Eastern Myths for Western Lies

Allusions to Near Eastern Mythology in Homer’s Iliad

in Mnemosyne
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



That the great cultures of the Near East influenced Mycenaean and Archaic Greek culture has been amply demonstrated by the archaeological record. But did this influence extend to Greek literature? And was it recognized by the ancient Greeks themselves? In this paper I answer these two questions in the affirmative after examining two passages from Homer’s Iliad: Hera’s identification of Oceanus and Tethys as the parents of the gods (14.201) and Poseidon’s account of the division of the world through lot (15.189-193).The analysis of these passages is preceded by a methodological section on how literary parallels between these cultures can be evaluated.

Eastern Myths for Western Lies

Allusions to Near Eastern Mythology in Homer’s Iliad

in Mnemosyne



AldenM. (2000). Homer Beside Himself. Para-Narratives in the Iliad. Oxford.

BachvarovaM.R. (2016). From Hittite to Homer. The Anatolian Background of Ancient Greek Epic. Cambridge.

BernabéA. (1995). Influences orientales dans la littérature grecque. Quelques réflexions de méthode. Kernos 89-22.

BremmerJ.N. (2008). Greek Religion and Culture the Bible and the Near East. Leiden.

BudelmannF. and HauboldJ. (2008). Reception and Tradition. In: L. Hardwick and C. Stray eds. A Companion to Ancient ReceptionsOxford13-25.

BurgessJ.S. (2001). The Tradition of the Trojan War in Homer and the Epic Cycle. Baltimore.

BurkertW. (1992). The Orientalizing Revolution. Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age. Cambridge, MA. [19841 (in German)].

BurkertW. (2003). Oriental and Greek Mythology. The Meeting of Parallels. In: A.L.G. Marciano et al. eds. Kleine Schriften Volume 2: OrientaliaGöttingen48-72. [first published in: J.N. Bremmer ed. (1987) Interpretations of Greek Mythology London 10-40].

BurkertW. (2004). Babylon Memphis Persepolis. Eastern Contexts of Greek Culture. Cambridge, MA.

CurrieB. (2006). Homer and the Early Epic Tradition. In: M.J. ClarkeB.G.F. Currie and R.O.A.M. Lyne eds. Epic Interactions. Perspectives on Homer Virgil and the Epic Tradition Presented to Jasper Griffin by Former PupilsOxford1-45.

CurrieB. (2012). The Iliad, Gilgamesh and Neoanalysis. In: F. MontanariA. Rengakos and C. Tsagalis eds. Homeric Contexts. Neoanalysis and the Interpretation of Oral PoetryBerlin543-580.

CurrieB. (2016). Homer’s Allusive Art. Oxford.

DalleyS. (1989). Myths from Mesopotamia. Creation the Flood Gilgamesh and Others. Oxford.

van DongenE. (2008). The Study of Near Eastern Influences on Greece. Towards the Point. Kaskal 5233-250.

van DongenE. (2011). The ‘Kingship in Heaven’-Theme of the Hesiodic Theogony. Origin, Function, Composition. GRBS 51180-201.

DundesA. ed . (1988). The Flood Myth. Berkeley.

FosterB.R. (2005). Before the Muses. An Anthology of Akkadian Literature. Bethesda.

FrazerJ.G. (1919). Folk-Lore in the Old Testament. Studies in Comparative Religion Legend and Law Volume 1. London.

GeorgeA.R. (2003). The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic. Introduction Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts Volume 1. Oxford.

GladstoneW.E. (1890). Landmarks of Homeric Studies. London.

GysemberghV. (2013). Le tirage au sort des provinces divines chez Homère (Iliade 15.185-199) et ses antécédents mésopotamiens. Un état de la question. REG 12649-64.

HallJ.M. (2002). Hellenicity. Between Ethnicity and Culture. Chicago.

HalliwellS. (1998). Subject Reviews (Greek Literature). G&R 45235-239.

HauboldJ. (2002). Greek Epic. A Near Eastern Genre? PCPhS 481-19.

HauboldJ. (2013). Greece and Mesopotamia. Dialogues in Literature. Cambridge.

HenkelmanW.F.M. (2006). The Birth of Gilgamesh (Ael. NA xii.21). A Case Study in Literary Receptivity. In: R. Rollinger and B. Trushnegg eds. Altertum und Mittelmeerraum. Die antike Welt diesseits und jenseits der LevanteStuttgart807-856.

IsaacB. (2004). The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity. Princeton.

JankoR. (1992). The Iliad. A Commentary Volume 4: Books 13-16. Cambridge.

de JongI.J.F. (2001). A Narratological Commentary to the Odyssey. Cambridge.

KellyA. (2008). The Babylonian Captivity of Homer. The Case of the Dios Apatê. RhM 151259-304.

LambertW.G. (1965). A New Look at the Babylonian Background of Genesis. JThS 16 pp. 287-300.

LambertW.G. (2013). Babylonian Creation Myths. Winona Lake, IN.

LeeringD. (2005). The Oxford Companion to World Mythology. Oxford.

LeskyA. (1947). Thalatta. Der Weg der Griechen zum Meer. Vienna.

López-RuizC. (2010). When the Gods Were Born. Greek Cosmogonies and the Near East. Cambridge, MA.

López-RuizC. (2014). Greek and Near Eastern Mythologies. A Study of Mediterranean Encounters. In: L. Edmunds ed. Approaches to Greek Myth2nd editionBaltimore154-199.

MartinR.P. (1989). The Language of Heroes. Speech and Performance in the Iliad. Ithaca, NY.

McLennan. G.R.. (1977). Callimachus Hymn to Zeus. Introduction and Commentary. Rome.

MondiR. (1990). Greek and Near Eastern Mythology. Greek Mythic Thought in the Light of the Near East. In: L. Edmunds ed. Approaches to Greek MythBaltimore141-198.

MorrisS.P. (1992). Daidalos and the Origins of Greek Art. Princeton.

MostG.W. (2003). Violets in Crucibles. Translating, Traducing, Transmuting. TAPhA 133381-390.

MostG.W. (2006). Hesiod. Theogony Works and Days Testimonia. Cambridge, MA.

MurrayA.T. and WyattW.F. (1999). Homer’s Iliad. Books 13-24. Cambridge, MA.

NeckelG. and KuhnH. eds. (1962). Edda. Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern Volume 1: Text. 4th edition. Heidelberg.

PanchenkoD. (1994). Γένεσις πάντεσσι. The Iliad 14.201 and 14.246 Reconsidered. Hyperboreus 1183-186.

PenglaseC. (1994). Greek Myths and Mesopotamia. Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod. London.

RollingerR. (2015). Old Battles, New Horizons. The Ancient Near East and the Homeric Epics. In: R. Rollinger and E. van Dongen eds. Mesopotamia in the Ancient World. Impact Continuities Parallels. Proceedings of the Seventh Symposium of the Melammu ProjectMünster5-32.

SaidE. (1978). Orientalism. Western Conceptions of the Orient. London [reprinted with a new preface 2003].

StolM. (2004). Review of W. Burkert, Die Griechen und der Orient, Munich 2003, and Kleine Schriften II: Orientalia, Göttingen 2003. BO 59239-246.

TalonP. (2001). Enūma Eliš and the Transmission of Babylonian Cosmology to the West. In: R.M. Whiting ed. Melammu Symposia Volume 2. Helsinki265-277.

VogelzangM.E. and VanstiphoutH.L.J. eds. (1992). Mesopotamian Epic Literature. Oral or Aural? Lampeter.

WestM.L. (1997). The East Face of Helicon. West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth. Oxford.

WinterI.J. (1995). Homer’s Phoenicians. History, Ethnography, or Literary Trope? A Perspective on Early Orientalism. In: J.B. Carter and S.P. Morris eds. The Ages of HomerAustin247-271. [reprinted in: I.J. Winter (2015). On Art in the Ancient Near East Volume 1. Leiden 597-639].

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 24 24 24
Full Text Views 17 17 17
PDF Downloads 9 9 9
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0