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Ninsun and Penelope (1)

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04 Religious and philosophical literature and poetry

Greek Archaic Age
Akkadian poetry
Greek poets

The behaviour of Ninsun and Penelope in these passages is similar, while both are praying for their adventurous relatives. In its details the text of Odyssey comes close to being a translation of the Gilgameš Epic.

Gilgameš Epic (SBV) 3:
Ninsun enters her chamber, she takes a … (special herb), she puts on a garment as befits her body, she puts on an ornament as befits her breast … she sprinkles water from a bowl on earth and dust. She went up the stairs, mounted the upper storey, she climbed the roof, to Šamaš she offered incense, she brought the offering and raised her hands before Šamaš.

Homer, Odyssey 4.759-767:
She (= Penelope) then bathed, and took clean raiment for her body, and went up to her upper chamber with her handmaids, and placing barley grains in a basket prayed to Athena: “Hear me, child of Zeus who bears the aegis, unwearied one. If ever Odysseus, of many wiles, burnt to thee in his halls fat thigh-pieces of heifer or ewe, remember these things now, I pray thee, and save my dear son, and ward off from him the wooers in their evil insolence.” So saying she raised the sacred cry, and the goddess heard her prayer.

Sources (list of abbreviations) (source links will open in a new browser window)
Gilgameš Epic (SBV) 3.34-44
Homer, Odyssey 4.759-767


Burkert 1992, 100Burkert, Walter. The Orientalizing Revolution. Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Period. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press 1992.

Amar Annus

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