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The corpse of a comrade (1)

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04 Religious and philosophical literature and poetry

Greek Archaic Age
Akkadian poetry
Greek poets

Gilgameš Epic (SBV) 10.46-48, 57-60:
Said Gilgameš to her, to the tavern-keeper: ‘Why should my cheeks not be hollow, my face not sunken, my mood not wretched, my visage not wasted? … My friend Enkidu, whom I loved so dear, who with me went through every danger - the doom of mortals overtook him. Six days I wept for him and seven nights. I did not surrender his body for burial, until a worm fell from his nose.

Homer, Iliad 18.334-337, 19.23-39:
But now, Patroclus, seeing I shall after you pass beneath the earth, I will not give you burial till I have brought hither the armour and the head of Hector, the slayer of you, the great-souled; and of twelve glorious sons of the Trojans will I cut the throats before your pyre in my wrath at your slaying. … Now therefore will I array me for battle; yet am I sore afraid lest meantime flies enter the wounds that the bronze has dealt on the corpse of the valiant son of Menoetius, and breed worms therein, and work shame upon his corpse - for the life is slain out of him - and so all his flesh shall rot. Then the goddess, silver-footed Thetis, answered him: ‘My child, let not these things distress your heart. From him will I essay to ward off the savage tribes, the flies that feed upon men slain in battle. For even though he lie for the full course of a year, yet shall his flesh be sound continually, or better even than now it is. But do you call to the place of gathering the Achaean warriors, and renounce your wrath against Agamemnon, shepherd of the host, and then array yourself with all speed for battle and clothe yourself in your might.’ So saying, she filled him with dauntless courage, and on Patroclus she shed ambrosia and ruddy nectar through his nostrils, that his flesh might be sound continually.

Sources (list of abbreviations) (source links will open in a new browser window)
Gilgameš Epic (SBV) 10.46-48
Gilgameš Epic (SBV) 10.57-60
Homer, Iliad 18.334-377
Homer, Iliad 19.23-39


West 1997, 343West, Martin L. The East Face of Helicon. West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1997.

Amar Annus

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