Portentous Birds Flying West: On the Mesopotamian Origin of Homeric Bird-Divination *

Portentous Birds Flying West: On the Mesopotamian Origin of Homeric Bird-Divination * Abstract Drawing on the Akkadian omen series Šumma Ālu and its predecessors, this essay argues for a Mesopotamian origin of Homeric bird-divination. Against the suggestion of Högemann and Oettinger that Greek bird-divination has its closest parallels with Hittite bird-divination, I argue that both in its function as a tool for divination and in its specific content, Homeric bird-divination, if not all such ancient Greek divination, finds much closer parallels in Mesopotamian divination traditions than it does in Anatolian traditions. I suggest that the late 8th century B.C.E. and the decades before and after 1200 B.C.E. represent two periods when conditions were particularly ripe for the introduction of Mesopotamian bird-divination into the Aegean and that itinerant diviners, perhaps in the employment of armies, were the most likely conveyors of this particular form of divination. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions Brill

Portentous Birds Flying West: On the Mesopotamian Origin of Homeric Bird-Divination *

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1569-2116
eISSN
1569-2124
D.O.I.
10.1163/15692124-12341245
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract Drawing on the Akkadian omen series Šumma Ālu and its predecessors, this essay argues for a Mesopotamian origin of Homeric bird-divination. Against the suggestion of Högemann and Oettinger that Greek bird-divination has its closest parallels with Hittite bird-divination, I argue that both in its function as a tool for divination and in its specific content, Homeric bird-divination, if not all such ancient Greek divination, finds much closer parallels in Mesopotamian divination traditions than it does in Anatolian traditions. I suggest that the late 8th century B.C.E. and the decades before and after 1200 B.C.E. represent two periods when conditions were particularly ripe for the introduction of Mesopotamian bird-divination into the Aegean and that itinerant diviners, perhaps in the employment of armies, were the most likely conveyors of this particular form of divination.

Journal

Journal of Ancient Near Eastern ReligionsBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2013

Keywords: Homer; Iliad ; Odyssey ; omens; divination; eagle; falcon; snake; Šumma Ālu ; augury; BM 108874

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