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Debate between the Hoe and the Plough

Sumerian disputation

The Debate between the Hoe and the Plough is a Sumerian disputation, a topical short story, created in the middle to late 3rd millennium BCE.

QuotesEdit

 
O the Hoe, the Hoe, the Hoe, tied together with thongs;
the Hoe, made from poplar, with a tooth of ash;
the Hoe, made from tamarisk, with a tooth of sea-thorn;
the Hoe, double-toothed, four-toothed;
the Hoe, child of the poor.
 
The shepherd adorns the plain with his ewes and lambs.
  • O the Hoe, the Hoe, the Hoe, tied together with thongs;
    the Hoe, made from poplar, with a tooth of ash;
    the Hoe, made from tamarisk, with a tooth of sea-thorn;
    the Hoe, double-toothed, four-toothed;
    the Hoe, child of the poor.
  • The mortar lies still while the pestle pounds.
    People fight with grinding stones.
    The sieve disputes with the strainer.
    What have you done to the one who is angry?
    Why are you scornful of Ezina?
    • The Storm.
  • Hoe, do not start getting so mightily angry!
    Do not be so mightily scornful!
    Is not Nisaba the Hoe's inspector?
    Is not Nisaba its overseer?
    The scribe will register your work.

The HoeEdit

 
The abundance I create spreads over all the lands.
  • What does my being small matter to me,
    what does my being exalted matter to me,
    what does my being powerful matter to me?
    At Enlil's place I take precedence over you,
    in Enlil's temple I stand ahead of you.
    • To the Plough.
  • I build embankments, I dig ditches. I fill all the meadows with water. When I make water pour into all the reed-beds, my small baskets carry it away. When a canal is cut, or when a ditch is cut, when water rushes out at the swelling of a mighty river, creating lagoons on all sides, I, the Hoe, dam it in. Neither south nor north wind can separate it. The fowler gathers eggs. The fisherman catches fish. People empty bird-traps. Thus the abundance I create spreads over all the lands.
  • Your work is slight but your behaviour is grand.
    • To the Plough.
  • I plant a garden for the householder. When the garden has been encircled, surrounded by mud walls and the agreements reached, people again take up a hoe. When a well has been dug, a water lift constructed and a water-hoist hung, I straighten the plots. I am the one who puts water in the plots. After I have made the apple-tree grow, it is I who bring forth its fruits. These fruits adorn the temples of the great gods: thus I enable the gardener to support his wife and children.
  • After I have worked on the watercourse and the sluices, put the path in order and built a tower there on its banks, those who spend the day in the fields, and the field-workers who match them by night, go up into that tower. These people revive themselves there just as in their well-built city. The water-skins I made they use to pour water. I put life into their hearts again.

The PloughEdit

  • I am the Plough, fashioned by great strength, assembled by great hands, the mighty registrar of father Enlil. I am mankind's faithful farmer. To perform my festival in the fields in the harvest month, the king slaughters cattle and sacrifices sheep, and he pours beer into a bowl. ... The ub and ala drums resound. The king takes hold of my handles, and harnesses my oxen to the yoke. All the great high-ranking persons walk at my side. All the lands gaze at me in great admiration. The people watch me in joy. … My threshing-floors punctuating the plain are yellow hillocks radiating beauty. I pile up stacks and mounds for Enlil. I amass emmer and wheat for him. I fill the storehouses of mankind with barley. The orphans, the widows and the destitute take their reed baskets and glean my scattered ears. People come to drag away my straw, piled up in the fields. The teeming herds of Cakkan thrive.
  • Hoe, digging miserably, weeding miserably with your teeth; Hoe, burrowing in the mud; Hoe, putting its head in the mud of the fields, spending your days with the brick-moulds in mud with nobody cleaning you, digging wells, digging ditches, digging! Wood of the poor man's hand, not fit for the hands of high-ranking persons, the hand of a man's slave is the only adornment of your head.

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