Sunday, June 3, 2012

Aesop Undoubtedly Oriental in Origin



Ahiqar or Ahikar was an Assyrian sage known in the ancient Near East for his outstanding wisdom.
The Story of Ahikar, also known as the Words of Ahikar, has been found in an Aramaic papyrus of 500 B.C. among the ruins of Elephantine. The narrative of the initial part of the story is expanded greatly by the presence of a large number of wise sayings and proverbs that Ahikar is portrayed as speaking to his nephew. It is suspected by most scholars that these sayings and proverbs were originally a separate document, as they do not mention Ahikar. Some of the sayings are similar to parts of the Biblical Book of Proverbs, others to the deuterocanonical Wisdom of Sirach, and others still to Babylonian and Persian proverbs. The collection of sayings is in essence a selection from those common in the Middle East at the time.
Achiacharus is the name occurring in the Book of Tobit as that of a nephew of Tobit (Tobias) and an official at the court of Esarhaddon at Nineveh. There are references in Romanian, Slavonic, Armenian, Arabic and Syriac literature to a legend, of which the hero is Ahikar for Armenian (ԽիկարXikar), Arabic and Syriac. It was pointed out by scholar George Hoffmann in 1880 that this Ahikar and the Achiacharus of Tobit are identical. It has been contended that there are traces of the legend even in the New Testament, and there is a striking similarity between it and the Life of Aesopby Maximus Planudes (ch. xxiii-xxxii). An eastern sage Achaicarus is mentioned by Strabo. It would seem, therefore, that the legend was undoubtedly oriental in origin, though the relationship of the various versions can scarcely be recovered.

No comments:

Post a Comment