BMCR 2006.07.10

Response: Kitts on Nardelli on Kitts, Sanctified Violence in Homeric Society

Response to 2006.06.09

Response by

In response to Jean-Gabrice Nardelli, allow me to point out that I did discover Susan Ackerman’s book after I wrote mine. But to be fair, mine is not on the same topic. Thrilling as are the love stories between these heroes in antiquity, they are only peripherally related to my discussion of “cutting oaths and friendship” and the ritual gesture of taking by the hand (my pages 79-89), as these relate to the broader theme of oath-making in the Iliad. I have used David and Jonathan only as an interesting point of reference, as I have used Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The Hittite bronze tablet is elaborated because it uses precise language of oath-making to denote the cementing of the bond between Tudhaliya IV and Kurunta (basically assuuas by lenkiias).

As for the therapon/tarpanalli relationship between Achilles and Patroklos, first of all I do discuss it at pages 83-86 and again in my discussion of the oath by the scepter, at pages 106-111. I did not rehash all the usual arguments because they have been well-known at least since Gregory Nagy’s Best of the Achaeans in 1979, and stem back to Nadia van Brock, in 1959. Dale Sinos worked on the same themes in 1980 and Steven Lowenstam in 1981. My 2005 book is on oath-making ritual scenes in the Iliad, and not on the intimacy between heroes.

Further, my introduction makes it clear that I rely on Near Eastern sources only selectively, and have not gone to the original Semitic sources, including the Bible. It was my aim to offer a theory of composition relating to Homeric ritual scenes, particularly oath-making scenes, not to ponder love in the Bible or in the Epic of Gilgamesh. It is unfair to expect a book on ritual scenes in Homer to integrate all the available scholarship on ancient love stories.

Sources cited, in order of citation:

Susan Ackerman, When Heroes Love, The Ambiguity of Eros in the Stories of Gilgamesh and David (New York: Columbia University Press 2005).

Gregory Nagy, Best of the Achaeans (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press 1979).

Nadia van Brock, “Substitution Rituelle,” Revue Hittite et Asianique 65 (1959): 117-46.

Dale S. Sinos, Achilles, Patroklos, and the Meaning of Philos (Innsbruck: Innsburcker Beitrage zur Sprachwissenschaft 1980).

Steven Lowenstam, The Death of Patroklos, A Study in Typology (Konigstein/Ts: Hain 1981).