Greek Myths and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod

Greek Myths and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod

Greek Myths and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod

Greek Myths and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod

Synopsis

The Mesopotamian influence on Greek mythology in literary works of the epic period is considerable - yet it is a largely unexplored field. In this book Charles Penglase investigates major Mesopotamian and Greek myths. His examination concentrates on journey myths. A major breakthrough is achieved in the recognition of the extent of Mesopotamian influence and in the understanding of the colourful myths involved.The results are of significant interest, especially to scholars and students of ancient Greek and Near Eastern religion and mythology.

Excerpt

Apollo strides through the halls of Olympos bending his radiant bow, and the gods spring up from their seats in alarm at the sight of the young god. His mother Leto comes forward and takes the bow and quiver from her impetuous son and hangs them on a golden peg. She bids him sit and presents him to the supreme god Zeus, his father, who offers him nectar and ambrosia.

The scene is found at the beginning of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, in which it is one of the descriptions of the first arrival of the young god in the Assembly of the supreme god. The scene is typically Greek but, like the whole hymn to Apollo, it is full of motifs and ideas which are central features in Mesopotamian myths. In fact, the profound significance and purpose of these motifs and ideas in the hymn become clear only in the light of the mythology of Mesopotamia, where they are found in texts dating from the end of the third millennium BC to the middle of the first millennium BC.

The Homeric Hymn to Apollo is not alone. There are several other Greek myths of the early archaic period which display a similar number and range of parallels and the same awareness of the significance of the ideas underlying the activities of the gods which are presented in the myths. These ideas are of central importance to the myths analysed in this study, which, in the discussion of Greek myths, confines itself to literary works of the early archaic era or slightly later. The main works are the longer Homeric hymns, which were composed for the most part in the seventh century BC, and the poems of Hesiod, the Theogony and Works and Days, which slightly preceded the Homeric hymns. Almost all of the Mesopotamian and Greek myths analysed in this investigation of parallels and influence involve journeys, and one of the major ideas which is followed

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