1] It is tempting to use the titles of rulers as a criterion for dating the Adab rulers, since the writing GAR.énsi looks like an archaism. But the GAR.énsi title in Adab was used consistently from the time of Nin-kisal-si down to that of E-igi-nim-pa-è, who would be closest to the Akkadian era.
Elsewhere, the same title was used by Sá-tam, Ruler of Uruk, during early Sargonic times. It therefore seems clear that the GAR.énsi title is not an archaism, but simply a (regional?) pecularity.Concerning the list i have drawn together above, i have not included in it the ruler named Lum-ma, despite the fact that his name is found on two votive inscriptions from Adab (A208 and A 217),one of which describes him as PA.SI.GAR. Lum-ma´s title was written PA.SI.GAR and PA.GAR.TE.SI, instead of the standart GAR.PA.TE.SI of the other Adab rulers; his title was never followed by the qualification "of Adab". These data would seem to indicate that Lum-ma was not a local ruler of Adab, but a ruler from another city who placed votive vessels in the E-sar temple.

[1] "Adab" by Yang Zhi


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