Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2006.07.01

Nardelli on Kitts on Ready on Kitts.   Response to 2006.06.29

Response by Jean-Fabrice Nardelli, Université de Provence (

One feature of Kitts' rebuttal reads as an egregious example of how some authors would have one receive their argumentation. When she says that she "show[ed] a common composite of motifs (. . .) in the stories of friendship between Hittite king Tudhaliya IV and Kurunta, Biblical David and Jonathan, and Homeric Achilles and Patroklos", she is plainly and simply blustering: while the treaty of friendship between Tudhaliya and Kurunta is given full attention indeed on pp. 82 note 80, 85-86 and 89 of the book under review, up to the point of printing the Hittite in the footnotes, David and Jonathan as a pair are treated only in passing on p. 83 (12 generic lines citing no scholarship at all; Ackermann appeared too late to be consulted by Kitts, but it was certainly desirable to refer the reader to some older literature, if not to my own extended treatment,1) and the pairing Achilles / Patroklos receives the barest of mentions on 79 note 71 (a secondary reference whose conclusions are not specified) and 81. Whatever reasons lurk behind such a disproportion, this hardly provides comparison enough for the common bond of solidarity (conspicuous but still in need of qualification as to its sexual overtones) between these three pairs or for what we are entitled to infer from it. Kitts says in her response that "all of this [sic!] may be envisioned against a similar set of motifs for illustrating the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu in the Babylonian version of the epic of Gilgamesh". But all a reader can discover in her book about the affair between the Sumerian pals lies in this statement on p. 86 "the theme of an intimate and binding friendship endorsed by a significant parent is of course widespread in ancient literature. Gilgamesh and Enkidu, David and Jonathan, and Achilles and Patroklos leap to mind".

[For a response to this response by Margo Kitts, please see BMCR 2006.07.10.]


1.   Susan Ackerman, When Heroes Love: The Ambiguity of Eros in the Stories of Gilgamesh and David (Columbia University Press, 2005); J.-F. Nardelli, Le motif de la paire d'amis héroïque à prolongements homophiles. Perspectives odysséennes et proche-orientales (Hakkert, 2004), chapter 2 (pp. 60-91) with additional notes on 204-226. Kitts ought to have directed her Semiticless reader, at the very least, towards Robert Alter, The David Story. A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel (Norton, 1999), 123-130 (the pact or treaty with David) and 198-201 (the lament on Jonathan's death).

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