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Damascenos in the fourth book of his history, the sons of a certain Hymenaios, Tantalos and Ascalos, were separated by the Lydian king, Akiamos, by sending Ascalos with an army to Syria. There the latter fell in love with a maiden and founded a city to which he gave his name. Here, too, the original astral-mythological form of historical representation is still clearly discernible. The story of the sons of Pelops, Atreus and Thyestes, to whom had been handed over the lordship of Midea (Lebadea) by Sthenelos, after the latter had chased Amphitryon, the father of Herakles, from Argos, also preserves elements of the customary historical viewpoint.
An echo of the influence of Assyro-Babylonian culture upon Greece is probably to be found in the exaggerated importance which later historians attached to the Assyrian power. Thus Ktesias, a physician who went ca. 416 B. C. to Persia and wrote a Persian history in twenty-three books, narrates concerning Ninos that he had conquered Troas. This is also maintained by Plato in his dialogue concerning the laws. Speaking of the conquest of the Peloponnesus by the Dorians under the three Heraklides, Temenos, Eresphontes, and Aristodemos, he says: "It is pretty clear that they [the Heraklides] believed that their undertaking would not only render suitable assistance to the Peloponnesians, but also to all Hellenes when a barbarian should injure them; as, for example, the neighbors of Ilion at that time, who, trusting in the power of the Assyrians, founded by Ninos, boldly stirred up war against Ilion. For the lingering reputation of that kingdom was still not insignificant. Just as we fear the great king, even so that compact power frightened the former [Greeks]. For a great guilt they had laid upon themselves through the second conquest of Ilion since it had become part of that kingdom."
Historically, this statement of Plato is of little value, but it seems that he must have had in mind the Greek myth which ascribes the founding of Ilion to Ilos. Ilos apparently was taken to be a personification of the Assyrian empire through its god Ilu. Philological speculation may
have been at the root of this, as well as the fact that Ilos is called the son of Dardanos, the founder of Dardania, who in Greek tradition is permitted to come from Crete and from Samothrake. The tradition, it is obvious, is here confused. A philological interpretation may have had the Assyrian tartanu "general-in-chief" in mind. But it is strange that the castle of Ilion also is called Dardania. Should one conclude therefore that an Assyrian garrison under an Assyrian tartanu occupied it, and that the Greeks thereupon coined the proper name Dardanos, and invented a people of the Dardanians? Certainly not, because the Egyptian inscriptions in the time of Rameses II (ca. 1300 B. C.) do tell of such an Asia Minor people. Still the statements of Ktesias and Plato are highly interesting. As the commanders of the Dardanians appear Anchises and his son Aeneas. Anchises, however, was a son of Kapys, who had as father, Assarak. According to Conon (chap. 12) Assarak ruled in Dardania, while his brother Ilos ruled in Ilion. The historical tradition here becomes associated with Assyria, because Assarak is no other than Nisroch, the Assyrian eagle god of the Old Testament.
One sees that little of actual historical material has been preserved by the later Greeks; nevertheless the tradition. indirectly testifies to the influences which Assyro-Babylonia exerted to some extent on the early Greeks. Nor was it alone the historical viewpoint of the Babylonians that was cultivated or at least retained to some extent; other cultural influences flowed steadily, sometimes slowly, sometimes rapidly, from Babylonia into Greece. While it would be difficult to show any traces of Oriental influences on Greek thought prior to the Persian period and subsequent to the Homeric period, contact with Persia undoubtedly brought the Greeks into direct touch with Babylonian thought. And in the time of Alexander there lived in Babylonia the greatest astronomer that antiquity has produced, namely, Kidinnu (Greek Kidenas), who directed the astronomer's school at Sippar ca. 314 B. C. Kidinnu, at that, wrote in Greek, and so did Sudines, one of his successors, who came ca. 200
B. C. to the court of the Attalides in Pergamon. Kidinnu's greatest discovery was the precession of the equinoxes, a discovery which is wrongly attributed to Hipparchos of Nikaia (ca. 146 B. C.). Such men, and especially Kidinnu, must have affected Greek astronomy much more than we have supposed. Also, Oriental, and especially Babylonian, thought began slowly to invade Greek literature as well; and we now unreservedly acknowledge that certain portions of the Babylonian astral religion entered into the arithmetic and geometric mysticism of the Pythagoreans. Plato himself was influenced by these astral ideas of the Babylonians much more than hitherto we could know, through his contact with Orphic mysticism and with the Pythagoreans. Eudoxos, the friend of Plato, also knew "the Chaldean art,' and, while he rejected the horoscope and the fatalistic influence of the stars upon man, he nevertheless appears to have considered presaging from the heavens as truly scientific. Plato's pupil, Philip of Opus, as is to be seen from the Epinomis, is wholly captivated by Babylonian astrology. Especially strong were the Babylonian influences during the Hellenistic period. I need mention only two names: the Babylonian stoic, Diogenes of Seleukia on the Tigris (ca. 200 B. C.) and, in particular, the Syrian Poseidonios of Apameia (ca. 100 B. C.).
In the Hermetic and apocalyptic literature, especially in the apocalypses of Nechepso and Petosiris (the latter's book was called "the Bible of the Astrologer"), much Oriental and especially Babylonian knowledge of an astral nature was disseminated.
The influence of the Assyro-Babylonians in Greece reached even into the domain of plastic art. During the prime of the Hittites, the Phoenicians, and the Assyrians, there existed no plastic art in Greece which had any distinctness of style. Such a definite style appears for the first time in the draping of the Akropoliscores, and was developed in the second half of the sixth century. And it is exactly this purely stylistic stimulus which the Greeks at that time. received from the Persians. For the scheme of draping is a
Persian contribution and was developed by them from indigenous beginnings. Style in hair treatment is Assyrian and came from Assyria to Persia and thence to Greece. In the Greek archaic plastic art practically every style of representation of hair and beard used by the Assyrians is present and it is the usual headdress of the Assyrians, not of the Greeks, that is the predominating form.
The Babylonian motive of two symmetrically arranged animals of the same type which are joined at the back is another instance of borrowing. It was taken over by the Greeks in the first millenium from Asia Minor. In Greece, besides the doubling of the same animal (see f. i., Brit. Mus. Cat. of Greek Bronzes no. 172), there appear variants of two different animals whose front parts are thus combined, as lion or horse, etc. (Furtwängler, Die ant. Gemmen, III, 105). It is, however, significant that only the "archaicGreek" art knows this motive, and that it is unknown. later on.
While I am of the opinion that prior to the Persian period extraneous influences were little felt in Greece, this fact gives no clue to what was going on in the pre-Homeric period. At that time Greece as a political power, such as the new material now reveals it to have been, had, nolens volens, to enter into the spirit of the Orient, and the Orient was dominated by Babylonian thought. This becomes clearer when we study the Odyssey and the Iliad in the new light which Oriental texts have thrown upon them. Here, however, I have to be very brief, but I hope without loss of clarity.
The Gilgamesh epic is one of the oldest literary works of the world. Its importance to the Babylonian is comparable only to the importance of the Pyramid texts to the early Egyptians. It deals with the heroic deeds and the painful tribulations of king Gilgamesh. Himself a demigod, he rebelled against the ancient gods and succeeded in the end in conquering them. He was the first human being to question an apotheosized man and a dead man regarding the secrets of the past, of death, of the future, and of paradise. He achieved all his will save in one thing only
immortality on earth, though in striving for it he overcame immense difficulties and fearful dangers. But he remained subject to death, and was compelled to lead a shadow life in the world of the dead, though as a demigod, not like the other mortals; for he was a divine judge, a Babylonian Minos, Aeacus, or Rhadamanthys.
Thus the Epos was to the Babylonians not merely a heroic epic, but, dealing with a god who was still active and who was of importance to those still living, it was a gospel of a new solar divinity, the sacred book of the Babylonians.
We are now in a position to estimate the importance of that sacred book not only for the Babylonians, but also for other groups of people. This importance to others may now be further attested by the fact that the excavations in Boghazkoi in Asia Minor have brought forth fragments of the epic not only in the Assyro-Babylonian language, but also in translation into two non-Semitic languages. The mythology of the epic has spread far and wide and lives on in myths which have been developed from it, as in the case of the Syro-Arabic Sul-Shumul myth, and the Hindu Saktideva myth, and it forms the leading thread of the great Indic epics of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, etc.
Our special interest here is in the fact that the Gilgamesh saga has found its way into Greece, though rather indirectly via Syria or Palestine. It is well known that the Odyssey contains historical legends and myths woven with extraordinary artistic skill into a whole, which is generally taken as the chief argument in favor of a single authorship. This may or may not be true, for the cement which connects the various legends is taken from the Gilgamesh epic and might well have been the work of a single poet, or, equally well, the product of a school of poets. The action of the Odyssey occupies the last six weeks of the ten years of Odysseus' Wanderjahre. The number of weeks chosen is by no means accidental or irrevelant. Here already is an indication of Palestinian contacts. After the fall of Troy and the return of Odysseus, all went well at first until he touches Ismarus, a Thracian city, and then Malea, the extreme