Sunday, November 02, 2014


Apopompē and Epipompē in a Hittite Hymn

M.L. West, Indo-European Poetry and Myth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 323:
When the deity has been effectively invoked and lauded, it remains to ask him or her for boons. This completes a logical structure that is arguably Indo-European. The invocatory hymn to Telibinu read daily on behalf of the Hittite king exemplifies it well. Here it is in outline:

(Summons to the god) Now whether, esteemed Telibinu, thou art up in heaven among the gods, or in the sea, or gone to roam the mountains, or gone to the country of the enemy to battle, now let the sweet and soothing cedar essence summon thee: come back to thy temple! ... Whatever I say to thee, hold thine ear inclined to me, O god, and hearken to it.

(Praises, occupying about half of the whole) Thou, Telibinu, art an estimable god; thy name is estimable among names; thy divinity is estimable among the gods ...

(Prayers, paraphrased) Grant the king and queen and princes life, health, strength, long years, progeny, fertility of crops and livestock, peace and prosperity; transfer famine and plague to our enemies' lands.30

30 CTH 377; Lebrun (1980), 180–91.
CTH is Emmanuel Laroche, Catalogue des textes hittites (Paris: Klincksieck, 1971), cited by text number, and Lebrun is René Lebrun, Hymnes et prières hittites (Louvain-la-Neuve: Centre d'Histoire des Religions, 1980), both unavailable to me. The hymn is edited and translated by Alexei Kassian and Ilya Yakubovich, "Muršili II's prayer to Telipinu (CTH 377)," in D. Groddek and M. Zorman, edd., Tabularia Hethaeorum: Hethitologische Beiträge Silvin Košak zum 65. Geburtstag (Wiesbaden, 2007 = Dresdner Beiträge zur Hethitologie 25), pp. 423-455. Here is an excerpt from the translation (p. 434):
§ 3' (III 16'-17'). But from the land of Ḫatti [take awa]y evil f[ever], plague, famine and locusts!
§ 4' (III 18' — IV 4). (As for) the enemy lands, which are arrogant (and) rebellious(?), and whichever (of the peoples of those lands) are not respectful to you, Telipinu, and to the gods of Ḫatti, whichever wish to burn down your(pl.) temples, whichever seek to take (your) rhyta, cups [and utensils] of silver (and) gold; whichever [see]k to lay waste to them, (namely) your(pl.) fallow lands, vineyards, gardens (and) groves,
§ 5' (IV 5-8). Whichever seek to capture them, (namely) (your) ploughmen, vinedressers, gardeners (and) grinding women, to those lands give the evil fever, [plagu]e, famine and locusts!
This is a striking example of the difference between apopompē and epipompē. Richard Wünsch (1869-1915) first used the terms apopompē (ἀποπομπή) and epipompē (ἐπιπομπή) to describe two different ways of banishing evil. See his "Zur Geisterbannung im Altertum," Festschrift zur Jahrhundertfeier der Universität zu Breslau = Mitteilungen der Schlesischen Gesellschaft für Volkskunde 13/14 (1911) 9-32. Wünsch used apopompē to mean simply driving away evil, epipompē to mean driving away evil onto someone or something else or to some other specific location.

In this hymn, we see an example of apopompē (simply driving away evil) at § 3' (III 16'-17'):
But from the land of Ḫatti [take awa]y evil f[ever], plague, famine and locusts!
At § 4' (III 18' — IV 4) and § 5' (IV 5-8), on the other hand, we see an example of epipompē (driving away evil onto someone or something else or to some other specific location), here to "the enemy lands" and their inhabitants who don't respect the god.

Kassian and Yakubovich in their commentary on this passage (pp. 448-450) don't discuss these two ways of banishing evil. More examples of epipompē can be found here.

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