ENSI


ENSI

Énsi or ensí (spelled PA.TE.SI in Sumerian cuneiform, hence occasionally transliterated as patesi; possibly derived from <en si-k>, "lord of the plowland" [John Allan Halloran: Sumerian Lexicon. Logogram Publishing, Los Angeles (Cal.) 2006.] ; borrowed into Akkadian as "iššakkum") is a Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince of a city-state. Originally it may have designated an independent ruler, but in later periods the title presupposed subbordinance to a "lugal" (King).

For the Early Dynastic period (about 2800–2350 BC), the meaning of the Sumerian titles EN, ENSI and LUGAL can't be differentiated clearly yet, see "Lugal, ensi and en" for details. "Énsi" may have originally been a designation of the ruler restricted to Lagash and Umma. [Horst Klengel (Hrsg.): Kulturgeschichte des alten Vorderasiens. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1989.] The "énsi" was considered a representative of the city state's patron deity. [Saggs, H. W. F. 1988, The Greatness That Was Babylon (revised edition)] In later periods, an "énsi" was normally seen as subordinate to a "lugal" (king). Nevertheless, even the powerful rulers of the Second Dynasty of Lagash (about 2100) such as Gudea were satisfied with the title "énsi".

In Ur III times (about 2100–2000 BC) "énsi" referred to the provincial governors of the Kingdom. These had great powers in terms of government, tax revenues and jurisdiction, but they were supervised, installed, and dismissed by the King ("lugal") of Ur. Although the office could be inherited, that had to be endorsed by the King. No independent foreign policy or warfare were allowed [Dietz Otto Edzard: Geschichte Mesopotamiens. C.H. Beck, München 2004.] .

In the city state of Ashur, the hereditary ruler bore the Akkadian language version of the title "énsi", while the patron deity was regarded as "šarrum" ("King").

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