Thursday, September 20, 2007

More on Gladstone

A couple of days ago I mentioned Burkert's reference to William Ewart Gladstone's noticing of the connection between the Enuma Elish and Homer in Burkert's article 'The Logic of Cosmogony'. His footnote to that passage directs the reader's attention to a place in his 1992 book The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age, an English translation and revision of a work first published in German in 1984. In that book (pp. 92-3), he writes:

Ti-amat is the form normally written in the text of Enuma Elish for the mother "who bore them all." The Akkadian word which lies behind this, however, is just tiamtu or tamtu, the normal word for the sea. The name can also be written in this more phonetic orthography; but in the Enuma Elish we also find the form taw(a)tu. If one proceeds from Tawtu, then Tethys is an exact transcription. The different reproductions of the dentals, t and th, might disturb the purist; but Sophilos wrote Thethys, which, in normal Greek orthography, would automatically yield Tethys. In fact the Enuma Elish became known to Eudemos, the pupil of Aristotle, in translation; here we find Tiamat transcribed as Tauthe, which is still closer to the reconstructed form Tawtu. That the long vowel a is changed to e in the Ionian dialect even in borrowed words has parallels in Kubaba becoming Kybebe, Baal becoming Belos, and Mada known as Medes. Thus the proof seems complete that here, right in the middle of the Iliad, the influence of two Akkadian classics can be detected down to a mythical name.

In one of the footnotes in this passage [14], we find a reference to Gladstone:
The first to see the connection between Enuma Elish and Homer, Tiamat and Tethys was W.E. Gladstone, Landmarks of Homeric study (1890), appendix... .

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