Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Greeks substituted goddess Athene for angel Raphael (Azarias)


The Son’s Travels

(a) The Heavenly Visitor

The prayers of Tobit and Sarah, on the one hand, and of Odysseus and Penelope, on the other, were heard. Almighty God appointed the angel Raphael to assist the former two. And Zeus (supreme god of the Greeks) appointed the goddess Athene to assist the latter two.

With Odysseus still languishing as Calypso’s captive, and the suitors at play back at his home, “the almighty Father” sent Athene to Ithaca. “… she bound under her feet her lovely sandals of untarnished gold, which carried her with the speed of the wind …. Thus she flashed down from the heights of Olympus. On reaching Ithaca she took her stand on the threshhold of the court in front of Odysseus’ house; and to look like a visitor she assumed the appearance of a Taphian chieftain named Mentes, a bronze spear in hand (I, 27-28).

The reader will quickly be able to pick up the similarities between this text and this relevant part of the Book of Tobit: “The prayer of [Tobit and Sara] was heard in the presence of the glory of the great God. And Raphael was sent (3:16, 17)”. “Then Tobias … found a beautiful young man, standing girded, as it were ready to walk. And not knowing that he was an angel of God, he saluted him …. ‘I am Azarias, the son of the great Ananias’” (5:5, 6, 18).

(b) The Questioning

Tobit had interrogated the angel about the latter’s identity, asking: ‘My brother, to what tribe and family do you belong? Tell me …’ (5:9-12). Later Raguel would do the same: ‘Where are you from brethren? …. Do you know our brother Tobit? …. Is he in good health?’ (7:3, 4). [Cf. Isaiah 39:3; Judith 5:3, 4; Jonah 1:8].

In the Odyssey, too, the pattern is again most frequent, almost monotonous but with a Greek seafaring slant – e.g. the mention of a “vessel”). Telemachus, for instance, quizzes Athene: ‘However, do tell me who you are and where you come from. What is your native town? Who are your people? And since you certainly cannot have come on foot, what kind of vessel brought you here? (I, 29). [Cf. also pp. 72; 118; 164; 175; 208; 220].

Athene then replied to Telemachus, using a phrase that I suggest may have come straight out of the Book of Tobit, towards the end of which story the angel Raphael says (emphasis added in both cases): I will not conceal anything from you’ (12:11). Thus Athene: “‘I will tell you everything’, answered the bright-eyed goddess Athene. ‘My father was the wise prince, Anchialus. My own name is Mentes, and I am a chieftain of the sea-faring Taphians’.” Now Anchialus, the name that Athene (in masculine guise) gave for her presumed father, has at least a vague resemblance to the name, Ananias, which the angel Raphael (also in masculine guise) attributed to his presumed father from the tribe of Naphtali. Athene also describes herself as a Taphian, in which name we might perhaps also glimpse Naphtalian.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Prophet Elijah as Greek Myrtilus

Taken from:

Pelops, Ahab and the





John R. Salverda


Elijah as Myrtilus

Myrtilus (a name suspiciously like another Hittite name of the same era, 'Mursilis' TISHBITE in Hebrew "Tishbi" implying from the settlement of Teshub. There is a play-on-words here. Tishbi uses the same letters that spell "Tashuv" i.e. return or repent. Elijah exhorted the Israelites to repent. Coincidently, "Teshub" was also the name of the chief god of the Hittites.) also was murdered, and in his case it was said to be accusations, that were lodged against him by Hippodameia, thus manipulating Pelops into committing the crime. This is the method employed by the Biblical Ahab and Jezebel against Naboth, but Jezebel brought accusations against, and called for the death of, someone else as well, one who was a bit more like the Greek Myrtilus, the great prophet Elijah. The greatness of Elijah, as portrayed in the Jewish literature, is not reflected in the mythological figure of Myrtilus, but the myth is a biased version of the Scriptural story, as told presumably, by the sons and followers of Ahab whom, we would not expect to honor Elijah. Even so, the sons of Pelops had to admit that the 'traitor' Myrtilus, did have some very Elijah-like attributes. The curse, for instance, that Myrtilus proclaimed against the house of Pelops, turned out to be a true prophecy. Myrtilus was acknowledged as a prophet, he was said to be one of 'the sons of Hermes,' (Hermes, the serpent stick carrying messenger of god, has elsewhere been identified as the Greek version of Moses, who in turn was sometimes referred to as 'Nebo,' meaning the 'prophet.' ) Similarly Elijah, as many believe, is supposed to have belonged to an organization that was called, 'the sons of the prophets,' (2KI 4:1.) .

'And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king's sons. And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning.' (2KI 10:8) The Scriptural story about the 'heads' is almost certainly true, and it must have had a lasting traumatic effect on the psyche of those followers of Ahab who fled to Greece and told the tale of Pelops, for this morbid display is attested to in the Greek myths as well. Oenomaus, the myth relates, cut off the heads of those who dared to contest him in the chariot chase and lost. These heads he exhibited on the gate of his palace and the story specifically mentions the regret felt by Pelops upon seeing the 'faces' on display. (According to Hyginus, Fab. 84, when Pelops saw the heads of the unsuccessful suitors nailed over the door, he started to regret his impudence. He therefore appealed to Myrtilus, the charioteer of Oenomaus, promising half of the kingdom if he would change his affiliation and collaborate with him.) Ahab's corresponding regret, (appealing to Elijah, just as Pelops had appealed to Myrtilus) famously portrayed in the Scriptures (1 Kings 21:17-29) as an act of true repentance, resulted in a postponement of reckoning for his sin which would be imposed instead upon his sons, the same sons whose heads made up the grisly exhibition here referred to. It could be argued that Ahab himself did not actually 'see' the heads, however this argument could be refuted by saying that Ahab was afforded a 'vision' of the retribution visited upon his sons through the Prophet ('seer') Elijah.

In the Scriptures, the heads were also displayed because of a lost chariot chase, in this case it was Jehu (anointed by Elijah 1Kings 19:15,16) who furiously drove his chariot on behalf of the Almighty to work out His revenge for the death of Naboth. Jehu overtook his opponent's chariot piercing him through the heart and that is why the heads were on display. These heads were indeed the heads of the other suitors for the throne, the sons of Ahab. The Biblical quote runs thusly; '' And Jehoram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out against Jehu, and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite. ... And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms, and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sunk down in his chariot. Then said Jehu ' Take up, and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite: for ' Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, saith THE ALMIGHTY; and I will requite thee in this plat, saith THE ALMIGHTY. Now therefore take and cast him into the plat of ground, according to the word of THE ALMIGHTY. But when Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled ... And Jehu followed after him, and said, Smite him also in the chariot.' (II Kings 9:21-28) The chariot killing of Ahaziah the king of Judah and grandson of Ahab even more closely parallels the killing of the suitors by Oenomaus because, although it is difficult to piece together the different accounts, (compare 2 Chron. 22 :7-9), it is apparent that Ahaziah fled and was captured by the men of Jehu, then Jehu ordered Ahaziah to be placed in his chariot so that he could be killed in it, then he was granted a head start. Ahaziah was mortally wounded as he fled to Megiddo, where he died of his wounds, he was buried in Jerusalem. So it was a kind of chase, as in the Greek myth.

Obviously the men of Ahab (the Achaeans) held Elijah (Myrtilus) in low esteem, considering him to be a traitor. However Ahab, as was true of all Hittite rulers,(in accordance with a known Hittite document restricting the absolute power of Hittite kings, called the "Edict of Telipinus") did not have absolute power (Jezebel, the daughter of a different kind of King, did not seem to understand this.). He was required to justify his decisions to the royal clan (comprised of princes, royal cousins, the priesthood, elders of the state, and others of prestige). Elijah was highly respected and Ahab could not hate him openly. When Elijah admonished Ahab, the King had to clearly and visibly display his repentance, not just out of fear of the curse but also in order to maintain the loyalty of the clan. Pelops as well is said to have regretted his treatment of Myrtilus, and after the death of the seer, Pelops is said to have introduced and enforced the worship of Hermes (the Greek Moses), the supposed father of Myrtilus, among the Achaeans. Pelops built a few shrines to Hermes, and even instituted some of the rites and rituals that were advocated by Hermes, such as maintaining an ark which contained the fleece of the sacrificed golden lamb (indicating the lamb of god no doubt) the purpose of which was to justify the Pelopid dynasty (an obvious parallel to the Mosaic Ark of the Covenant, containing the Messianic promise and justifying the Davidic dynasty). And in fact, there was a more honorable opinion of Myrtilus that was known to the ancient Greeks. Pindar, and other early writers, say that it was Poseidon's gift of the flying chariot that won the race for Pelops, not the treachery of the seer Myrtilus. Pindar describes how god bestowed on Pelops a chariot with winged steeds. 'Honoring him, the god gave him a golden chariot, and horses with untiring wings. He overcame the might of Oenomaus, and took the girl as his bride.' (Pindar, Olympian 1. 85) On a chest at Olympia the horses of Pelops in the chariot race were represented with wings (Paus. 5.17.7). The earliest mention of Myrtilus' treachery is to be found in the writings of Pherecydes in the 5th century BC. and, at any rate, Myrtilus was respected by many and was not unanimously despised even by the Achaeans (the men of Ahab).

It may be argued by some that Naboth was not like Oenomaus in that he is not associated with driving a chariot, and that his death did not involve a chariot race. True enough, for although the portion of the Scriptures that involves Ahab, is full of chariotry, and Ahab is portrayed as "contesting" with Naboth over his vineyard, the particular chapter of Naboth's murder does not involve a chariot. However, that argument overlooks the fact that the foremost clash, and overarching theme outlined in that section of the Scriptures is the contest between the polytheism of Ahab against the Monotheism of Elijah and incidentally of Naboth, whom Elijah had sided with against Ahab. The climax of this clash was the contest at mount Carmel which culminated with a very famous chariot race between Ahab and Elijah (in which Elijah miraculously succeeded although on foot). A more careful reading of the Greek myth reveals that Oenomaus, the Greek Naboth was not the driver of his own chariot he was merely riding along, and that his chariot was actually driven by his charioteer Myrtilus, the Greek Elijah, 'the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.' Notice that Elijah is referred to Scripturally as the "horseman of the chariot," not just a rider in the chariot, but its' horseman. Thus it is not unreasonable to conclude that Elijah was envisioned in his heavenly translation as not merely being picked up by it, but rather that he was ensconced in the heavenly chariot as it's charioteer. "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces." (2 Kings 2:11,12) Oddly Josephus himself seems to doubt the story of the heavenly chariot, saying of Elijah only, that no one knows of his death, "Now at this time it was that Elijah disappeared from among men, and no one knows of his death to this very day; but he left behind him his disciple Elisha, as we have formerly declared. And indeed, as to Elijah, and as to Enoch, who was before the deluge, it is written in the sacred books that they disappeared, but so that nobody knew that they died." (Antiquities, 9). At any rate it does seem reasonable for some to blame (or credit as the source my be) Jezebel, who called for his death and caused his exile, for his "disappearance."

After the chariot/foot race from Mount Carmel of Ahab and Elijah, Jezebel called for the immediate death of Elijah. Elijah himself prayed for his own death at that time (never-the-less the Scriptures have Elijah out living Ahab). Likewise the death of the seer Myrtilus was called for by Hippodameia. In both cases the last day of the great prophet/seer was spent in a flying chariot supplied by God/god. However in the myth told by the Achaeans the flying chariot was supplied to Pelops and it was he who invited the seer to take a ride in it. As they were flying high in the heavens Pelops killed Myrtilus by Kicking him out.

The prophecies of Myrtilus continued to come true for generations after his earthly departure. Like Elijah, Myrtilus did not lose consciousness after death, he even, again like Elijah, came back occasionally to preside over the death of the cursed dynasty, especially royal chariot deaths, for as some say, that the ghost of Myrtilus was the 'horse scarer' in the Hippodrome at Olympia. Myrtilus, also like Elijah, was translated into heaven at his death, where he was placed in the heavenly chariot which is known to this very day as the constellation called, 'Auriga,' or as we say, 'the charioteer.' Here perhaps, the Greek myth has a more 'logical' explanation for the story of Elijah's apotheosis and the fiery chariot of the Heavenly God.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Description of our AMAIC Sites

Read all of these at:

Lost Cultural Foundations of Western Civilisation

Description. "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews". (John 4:22)

A companion to the previous site. Much of Western culture, mythology and religion has been appropriated from the cultures of the Fertile Crescent region, especially from the Hebrews (Jews).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bengt Sage Thinks Sumerian God Anu May Be Noah


Noah and Human Etymology
As traditions of the universal flood spread around the world with the post-Ararat migrations, the venerable name of Noah traveled with them.1 This seems especially evident by way of the ancient Sanskrit language and the name Manu. The Sanskrit term may in turn have come from an equivalent word in the so-called "Proto-Indo-European" language.
Manu was the name of the flood hero in the traditions of India. He, like Noah, is said to have built an ark in which eight people were saved. It is highly probable that Noah and Manu were thus the same individual. "Ma" is an ancient word for "water," so that Manu could mean "Noah of the waters." In the Hebrew Old Testament, the words "water" and "waters" are both translations of mayim, with the syllable yim being the standard Hebrew plural ending.

The "ma" prefix could well be the original form of mar and mer (Spanish and French for, "sea," both from the Latin mare) and thus of such English words as "marine."

In Sanskrit, the name Manu appropriately came to mean "man" or "mankind" (since Manu, or Noah, was the father of all post-flood mankind). The word is related to the Germanic Mannus,2 the founder of the West Germanic peoples. Mannus was mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus in his book Germania.3 Mannus is also the name of the Lithuanian Noah.4 Another Sanskrit form, manusa is closely related to the Swedish manniska,5 both words meaning "human being."

The same name may even be reflected in the Egyptian Menes (founder of the first dynasty of Egypt) and Minos (founder and first king of Crete). Minos was also said in Greek mythology to be the son of Zeus and ruler of the sea.6

The English word "man" is thus also related to the Sanskrit manu, as well as its equivalents in other Germanic languages. Gothic, the oldest known Germanic language, used the form Manna, and also gaman ("fellow man").

The name Anu appears in Sumerian as the god of the firmament, and the rainbow was called "the great bow of Anu,"7 which seems a clear reference to Noah (note Genesis 9:13). In Egyptian mythology Nu was the god of waters who sent an inundation to destroy mankind.8 Nu and his consort Nut were deities of the firmament and the rain. Nu was identified with the primeval watery mass of heaven, his name also meaning "sky."9

For complete article, see:

Constellations: legacy of the dispersion from Babel

Taken from:

There are deep similarities among diverse cultures in their constellations. The similarities stem from an origin at least as remote as the dispersion from Babel, and vastly pre-date cross-cultural missionary outreaches of recent centuries. Cultural differences in constellations have resulted from distinct developments in various people groups since the dispersion from Babel. Constellations appear to contain memories (in corrupted form) of ancient historical events such as the Flood, but evidence does not support the claim that the constellations were a kind of primeval revelation, a ‘gospel in the stars’.

Why do diverse cultures have similar constellations?
Peoples dispersing from Babel carried with them memories of historical events embedded in the stories linked with constellations
Figure 1. Peoples dispersing from Babel carried with them memories of historical events embedded in the stories linked with constellations.

If the biblical story of the dispersion from Babel were true, peoples from Babel would carry common ideas which might survive today in the cultures they founded after the dispersion. From a biblical point of view, therefore, any common denominator among diverse modern cultures is a possible indication that all peoples really did once live at a single place identified in the Bible as Babel. A common denominator crossing many cultures past and present is the prevalence of legends about the creation, the Flood and the dispersion from Babel. Flood legends are especially pervasive:
‘It is commonly understood that something like the story of Noah and the flood is part of the mythology of cultures around the globe. It is less widely realized that the unity of the world’s myths goes far beyond such basic similarities. So elaborate and intertwined are the mythic traditions in places as disparate as Mayan Central America, Viking Scandinavia, and Pharaonic Egypt, that it has for some decades been widely accepted among specialists in the field that a single mythic tradition, what Joseph Campbell called the monomyth, underlies all the discrete mythic traditions.’1
However, in today’s secular culture, nothing is supposed to point back to the true history of the Bible, especially to the creation, the Flood or the dispersion from Babel. Indications from science and history that the Bible might be accurate are vigorously denied, particularly for the events in Genesis chapters 1–11. Thus it is claimed that the development of constellation patterns is a kind of convergent cultural evolution that happened spontaneously in many cultures. Anthony F. Aveni, for example, ignores the cross-cultural links between constellations and restricts his focus to the Pleiades, which eases the way to supposing that in a kind of ‘convergent development’, the Pleiades pattern could have arisen spontaneously in many isolated cultures. He writes,
‘Among primitive societies, the Pleiades are often the only celestial group paid any attention. In Bali, the Pleiades and Orion’s Belt are the only stars people use to correct their lunar calendar. The Pleiades are also worshipped among aboriginal people who do not practice agriculture. This may be due to the coincidence of the first annual appearance of the group at the beginning of the rainy season. Developing civilizations could hardly fail to observe that wild fruits grew more plentifully and therefore that they would have more to eat after a heavy fall of rain than after a long drought. Hunters could learn of the migration of their prey as a function of the meteorological cycle. It would then be but a simple step to attribute the cause of certain terrestrial occurrences to these stars. Indeed, many of the aboriginal people of Australia regard the Pleiades not merely as a signal but instead as the cause of rain—an astrological rather than an astronomical function. They curse the Pleiades if their appearance in the sky is not immediately followed by a rainy period.’2
Aveni’s view is simplistic. Though no two cultures share constellations identical in every detail, nevertheless there are deep and basic similarities that have attracted the attention of secular researchers who give no credence to Genesis 1–11. Emphasizing the differences cannot erase the similarities, and these similarities are too wide-ranging to be due to coincidence alone. Therefore it is plausible to claim that ‘most cultures recognize more or less the same constellations.’3 The truth is that the constellations trace back to a time consistent with the chronology of Nimrod’s life, were arguably common knowledge at Babel, and have since been preserved among the world’s cultures.4

When did the constellations originate?

Using the spread of Western culture and missions to account for the cross-cultural similarity of constellations overlooks the existence of similarities in ancient constellations. As we will see, similarities in ancient constellations are a difficulty for conventional views of the past. On the other hand, having similarities among ancient constellations does not mean that ancient cultures had identical constellations. Biblical creationists have recognized these similarities as being connected with the dispersion from Babel.5
Even more, the existence of any similarity at all is damaging to the belief that isolated groups of primitive peoples evolved in different localities. In fact the constellations have no objective existence. The patterns that we call constellations are in the minds of the beholders, for the stars comprising them, with few exceptions, do not lie on the same plane in space. The stars that seem to be situated on the surface of the ‘celestial sphere’ are actually at various distances from us. This may be obvious to astronomers and other scientists, but laypeople are often unaware of the fact that
‘The stars of a constellation have no connection one with another apart from the fact that they happen to lie in approximately similar directions as seen from earth. A constellation is therefore an arbitrary or conventional grouping of stars. Indeed, the Chinese, for example, divided the sky up into groups different from those familiar to us.’6
Image from
An illustration from Camille Flammarion’s 1880 Astronomie Populaire.
Figure 2. An illustration from Camille Flammarion’s 1880 Astronomie Populaire.

With the thousands of stars visible to the naked eye, the probability of independently evolving cultures arriving at the same constellations by chance alone is remote. There is no evolutionary approach that explains how different cultures, supposedly developing in separate parts of the world, managed to imagine the same or similar star patterns in the sky. Conversely, the existence of even a few identical constellations suggests that all of mankind was once congregated at one point from which all ethnic groups dispersed.
Since the Bible describes such a dispersion scenario, at least some of the constellation similarities among ancient cultures represented shared ideas originating before mankind dispersed. While some post-dispersion borrowing may have occurred among adjacent cultures, borrowing cannot account for the existence of similarities between ancient Old and New World cultures now separated by the ocean. Even secular authorities place the origin of constellations at a time consistent with the biblical date for Babel. Astronomer and historian of science James Jeans wrote:
‘The earth wobbles as it rotates … so that the portion of the sky which can be seen from any portion of the earth’s surface is continually changing; that part in which the constellations bear ancient names is the part which could be seen from about latitude 40° N., in about the year 2750 BC, and this is thought to suggest that these constellations were grouped and named by the Babylonians of some such date. They are practically identical with our present-day constellations of the northern sky.’7
The biblical date for Babel is about 2300–2400 BC,8 comparable with the 2750 date that Jeans cited.
Jeans’ assessment was not new. In 1913, one writer noted that ‘[According to Maunder] there was a tradition that Taurus was the original leader in the zodiac; the equinox, therefore, was probably in Taurus when the constellations of the zodiac were formed, and this was the case between 4000 and 1700 BC9 Maunder himself claimed that ‘the [celestial] sphere was mapped out in North latitude 40° and about 2800 years BC10
This range of dates, especially the lower end, is consistent with a tight biblical chronology without ‘gaps’ which places the dispersion from Babel around 2300 BC.
Astronomer Michael Ovenden later confirmed a similar date of origin for the constellations. He ‘found the mean of the different dates from the various constellations to be 2800 BC ± 300 years … . There can … be no doubt that the constellations are, individually, oriented symmetrically with respect to the celestial poles of about 2800 BC11 More recently, astronomer William K. Hartmann concluded that the constellations as we know them date from sometime between 2600 ± 800 BC: ‘Many constellations may be Minoan … handed down to us from around 2600 BC, with still earlier elements incorporated into them. We should not assume that “it all started with the Greeks”.’12
Much of this range of dates, especially the lower end, is consistent with a tight biblical chronology without ‘gaps’ which places the dispersion from Babel around 2300 BC. Further, Hartmann is not saying that the constellations began with the Minoans, but that they continued the use of ‘earlier elements.’ This blending of ‘earlier elements’ into new cultural frameworks explains the modifications which became the differences now commonly taken as proof that the constellations were not shared among the early (post-Babel) cultures. Along this line, Evershed proposed that the Assyrians imposed major modifications on the original constellations:
‘Is it not possible that in the golden age of Assyrian astronomy, which began in the 8th century BC, many traditional forms were gathered together, and the whole sphere definitely mapped out; while at the same time, in the new calendar which was introduced under Nabonassar, the first month for the first time connected with the invisible group of Aries, in which the Sun was known to be, instead of with the group Taurus which appeared after his [the sun’s] setting in the west?’13
However, the Assyrians cannot be considered the originators of the constellations, even though this has been claimed. B.E. Schaefer, wrote,
‘I have found 172 useful constraints for Eudoxus’ lore [leading to the following conclusion]. … (1) All lore reported by Eudoxus were based on observations from the year 1130 ± 80 BC and at a latitude of 36.0 ± 0.9 degrees north. (2) My derived date and latitude correspond only to the peak of the Assyrian culture. (3) The typical accuracy of the lore is 4–8 degrees even though 1 degree accuracy is easy to be gotten by primitive methods. (4) About half the rise/set pairs [of recorded star positions] recorded in the Mesopotamian MUL.APIN tablets are also given in Eudoxus’ lore. (5) The
‘MUL.APIN tablets have been independently determined to be based on observations from roughly 1000 BC at a latitude of 36 degrees north … I conclude that both Eudoxus’ lore and MUL.APIN were derived from the same old Assyrian observations.’14
The low accuracy Schaefer perceives for the latitude of the lore also implies a low accuracy in the time inferred from the lore. Having focused on the MUL.APIN tablets as supplying the time frame for the lore, Schaefer inferred the latitude necessary from the lore to give him the time frame he expected, then concluded that the time frame matched the time of Assyria’s cultural dominance. His conclusion that the MUL.APIN tablets and Eudoxus derive from the same source is true, except that the ultimate source dates from c. 2800 BC (a date which should be revised downward by several centuries, as noted below), so could not have been Assyria. Nor could the Romans via Ptolemy have given us the constellations, for ‘Ptolemy’s catalogue bears witness to a constellation scheme that originated and had received its completion before his day.’15
Even the common belief that the constellations as we know them originated with the Greeks cannot be true.
‘[The Greek naturalist] Hipparchus was not the originator of the constellations. He had before him the description of the sky known as ‘The Sphere of Eudoxus’ (Eudoxus of Cnidos, c. 403–350 BC), and a poetic description of the sphere of Eudoxus given by Aratus (c. 315–250 BC) in the work known as the Phaenomenon. If [2800 BC for] the date of the constellations is correct, then Aratus and Hipparchus lie about half-way between us and the constellation-makers, and Hipparchus will be trying to fit what he sees with descriptions in the sphere of Eudoxus that are really appropriate to a situation 2500 years before his time.’16
Maunder likewise observed, ‘the correspondence between the Greek and Indian planispheres [sky maps] shows that one of them was copied from the other, or both from the same original model.’17

Constellation similarities are not coincidence

A number of historians have asserted that the very earliest cultures, those we would recognize as early post-dispersion peoples, did in fact employ the same constellations. Differences developed, but similarities remained. For example, historian Kenneth Brecher pointed out that
‘The Babylonians identify [Sirius] as part of a constellation which they describe as a bow and arrow. The Chinese independently described a bow and arrow in the sky, but they used different stars for their construction. For them, Sirius is part of the image at which the arrow is shooting; and curiously, the image at which that arrow is shooting is a dog. In Western tradition, Sirius is part of the constellation Canis Major, the Big Dog. It is remarkable that the same images—dogs, bows and arrows—occur in the cosmographies of different cultures; after all, if you look at the sky, you see only points of light on a dark field. … [This can be taken] as an indication that the astronomical myths of China and Mesopotamia derive from a common origin.’18
Historians Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend have also noted that the Orion motif is ‘common to the spheres of Mesopotamia, Egypt and China.’ Further, ‘there is strong circumstantial evidence of this bow and arrow in Mexico also: the bow of the Chichimeca, the Dog-people.’19 Orion with modifications was also recognized in ancient Iran and India,20 but modification is what one would expect for diffusing legends. Orion was also familiar to the ancient Norwegians,21 and Old Norse rock art depicted Orion.22
The Pleiades were another constellation known worldwide in ancient times, even among Australian aborigines: ‘In Aboriginal mythology there are many stories of the Pleiades: they are given female attributes and are known as seven sisters. In this there is a pronounced similarity to legends from all over the world.’23 But the Pleiades’ renown is not due to their prominence in the heavens: ‘Those stars are apparently only six’, with the seventh so dim at times so as to be unseen,
‘ … yet all the world over, among civilized and savage races, in Europe, in India, China, Japan, America, and Africa, this diminutive group is not merely regarded as seven stars, but what is still more surprising, as “The Seven Stars,” though the far brighter seven stars of the Great Bear might seem to deserve the title.’24
The Great Bear was also known worldwide in antiquity: ‘The star group in Ursa Major was seen as a bear in Europe, Asia, North America, and even ancient Egypt, where there are no bears … the bear identification may go all the way back to ice-age Euro-Asia, from where it spread.’25 Significantly, ‘ice-age Euro-Asia’ would have been the location of Babel, and would have existed at the time indicated by biblical chronology for Babel.
As mentioned earlier, Maunder estimated that the latitude of the constellation makers was 40° north. A more recent investigation placed the latitude slightly farther south, at approximately 30° to 38° north.26
The latitude of Babylon, 32½° north, is within this range.27 A significant fact about the constellations is that the oldest ones fill only the northern sky and are absent in an empty zone surrounding the south celestial pole.25,28 This is consistent with the existence of Babel in the northern hemisphere,13 together with the fact that dispersing cultures did not reach the extremities of the southern hemisphere until relatively recently. In contradiction, however, Ovenden asserted,
‘There are four main contenders for the title of constellation-makers. The credit is often given to the Babylonians, but their seafaring would have been in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, too far south for the latitude of the constellation makers [but Babel slightly south of Baghdad was at about 32° north, close to Ovenden’s estimated latitude range for these people]. The Egyptians sailed in the Mediterranean, but much of their seafaring also would have been in more southern waters. The Phoenicians were great traders, with a great centre at Byblus, latitude about 34° (consistent with our determined latitude). … But I would like to put forward the claims of the Minoans, based on Crete, who were out in the Mediterranean in strength by the beginning of the third millennium BC29
Hartmann’s reservation about naming the Minoans as the constellation-makers has been mentioned. Further, Ovenden’s proposals have a chronological problem. The chronologies of his four candidates—and of other ancient chronologies tied to conventional Egyptian chronology—are too long by as much as a millennium.30 Once the chronologies are scaled down, as they ought to be, by shrinking the Egyptian chronology appropriately, and by subtracting out the years of the non-existent ‘dark ages’ from the Minoan and Greek chronologies, these cultures date not from c. 2500 BC, but from closer to 1500 BC, a date roughly a millennium too young to match the date of the constellation-makers.

The constellations: remembrance of Noah’s Flood?

There is a view that God mapped out the constellations as a kind of primeval revelation before man had the Bible.31 An even older view of the constellations is that they were a device of Nimrod at Babel to lead mankind away from God, or at least they reflect the corrupted mythologies that mankind fell into at Babel and afterward.32 In between these extreme views is a middle view that constellations are corrupted memories of significant events happening early in history. The most traumatic such event was the global Flood of Noah, and—as Glasglow University astrophysicist and historian of science Michael Ovenden observed—one of the most expansive constellations is
‘ … the large constellation of Arago the Ship, often shown in early representations [of the constellations] as though atop a mountain. Coming from the ship is the Centaur, a man-animal, sacrificing a Beast upon the Altar. We see, too, the Water-snake (Hydra) with a Raven (Corvus) eating its flesh. There can be no doubt that here we have, in imagination pictured in the sky, a version of the story of Noah and the Flood. The picture is complete with the Milky Way seeming to rise as smoke from the Altar.
‘Consider the following quotation, with which we are all familiar: “And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord, and took of every clean beast and of every clean fowl and offered burnt offerings at the altar. … And God said, ‘This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you for perpetual generations. I do set my bow in a cloud, and it shall be a token of a covenant between me and the Earth’.” The bow of Sagittarius is fixed pointing to one of the most obvious rifts, or clouds, in the Milky Way. Of course, this association of the Southern constellations with the flood story that occurs in Genesis, and in the Babylonian Book of Gilgamesh, is no new insight, for when the stars left vacant by changing the course of Eridanus [due to precession] were later given a name, Columba the Dove was chosen [i.e. the “Dove” motif was preserved even as the star patterns in the heavens changed over the centuries because of precession]. …
‘Did the constellations inspire the myth [of the Flood] or did the myth inspire the constellations? I am sure that the latter was the case. Indeed, what better aid to memory of the pattern of the stars by uneducated sailors could there be than to associate the star-patterns with the stories known to the sailors from their childhood, as a pictorial mnemonic.’33
It appears that Ovenden’s assessment has support from other quarters, for Arago is not the only stellar reminder of the Flood. ‘from the Lake Eyre region [Australia] there is a myth that links [the Pleiades, known as the Seven Sisters] with a flood’.34 In this myth, ‘the ancestor figure who tried to capture one of them was prevented by a great flood.’35 By association with the Flood, the Pleiades became associated with the giving of rain, even though the aborigines were not farmers and therefore had no practical reason to monitor rainfall.
‘[Primitive peoples] have commonly timed the various operations of the agricultural year by observation of [the Pleiades’] heliacal rising or setting. … great attention has been paid to the Pleiades by savages in the southern hemisphere who do not till the ground. … Now amongst the rudest of savages known to us are the Australian aborigines, none of whom in their native state ever practised agriculture. [Yet they] sing and dance to gain the favour of the Pleiades … the constellation worshipped … as the giver of rain.’36
There is also a Jewish legend that links the Pleiades with the Flood: ‘The upper waters rushed through the space left when God removed two stars out of the constellation Pleiades.’37 How the Pleiades became connected with the Flood is not known. Nevertheless, the Pleiades are another component of legends worldwide that testify to the reality of Noah’s Flood.

Is the Gospel in the stars?

Table 1. Constellations and asterisms in the Bible.
Constellations and asterisms in the Bible.

The gospel-in-the-stars concept is the idea that God originally defined the constellations as a primeval revelation preceding the giving of the written Word. The constellations were intended to tell the Gospel story, but eventually the meaning of the constellations was corrupted into astrology; now we have God’s revelation in His Word, a ‘more sure word of prophecy’ (2 Peter 1:19).
Though God made the stars (Genesis 1:16), and though the Bible mentions various constellations and groups of stars called ‘asterisms’, e.g. the Pleiades (see table 138), the Bible nowhere claims that God designed the constellations for a revelatory purpose. Biblical references to constellations merely assert that God, not pagan deities, controls the stars in the constellations. Biblical references to constellations are therefore a rebuttal of ancient and modern astrology, not proof of a ‘gospel in the stars’.
In fact God has a name for each star: ‘He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names’ (Psalm 147:4). Isaiah 40:26 links God’s ability to create and name each star with His ability to control them: ‘Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names of the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.’ Isaiah 40:26 is a strong assertion that God controls the heavens, which means that God, not the heavens, controls our lives. This assertion remains relevant today, for astrology was and still is a common belief. In antiquity,
‘ … astrology was based on the doctrine that the outer spheres of the universe influenced the inner. … This conception coloured all departments of thought and embedded itself deeply in speech. “The scheme was conceived under an evil star”, “His fortune is in the ascendant”, “The seventh heaven of delight”, “He has gone to a higher sphere”, “The British sphere of influence”, “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades” (Job XXXViii. 31), “He has the influenza” are such cases.’39

Title page of Rolleston’s Mazzaroth, the origin of the modern ‘gospel-in-the-stars’ concept.
Figure 3. Title page of Rolleston’s Mazzaroth, the origin of the modern ‘gospel-in-the-stars’ concept.
Modern belief in the constellations as Gospel revelation began with the publication of Mazzaroth: or, the Constellations by Frances Rolleston (figure 3).40 Rolleston cited ‘proof texts’ without context but in so doing made an argument which became popular. Rolleston’s assertion was that ‘the signs [in the zodiac] were intended to symbolize prophecy, as recorded in the Holy Scriptures.’41
Subsequent books teaching a Gospel in the stars trace back to Rolleston’s Mazzaroth. For example, Joseph R. Seiss in The Gospel in the Starsacknowledged: that ‘from [Rolleston’s] tables and references the writer of these Lectures was helped to some of his best information.’42 E.W. Bullinger in The Witness of the Stars likewise described his debt to Rolleston: ‘Some years ago it was my privilege to enjoy the acquaintance of Miss Frances Rolleston, of Keswick, and to carry on a correspondence with her with respect to her work, Mazzaroth: or, the Constellations. She was the first to create an interest in this important subject.’43 Kenneth C. Fleming in God’s Voice in the Stars cited Rolleston, Seiss, and Bullinger in a conceptual lineage spanning more than a century,44 as did Henry M. Morris45 and Ruth Beechick.46
Christians gravitated to Rolleston’s argument because it seemed to lend historical veracity to the early chapters of Genesis. But similarities among the constellations provide intriguing evidence of biblical history without the need of resorting to Rolleston’s ‘gospel in the stars’ idea. Indeed, Rolleston and Seiss advanced the claim of this present paper, that constellations of diverse cultures show basic similarities, implying that humanity once lived at a single site. Rolleston, for example, noted that ‘the Egyptian and Chaldean signs were the same as everywhere else, but differently named.’47
Seiss maintained that he came to the gospel-in-the-stars concept by encountering sceptical polemical works attempting ‘to throw contempt on Christianity as a mere accommodation of certain old mythic ideas common to all primitive peoples’, but rather than doubting Christianity, Seiss began noticing the ‘striking correspondence between [the ancient myths] and the subsequent Scriptural story of Christ and salvation.’48
The skeptics had exploited the cultural similarities among the constellations as evidence that Christian beliefs were merely primitive archetypes. With input from Rolleston, Seiss in turn interpreted these archetypes as evidence that the stars carried an ancient Gospel message visible to all. However, the remembrance, in legendary form, of historical events such as the Flood also accounts for these so-called ‘archetypes’. Images of these ‘archetypes’ were indeed imposed on star patterns. That is the claim of this paper. Thus the similarities in constellations reflect the reality of historical events affecting all mankind rather than a supposed prophecy in the stars.
Was there ever a need for a Gospel in the stars? A careful reading of the Bible suggests not, for even among the ante-diluvians Enoch (Genesis 5:21–24) ‘prophesied … saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints’ (Jude 14–15). And long before this, Genesis 3:15—the so-called ‘proto-evangelium’—records that God, speaking to Adam and Eve, had prophesied the coming of His Son to Earth. Gospel-in-the-stars advocates associates constellations with the biblical statement in Genesis 1:14–18 that God created stars for ‘signs’, but these verses mention only stars, not constellations. Seeing constellations in Genesis 1:14–18 is a kind of eisegesis, the reading in of a concept not mentioned in the passage but present in the mind of the reader.
Table 2. Names of the 24 brightest stars according to Fleming.44
Names of the 24 brightest stars according to Fleming.References for Table 2. (1) Fleming,44 pp. 21–22. (2) Pages cited in Allen.21 (3) In Fleming44 (p. 21), Rigil Kentaurus is Toliman. (4) Vega and Capella are actually 5th and 6th; Arcturus is 4th.50 (5) Altair is actually 12th, after Betelgeuse and Hadar.50 (6) In Fleming (p. 21), Hadar is Agena. (7) A-crux is actually 24th.50 (8) Aldebaran, 14th, is actually preceded by HD 213468,50 not listed in Fleming.44 (9) Pollux, Spica and Anteres are actually 17th, 15th and 16th, respectively.50 (10) Regulus is actually 21st and Mimosa is 20th.50 (11) In Fleming44 (p. 22), Mimosa is B-crux. (12) Castor is actually 25th, Alioth 33rd, and Bellatrix 28th.50
Gospel-in-the-stars advocates also infer from star names that the stars individually must have been primeval revelation. Some of the brightest stars, for example, have names reminiscent of biblical themes49 (see table 2). However, the Bible nowhere reveals the name that God has given to each star, so there is no guarantee that the traditional star names preserve elements of divine nomenclature. Mankind’s ancient awareness of special revelation as mentioned in Genesis 3:15 and Jude 14–15, along with mankind’s memories of ancient historical ‘archetypes’, however, explains the similarity between star names and biblical themes.
Further, the primeval meaning of many star names is uncertain at best; ‘“etymology has full play with a word which has not traveled beyond astronomical language”—a statement … applicable to very many … star names.’21 By stretching uncertain meanings, the appearance of agreement can be produced between the supposed ancient meanings and biblical themes. In addition, the errors in Fleming’s list of star brightness order, noted at the bottom of table 2, do not add credibility to the supposed ‘revelatory’ significance he attributed to each star name.


The cultures of today emanated from a single point which the Bible identifies as Babel. Constellation similarities are an evidence of this fact.
The cultures of today emanated from a single point which the Bible identifies as Babel. Constellation similarities are an evidence of this fact. The question has been asked, ‘is there not a good deal of evidence to show that the constellations grew up gradually in Babylonia, and approximated more and more nearly to those we know as time approached the age of Greek astronomy?’13 The answer appears to be yes.
This conclusion falsifies the claim that the constellations were a kind of primeval Gospel revelation. It strengthens the realization that God has always given special revelation to mankind though His chosen prophets and His written Word, this last being the exclusive source of special revelation since the close of the apostolic age.


The crucial assistance of Mr Michael Clater, head librarian at Clearwater Christian College, in locating original versions of the old documents cited herein is gratefully acknowledged.

Further Reading


  1. Murray, C., Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 BC to 1950, HarperCollins, New York, pp. 21–22, 2003. Return to text.
  2. Aveni, A.F., Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico, University of Texas, Austin, TX, pp. 30–31, 1989. Return to text.
  3. Henry, J.F., The Astronomy Book, Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 1999, pp. 24–25. Return to text.
  4. There has long been the idea that God defined the constellations as a pre-biblical revelation, a so-called ‘gospel in the stars’. See in the text the section, ‘Is the Gospel in the stars?’ Return to text.
  5. Morris, H.M., The Genesis Record, Institute for Creation Research, San Diego, CA, p. 278, 1976. Return to text.
  6. Ovenden, M.W., The origin of constellations, The Philosophical Journal 3:1–18, July 1966; p. 1. An exception is the three stars in Orion’s belt (Levy, D.H. and Betelgeuse, J.P., Astronomy15(4):7–13, April 1987. Orion’s belt has the three bright stars zeta Orionis (Alnitak), epsilon Orionis (Alnilam), and delta Orionis (Mintaka). These three stars are at the same distance from earth (1,500 light-years), so they lie in the very plane in which they appear to be situated. Perhaps that is why, in Job 38:31, God asks Job, ‘Canst thou … loose the bands of Orion?’ in an apparent allusion to His ability to maintain the placement of the Pleiades’ stars in space. These three stars are also remarkably similar in other ways (the same size, about 20 times larger than the sun; and similar surface temperatures, about 50,000 ÂșC or somewhat higher). Return to text.
  7. Jeans, J., The Story of Physical Science, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, p. 8, 1951. Return to text.
  8. Morris, ref. 5, p. 675. Return to text.
  9. Evershed, M.A., The origin of the constellations, Observatory36:179–181, April 1913; p. 179. Return to text.
  10. Maunder, E.W., The zodiac explained, Observatory21:441, December 1898. Return to text.
  11. Ovenden, ref. 6, p. 6. Return to text.
  12. Hartmann, W.K., Astronomy, Wadsworth, Belmont, CA, p. 15, 1991. Return to text.
  13. Evershed, ref. 9, p. 181. Return to text.
  14. Schaefer, B.E., The latitude and epoch for the origin of the astronomical lore of Eudoxus, American Astronomical Society Meeting203, #35.01, December 2003; , 8 July 2004. Return to text.
  15. Maunder, E.W., The origin of the constellations, Observatory36:330, April 1913. Return to text.
  16. Ovenden, ref. 6, p. 8. Return to text.
  17. Maunder, ref 10, p. 439. Return to text.
  18. Brecher, K., Sirius Enigmas; in: Brecher, K. and Feirtag, M. (Eds.), Astronomy of the Ancients, MIT, Cambridge, MA, p. 91, 1979. Return to text.
  19. de Santillana, G. and von Dechend, H., Hamlet’s Mill, Gambit, Boston, MA, p. 216, 1969. Return to text.
  20. de Santillana and von Dechend, re. 19, p. 358. Return to text.
  21. Allen, R.H., Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, Dover, New York, p. 313, 1963; originally published as Star-Names and Their Meanings, G.E. Stechert, New York, 1899. Return to text.
  22. Schoemfeld, M., Prehistoric astronomy: a zodiac from bohusian province, Norway, Scientific American 3:301–303, 1921. Return to text.
  23. Aitchison, J.E., The Pleiades in Aboriginal Mythology, SIS Workshop 5, September 1983; in: Tresman, I. (Ed.), Catastrophism!: Man, Myth and Mayhem in Ancient History and the Sciences, CD–ROM version 1.41, (33 Reginald Street, Derby DE23 8FR, UK, Knowledge Computing, May 2004). The Nazca Indians of Peru recognized the Pleiades. Hadingham, E., Lines to the Mountain Gods, University of Oklahoma, Norman, p. 104, 1988. Return to text.
  24. Haliburton, R.G., Primitive traditions as to the Pleiades, Nature 25:100–101, 1 December 1881; p. 100. Return to text.
  25. Hartmann, ref. 12, p. 14. Return to text.
  26. ‘… if we take the date to be 2800 BC ± 300 years, the observers’ latitude becomes 34° ± 4° … [On the other hand, a statistical analysis of star positions inferred from various statements in Aratus yields an estimate for the date and latitude of] 2600 BC ± 800 years, 36°N ± 1½°’ (Ovenden, ref. 6, pp. 11, 12). Return to text.
  27. Pannekoek, A., A History of Astronomy, Allen and Unwin, London, 1961, p. 74; reprinted Dover, Mineola, New York, 1989. Return to text.
  28. Gingerich, O., On the origin of the zodiac, Sky & Telescope 67:218–220, March 1984; p. 218. Return to text.
  29. Ovenden, ref. 6, p. 15. Return to text.
  30. Henry, J.F., Fallacies of radiometric dating, Appendix A, The Sothic Cycle and Egyptian chronology, 2007, , accessed 30 August 2008. Return to text.
  31. See the section, ‘Is the Gospel in the stars?’ Return to text.
  32. Hislop, A., The Two Babylons: or the Papal Worship Proved to Be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, p. 13, 1959. Hislop began this work in 1853 in the form of a pamphlet; it was first published as a book in 1919. See ‘The Two Babylons’ (, April 24, 2007). Ralph Woodrow, in Babylon Mystery Religion (Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, Palm Springs, CA, 1966), once advocated Hislop’s ideas. But in The Babylonian Connection? (Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, Palm Springs, CA, 1997), pp. 23–28, Woodrow claimed some of Hislop’s conclusions to be undocumented speculation. However, one should not swing from Hislop’s assertion that nearly all cultural practices began at Babel to the opposite claim that virtually nothing began at Babel (Woodrow, 1997, p. 24). In fact, History Begins at Sumer is the title of a book by historian Samuel Noah Kramer (Doubleday Anchor, Garden City, NY, 1959). Sumer was the biblical Shinar (Genesis 11:1), the location of Babel, and the centre of the first civilization after the Flood. Kramer asserted that many cultural practices and patterns did in fact first appear in the Sumer of 2800 BC (p. 29). Return to text.
  33. Ovenden, ref. 6, pp. 16–17. Return to text.
  34. Aitchison, ref. 23. Return to text.
  35. Isaacs, J. (Ed.), Australian Dreaming, Aboriginal Arts Board and Lansdowne Press, Sydney, Australia, p. 152, 1980. Return to text.
  36. Frazier, J.G., The Golden Bough, Part 5, Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild vol. 1, Macmillan, London, p. 313, 1920. Return to text.
  37. Ginzberg, L., Szold, H. (tr.), Legends of the Jews vol. 1, Jewish Publication Society of America, Phildelphia, PA, p. 162, 1968; reprint of 1909 edition. Return to text.
  38. Allen, ref. 21, p. 554. Return to text.
  39. Singer, C., A Short History of Scientific Ideas to 1900, Oxford University, New York, p. 215, 1959. Return to text.
  40. Rolleston, F., Mazzoroth, or, the Constellations, Rivingtons, London, 1862, ), reprinted 1882. Return to text.
  41. Rolleston, ref. 40, part 1, p. 7. Return to text.
  42. Seiss, J.R., The Gospel in the Stars, E. Claxton, Philadelphia, p. 6, 1882; reprinted Kregel, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972. Return to text.
  43. Bullinger, E.W., The Witness of the Stars, Lamp Press, London, p. iii, 1954. Return to text.
  44. Fleming, K.C., God’s Voice in the Stars, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, p. 143, 1981. Return to text.
  45. Morris, H.M, Many Infallible Proofs, Creation-Life, San Diego, CA, p. 343, 1974. Return to text.
  46. Beechick, R., Adam and His Kin, Arrow Press, Pollock Pines, CA, pp. 50–53, 172, 175, 1990. Return to text.
  47. Rolleston, ref. 40, part 2, p. 7. Return to text.
  48. Seiss, ref. 42, p. 6. Return to text.
  49. Fleming, ref. 44, pp. 21–22. Return to text.
  50. Kornberg, C., The Brightest Stars, 9 November 1998, . Return to text.

Bengt Sage Thinks That Menes May Be Noah (Manu)

By the name Noah he was called only by his grandfather Methuselah;
his father and all others called him Menahem.
Noah and Human Etymology

As traditions of the universal flood spread around the world with the post-Ararat migrations, the venerable name of Noah traveled with them.1 This seems especially evident by way of the ancient Sanskrit language and the name Manu. The Sanskrit term may in turn have come from an equivalent word in the so-called "Proto-Indo-European" language.
Manu was the name of the flood hero in the traditions of India. He, like Noah, is said to have built an ark in which eight people were saved. It is highly probable that Noah and Manu were thus the same individual. "Ma" is an ancient word for "water," so that Manu could mean "Noah of the waters." In the Hebrew Old Testament, the words "water" and "waters" are both translations of mayim, with the syllable yim being the standard Hebrew plural ending.
The "ma" prefix could well be the original form of mar and mer (Spanish and French for, "sea," both from the Latin mare) and thus of such English words as "marine."
In Sanskrit, the name Manu appropriately came to mean "man" or "mankind" (since Manu, or Noah, was the father of all post-flood mankind). The word is related to the Germanic Mannus,2 the founder of the West Germanic peoples. Mannus was mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus in his book Germania.3 Mannus is also the name of the Lithuanian Noah.4 Another Sanskrit form, manusa is closely related to the Swedish manniska,5 both words meaning "human being."
The same name may even be reflected in the Egyptian Menes (founder of the first dynasty of Egypt) and Minos (founder and first king of Crete). Minos was also said in Greek mythology to be the son of Zeus and ruler of the sea.6
For complete article, see:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age

The culture of the ancient Greeks has often been described as emerging like a miracle from a genius of its own, owing practically nothing to its neighbours. Walter Burkert offers a decisive argument against that view, pointing toward a more balanced picture of the archaic period "in which, under the influence of the Semitic East - from writers, craftsmen, merchants, healers - Greek culture began its unique flowering, soon to assume cultural hegemony in the Mediterranean".

Table of Contents

Preface Introduction 1. "Who Are Public Workers": The Migrant Craftsmen Historical Background Oriental Products in Greece Writing and Literature in the Eighth Century The Problem of Loan-Words 2. "A Seer or a Healer": Magic and Medicine "Craftsmen of the Sacred": Mobility and Family Structure Hepatoscopy Foundation Deposits Purification Spirits of the Dead and Black Magic Substitute Sacrifice Asclepius and Asgelatas Ecstatic Divination Lamashtu, Lamia, and Gorgo 3. "Or Also a Godly Singer": Akkadian and Early Greek Literature From Atrahasis to the "Deception of Zeus" Complaint in Heaven: Ishtar and Aphrodite The Overpopulated Earth Seven against Thebes Common Style and Stance in Oriental and Greek Epic Fables Magic and Cosmogony Conclusion Abbreviations Bibliography Notes Index of Greek Words General Index

About the Author

Walter Burkert is Professor Emeritus of Classics, University of Zurich.


Brilliant...[Burkert] is consistently thorough and challenging...Without denying the role of innate talent, he shows that much of the Greek miracle grew from an openness to influences from other cultures...[His] careful scholarship...has constructed the bridge that he set out to build. -- Carol G. Thomas American Historical Review An elegant and academically influential work...The Orientalizing Revolution can be enthusiastically recommended. -- Simon Hornblower Times Literary Supplement Burkert's The Orientalizing Revolution remains an outstanding, or rather the outstanding, contribution to the question of 'Near Eastern influence on Greek culture in the Early Archaic Age. Greece and Rome This thought provoking work is an updated translation of Burkert's Die orientlisierende Epoche in der griechischen Religion und Literature, 1984...It is refreshing to see a classical scholar follow in the footsteps of eminent Near Eastern scholars such as Cyrus Gordon and Michael Astour who have long argued for interconnections in the ancient Mediterranean world. -- Mark W. Chavalas Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin 19970101

The East Face of Helicon. West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry. M. L. West.

M. L. West, The East Face of Helicon. West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Pp. 662. ISBN 0-19-815221-3 (pb). $55.00.

Reviewed by Barry Powell, University of Wisconsin-Madison (
Word count: 5203 words

In M. L. West's exemplary edition of Hesiod's Theogony, published in 1966, W. claimed that "Greece is part of Asia; Greek literature is a Near Eastern literature" (p. 31), a remarkable claim when everyone knew that Greece is part of Europe and its literature unlike anything that appeared in the Near East. Yet in the last thirty years others have made similar claims. W. Burkert, especially, argued that "Akkadian cuneiform side by side with Aramaic, Phoenician, and Greek alphabetic script produces a continuum of written culture in the eighth century which stretches from the Euphrates to Italy" (The Orientalizing Revolution, Cambridge, Mass., 1992, p. 31). Here W. sets out to prove his thesis, now a generation old, and we might be disturbed that he has succeeded so well.
There are twelve chapters, which I will briefly review in order.
In the first chapter, "Aegean and Orient," W. takes a bird's-eye view of salient features of Near Eastern and Aegean cultures that for explanation cry out for direct transmission or a common origin. He does not say this, but if one were to compare Bronze Age Greece with Bronze Age China or the Hopi Indians of Arizona one would not expect to find such common elements, here traceable to ancient routes of trade and communication over north Syria, through Cyprus and Rhodes, to Crete and the Aegean. These are cultural artifacts and not the result of parallel evolution.
Such common elements include a substantial list of loan words, often designating commodities, but also social institutions such as kingship with its complex functions and trappings of ritual. The treaties cast by Aegean and Near Eastern kings contain similar formulas. Means of accounting, counting, and weighing are similar or identical. No one disputes the Near Eastern origin of writing on clay tablets or of the Greek alphabet. Musical instruments, and no doubt how they were played and for what reasons, are the same in East and West, as are styles of luxurious behavior. Zeus is a god of storm and high places, and so was Baal of the Levant; each received the same kinds of sacrifices performed in the same way. Finally, W. emphasizes how the transmission of cultural artifacts did not take place at one time but was an ongoing process demonstrable from the Early Mycenaean period down to the sixth century B.C. Chapter 1 is an overview of the whole argument, developed in the rest of the book.
It is hard to restrain enthusiasm, or measure praise, for Chapter 2, "Ancient Literatures of Western Asia," which tells us in short compass the things we want to know about these opaque literatures but could not find the time to discover. First, a bilingual cultural continuum of the Sumero-Akkadians beginning in the third millennium has left mythical narrative poems about a man who escaped the flood, about a hero Gilgamesh who killed a great monster and sought to escape mortality, and about the emergence of the world order through the agency of watery beings. These myths, which tell of the exploits of gods, are now fairly well known among classicists, but little known is the evidence for "historical epic," narratives flattering the conquests of kings. As W. proceeds he illuminates with consistent clarity the meaning of his terms, the relations of language to language and script to script, and in his bibliography alerts the reader to the major publications. W. also describes Sumero-Akkadian wisdom literature, hymns, disputations, and royal inscriptions.
W. turns next to the extremely important Bronze Age literature from Ugarit, the north Syrian port and virtual gateway to the West. Ugaritic literature was written in a writing structurally identical to the later West Semitic Phoenician, Aramaic, and Hebrew scripts, whence sprang the Greek alphabet; so-called Ugaritic cuneiform is the earliest clear historical attestation to this family of scripts. Ugarit therefore offers hope for a tradition in which Homer appears in a direct line of descent. Extant Ugaritic poetry preserves accounts of war among the gods, especially the storm-god Baal's war against Yammu, "Sea," and Mot, "Death." Some poems are about men, however, and we have some hymns.
Next, Hebrew literature, by which is meant, of course, the Bible, a topic of gargantuan proportions that W. somehow summarizes in eight pages: songs, psalms, prophets, wisdom, the Song of Songs, history. Remarkably, there is no epic in Hebrew literature.
Our most regretted loss is the closely related Phoenician literature, because the inventor of the Greek alphabet knew this form of the West Semitic writing, or was even himself a Phoenician. Its nearly complete loss must depend on its having been preserved on papyrus or leather, on the lack of a tradition of writing on clay.
Finally, the ill-defended Hurrians of north Syria, called the Mitanni, prominent internationally in the Late Bronze Age, took over Sumero-Akkadian traditions and handed them to the Indo-European Hittites of Anatolia, who occupied the lands of Mitanni in the ninth to seventh centuries B.C. From this tradition must come the Hurro-Hittite stories about the storm god Teshub's conflict with the older god Kumarbi, evidently the model for Hesiod's Theogony.
Chapter 3, "Of Heaven and Earth," explores the world of the gods, arguing that the features of divine apparatus so familiar to us from Greek poetry are not Greek at all, but raw imports from the East. The organization of heaven, presided over by a company of gods at which stands a powerful patriarch, appears to be Sumerian in origin, copied by Akkadians, Hurrians, Hittites, West Semites, and finally the Greeks. In both East and West the world is divided into provinces over which certain gods exercise priority. From time to time they appear among mortals, their presence revealed by an aura of brilliance. Although Zeus is Indo-European in origin, his office, epithets, and forms of behavior are taken from Eastern literary archetypes.
Even so are the relations of humans to the divine realm similar in the East and West, and such specific myths as the destruction of mankind, and such themes as the loss of perpetual youth, the knowledge of good and evil, and the necessity for toil to survive in a fallen world that is distant from a heaven to which men once had admittance. Even so, in East as in West, does human suffering come from the gods' anger, as do human blessings and divine favor granted to certain individuals. Kingship comes from heaven, or has its blessing, and human kings can even become gods. The division of the universe into heaven, earth, sea, and underworld is Eastern, as is the notion that a gate opens into heaven and that water bounds the cosmos.
Such very odd expressions as "the navel of the earth" turn out to have Semitic models. Ghosts, too behave in similar ways in Greece and the ancient East: they "go down" to their abode, but never return. Water separates this world from the next, which, like heaven, is entered through gates. The land of no return is also a house, ruled over by a king or queen, a place of gloom and filth. There the strengthless dead abide, bloodless and weak.
In Chapter 4, "Ars Poetica," West examines specific forms of style and expression, things we ordinarily take to be culturally specific. Whereas verse forms so complex as the hexameter cannot be found in the East (on the other hand, they could not have been notated in prealphabetic writings), recurring phrases and otiose means of expression are as common there as they are in Homeric epic. Narrative strategies are strikingly similar, too, for example the initiation of action by describing an unsatisfactory situation followed by complaint to the gods, their deliberation, and finally measures taken. In just this way Homer initiates the action of the Iliad, and it recurs repeatedly in Near Eastern narrative.
The "Divine Comedy" of gods familiar from Greek archaic poetry can be paralleled in most particulars: the assembly to determine action, often on a mountain top, but often too with dissension of certain gods against the chief god; the gods' intervention on earth among the affairs of men; the dream, either as message or symbol; the messenger as agent of narrative action; the use of direct speech introduced by stereotyped formulas and such responses a speech can elicit as downcast eyes, biting one's lip, or smacking one's thighs.
Genre scenes that punctuate the narrative are similar in Greece and in the East: scenes of feasting where singers entertain and visitors arrive, sometimes refusing to take their seats, and scenes of dressing and journeys by chariot. In descriptions of war, focus falls on the last year or the final stages of the war. The king addresses his army. Gideon, like Agamemnon, "tested" his troops, only to discover they all wanted to go home. We get a catalogue of forces. Gods lead armies in battle. They smash the weapons of heroes. In battle, first comes a kill, then a breaking-up into individual encounters. Dust envelops the warriors. A great man goes berserk and kills many. Single combat is waged, as between Hector and Ajax or David and Goliath. Threats are made, for example that the enemy will be eaten by dogs. A plea for mercy is refused. City-sackers kill everything in sight, men, women, children. Similes, long or short, enhance vividness. In Ugaritic "he was groaning like a lion"; in Homer he was "groaning like a bearded lion." So pervasive and detailed are the similarities between such elements in Near Eastern poetry and Greek poetry that we cannot doubt a historical connection.
Chapter 5, "A Form of Words," looks more closely at resemblances between actual verbal formulations. So the earth is "broad" and "dark" in both traditions. Decisions are made "by the will of the gods" and the outcome "lies on the knees of the gods." The hands of God or the gods lie upon the people. Kings are "servants " of gods. The gods "hear the voice" of suppliants. Collections of deities are "sons of gods." Battles are "mixed," the slain "bite the dust." In speeches words flow "like honey" and if false are "twisted." Tears are common in moments of tension. Thoughts are formed "in the heart" or come from outside, falling upon one. Soil is "fat." Iniquity "reaches to heaven" and warriors "trust in their strength." "Forever" is "all days." Beautiful women are "equal to a goddess." Kings are "bulls." Battalions advance "like storm-clouds," as numberless "as sand" or "as the stars." Heroes are "lions" or "wolves."
The bird of prey destroying the weak is a common image. The fearful enemy flee "like deer." Warriors pour forth like "wasps from a nest." Missiles "rain from the sky." Heroes groan for fallen comrades like "a lion whose cubs are stolen." The wounded groan "like women in childbirth." Important structures gleam "like the sun or the moon." Cloth "shines like a star." Hearts are "of stone," words are "windy," and the same word designates "grain" and "life."
Speech is figured in similar ways, making use of anaphora, epanalepsis, and rhetorical questions. A story may begin, "There is a city called...." Numerals in the first class are increased by one in the second ("seven years were completed, eight revolutions of time"). Peoples say "Ooh" and "Ah." Hymns and prayers present similar imagery. The power of divinities is cosmic in extent. The king of the gods assigns powers to lesser gods. A god increases or decreases "as he wishes." Prayers begin with the god's name in the vocative. The god is asked to come to the suppliant's side. Requests of certain kinds follow a certain order. Past benefits are recorded. Some prayers issue blank checks, for anything desirable.
Chapter 6, "Hesiod," takes up an author about which W. can be said to be the world's leading expert (although he still insists that Hesiod is older than Homer). About the Eastern background to Hesiod there has been long agreement. The Succession Myth of the Theogony, whereby one generation of gods replaces another, appears to have originated in the Near East. W. summarizes Hesiod's account, then those of the Hurro-Hittite story of Kumarbi and draws astute points of comparison. He does the same with the Babylonian Enuma elish and the so-called Phoenician History of Sanchuniathion, a Hadrianic work that preserves genuine Phoenician tradition.
Henceforth W. goes through the Theogony systematically. Hesiod receives his gift of song from the Muses; even so do Eastern scribes receive messages in dreams. Sky mates with Earth, but this nearly universal motif could come from anywhere, W. admits. Iapetos looks like Japheth, but there the similarity ends. Eastern Ea and Greek Kronos each take the initiative when the other gods cower in fear. For Hesiod, the castration of Ouranos is the separation of heaven and earth, but castration in the Hurro-Hittite myth of Kumarbi does not seem to have the same meaning. Aphrodite, sprung from the genitals of Ouranos, looks like the Phoenician Astarte, called Queen of Heaven. The odd Greek god Oath has a close Assyrian parallel. Hesiod's hymn to Hecate has close parallels in Babylonian hymns. At Delphi could be seen the stone that Kronos swallowed; it was called baidylos, from the Semitic "house of God" like the stone on which Jacob slept. In the Ugaritic Baal epic, and in Hesiod, a divine craftsman makes weapons for the storm god. Prometheus and Ea, crafty gods each, help mankind against a persecuting senior god. Atlas bears resemblance to the Hurro-Hittite monster Ubelluri and to Ullikummi, a stone monster that grows from Ubelluri's shoulder.
In the Greek theomachy, descriptions of battle parallel Eastern ones, including the image of a horde of weapons blocking the sky. Titans are like the Hittite "Former Gods," who too were imprisoned in the underworld, sometimes, like the Titans, twelve in number. Typhon seems to be derived from the Ugaritic Sapon, god of Mount Casius north of Ugarit; Sapon was equivalent to the storm god Baal, but an early story may have told how Baal imprisoned Sapon in the mountain. Certainly an ancient Eastern story told of a god's war against a many-headed serpent; Typhoeus was the monster with the hundred heads, whom in one version Zeus defeated on Mount Casius. After his victory Zeus assigned the gods their offices, just as in Eastern parallels.
Of course Works and Days belongs to the ancient Eastern genre of wisdom literature wherein a wise or prophetic teacher admonishes errant rulers, or a relative. Many of Hesiod's apothegms have strong Eastern parallels, for example the admonishment to labor and the need to avoid idleness. The Prometheus myth's explanation of sacrificial practice has Eastern precedents, as does Zeus's gleeful prediction of disaster when deceived. Many deities, as often in the East, work to make a creature, Pandora; her jar may reflect Hittite incantation ritual. Parallels to the certainly non-Greek myths of the five races have long been noticed in Iran and Judea, including specific features: long-life, good weather, and a single language for the Golden Age, followed by short-life and a breakdown of family and virtue in the last age. The folktale of the hawk and nightingale is not attested specifically in the East, but animal fable is part of the genre of wisdom literature from the earliest times. The promise of good times to follow on righteous behavior is paralleled closely by Yahweh's instructions to Moses on Mount Sinai, as are similar Hesiodic moral precepts by other Eastern sources, as well as Hesiod's hemerology and bird-omens.
W. begins Chapter 7, "The Iliad", with a comparison between the Greek hero Achilles, anomalous in many ways, with Gilgamesh. Each has a divine mother important to the action, who intercedes with the other gods on her son's behalf; each hero is impulsive and emotional; each has a close friend who dies, prompting a railing against mortality, followed by an acceptance of it. W. then gathers interesting detailed comparanda between Ninsun (Gilgamesh' divine mother) and Thetis; similarities to Patroclus' sortie, the kinds of lamentations held over Patroclus' body, and especially details of the ghostly appearance to Patroclus, so like that of Enkidu to Gilgamesh. Priam's meeting with Achilles is in some ways similar to Gilgamesh's meeting with Utnapishtim.
The rest of the long chapter is devoted to a detailed and manifold catalogue of incidents, motifs, and expressions in the Iliad that appear to have Near Eastern antecedents. For example, the gods leaping to their feet at an assembly, advice to yield to the storm god when he is angry, the houses and sleep of the gods, the false dream before a battle, the portent of a snake turned to stone, the use of messengers for transmitting instructions, flies gathering around milk pails, the breaking of a truce, a god who grows sky-high, a god's imprisonment in a jar, gods who give mighty war shouts, humans who come and go like leaves on the trees, the Chimaera, wise never to have been born, armor hung in a temple as booty, the weak isolated hero who kills a giant, making love to one's father's concubine, picturesque personifications; drops of blood from the sky; a hero-sized cup; a wall destroyed by flood, a magic staff, seduction by the sex goddess, images of cows protecting calves, speech that is sweeter than honey, animals that prophesy, the scale of fate, peace between lions and men, and many more.
Chapter 8, "The Odyssey," follows the same method. Odysseus, who prefers cunning to brute face-off, is no Gilgamesh but in his adventures sometimes has similar experiences. Both heroes are said in a prologue to have traveled widely and to have gained knowledge thereby. The strange Circe and Calypso, friendly goddesses in remote parts, are like the ale-wife Siduri who meets Gilgamesh at the edge of the waters. The Greek island of Aiaia, where Circe daughter of Helios lives, is evidently traceable to the Babylonian goddess Aya, wife of the sun-god and goddess of sexual love. Circe's very name, "hawk," may be connected with the hawk-headed sun-god of Egypt, exported to Phoenicia. Circe otherwise resembles Ishtar, with her competence over transforming drugs and wild animals. The Mesopotamian poem about Nergal and Ereshkigal show Nergal bullying Ereshkigal as Odysseus does Circe, with similar results. Each goddess gives advice about crossing the dangerous waters of death to consult with a prophet. Calypso, "the veiled one," reminds us that Siduri too is veiled, and both goddesses send heroes into the woods to cut timber for a sea journey. Calypso's list of men punished through a goddess's love sounds like Ishtar's complaint when Gilgamesh spurns her. Her offer of immortality to Odysseus reminds us that Gilgamesh, in his journey across the waters, sought just that.
The never-never land of the Phaeacians has much in common with the land of Utnapishtim, as Odysseus' savage appearance before Nausicaa echoes Gilgamesh's appearance before Siduri. The theme of the naked unkempt man who is clothed and taken to the city, as Nausicaa takes Odysseus to town, parallels the harlot's taming of Enkidu by the waterhole. Returning from Aeolus' island, Odysseus falls asleep and loses Ithaca, just as Gilgamesh cannot remain awake outside the house of Utnapishtim. Numerous similarities tie the Odyssean Nekuia with the poem Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Underworld, including the man who died by falling off a roof. As Odysseus' men perish when they kill the cattle of the sun, so does Enkidu die after he and Gilgamesh kill the bull of heaven, and in both cases a god threatens to invert the upper and lower worlds unless the god's will prevails.
In the remainder of the chapter W. presents a catalogue of incidents and passages with possible Near Eastern antecedents: Menelaus' fathering of a child on a concubine; the splendor of Alcinous' palace; Menelaus' transportation to a paradise at the ends of the earth; Penelope's refusal to eat; the four streams of water on Calypso's island; Calypso's special food of ambrosia and nectar; the simile of the wind and the chaff; Nausicaa compared to a date palm; the metal dogs before the palace of Alcinous; the disappearance of the island of the Phaeacians; the spurned sacrifice; the use of protective plants (moly); Odysseus' necromancy on the shores of Ocean; the name of the Sirens; the suitors' reluctance to kill one of royal stock; Penelope's bed, covered with tears; the punishment by amputation of ears and nose; the radiance surrounding a divinity; birth "from oak or stone"; the bow that only the hero can draw; the archery contest; a suitor's hurling of a leg of beef at Odysseus; Laertes' fainting at reunion with Odysseus. In conclusion, W. notes how twice as many Eastern poetic motifs are found in the Iliad as in the Odyssey, and that those parallels to the Iliad belong to the early parts of the Gilgamesh story, as those parallel to the Odyssey are modeled on wanderings after the death of Enkidu.
In Chapter 9, "Myths and Legends of Heroes," W. discusses Near Eastern elements in Greek literature of the archaic period. Some such features are folktale motifs, for example the foundling; the magic hair that ensures power or security; the twin brothers who fight in the womb; the man who is thrown from a ship and rescued by a fish; the person who escapes pursuit by praying to a god and being changed into something else; and the hasty oath, like the one Jephthah made to Yahweh. From the story of Io we find such familiar Eastern themes as the celestial god's love for a heifer, attested in Akkadian, Hurro-Hittite, and Ugaritic myth. Epaphos, son of Io and Zeus, is evidently the Egyptian bull-god Apis, while Belos, Arabos, Nilos, and Libya have obvious Eastern origins. The strange story of the fifty sons of Aegyptos and the fifty sons of Danaos has a near parallel in a Hittite myth.
W.'s discussion of the Kadmos myth is especially strong, and he builds a cogent model for the name Kadmeioi (whence Kadmos) as coming from the Semitic "men of eld," an iron-age description of the inhabitants of the Theban acropolis, and even the name of Harmonia may derive from Semitic for "fortress," the Kadmeia. Asterios, who married Europa, he derives from Semitic Astarte, the male form, so that the story of their marriage may derive from a sacred union of bull and cow.
Among Argive myths, the odd leprosy that strikes the Proetids is common in the Near East. The Gorgo's head has long been connected with representations of Humbaba, whose glance too could bring death; kibisis, Perseus' pouch, seems to be a Semitic word. Turning to the myths of Thebes, W. picks up W. Burkert's speculative attachment of the myth of the seven to an Eastern rite of exorcism, in which seven demons are expelled.
The myths of Heracles seem almost entirely Eastern in origin: the story of his birth, so like Egyptian propaganda for the birth of pharaoh in the New Kingdom; his being cheated of his birthright, as was Esau by Jacob; his strangling of serpents, illustrated on Eastern seals. Most of the exploits find Eastern parallels, sometimes very close (the lion combat, the seven-headed hydra, the golden apples of the Hesperides), and are especially reminiscent of the adventures of Samson, who like Heracles killed a lion with his bare hands and was undone by a woman. The very notion of a cycle of labors is Eastern too, reminiscent of the eleven labors of the hero Ninurta.
Stories of the Tantalids show tantalizing similarities with Hittite myths, appropriate because Lydia, whence came Pelops, is in the cultural sphere of the Hittites of central Anatolia. The name of Myrtilus, Pelops' charioteer, sounds like Mursili, name of three Hittite kings, and Tantalus' name too may be Hittite. The backwards course of the sun in the struggle between Atreus and Thyestes for the throne of Mycenae is easily paralleled from the reign of Hezekiah.
Phaethon looks a lot like Eastern gods who fell from heaven (including Lucifer). A bird carried Ganymede to heaven, as an eagle cared Mesopotamian Etana there. The Golden Fleece of the Argonautica looks like the holy fleece common in Hittite rite.
From the Trojan cycle, Zeus' desire to alleviate an overpopulated earth appears in the Mesopotamian story of Atrahasis, telling of the Flood. Peleus' struggle with Thetis looks like Jacob's struggle with an angel, probably in origin a river spirit, and the motif of the wedding which the gods attended appears also in the Ugaritic Keret epic. Odysseus' feigned madness to avoid the draft looks like the madness of David on the run from Saul. The extraordinary self-immolation of Ajax is paralleled by Saul's falling on his sword, as Philoctetes' special bow, and narrative role, also appear in the East. The theft of the Palladion is like that of the statue of Marduk, stolen and restolen over a period of 800 years. Enlil's statue flashes and moves of its own accord, as does the Palladion. The wooden horse looks like an Assyrian siege engine, both in design and function. The mission of Menelaus and Odysseus to Troy, where Antenor, later spared, protects them, looks like that of Joshua's spies into Jericho, where a prostitute, later spared, protects them.
The flood story is unknown to Hesiod and, except in disguised form, to Homer, but comes to Greece perhaps in the sixth century B.C. Its similarities to Eastern versions, both in general theme and in specific detail, have long been noticed, and there can be no question of its origin. If it does come to Greece only in the archaic age, there is clear evidence for the continuation of the transmission of culture from the late Iron Age, at least, into the classical period: transmission did not take place all at one time.
Chapter 10, devoted to the The Lyric Poets, reviews elements of all kinds in the poets of the Archaic period, to find various phrases, sentiments, or rhetorical postures common also in Eastern literatures. W. fixes on social institutions such as that of the scurrilous commentator, found in Mesopotamia as well as on Paros. He finds arresting parallels in the East for the licentious women important to the poetry of Archilochus, as well as fellatio, performed against a temple wall, compared to sucking beer through a tube. Such proverbial statements as "nothing surprises me any more" are Eastern in origin too, as are animal fables and their morals.
He finds verbal echoes in Callinus and Mimnermus of Eastern poetry, and Solon's moral maxims belong to Eastern wisdom literature. Even the social tension in Theognis, and the fear of the rising lower class, is closely paralleled by older Semitic models. In the Melic poets, "dream-like" to mean "fine" is Eastern. In an interesting discussion, he shows how Sappho consistently takes imagery generated in an Eastern religious context then secularizes it and applies it to love. Antiphony in Sappho appears to be Eastern, and she is our oldest testimony to the Eastern cult of Adonis. W. notes other similarities in Stesichorus, Ibycus, Anacreon, Simonides, Pindar, and Bacchylides.
Chapter 11 is given to Aeschylus. W. goes through each play systematically. From the Persai he notices an odd use of "lord," very like a Semitic idiom, the motif of the royal person worried by a dream, and certain features of Assyrian cult practice. The raising of the ghost of Darius looks like the witch of Endor, and the series of rhetorical questions meaning, "Where are they now?" reflect Eastern convention.
The Supplices offers a clear imitation of divine titles and epithets for Zeus earlier applied to Baal. Also here we find the Eastern metaphor the "tablets of the heart." So are scepter and throne coupled, and the Danaids, as in Akkadian prayers, wish to turn into smoke and escape. Victories are awarded by divine judgment.
Various phrases and images of divine power in the Agamemnon, including the net, have good Eastern parallels. So do "panegyric metaphor-strings," where a potentate is praised by a list of bold metaphors. From other plays he gathers such parallels as calling the sun "the lamp of the gods." W. does not regard the Prometheus as composed by Aeschylus, but perhaps by his son. Its debt to Eastern models is, however, deep, including the notion that humans once lived in primitive conditions and the cosmic cataclysm that closes the play. The traditions that W. has been tracing appear to dry up after Aeschylus, when Greek writers grow away from habits of their Eastern forebears to fashion new styles of expression.
Chapter 12, "The Question of Transmission," addresses the extremely complex question of just how Eastern traditions might have passed to Greece. W. identifies two historical periods in which such transmission was likely to have taken place, in the Late Bronze Age and in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. The question of transmission is of course intimately bound up with writing and how writing was used and by whom. In the East, writing was in the hands of a scribal class, whereas in Greece amateurs could write. Eastern scribes were always biliterate or bilingual, whereas in Greece they never were. The relation between oral performance and transmission is especially tangled. From hints here and there we can conclude that Eastern singers were not, in general, literate, but learned their songs from written texts, read aloud by scribes. The style of Eastern literary texts leaves no doubt that they were sometimes intended to be heard as song; the enormously repetitive style only makes sense on this assumption. Sometimes colophons indicate that an Eastern text is to be accompanied by this or that musical instrument. We hear of a professional singer called naru, evidently something like the Greek aoidos. Dictation of poetic texts does not seem likely for the cuneiform tradition, but far more likely for the West Semitic one, whence the Greek descended directly. Certainly the Ugaritic poems were meant to support oral performance in some way. The scribe of the Baal epic even signed his work, which he may have taken down by dictation (just as the Homeric poems were recorded).
Still, we cannot expect transmission of the cultural artifacts described in this book to have taken place through written means. The ethnically mixed populations of north Syria, Cyprus, Crete, Sicily, and southern Italy must have produced many bilingual speakers of Semitic and Greek, and some of these must have been singers. We know of the presence of interpreters at all times to serve the international community of traders and travelers, and much other intermingling was brought about through war, mercenary service, and colonization. Assyrian aggression beginning in the ninth century B.C. surely drove the Phoenician expansion in the Western Mediterranean, and into various Greek lands. At the hands of the immigrant bilingual poet we must place responsibility for the transmission of culture from East to West.
This is an extraordinary book, rich in deep learning, astute insight, and pellucid argument to support a radical thesis. I was happy to be persuaded, because I have long felt that something like this must have happened; but we can only admire the thoroughness and sobriety by which W. makes his argument. Every classicist should read this book, one of the most important in the last generation.