Not modern: pregnancy out of wedlock, runaway dads!

I don’t know why, but some people think we’re plagued with some kind of weird modern problem when it comes to pregnancy out of wedlock, and fathers running off when they get somebody pregnant. I have no idea why.

At that time the maiden was advised by her own mother, Ninlil was advised by Nun-bar-še-gunu: “The river is holy, woman! The river is holy — don’t bathe
in it! Ninlil, don’t walk along the bank of the Id-nunbir-tum! His eye is bright, the lord’s eye is bright, he will look at you! The Great Mountain, Father
Enlil — his eye is bright, he will look at you! The shepherd who decides all destinies — his eye is bright, he will look at you! Straight away he will
want to have intercourse, he will want to kiss! He will be happy to pour lusty semen into the womb, and then he will leave you to it!”

ETCSL Trans. 1.2.1, “Enlil and Ninlil”

This is part of a mythological poem from Sumer, tied for the earliest appearance of writing in the world, the composition in question is 4000-5000 years old. So even as far back in the day as we have records, mothers are advising their daughters to watch out for that man, well, a god in this case.

To briefly summarize, Enlil is the main Sumerian deity. Ninlil’s mother advises her, as quoted previously, she ignores the advice, and Enlil does indeed have sex with her, the way this is accomplished isn’t exactly clear, but his servant somehow arranges it. To be fair to Enlil, he didn’t leave of his own volition, he was arrested and banished from the city. Ninlil follows, and Enlil transforms himself into, or perhaps impersonates, three other personages, who each have sex with Ninlil. That resulted in the birth of three deities, generally connected with the underworld, apparently this was necessary to allow the initial intercourse to produce the moon god.

What’s particularly interesting is that we’re dealing with not just a myth of the ancient world, but something from the dawn of human literature. But why should that matter? It’s an interesting curiosity, perhaps of academic interest, but surely not much more. Well, to be perfectly honest, I am largely presenting this series of posts for the curiosity of it all, but I do think there’s a larger point, and that’s why I started with this topic.

You’ll recall that I said at the beginning that some people see “teen pregnancy” as a uniquely modern problem, “that didn’t happen in OUR DAY”. Clearly it did. This should be fairly obvious without obscure ancient citations, but again, we’re not just dealing with any old thing, pun intended, but with something from the beginnings of literature. Not only was it happening, but somebody thought it was significant enough to write about it. So remember that while you’re reading about the sex and stuff that’ll be coming up. Times probably weren’t like you think they were.

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