The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age

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The rich and splendid 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 neighbors. Walter Burkert offers a decisive argument against that distorted view, replacing it with a balanced picture of the archaic period "in which, under the influence of the Semitic East, Greek culture began its unique flowering, soon to assume cultural hegemony in the Mediterranean." Burkert focuses on the "orientalizing" century 750-650 B.C., the...
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Overview

The rich and splendid 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 neighbors. Walter Burkert offers a decisive argument against that distorted view, replacing it with a balanced picture of the archaic period "in which, under the influence of the Semitic East, Greek culture began its unique flowering, soon to assume cultural hegemony in the Mediterranean." Burkert focuses on the "orientalizing" century 750-650 B.C., the period of Assyrian conquest, Phoenician commerce, and Greek exploration of both East and West, when not only eastern skills and images but also the Semitic art of writing were transmitted to Greece. He tracks the migrant craftsmen who brought the Greeks new techniques and designs, the wandering seers and healers teaching magic and medicine, and the important Greek borrowings from Near Eastern poetry and myth. Drawing widely on archaeological, textual, and historical evidence, he demonstrates that eastern models significantly affected Greek literature and religion in the Homeric age.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Burkert (classics, U. of Zurich) draws on archaeological, textual, and historical evidence to demonstrate that eastern models significantly affected Greek literature and religion in the Homeric age, 750-650 B.C. Revised and translated from the original publication in German in 1984. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
American Historical Review

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

Times Literary Supplement

An elegant and academically influential work...The Orientalizing Revolution can be enthusiastically recommended.
— Simon Hornblower

Greece and Rome
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.
Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin

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

American Historical Review - Carol G. Thomas
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.
Times Literary Supplement - Simon Hornblower
An elegant and academically influential work...The Orientalizing Revolution can be enthusiastically recommended.
Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin - Mark W. Chavalas
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674643635
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1992
  • Series: Revealing Antiquity Series
  • Pages: 238
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.62 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

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

Preface
Introduction 1
1 "Who Are Public Workers": The Migrant Craftsmen 9
Historical Background 9
Oriental Products in Greece 14
Writing and Literature in the Eighth Century 25
The Problem of Loan-Words 33
2 "A Seer or a Healer": Magic and Medicine 41
"Craftsmen of the Sacred": Mobility and Family Structure 41
Hepatoscopy 46
Foundation Deposits 53
Purification 55
Spirits of the Dead and Black Magic 65
Substitute Sacrifice 73
Asclepius and Asgelatas 75
Ecstatic Divination 79
Lamashtu, Lamia, and Gorgo 82
3 "Or Also a Godly Singer": Akkadian and Early Greek Literature 88
From Atrahasis to the "Deception of Zeus" 88
Complaint in Heaven: Ishtar and Aphrodite 96
The Overpopulated Earth 100
Seven against Thebes 106
Common Style and Stance in Oriental and Greek Epic 114
Fables 120
Magic and Cosmogony 124
Conclusion 128
Abbreviations 131
Bibliography 135
Notes 153
Index of Greek Words 219
General Index 221
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