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date: 23 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Hesiod’s indebtedness to Near Eastern material is more frequently discussed than the Indo-European background of his poetry. This chapter argues for a holistic understanding of how Indo-European prehistory and Near Eastern analogues contribute together to the formation of Hesiodic language and thought. Concentrating on Theogony 35, ἀλλὰ τίη μοι ταῦτα περὶ δρῦν ἢ περὶ πέτρην;, “But what are these things about a tree or a rock to me?,” I demonstrate that this enigmatic question encapsulates Hesiod’s role as mouthpiece at the head of the simultaneously Indo-European- and Near Eastern-based tradition of Greek poetry. By means of artful phonology here and throughout the proem, Hesiod highlights, in ways not previously noticed, the quite different sounds of the melodious Muses and their loud-thundering father, Zeus, who, like the Near Eastern storm god, has a robust association with prophetic oaks and stones.

Keywords: ancient Near East, Indo-European, Muses, prophecy, proverbs, sounds, storm god, trees and rocks, Zeus

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