The Gods Rich in Praise: Early Greek and Mesopotamian Religious Poetry

Hardcover | May 30, 2015

byChristopher Metcalf

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Many scholars today believe that early Greek literature, as represented by the great poems of Homer and Hesiod, was to some extent inspired by texts from the neighbouring civilizations of the ancient Near East, especially Mesopotamia. It is true that, in the case of religious poetry, earlyGreek poets sang about their gods in ways that resemble those of Sumerian or Akkadian hymns from Mesopotamia, but does this mean that the latter influenced the former, and if so, how? This volume is the first to attempt an answer to these questions by undertaking a detailed study of the ancienttexts in their original languages, from Sumerian poetry in the 20th century BC to Greek sources from the times of Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, and Aeschylus. The Gods Rich in Praise presents the core groups of sources from the ancient Near East, describing the main features of style and content of Sumerian and Akkadian religious poetry, and showing how certain compositions were translated and adapted beyond Mesopotamia. It proceeds by comparing selectedelements of form and content: hymnic openings, negative predication, the birth of Aphrodite in the Theogony of Hesiod, and the origins and development of a phrase in Hittite prayers and the Iliad of Homer. The volume concludes that, in terms of form and style, early Greek religious poetry wasprobably not indebted to ancient Near Eastern models, but also argues that such influence may nevertheless be perceived in certain closely defined instances, particularly where supplementary evidence from other ancient sources is available, and where the extant sources permit a reconstruction of theprocess of translation and adaptation.

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Many scholars today believe that early Greek literature, as represented by the great poems of Homer and Hesiod, was to some extent inspired by texts from the neighbouring civilizations of the ancient Near East, especially Mesopotamia. It is true that, in the case of religious poetry, earlyGreek poets sang about their gods in ways that ...

Christopher Metcalf is the Junior Research Fellow in Lesser Known Languages and Scripts of the Ancient World at Wolfson College, University of Oxford.

other books by Christopher Metcalf

Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.1 inPublished:May 30, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198723369

ISBN - 13:9780198723363

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsAbbreviationsConventionsIntroduction1. Sumerian Hymns of the Old Babylonian Period2. Akkadian Hymns of the Old Babylonian Period3. The Hittite Evidence in the Light of the Old Babylonian Sources4. Introductory Remarks on the Early Greek and Mesopotamian Sources5. Hymnic Openings6. A Case of Negative Predication7. Variations on the Names of the Goddess8. Sumerian and Hittite Notes on Iliad 1.62-4ConclusionCatalogue A: Old Babylonian HymnsCatalogue B: Old Babylonian Akkadian HymnsCatalogue C: Hittite HymnsCatalogue D: Greek Hymns and AuthorsReferences