Of special interest are two works of the 16th century Netherlands artist Peter Bruegel the elder. The artist's famous painting of the battle of Carnival and Lent contains a scene better displayed in
his woodcut "The Dirty Bride" or the "Marriage of Mopsus and Nisa." In the engraving, the coarse,
bedraggled bride being led from a shabby nuptial tent is Nisa, while the prancing groom who leads her out is Mopsus. At Carnival, for a moment, people felt a world turned upside down. This gave
the regular world the chance to stand right side up. In the print shown here as an inset, which was engraved by Pieter van der Heyden and published by Hieronymus Cock in 1570, a Latin
inscription was added below the image that translates "Mopsus marries Nisa, what may not we lovers hope for"—i.e., anything can happen.
The modern secular Zeitgeist has lost appreciation for the power and work of the Carnival. Carnival witnessed to the reality of spiritual and archetypal forces at work in the world, and it collected
and contained negative forces in a boundaried and limited experience. Texts such as Ezekiel 16 describe the sins of God's people by making recourse to carnivalesque archetypal images. Ezekiel may
even picture the perverse breaking down of Carnival boundaries, with negative forces spilling out into common ordinary time. In any case, just as the modernist PC world cannot appreciate the
excesses of the premodern carnival, it finds itself helpless to do anything but condemn the carnivalesque images of Ezek 16. But Bakhtin understood the creative energy, the space for
new voices, for new cosmic openness and malleability of Carnival. Carnival witnesses that the defeat of evil might become definitive, that God's people might be reborn as a beautiful
bride both pure and wild.
Bodi: the Erra Epic describes the city of Uruk and its orgies and disorders, an ancient center of the goddess Ištar and her cult (Erra IV 52-62).
52 In Uruk, the seat of Anum and Ištar, a city of prostitutes, courtesans and hierodules (kezrē[ti] šamḫātu u ḫarimā[ti])
53 whom Ištar deprived of husbands and whom she put under their own authority,
54 the Sutû men and women vociferate,
55 They (the invaders) summon Eanna, the transvestites and cultic dancers (kurgarri u issinn[i] ša Ištar zikruššunu utēru [SAL]-ti)
56 Whose masculinity Ištar has turned to femininity to make the people reverent.
57 Those who carry dagger, razor, scalpel and flint blade,
58 Who regularly do [forbidden things asakku akālu] to delight Ištar's heart.
Hibbert has pointed out that the Ištar festival was celebrated as late as the Hellenistic times. One text (BRM I, 99:37-39) mentions several members of Ištar's cultic personnel such as the
kurgarrû, the assinnu and the singers who are paid six šeqels of silver for the first day of the procession. This text is important for Ezekiel studies as it confirms the presence of the Ištar
festival at the time of the Judean golâ in Babylon. Ezekiel, an exilic prophet who lived and exercised his activity near Nippur might have drawn some inspiration from such public ceremonies in
the elaboration of some of his unusual, sexual descriptions in Ezek. 16 and 23.