Right from its very discovery and decipherment, connections were seen between it and the Biblical story of Noah
In any reconstruction of how the ancient corpus of Babylonian
literature could inform the literary creativity of the other civilizations it is necessary (a) to allow for existence of common narrative patterns and motifs and (b) to postulate intermediate landing stages in Aramaic , Phoenician, Hellenistic Greek. (George 2003, 70)
It is suggested that the postulated intermediate landing stage in Aramaic
Until recently, the modern Assyrians
The most significant part of this oral folklore and what is of concern here is “Zmīrta D’Qāṭīne,”
The village minstrel or the troubadour would take four to seven consecutive nights—depending on the individual—to complete the epic. Unlike other short heroic songs, the minstrel would stop singing the verses, at certain dramatic points, only to continue with the story through prose narrations. These prose intervals are used to create special moments of suspense. Contrary to other heroic songs, Zmīrta d-Qāṭīne is not danced to; all gather around the minstrel with anticipation to learn what is to unfold next.
Although Donabed’s thorough study demonstrates that Zmīrta D’Qāṭīne is worthy of the title ‘epic’ and see it befitting of the genre (Donabed 2007), one must be careful and recognize that the modern Assyrians
The Modern Assyrian
Early scholarship erroneously advanced the idea that Assyrian was first written down by Rev. Justin Perkins, a missionary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in the winter of 1834–1835 (Stoddard 2004, 3). Murre-Van De Berg, however, has correctly argued for an earlier period and pinpoints this to the late sixteenth century (Murre-Van de Burg 1998). Ashitha on the other hand is convinced that this was done much earlier, relying on an Assyrian
Hozaya believes the name Qāṭīne is derived from the Akkadian
ānā wēn gûra m-gûre
petwānī6 zā’ed l-ḫûre
Qāṭīne’s paternal lineage is not known and the bare mention of his father is avoided, while a prominent emphasis is made on his maternal pedigree.7 Qātīne’s mother is of royal blood and she is the king’s sister. How exactly she falls pregnant is not clarified, but the king has been warned about the birth of his nephew and he fears Qātīne—who demonstrates extraordinary deeds right from his birth—for he is warned that he will grow to usurp his throne
T‘ūma sat, so did Qāṭīne
They are sitting, eating and drinking
Talking of heroic deeds
Who is (an ideal warrior) among warriors
whose chest extends the height of poplars
To leap the jump which I have leaped
To drink the chalice I have drunk
Whose manhood is my equal
Whose friendship8 equals mine
(Qasrani and Daresh 1998, Audio Recording)
The challenges are numerous. Perhaps the most significant would be Qātīne’s battle with Yûʾānis the Armenian who had eloped with his beautiful aunt, and the battle with Lēlīta accompanied by Xūlikkū, his other uncle whom is captured in the forest mountain by Lēlīta
Who is (an ideal) warrior among warriors
To leap from rooftop to rooftop
Cross from meadow to meadow
Drink the blood and the chalice
Climb up to Lēlīta’s orchard
The fearsome Lēlīta
To grab a bunch of basil
And hand it to those laying (on their deathbed)
So it opens the eyes of the blind
And raises the dead from the grave
(Hozaya 1996, 78)
On his way to Lēlīta, Qāṭīne is approached by a rabbit proposing to befriend him.9 He utterly refutes her proposal. Once Qāṭīne reaches Lēlīta’s orchard, he challenges her to a fight: Lēlīta is to strike first and she does this with her
Many challenges are placed before Qāṭīne by his uncle Tʾūma, but all of Tʾūma’s plots fail and Qāṭīne always comes out as the victorious hero. However, the wounded Lēlīta curses Qāṭīne just before her death. Lēlīta’s curse is for Qāṭīne to die as a young unwedded bachelor. The curse is fulfilled when Qāṭīne is wounded when a shepherd shoots an arrow in his back as he was about to set off on another challenge.
As already indicated in this chapter, this marvelous oral epic of Qāṭīne has not been fully documented, and what has been presented here is based on the few recordings this writer has managed to gather over the last few years. It is through these few incomplete recordings that we have managed to render a brief comparative overview of both Qāṭīne and Gilgameš
ina ku-bur zib-ba-ti-šú [ka]-bu-us-su [id-di]11
Qāṭīne battles with Yûʾānis, the Armenian
Other than opening passages in the mountains, and digging wells in the uplands like Gilgameš
These similarities between Qāṭīne, Gilgameš
I dedicate this paper to Mr. Khnanya Qasrani, he was the first bard that introduced me to this literary oral epic. Mr. Qasrani provided us, the refugee children, with the only form of entertainment during those cold winter nights of an Iranian refugee camp. I would also like to dedicate this paper to Mr. Jorje Darash, of the Assyrian Academic Society of Tehran, for recognizing the importance of Assyrian oral literature, and recording Mr. Khnanya Qasrani.
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This writer struggled to find the meaning of ‘Ṣəwarta,’ until he traveled to Iraq and recorded an elderly villager in the Assyrian village of Deregni, and learned that it is used to refer to a passage located on the peak of a mountain.
See (Odisho 1985–1985; Dinkha 1991; Daniel 1961, 1974, 1983).
Assyrian literary oral traditions have not yet been subjected to a study from a literary perspective, therefore there are no agreed English translations of the terms.
Which would mean: small/thin. See (Orel and Stolbova 1994).
In modern Assyrian dictionaries, Qāṭīne—a cognate of Akkadian qatānu and Hebrew קטו—is found under qṭn, as qaṭṭīna with a ptāxā vowel causing the gemination of the “ṭ”. The change of the short ptāxā vowel to a long zqāpā vowel, and the loss of gemination is a phenomenon of the modern Assyrian language, see (Murre-Van de Burg 1999), see also (Hozaya 1999, 20).
In a private conversation with Rabi Daniel Dawed Bet Benjamin, the chief editor of Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies’ Assyrian section, he suggested that “petwānī” should be understood as “the distance of my leap” and not as “the width of my chest.” To me they both seem plausible and they both emphasize the physical abilities of Qāṭīne.
This brief outline is based on the recordings of the following minstrels: Mr. Khnanya Qasrani (Wellington, NZ), Mr. Taoma d-Wela (Dohuk, Iraq), Mrs. Regina Tawar (LA, California), Mr. Dawed Adam (Stockholm, Sweden), Mrs. Awigo Sulaqa (London, UK), and Mr. Delman Givargisov (Tiflis, Georgia). I would like to recognize the assistance of Prof. Geoffrey Khan, Mr. Jorje Darash, and the Assyrian Academic Society of Tehran for furnishing me with some of these recordings.
This can also be translated as “whose sexual performance,” “whose libido” equals mine. The noun is derived from the root rḫm, which can mean to love, to befriend, to be merciful, but in Assyrian oral literature, especial the Rāwe genre, sexual connotation is always implied, thus rḫīmalī would mean “I made love to her” rather than “I befriended her” or “showed her compassion.”
Again the same verb “rḫm” is used, which could also have sexual connotations.
Mesopotamian sheep have fatty tails. Their feces, especially during the winter periods, get stuck on the wool of their tails and eventually form a sizable rock-like ball.
This restoration is adopted by the CAD, Parpola (1997, 31, 93) and Dalley (1998b, 81). George, however, is skeptical and believes that restorations put forward by other scholars are also plausible (George 2003, 841).
The modern Assyrian dictionaries give the following meanings: water-mint (Audo 1979); the same meaning is given in Mandaic (Drower 1963), and Persian (Akbar 1955). The Latin dictionary gives the following: “a fragrant herb sacred to Venus: wild thyme, or mint” (White 1876).
Table of Contents
Introduction to Melammu: Early Globalization
M. J. Geller
2 Global Monotheism:
The Contribution of the Israelite Prophets
Baruch A. Levine
6 Gilgamesh’s Plant of Rejuvenation and Qāṭīne’s Sīsīsāmbur
7 Some Observations about “Foreigners” in Babylonia
during the VI Century BCE
8 The Religious Reform of Nabonidus: A Sceptical View
9 New Light on George Smith’s Purchase of the
Egibi Archive in 1876 from the Nachlass Mathewson
Strahil V. Panayotov, Cornelia Wunsch
10 Phrygian Bronzes in the Greek World:
Globalization through Cult?
11 Power and Ritual in the Achaemenian Royalty
12 Religious Ontology and Taxonomic Structures in Indo-Iranian Oral Poetry
13 Elements of “Globalization” in Ancient Iranian Numismatics
15 India and World Trade: From the Beginnings to the
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