From Hittite to Homer: The Anatolian Background of Ancient Greek Epic

From Hittite to Homer: The Anatolian Background of Ancient Greek Epic

by Mary R. Bachvarova


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This book provides a groundbreaking reassessment of the prehistory of Homeric epic. It argues that in the Early Iron Age bilingual poets transmitted to the Greeks a set of narrative traditions closely related to the one found at Bronze-Age Hattusa, the Hittite capital. Key drivers for Near Eastern influence on the developing Homeric tradition were the shared practices of supralocal festivals and venerating divinized ancestors, and a shared interest in creating narratives about a legendary past using a few specific storylines: theogonies, genealogies connecting local polities, long-distance travel, destruction of a famous city because it refuses to release captives, and trying to overcome death when confronted with the loss of a dear companion. Professor Bachvarova concludes by providing a fresh explanation of the origins and significance of the Greco-Anatolian legend of Troy, thereby offering a new solution to the long-debated question of the historicity of the Trojan War.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521509794
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 03/10/2016
Pages: 690
Product dimensions: 7.17(w) x 9.96(h) x 1.38(d)

About the Author

Mary R. Bachvarova is Professor in the Department of Classical Studies at Willamette University, Oregon. She was trained both in classics and in the languages and cultures of Anatolia and the Near East. She is the co-editor, with B. J. Collins and I. C. Rutherford, of Anatolian Interfaces: Hittites, Greeks and Their Neighbours (2005). She has also written a new translation of Hurro-Hittite narrative songs in the recently published Ancient Mediterranean Myths: Primary Sources from Ancient Greece, Rome, and the Near East, edited by C. López-Ruiz (2013).

Table of Contents

1. Introduction; 2. Hurro-Hittite song at Hattusa; 3. Gilgamesh at Hattusa: written texts and oral traditions; 4. The Hurro-Hittite ritual context of Gilgamesh at Hattusa; 5. The plot of the Song of Release; 6. The place of the Song of Release in its Eastern Mediterranean context; 7. The function and prehistory of the Song of Release; 8. Sargon the Great: from history to myth; 9. Long-distance interactions: theory, practice, and myth; 10. Festivals: a milieu for cultural contact; 11. The context of epic in Late Bronze and Early Iron Age Greece; 12. Cyprus as a source of Syro-Anatolian epic in the Early Iron Age; 13. Cultural contact in Late Bronze Age Western Anatolia; 14. Continuity of memory at Troy and in Anatolia; 15. The history of the Homeric tradition; 16. The layers of Anatolian influence in the Iliad; Appendix. Contraction and the dactylic hexameter.

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