Изображения страниц

southern point of Greece. But then appear the “ruinous winds" and we are at the beginning of the Irrfahrten, where at the same time we find ourselves face to face with oldOriental mythological motives which go back to the Gilgamesh epic. Odysseus is carried with his ships to the land. of the Lotus-Eaters, probably an epithet of the Egyptians. Continuing his journey he reached the country of the giant people called Cyclopes. The episode described corresponds to the adventure of Gilgamesh with the scorpion giants. Why the adventure with the Lotus-Eaters precedes the adventure with the Cyclopes offers some difficulty if compared directly with the Babylonian story, but this is cleared up when we remember that the myth had been transmitted to the Greeks via Judea. Here we have the analogous story of Moses, who had come from Egypt. When Moses sent his twelve spies into Palestine they found in that country, near Hebron, fearful giants. It will be recalled that Odysseus joins his twelve spies in entering the land of the Cyclopes. It had been observed that the giants of the Old Testament are called "men of names," that is "renowned men" (Gen. 6.4). This is interesting and it is therefore, to all appearances, not accidental that the name of the cannibal giant whose eye Odysseus destroyed, is called Polyphemus, son of Poseidon. Polyphemus, however, also means "highly renowned." Amycus, again, who, in the myth of the Argonauts, corresponds to Polyphemus in the Odyssey, has all the earmarks of an origin in the Babylonian word emuqu, *amuqu, "strong." No discrepancy is to be found in the facts that the spies of Moses find delicious fruits, tremendously large grapes, pomegranates, and figs, in the country, which can be justified geographically, and that the Odyssey places this abundance of fruit in the country of the Cyclopes as well. Odyssey IX states: "And we came to the land of the Cyclopes, a froward and lawless people, who trusting to the deathless gods, plant nothing with their hands, neither do they plough: but, behold, all these things spring for them in plenty, unsown and untilled, wheat, and barley, and vines, which bear great clusters of the juice of the grape,

and the rain of Zeus gives them increase." From the country of the Cyclopes, Odysseus came to the isle of Aeolus, king of the winds. Aeolus is clearly an Utnapishtim figure. In the Moses story, where Aeolus corresponds to Balak, king of Moab, we learn why Odysseus returns a second time to Aeolus. Also, Moses was twice in Moab, first before he moved against the giant Og of Basan, and a second time after the journey of the twelve spies into Canaan. Then follows the adventure with the Laestrygonian giants, which seems to be a derivative of a Moses myth against the giant Og. After the giants of Laestrygonian Lamos had destroyed the fleet of Odysseus save one ship, he made his escape to the isle of Circe. Here we meet with pure Babylonian elements. Just as the goddess Ishtar had brought distress upon six of her lovers by changing them into various beasts, so the goddess Circe changed the companions of Odysseus into swine. And as Ishtar then asked for the love of Gilgamesh, so Circe entreated Odysseus to remain with her. The attitude of Odysseus toward Circe is the same as that of Gilgamesh toward the goddess Ishtar. On the way to the home of Circe in the woodland isle, Odysseus had met the divine messenger Hermes (Merkurius), who handed him the "herb of virtue" which he had plucked from the ground and the growth of which he had shown to Odysseus. This is exactly the episode in the Babylonian epic where Gilgamesh, having come to the divine forest and to the house of Ishtar-Siduri, met in the forest Amel-Ea, as he is in the act of plucking something. Having spent a year on the wooded island of Circe, the goddess commanded Odysseus to journey to Hades, in order to learn the way home from the ghost of the Theban prophet, Teiresias.

Odysseus' descent into Hades and his discourses with the ghosts of the departed heroes, especially with Teiresias, have long ago been brought into relation with the Babylonian epic, before it had even been closely studied from the standpoint of the mythologist. The corresponding details in both epics are as follows: Odysseus reaches the place where the rivers Pyriphlegethon and Cocytus, a branch of the water

of the Styx, flow into Acheron. Gilgamesh reaches the mouth of the streams in the uttermost west, across the okeanos, called in the epic the water of death. Odysseus meets the spirit of the Theban Teiresias, holding a golden scepter in the hand, indicative of kingship. Teiresias' wits "abode steadfast" and Persephone had given unto him judgment even in death that he alone should have understanding, while the other souls sweep, shadow-like, around. In agreement therewith, Gilgamesh meets the ancient king, Uthapishtim, who bears the epithet, Atrachasis, "the allwise." While Teiresias tells Odysseus how he may reach home safely, and how he will die, Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh that he will be compelled to die the death of all other mortals, while Utnapishtim's wife hands unto the hero a marvelous thing of the sea, as a talisman to carry him safely to his home.

The first soul which appeared to Odysseus was that of his companion, Elpenor, who had not yet been buried "for we left the corpse behind us in the hall of Circe, unwept and unburied, seeing that another task was instant upon us." Elpenor charged Odysseus: "Leave me not unwept and unburied as thou goest hence." Upon the request of Gilgamesh appeared the shadow of the quite recently deceased friend and companion Engidu, who also, at first, had been left unburied. Engidu informs his friend about the fate of the dead and especially of the wretched condition of those spirits whose bodies had remained unburied and uncared for.

Teiresias, however, who in the story of the Argonauts corresponds to Phineus, is not a pure Utnapishtim figure, but an old Utnapishtim and a dead Engidu. This fact again points, not in the direction of Babylonia, but to Palestine, as the country from which the motives were introduced into Greece. The composite figure is found in the Hebrew Gilgamesh myths and especially in the Moses myth in the person of Bileam, son of Beor, who announced his fate to Israel, after king Balak of Moab had called Bileam unto him.

The Odyssey is clothed not merely with motives of the Gilgamesh-Moses myth, but with motives from another cycle, in so far as the story of Telemachus is distinctly part of the Saul-Samuel-David myth. Just as Saul is sent out by his father with one companion to Samuel to question him regarding the whereabouts of the lost she-asses of his father, so Telemachus leaves his father's palace with Mentor, journeying to Nestor of Pylos, to inquire about his father's whereabouts. Saul as well as Telemachus meets old Samuel (old Nestor) while engaged in performing a sacrificial feast, and each guest receives the place of honor and partakes of the best morsels of meat. Both remain overnight and then depart, each with his companion. Telemachus came to Pherae to the house of Diocles, son of Orsilochus, and thence to Sparta, where Menelaus tells him what befell many of the Greeks on their return and that Odysseus was with Calypso in the isle of Ogygia, while Helen announced to the young man that Odysseus would soon again return home. Telemachus, leaving Lacedaemon with the presents given him by Menelaus, finally comes to the seer, Theoclymenus, who joins him on his way home. In the story of Telemachus we thus have three meetings, that is, the same number as in the story of Saul. Having left Samuel, Saul first meets two men who announced to him that the she-asses have been found, but that his father now worries over him. Next, Saul meets three men who hand him two loaves of bread, and finally some prophets, whom he joins on his way home. Having landed on the home shores, Telemachus goes to the hut of the swineherd, Eumaeus, and meets his father who reveals himself to him. In the Saul story Saul returns to the peasant home where he meets his uncle and where, in the meantime, the she-asses have been found.

In the Odyssey in place of the she-asses appears Odysseus the father, but the Saul-legend, which thus had to be modified to fit into the major theme, reappears with the animal motive in Book XXI in reference to the bow and arrows which Odysseus had received as gifts from Iphitus, son of Eurytus. Odysseus, as a boy, had gone to Messene, being

sent by his father to recover three hundred sheep which the men of Messene had taken, in benched ships, from Ithaca.

The Odysseus story, I hope I have made clear without entering into too much detail, is therefore a GilgameshMoses legend, while the Telemachus story is connected with the Saul-Samuel-David legend.

The latter cycle of myths, however, also embodies at least the nucleus of the Iliad. Here Nestor corresponds to Samuel, Achilles to David, Agamemnon to Saul, and Patroclus to Jonathan.

Nestor had come to the fair-set halls of Peleus, the father of Achilles. There Peleus was burning the fat thighs of kine to Zeus, after which sacrifice the entertainment of strangers was set before the guest. In like fashion Samuel came to Isai, the father of David, and here also we have the sacrifice and the sacrificial meal. Peleus of Phthia sent his son to king Agamemnon, as David was brought from his home to king Saul. Achilles and David both play the lyre while Agamemnon and Saul are spear-throwers. Patroclus, who as a boy had been brought from Opus to the house of Peleus, had entered into friendship with Achilles, and is called Achilles' dearest comrade. So did David enter into close friendship with Jonathan though at the court of Saul. The premature death of Patroclus brought great sorrow to Achilles, as the premature death of Jonathan to David. Achilles is the leading hero under Agamemnon, David the leading hero under Saul. The relation between Agamemnon and Achilles at the siege of Troy was caused by the jealousies of Agamemnon, that is, the same motive which caused David to fall out with king Saul.

It cannot be my task within these limits to sketch the detailed correspondence of the Iliad with the Saul-SamuelDavid myths-the few meager indications given must suffice for the present. A more intensive familiarity with the history and the culture of the Ancient Near Eastern peoples, and foremost among them the Babylonians, must do away with the still common, but entirely unfounded, prejudice that the Ancient Orient occupies but an inferior

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »