Monday, April 16, 2018



M.L. West (1937-2015), The East Face of Helicon: West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth (1997; rpt. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2003), p. 544:
Aeschylus? Aeschylus? Was this not the man who fought at Marathon and Salamis against the forces of the East? The poet who first articulated the antithesis of Hellene and barbarian, and posited the all-round inferiority of the latter to the former? Pioneer of the most quintessentially and autonomously Greek of literary forms, Attic tragedy? Is even he now to be found prey to these insidious oriental influences that seem to reach everywhere?
Id., pp. 557-558:
Let us start from the famous invocation in the Supplices,
ἄναξ ἀνάκτων, μακάρων
μακάρτατε καὶ τελέων
τελειότατον κράτος, ὄλβιε Ζεῦ.

Lord of lords, most blessed of the blessed ones and most powerful of powers, felicitous Zeus.
Unprecedented and indeed almost unparalleled in Greek, this is an absolutely clear imitation of divine titles current in the Near East. Not only were deities addressed there with individual expressions such as 'lord of lords', 'king of kings', 'god of gods'; it was common for two or three such phrases to be juxtaposed, as in the Aeschylean passage. Thus an Akkadian-Hittite bilingual has the combination 'mistress of mistresses, goddess of goddesses'. Enlil is addressed in Assyrian prayers as 'lord of lords, king of kings'. On a stele of Nabonidus at Harran, Sin is called 'Enlil of the gods, king of kings, lord of lords'. Similarly in the Old Testament: 'For Yahweh your god is the god of gods and lord of lords'; 'the god of gods ... the lord of lords'. There are also Egyptian parallels.26 It is to be noted that according to Semitic idiom 'king of kings' or 'god of gods' does not mean a king who rules over kings or a god whom other gods worship, but (like 'song of songs') the most kingly among kings, the most divine among deities. By coupling ἄναξ ἀνάκτων with the superlative phrases μακάρων μακάρτατε and τελέων τελειότατον κράτος, Aeschylus implies that he understands it in the same way.27

26 Supp. 524-6; CTH 312 (E. Reiner and H.G. Güterbock, JCS 21, 1967, 257); KAR 68 (Seux, 272, cf. 274; Foster, 562, cf. 564); W. Röllig, ZA 56, 1964, 221 ii 20 (ΑΝΕT 562 f.; Foster, 757); cf. Tallqvist (1938), 12, 42, 237; Deut. 10.17, Ps. 136.2 f., cf. 84.8(7), Dan. 8.25; J. Gwyn Griffiths, Classical Philology 48, 1953, 145-54 = his Atlantis and Egypt, With Other Selected Essays, Cardiff 1991, 252-65. See further Friis Johansen-Whittle, (as ch. 9, n. 25), ii.408-10.

27 Cf. Gesenius-Kautzsch (as ch. 5, n. 140), 452 (§ 133h): Johansen-Whittle, loc. cit.
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