Thespis: Ritual, Myth, and Drama in the Ancient Near East

By Theodor H. Gaster | Go to book overview

2. The Yuzgat Tablet

INTRODUCTION

A. SYNOPSIS

§1. Another specimen of the Hittite seasonal drama is preserved on the so-called Yuzgat Tablet, now in the Louvre.1 Written in the latter half of the second millennium B.C., this text falls into two parts: --

The first part2 is mythological and deals with the disappearance of the Sun-god and of Telipinu, genius of fertility. A colophon describes it expressly as the "wailings" for these two deities3 -- a title which puts it at once into the same category as the "lamentations" for Attis, the "weeping" for Tammuz and the "howlings" for Persephone, and which thus stamps it as the libretto of a liturgical performance.

The second part4 is of ritual character. It is concerned entirely with the presentation of offerings to both the Sun-god and Telipinu, listing the material to be used and describing the attendant procedures.

§2. The tablet is incomplete, some six columns being lost in the middle. It is therefore impossible to follow in detail either the plot or the sequence of the myth. Nevertheless, sufficient remains to make out its general pattern and drift.

The text opens in the middle of a speech by someone -- evidently a goddess -- who is imploring the supreme Weather-god to send his sons (i.e. the junior members of his circle) to bring relief from the havoc currently wrought on earth by a demon named Hahhimas, or Torpor,5 who has succeeded in bringing all life to a standstill and in drying up the streams. The

____________________
1
The tablet was acquired, in 1905, by the late A. H. Sayce at Yuzgat, about 30 miles east of Ankara. Most probably, it was part of the Boghaz-köi archive. Its height is 15.4 cm. and its maximum width 10.4 cm. Deposited at first in the Liverpool Institute of Archaeology, it was subsequently transferred to the Louvre, where it is registered under the number AO 4703. The text was first published by A. H. Sayce and T. G. Pinches , in 1907, as vol. xi of the Asiatic Society Monographs. At that time, however, Hittite was still undeciphered, so that the interpretation there given is now completely antiquated and the edition itself of little use apart from the reasonably good copy of the tablet by Pinches. In later years, after Hrozný and others had successfully attacked the decipherment of Hittite, Sayce essayed various "revision" of his original rendering. These appeared in JRAS 1920, 70-83; 1924, 645-53; 1930, 318-19. None, however, yielded a coherent sense, and all were dependent, to no small extent, on misreadings of the text and arbitrary or erroneous interpretations of the vocabulary. Finally, in 1930, Albrecht Goetze included a definitive copy of the tablet as No. 58 of his Verstreute Boghazköi-Texte, published at Marburg. The translation and interpretation, however, have continued to remain obscure.
2
Obv. 1-46.
3
Rev. 13.
4
Rev. 14-49.
5
Ct. Comm. §I.

-337-

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Thespis: Ritual, Myth, and Drama in the Ancient Near East
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Author's Preface ix
  • Table of Contents xiii
  • Part One 1
  • Chapter One - The Components of Drama 3
  • Chapter Two - The Seasonal Pattern in Ritual 6
  • Chapter Three - The Seasonal Pattern in the Ancient Near East 34
  • Chapter Four - The Seasonal Pattern in Myth 49
  • Chapter Five - The Seasonal Pattern in Literature 73
  • Part Two 109
  • Canaanite Texts 113
  • Appendix - Unplaced Fragments 223
  • Introduction 225
  • Introduction 257
  • Hittite Texts 315
  • Appendix 336
  • Introduction 337
  • 3. the Myth of Telipinu 353
  • Egyptian Texts 381
  • Introduction 405
  • Act One 407
  • Act Four 409
  • Act Six 410
  • Hebrew Texts 413
  • Greek Texts 429
  • The English Mummers' Play 439
  • Appendix - Philological Notes 445
  • Index of Motifs 461
  • Index of Subjects and Authors 467
  • Bibliography 483
  • Abreviations 497
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