3
EASTERN POETRY AND MYCENAEAN POETRY

Much Eastern poetry survives from the Mycenaean period and earlier, but no tablets containing literature have been found on Mycenaean sites. I have argued above 1that absence of literary tablets cannot be used as an argument for absence of written poetry. Mycenaean art, as we have seen, gives strong indications of the existence of Mycenaean poetry of several kinds, and further indications will be discussed in the next chapter. If the general picture of a common Eastern Mediterranean culture with strong local differences is correct, Mycenaean poetry may have had a general likeness to contemporary Eastern poetry. If many similarities with Homer can be shown,2 the question arises whether these similarities are due to recent acquaintance with Eastern poetry or to Homer's inheritance of Mycenaean poetry. The possibility of recent borrowing cannot, of course, be excluded at any rate for the poetry of Asia Minor. It is certain that Ugaritic poetry was known to the Phoenicians, and the Odyssy seems to show knowledge of Phoenician traders of recent date. That Hittite poetry in some form could have been handed down in Asia Minor and reached the Greeks through Lydian or other intermediaries is certainly possible. It is more difficult to see how

____________________
1
Cf. above p. 23f.
2
Recent works on connexions between Early Greek and Eastern poetry include: A. Lesky, Anz. Wien. Ak., 1950, 148; Saeculum, 6, 35; C. H. Gordon, A.J.A., 56 ( 1952), 93; Minos, 3 ( 1955), 126; Riv. Stud. Orient., 24 ( 1955), 161; Hebrew Union College Annual, 26 ( 1955), 43 (= HB); F. Dirlmeier, Rh. Mus., 98 ( 1955), 20; T. B. L. Webster, Minos, 4 ( 1956), 104; G. Germain, Genèse de L'Odyssée; L. A. Stella, Il Poema di Ulisse. This last came out after I had sent my article to Minos and I should like to record here my far-reaching agreement with it as well as my indebtedness. Cf. also R. D. Barnett in The Aegean and the Near East, 212 f. C. H. Gordon, ibid., 136f. F. Dornseiff has republished his papers in Antike und alter Orient, Leipzig, 1956.

-64-

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