HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
  • LibraryThing
  • Book discussions
  • Your LibraryThing
  • Join to start using.

Was Hercules an African super hero before he became a Greek god?

Ancient History

Join LibraryThing to post.

1quicksiva
Edited: Nov 25, 2010, 11:35am Top

In one of the many footnotes to Black Athena, Martin Bernal mentions the very unflattering portraits of Egyptians on the Caeretan hydra (c.510 BC) illustrating the legend of Bousiris (Boardman, 1964, plate II and p. 149). He went on to say that “While both Boardman (1964)and Snowden (1970), pointed out that Bousiris has black attendants and that Bousiris himself was portrayed as one on another vase, neither mentions the fact that the 'Greek hero Herakles' is depicted as a curly-haired African Black! . Martin Bernal. Black Athena. Vol. I. pp.477.

In Black Athena Revisited,(1996), Mary R., Lefkowitz and Guy MacLean Rogers eds. One scholar took issue with Bernal's statement.


“He (Bernal) is clearly implying that Boardman and Snowden have been influenced willingly or not by the (racist) Aryan Model. Such a charge should never be made particularly by someone who lacks expertise in the subject matter under consideration. But as usual, Bernal has no qualms about taxing, those whom he takes to be establishment scholars with inadvertent, if not deliberate predjudice....

“His(Bernal's) criticism of Boardman and Snowden is in fact totally misconceived. Indeed perhaps due to his own ideological preoccupations, he has seriously misrepresented the image of Heracles on the Vienna Bursiris Vase,”
The scholar explains that the dark color of Heracles is due to chipped paint. Thus, “Any similarity between the hairstyle of Heracles and the five bodyguards need not imply that Heracles is an African Black.”

Although Bernal's critic mentions another vase with a similar portrayal, this is dismissed as 'a certain quirkiness being evident in the painter's work(as in the whimsical coloring of Heracles).”
After this attack the writer smugly proclaimed, “I trust we shall hear no more of the Vienna Busiris Heracles in subsequent volumes of Bernal's Black Athena.” p389. Black Athena Revisited(1996).

Benjamin Isaac and the people at Princeton must have known they were stepping into the fray, when they put a full color detail from the Vienna Busiris on the cover of The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity.(2004). The entire vase, pictured on page 251, is described as follows:

FIGURE I. Caerctan black-figure hydria. Late Archaic Greek, c. 510 B.C. Vienna Kunthistorisches Museum. ANSA IV 3576. Drawing: A. Furtwangler und K. Reichhold, Griechische \ilstmmllinei; Auswahl hervorragender Vasennbilder (Munchen, 1904), PI. 51.

"Busiris was a legendary king in the Delta who, according to a Greek tradition, habitually slaughtered foreigners entering his country and sacrificed them to Zeus, until he vainly tried to do this to Herac!es. The vase shows Heracles destroying Busiris and his priests. Various details refer to the customs and clothing of Egypt with remarkable precision. Heracles is raging near the altar, flinging two Egyptians around and trampling on two others. A group of black Nubians hastens to come to the aid of the king, shown on the back of the vase. They have the usual equipment of Egyptian guards. Busiris's henchmen are often depicted as black on such images. Some of the priests are black and Heracles himself is dark. Greek vases do not always make an effort to render skin color realistically,... Busiris himself identified by the uraeus, the royal symbol of Lower Egypt, has fallen in front of the altar. The hydria intentionally reminds of familiar Egyptian images of a huge pharaoh smiting his tiny foreign enemies. Thus it is a caricature of Egyptian formal art expressing the superiority of the ruler over foreigners, substituting instead the Greek hero who destroys the powerless Egyptians and ends their sacrilegious custom of sacrificing strangers."
Isaac, Benjamin. The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity.(2006) Princeton University Press. Fig.I. following page 251.
Cf. Margaret C. Miller, "The Myth of Bousiris: Ethnicity and Art," in Beth Cohen (cd.). Not the Classical Ideal: Athens and the Construction of the Other in Greek Art (Brill. 2000). 414-442, fig. 16.1. p. 417r.

2BarkingMatt
Edited: Nov 25, 2010, 9:47am Top

What I find puzzling is the thought that a vase painter of 510 BCE would know anything about who or what Herakles really was. Following what the myths tell, the historical Herakles (if any) would have lived centuries before his time.

Of course that doesn't mean there can't have been a tradition that he was African. I'm unaware of one though.

Small detail: There is no such thing as the Caeretan hydra - there are several (not many, but still).

edited to fix faulty HTML

3theoria
Nov 25, 2010, 10:08am Top

I wonder if there is any historical validity in reading relatively contemporary ideas or conceptions of race (i.e. biology, phenotype, etc.) back into antiquity.

4quicksiva
Nov 25, 2010, 11:31am Top

As someone who has been both stoned, and gotten stoned due to looking like the dude on the cover of Isaac's book, I would say yes;)

5Garp83
Nov 25, 2010, 11:54am Top

Bernal's whole thesis is imaginary speculation. It has nothing to do with racism -- it has everything to do with someone trying to make facts suit their fancy.

6spiphany
Nov 25, 2010, 12:01pm Top

I would find it difficult to believe that appearance ('racial characteristics' if you will) wasn't in some way socially significant in ancient society, although I, too, suspect it is misleading to equate it with modern conceptions of race.

Heliodorus' "Ethiopian Romance" is later but interesting in this context. SKin color/ethnicity is definitely thematized -- the paleness of the female protagonist's skin is a key plot element. However, the treatment of this theme suggests very different attitudes than we have today.

7Garp83
Nov 25, 2010, 1:13pm Top

I think skin color may have played a role, but the evidence doesn't seem to imply that it was a major one. The ancient Egyptians -- and we don't really know what color they really were -- portrayed themselves in pyramid art as a reddish brown color, to contrast themselves with the lighter-skinned Asiatics and black Nubians. I think for most of the ancients if someone was not from your city or country, they were a kind of barbarian, but there is nothing that cries out to us that this designation was better or worse based upon skin color. Certainly slavery had nothing to do with color.

8Feicht
Nov 25, 2010, 9:17pm Top

I tend to shy away from attributing race to any individual based on representation in ancient art, anyway. I mean the most popular example I can think of is Attic black figure pottery, where the figures portrayed are undoubtedly Greeks and their gods, and yet they are all portrayed as "black" skinned, whereas women are portrayed as white. I can almost imagine Bernal looking at this and saying "aha! Greeks used to be black! Anyone who disagrees is a racist!!" That's the problem with forming a hypothesis and then scrambling to find "evidence" that will "support" it.

9karhne
Nov 26, 2010, 8:11am Top

The manufacturing process on the black figure pottery might figure in here, as well. They weren't coloring in with crayons, they were painting (pre-firing) with slip (very watery clay) and then scratching the detailed work into the slip. The coloring is a result of firing. They didn't have the option of picking "flesh colored". When red-figure pottery came in, it replaced the black figure pretty quickly(especially if the hypothesis is that they are moving away form what they really looked like. You'd have to ask one of those nifty pot-sherd guys for details, but I've done some painting with slip and glazes, and they're a pain in the ass. The white turns green when you fire, the grey turns blue. The other white turns white.

10Garp83
Nov 26, 2010, 8:27am Top

#8 good point & #9 thanks for filling in the blanks.

My point with the Egyptians is they are the rare ancient example of distinguishing people based on skin color, but there is no evidence that it is derogatory so to speak, or -- in the case of the red-brown Egyptian characterizations of themselves -- even accurate.

11quicksiva
Edited: Nov 28, 2010, 9:57am Top

#8 and #9
I mean the most popular example I can think of is Attic black figure pottery, where the figures portrayed are undoubtedly Greeks and their gods, and yet they are all portrayed as "black" skinned, whereas women are portrayed as white.
============

I am neither an art historian nor critic, but I don't see any traces of Attic black figure or red figure pottery on the vase art detailed on the cover of The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity. The artwork seems more Egyptian than Greek. Of course, the people at Princeton University Press may have fallen for Bernal's “Afro-centric” writings. My suggestion is to examine the cover and ask yourself whether Bernal or the other sources quoted in my post described it most accurately.

12BarkingMatt
Nov 28, 2010, 10:27am Top

The "Caeretan hydriae" don't really fit the black figure / red figure scheme. They were made by Greek potters in Italy, for Etruscan clients and using an Italian clay that fires differently.

The art work is Greek - in a way - but in this case reflects the fact that the scene is set in Egypt. Greeks of that era were not unaware of how Egyptians of their own period dressed, and stuff like that. The picture on that book cover is not photographic, but it is a pretty accurate representation of that particular vase painting.

13Cynara
Nov 29, 2010, 11:53am Top

Just a note- in Egyptian art, men are generally red-brown and women are generally yellow or pale pink (see Ani & Mrs. Ani here: http://www.agelessartifice.com/egypt.html).

That's generally thought to have been a reflection of a manly man's suntan from outdoor labour contrasted with a mother's pallor from indoor childcare - both totally conventional, of course.

They did have conventions in skin colour and hairdo for representations of people from foreign lands, but now I'm wondering - would an assimilated Nubian man's picture be painted in black or red-brown? I wouldn't be at all surprised to see examples of both on the record. I know there's material out there, I just don't remember it enough to be dogmatic.

14BarkingMatt
Edited: Nov 30, 2010, 4:27am Top

Getting dogmatic about these tings is probably the worst thing you coud do. These people were not interested in our sensibilities.

15Garp83
Nov 29, 2010, 5:21pm Top

Cynara -- I had forgotten the women were usually yellow! Thanks!

16quicksiva
Edited: Dec 12, 2010, 3:53pm Top

# 2
What I find puzzling is the thought that a vase painter of 510 BCE would know anything about who or what Herakles really was. Following what the myths tell, the historical Herakles (if any) would have lived centuries before his time.

Of course that doesn't mean there can't have been a tradition that he was African. I'm unaware of one though.

===========

According to Homer, Hercules seems to have come from Upper Egypt.
"I sing of Heracles, son of Zeus, the greatest by far of the great men on earth (aristos epichthonion), he who was born to Alcmene in Thebes of the splendid choirs, after her union with Kronos' son, man of the dark clouds".

In the Iliad, Book 9 (c. 8th Century BC), Homer speaks of "... in Egyptian Thebes the heaps of precious ingots gleam,... the hundred-gated Thebes."
Quoted in Bonnefoy, Yves. (1991). Mythologies:Dictionnaire des mythologies et des religions des societes traditionnelles et du monde antique. Vol. I.

17BarkingMatt
Dec 12, 2010, 3:46pm Top

Okay, like I said, I'm not saying there can't have been such a tradition. Contrary to Mr. Bonnefoy I always thought that referred to Thebes in Greece, but I freely admit I haven't touched Homer in over 30 years ;-)

18PatrickMueller
Dec 12, 2010, 4:38pm Top

I do think he does reffer to Thebes in Greece, but they are actually both in the Iliad. However the mentioning in the ninth book (Are they actually called "book" in english? In german they are called "Gesang" ... somehow puzzles me) is the only one reffering to Thebes in Egypt.

19Garp83
Dec 12, 2010, 7:09pm Top

There is no Thebes in Egypt -- it was a name the later Greeks attached to an area that had a completely different Egyptian name. The ancestry of Heracles is, to my knowledge, not attached to Egypt.

20BarkingMatt
Dec 13, 2010, 4:03am Top

You're right of course. But since we are talking about a possible Greek tradition using the Greek name doesn't pose a problem.

But I checked the Iliad - in a poor online translation (where did I shelve my copy?) - and in that passage in book 9 I see no connection to Herakles.

21Garp83
Dec 13, 2010, 5:46am Top

Matt you can't find your copy of Iliad . . . OMG! I wouldn't leave the house till I located it ... oh there it is, under my pillow LOL

22BarkingMatt
Dec 13, 2010, 7:09am Top

You know how it is - piles of books everywhere. I really should put up more shelves, but I'm running out of wall space.

23setnahkt
Dec 13, 2010, 11:18am Top

>22 BarkingMatt: I wish I could figure out a way to hang books from the ceiling.

24quicksiva
Dec 13, 2010, 1:48pm Top

"Just north of the Greek Thebes there is a large mound, traditionally called the tomb of Amphion and Zethos. One of its latest excavators, the distinguished archaeologist T. Spyropoulos (1973), describes this as an earthen stepped pyramid with a brick top in which there was a monumental - though robbed - tomb. He dates the pottery and few pieces of jewellery found near it to the ceramic period Early Helladic III - generally accepted to be around the 2 I st century. On the basis of this, of the extraordinarily sophisticated draining of the nearby Lake Kopais - which seems to have taken place at about this time - and of the considerable Classical literature connecting the region to Egypt, Spyropoulos postulates an Egyptian colony in Boiotia in this period.
Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that according to an ancient tradition referred to by Homer, Amphion and Zethos were the first founders of Thebes and that its other founder, Kadmos, arrived from the Near East long after their city had been destroyed. Like the Egyptian Pyramids, the tomb of Amphion and Zethos was associated with the sun and, like them, the Greek Thebes had close associations with a sphinx. Furthermore, it was in some way linked to the zodiacal sign Taurus, and many scholars have drawn parallels between the Theban and the Cretan bull-cults. Nothing is certain, but there is strong circumstantial evidence connecting the tomb and the first foundation of Thebes directly or indirectly to 11th-dynasty Egypt." Black Athena I. pp.17-18.

25BarkingMatt
Edited: Dec 13, 2010, 2:10pm Top

Hold on. Luxor (or Egyptian Thebes) is nowhere near the sphinx (Giza). And roughly pyramidal tombs exist all over the world - as are elements that can be interpreted as "assosciated with the sun".

And - quite aside from the fact that Egyptians didn't like being abroad - during the first intermediate period the Egyptians were hardly in a position to build up any substantial presence abroad. Those 11th dynasty rulers had a hard enough time getting in control at home.

So what's the "considerable Classical literature connecting the region to Egypt"? And wouldn't that have been written centuries after the "fact"?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying there were no contacts between Greece and Egypt. There were. But later Greeks often showed a remarkable confusion about other ethnicities - linking the Medes to Medeia for example.

26Cynara
Dec 13, 2010, 4:17pm Top

I have to second the "Egyptians didn't like being abroad". Heck, even at their imperialistic height, they didn't like to migrate- even garrisons seem to have been limited. You wanted to be buried in Egypt - think of Sinuhe.

27quicksiva
Dec 13, 2010, 4:58pm Top

# 25
Hold on. Luxor (or Egyptian Thebes) is nowhere near the sphinx (Giza).
=======
True but, “mighty as the Temple of Luxor was, it was exceeded in magnitude and grandeur by that of Carnak. The distance between these two great structures was a mile and a half. Along this avenue was a double row of Sphinxes, placed twelve feet apart, and the width of the avenue was sixty feet. When in perfect state this avenue presented the most extraordinary entrance that the world has ever seen.” Stolen Legacy George G.M. James. p.34.

28BarkingMatt
Dec 13, 2010, 5:07pm Top

Certainly. But those are much later. Mostly 19th dynasty.

29BarkingMatt
Dec 13, 2010, 5:19pm Top

But, don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to deny the African influence. Egypt, especially in the early and/or pre-dynastic phase, was very African. And all "western" civilization ows a lot to Egypt.

But even other than that. Ultimately we're all "out of Africa", only the ancestors of some of us seem to have left a couple of hundreds of thousands of years earlier than others. Big deal!

30Garp83
Edited: Dec 13, 2010, 5:22pm Top

This "Black Athena" book lacks much historical foundation. I used to enjoy a book called 190788::The Secrets of the Great Pyramid by Peter Tomkins when I was a teen -- until I studied Egypt and the pyramids and the facts.

31quicksiva
Dec 13, 2010, 5:32pm Top

# 19
There is no Thebes in Egypt -- it was a name the later Greeks attached to an area that had a completely different Egyptian name.
=======
There is likewise no Egypt in Egypt -- it was a name the later Greeks attached to an area that had a completely different Egyptian name, ie..KMT.. No one commonly uses “Waset” any more.

32BarkingMatt
Edited: Dec 13, 2010, 6:11pm Top

> 30: Yeah, actually from the quotes I'm starting to put this in the category of James Churchward and Erich von Daniken.

But that still doesn't deny the African element in Egyptian culture, or the Egyptian influence on Greece.

33quicksiva
Dec 13, 2010, 6:43pm Top

This "Black Athena" book lacks much historical foundation. I used to enjoy a book called 190788::The Secrets of the Great Pyramid by Peter Tomkins when I was a teen -- until I studied Egypt and the pyramids and the facts.
=======
Garp, Thanks for the heads up.The Secrets of the Great Pyramid by Peter Tompkins, stilll ranks high to most current reviewers on line.

34Garp83
Edited: Dec 13, 2010, 7:21pm Top

Tomkins is very entertaining, but there is no secret super intelligent lost civilization of Egypt that constructed mystical pyramids with supernatural elements. Sorry.

There certainly is an African element in Egyptian culture --Egypt is of course in Africa. Egypt had influences on Greece, but most of the Egyptian influences that the ancient Greeks credited (as in Herodotus) seem to be imaginary. The dark ages in Greece seem to have erased most of the memories of their Bronze Age past, but they were Indo-European people who have zero ancient relation to the Egyptians, even if they thought they might have.

PS Here's an excerpt from one of those "great" reviews of Tomkins' book: "Peter Tompkins book, The Secrets of the Great Pyramid should be everyone's first book to read when they reject the orthodox conclusions of the archeological community."

Sorry, I accept, for the most part, the orthodox conclusions of the archeological community. Period.

35quicksiva
Dec 13, 2010, 7:39pm Top

In Man and His Gods, Homer Smith mentions that Toynbee lists eighty-seven correspondences between the story of Jesus's life and the stories of certain Hellenic 'saviors,' using this term in the human rather than the god-incarnate sense. Similarly there are a large number of common characters, scenes with common senses, common visual correspondences, common properties, and common but more or less unique expressions. In all cases the pagan stories are older, but only rarely would it seem that they directly influenced the Jesus story; rather both the pagan literature and the Christian legend obtained their patterns from the common stream of tradition. Notable among ancient tales as supplying stuff for hero legends is that of Heracles, the peasant demigod who obtained in late Hellenic time an idealized form and heroic stature. Herakles had a royal lineage, but a flaw in his genealogy; he miraculously escaped from a mortal danger in infancy; he was tempted in the wilderness; his career was an ordeal; his work obtained extraordinary publicity; he was commissioned by God to exercise a beneficent royal authority over mankind; he sulIered spiritual agony in the face of supreme challenge; he resigned himself to the will of his heavenly father and was sacrificed; after, his death he came to receive religious worship; his mortal remains miraclously disappeared; he descended into hell; he appeared to the women the entourage; and finally he ascended to heaven in a cloud. It was Tarsus, the boyhood home of Paul, that Herakles·Sandan died a cruel death in an annual festival in order to enjoy a glorious resurrection.

36quicksiva
Edited: Dec 14, 2010, 5:55pm Top

#25
So what's the "considerable Classical literature connecting the region to Egypt"? And wouldn't that have been written centuries after the "fact"?
=======

AESCHYLUS of Athens (524-455 B.C.) wrote Prometheus Bound where Prometheus prophesies Io's future wanderings over Europe, Asia, and Africa. He also tells her that she will finally find rest and be turned into a woman in Egypt, and that a descendant of hers (Heracles) will release him. Meyer Reinhold. Essentials of Greek and Roman Classics. Barron's. pp.66-67.

In addition to Herodotos 11.156. "writers In Hellenistic and Roman times like Theophrastos, Peri phyton historias I V., 10.1; I V.59; Peri phyton aition 11.12-4; Pliny, Natural History 11.95 and XIX. 1.2.2; and Plutarch, Sulla 20.35. frequently drew parallels between the shores of the Nile and those of the Kopais. They saw similarities between the floating islands, the water plants, the date palms and the manufacture of linen in the two regions.' In 1824, this accumulation of evidence led Karl Otfried Muller to briefly admit that the idea of a migration of an agricultural people or of Egyptian conquest 'would appear to be not groundless'." Martin Bernal, Black Athena, Vol. II. pp. 78-9.

37BarkingMatt
Edited: Dec 14, 2010, 6:24pm Top

Oh sure, some "classical" authors also wrote about Egypt - no doubt about that. But your source (in #24) seemed to claim there would be "considerable Classical literature" connecting Egypt to Boiotia (or Lake Kopais in particular). I'm not aware of anything like that.

I'm not asking you to do so, but with regard to Mr. Bernal I would say : prove it, or at least substantiate the claims. I'm getting the impression that he might just as well have claimed that extra-terratials were at the root of all this.

38Garp83
Dec 14, 2010, 6:34pm Top

There isn't any. The Greeks were originally Indo-Europeans from the Caucasus who seem to have supplanted the native populations whom they referred to as Pelasgians. They appear in the historical record as the Mycenaean Greeks who much later probably did indeed war with Troy on Asia Minor circa 1250-1150 BCE. They conquered and supplanted the Minoans on Crete, somewhere around 1450 BCE, who were of unknown origin, but probably had a significant trade relationship with Egypt.

The Bronze Age collapse had a severe impact upon Greece & Crete, which fell into a long dark age that seems to have included a loss of literacy. Freed from the burdens of the past, the Greeks emerged in the Archaic Age with a whole new culture and -- except for the Homeric epics -- little knowledge of their past. They believed that the Cyclops must have built the massive walls at Mycenae & Pylos that actually were constructed by their Mycenaean ancestors. Herodotus infers that they must have learned a great deal from Egypt, but there is no historical evidence for this. The Greeks traveled far throughout the Mediterranean and had cultural influences from shore to shore; some aspects of Egyptian life may have been part of this, but certainly nothing of significance. If you study the Greeks and the Egyptians of this period, they have almost nothing in common culturally, religiously, politically. The thesis of "Black Athena" is as historically tenable as Erik Van Danikan's Ancient Astronaut hypothesis, maybe less so ...

39quicksiva
Dec 15, 2010, 1:02pm Top

Ammon to that;)

40quicksiva
Dec 15, 2010, 1:12pm Top

Let's look at what Gerald Massey says about our hero. “We may look on Horus, the original of Herakles, as the earliest child that ever strangled serpents. He is portrayed in this character as the child standing upon two crocodiles and crushing the serpents with both hands. In later legends told of Herakles the Greeks have added the cradle as a further illustration of the children's story.” Ancient Egypt the Light of the World: A work of Reclaimation and Restitution in Twelve Books p. 317

41Cynara
Dec 15, 2010, 3:43pm Top

I'm familiar with those images of Horakhte strangling poisonous animals - not just snakes but scorpions, lions, and for some reason an ibex-ish animal. The image is surrounded by prayers against snakebite, etc., and I believe the last example on record is Byzentine and has Christ in the place of the child Horus.

I don't know of a corresponding myth, like the one about Herakles being a kid and killing the snakes.

It seems possible to me that Horus is there because of Isis' healing powers, displayed when she replaced his eye after the smackdown with Set. The eye of Horus was perhaps the symbol most associated with health and wholeness. I remember an Egyptologist of my acquaintance telling me that the Egyptians would douse these icons in water and use the liquid to ward off or cure bites.

42Garp83
Dec 15, 2010, 7:45pm Top

At the end of the day, the biggest problem I have with the whole "Black Athena" fantasy is that it seems to me to deprecate the actual contributions that Africa and its inhabitants have made to history and culture. It is unnecessary and actually quite superfluous to assign mythical antecedants to ancient Greece. Egypt, which is certainly part of the African sphere, was an amazing and quite ancient civilization in its own right. And sub-Saharan Africa fostered some remarkable civilizations in its time, as well. That the Indo-Eurpean Caucasian Greeks were not rooted in black Africa is neither a cause for celebration or despair. It is what it is. Africans and Greeks had nothing to do with the remarkable Chinese civilization. So what?

43quicksiva
Edited: Dec 15, 2010, 8:05pm Top

# 37 I'm not asking you to do so, but with regard to Mr. Bernal I would say : prove it, or at least substantiate the claims. I'm getting the impression that he might just as well have claimed that extra-terratials were at the root of all this.

# 38The thesis of "Black Athena" is as historically tenable as Erik Van Danikan's Ancient Astronaut hypothesis, maybe less so
============

Black Athena won both an American Book Award and a Socialist Review Book Award . "Black Athena must be the most discussed book on the ancient history of the eastern Mediterranean world since the Bible ....” MARIO LIVERANI, inBlack Athena Revisited. In addition to being Alan Gardiner's grandson, bernalmartin::Martin Bernal is Professor Emeritus of Government and Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University. The first two volumes of Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization ("I: The Fabrica­tion of Ancient Greece, 1785-1985"; and "II: The Archaeological and Documentary Evidence'") have been translated into Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Swedish. I guess no one has had the nerve to translate it into Greek.

44BarkingMatt
Dec 16, 2010, 5:38am Top

Not going to research this guy extensively. But copy/paste from Wikipedia: "Martin Gardiner Bernal (born 1937) is a Professor Emeritus of Government and Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University. He is a scholar of modern Chinese political history.

Winning prizes, getting talked about, and getting translated are no hallmarks for quality - alas. Erich von Däniken's (similar copy/paste) "26 books have been translated into more than 20 languages, selling more than 60 million copies worldwide, and his documentary TV shows have been viewed around the world."

Okay, so how impressed would Mr. Bernal be if we wrote a book claiming that Mao Ze Dong might have been an extra-terrestial?

45quicksiva
Edited: Dec 16, 2010, 6:33pm Top

#38
The Bronze Age collapse had a severe impact upon Greece & Crete, which fell into a long dark age that seems to have included a loss of literacy. Freed from the burdens of the past, the Greeks emerged in the Archaic Age with a whole new culture and -- except for the Homeric epics -- little knowledge of their past. They believed that the Cyclops must have built the massive walls at Mycenae & Pylos that actually were constructed by their Mycenaean ancestors. Herodotus infers that they must have learned a great deal from Egypt, but there is no historical evidence for this. The Greeks traveled far throughout the Mediterranean and had cultural influences from shore to shore; some aspects of Egyptian life may have been part of this, but certainly nothing of significance. If you study the Greeks and the Egyptians of this period, they have almost nothing in common culturally, religiously, politically. The thesis of "Black Athena" is as historically tenable as Erik Van Danikan's Ancient Astronaut hypothesis, maybe less so …
=========

In Resurrection d'Homere. Au temps des heros., Victor Berard has demonstrated that Homer, far from having created ex nihilo, relied heavily on models, particularly Egyp­tian ones.' We know that eight hundred years before Homer, under the XVlIIth Dynasty, and even before that, Egypt had already invented the art of poetry. It was also during the "dark period" of Greek history, to which Homer belongs, that the use of iron spread through out the northern Mediterranean, probably from Napata, from this same Sudanese dynasty which had then conquered Egypt and brought about a rebirth of Egyptian civi­lization, coinciding with the development of a new form of Egyptian language and writing known as demotic. The piety of these Sudanese Pharaohs corresponds in all respects to Homer's testimony in the Iliad;” Civilization or Barbarism: an Authenic Anthropology. Cheikh Anta Diop (1981)

46Cynara
Dec 16, 2010, 2:38pm Top

That would be the first source I've heard placing the spread of iron into Egypt from the south - I'm admittedly no expert, but I thought it came from Mediterranean trade or Levantine city-states. To my knowledge, iron was never common in Pharaonic Egypt, and mostly shows up in very elite contexts - the single elaborately decorated iron dagger in Tutankhamon's funerary equipment, for example.

I'd agree that Egyptian culture was periodically refreshed by contact with (or conquest by) the cultures to the south, though I would want to note that the Egyptians thought less in terms of skin colour and more of geography, culture, and language. I once wrote a term paper, actually, in which I argued that Egyptians had a unique attitude towards "Nubia" and in some periods thought of it as part of Egypt.

All of which is some distance from Herakles originating in the Sudan, though. I'm not aware of Berard's work, though I do know some Homer and Egyptian literature. Would you care to discuss it further? It's easy to speculate about poetry and piety, but those have been everywhere in the world for as far back as we can look.

47quicksiva
Edited: Dec 16, 2010, 6:29pm Top

“The anachronisms of the Homeric poems, pointed out by M. I. Fineley in 1977, might be explained by using Egypt as a reference: the sumptuous palaces, bearing no relationship to the rudimentary Mycenaean "palaces," rather remind one of those of the city of "Thebes of the hundred gates," and it is now known that this verse of Homer refers to the city of Thebes at the time of Ramses III. M. I. Fineley, Les anciens Grecs (Paris: Maspero), 1977, p. 19. “If Homer visited Egypt-and this fact is attested to by Greek traditions, it was probably during the time of the XXVth Sudanese Dynasty, under Piankhi or Shabaka, around 750 B.C.” Diop. pp.153, 393.”

48Garp83
Edited: Dec 16, 2010, 7:00pm Top

Why is it so important to link Egypt to Greece? There is a dearth of evidence and this attempt to connect the slender thread makes it seem as if somehow either Greece or Egypt would be enhanced by proving an otherwise tenuous if not wholly fictitious link. I think each are great civilizations that do not require such linkage.

49quicksiva
Dec 16, 2010, 7:27pm Top

In The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity, Benjamin Issac mentions several Greek claims of autochthonous descent. particularly the myth of the foundation of Thebes by the Phoenician Kadmos. Following orders received at Delphi. Kadmos had reached the site of Thebes in order to found a city there. He needed water and the only spring available was guarded by a dragon which Kadmos then killed. Athena now advised him to extract its teeth and to sow them. From the dragon's teeth warriors sprung from the soil. fully armed.'" These Kadmos pelted with Stones and the warriors. assuming each that one of the others was attacking them. proceeded to fight each other till only five were left. From these the nobility of Thebes derived its descent, being called "Spartoi (sown men).'" The myth, as told, claims a direct extractction from the soil for the Theban nobility, just as the Athenians claimed for themselves. Thus it is another example of the importance attached to the link between ancestors and soil. The city. when founded, was peopled not with immigrants, but with men produced locally by the native soil. Kadmos. Himself, was a Phoenician and that may have made it particularly attractive to the Theban aristocracy to assume that they themselves had sprung from Theban soil."p.131

50Garp83
Dec 16, 2010, 7:37pm Top

I get it man, but none of this stuff is supported with historical evidence. Linguisticaly, there is nothing to connect the Greeks with the Egyptians or the Phoenicians. They are an Indo-European people. This is fact, not theory or myth or speculation. I recommend The Horse, the Wheel, and Language by Anthony in order to gain a better understanding of what that means.

51quicksiva
Edited: Dec 16, 2010, 9:25pm Top

Why is it so important to link Egypt to Greece? There is a dearth of evidence and this attempt to connect the slender thread makes it seem as if somehow either Greece or Egypt would be enhanced by proving an otherwise tenuous if not wholly fictitious link. I think each are great civilizations that do not require such linkage.
=======
Every Coptic text that comes drifting up out of the Upper Egyptian sands links ancient Egypt to classical Greece, and thus to the modern world. It is these linkages which transform these myths from useless fairytales into ageless wisdom literature. Why do you think Tim is studying Coptic, not Sanscrit?

52HectorSwell
Dec 16, 2010, 9:40pm Top

Thanks, quicksiva, for bringing in some fascinating sources. I laugh whenever I hear tell of “facts” in Ancient History. I’ll take conjecture, speculation and creative thinking any day.

I take it as a given that migrations, conquests and trade stimulated the diffusion of culture in all its forms throughout the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia, for centuries before the Classical Greeks and for centuries after. How could there not be links between Egypt and Greece? And since when is Indo-European more than a fuzzy catch-all label for all the shit stuff that can’t be explained because it happened so long ago?

53quicksiva
Dec 16, 2010, 10:10pm Top

#50
Garp
Thanks for the heads up on the David Anthony Book. Do you know if he addressed the effect on Athenian culture of the large scale importation of slaves from the south of today's Russia from the sixth century onward? As a result it has been estimated that there were ultimately 80,000 slaves as opposed to 40,000 citizens in "the world's first democracy".

54BarkingMatt
Dec 17, 2010, 3:43am Top

> 51: Fascinating as those Coptic texts are, they are much later, from an era when Egypt had been under Greek and Roman rule for centuries.

55BarkingMatt
Edited: Dec 17, 2010, 3:47am Top

> 50: I largely agree, but you have to be very careful drawing conclusions about ethnicity from linguistics. Not every person who speaks English today is actually descended from the germanic tribes who took over Britain during the "dark ages". ;-)

56Garp83
Edited: Dec 17, 2010, 6:06am Top

"conjecture, speculation and creative thinking" are fun at recess but there are such things as what historians have demonstrated as opposed to what historians speculate upon and things that are simply made up because they support a person's ideological fervor. Coptic is very late to the game, an adaptation of ancient Egyptian and Greek. Some might argue that it is Alexander's conquest that transformed Egypt, not the other way around. There isn't anything in Bronze Age Greek culture that resembles Egypt, although some might make the case there are influences in Minoan Crete. As to linguistics, it is absolutely true that you cannot jump to conclusions on ethnicity based upon linguistics alone. Of course, we have much, much more than linguistics for this conversation, but if we were to turn the subject on its head, there are NO Indo-European roots in ancient Egyptian.

I would never argue that there are no influences among ancient cultures -- of course there are! As such masterworks as From Egypt to Babylon by Collins amply demonstrate, there was a vast, closely linked trading relationship between all the major players and many of the minor players in the Bronze Age. Interdependance, to paraphrase Brian Fagan, was what it was all about. However, to suggest that Egypt was the foundation of ancient Greece is simply bad history because it is based on nothing substantial and lots of speculation. This is like the spurious argument that Cleopatra was black -- nonsense dressed in an ideological garb rather than serious historical reason.

57Garp83
Edited: Dec 17, 2010, 9:26am Top

As a follow-up, I’d like to relate a story.

Ever since I was a teenager fascinated with history, I noted a number of surprising similarities between Old Kingdom Egypt and the great pre-Columbian civilizations in the Americas.

There is the obsession with pyramids, the plethora of mummies (Incas), gods portrayed as animals, glyph writing, an absolute ruler treated like a living god, the apparent lack of knowledge of the wheel.

Yet, there is absolutely no evidence to connect these civilizations with any contact with ancient Egypt. Perhaps such evidence will one day be uncovered? Who knows? But we can say that as it stands there is absolute nothing in the historical record to connect Egypt with the Americas. I may find it fascinating, but there is nothing historical about it.

Now, we know a lot more about ancient Egypt and ancient Greece than we know about the roots of pre-Columbian civilizations, but we can find NONE of these notable similarities between the ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks, or any other notable similarities for that matter, in language, customs, religion, etc.

ZERO.

Sure, we can say that Egypt influenced Greece in its monumental architecture, perhaps, and I am sure there are various other cultural borrowings, perhaps in both directions. The Greeks were notorious for borrowing from other cultures and adapting it to their needs, as with the Phoenician alphabet, for instance. But there is absolutely nothing nearly as significant as the parallels I listed earlier between Egypt and the Americas.

“Black Athena” makes a very weak case for its thesis. And as I tell my religious friends, simply believing in something with great fervor does not make it true. Should such substantive evidence come to fore, however, I would be happy to withdraw my criticism. Meanwhile, let us focus on historical evidence and apply reasonable analysis and interpretation to connect the threads of what we know with what we wonder about, and abandon fantasy to those who write speculative literature and sci-fi.

PS Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.
- Thomas H. Huxley

58Cynara
Dec 17, 2010, 10:42am Top

Pyramid sidebar:

Cool as pyramids are, there is the simple fact that they're a great shape to use with drystone construction because they don't fall down much. Also, as someone else once drew to my attention, it's important to remember when thinking about ziggurats, Mayan temples, and Egyptian pyramids that some cultures used the outside of the structures and some - like the Egyptians - the inside. That seems like a pretty major distinction to me.

For the Egyptians, it wasn't a site of public worship, either - it was a tomb that connected the king to the cosmic forces in order to ensure the safe transition of his spirit to godhood. Big diff.

59quicksiva
Dec 17, 2010, 7:28pm Top

# 58
=========
A great book on the subject is The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie David.

This book uses the results of excavation and patient scientific analysis to tell an enthralling story.

In the author's hands, the Egyptian builders of the pyramids are revealed as simple people, leading ordinary lives while they are engaged on building the great tomb for a Pharaoh. They worry about their families, grumble about the quality of the food, cheat overseers, even plan a strike for better conditions. Gone are the whip-driven slaves of the popular image: in their place are skilled workers knowing the value of their labour.

The book describes the work of the Kahun Project at Manchester Museum which, since 1980, has been 'reworking' the major collection of objects excavated by Flinders Petrie, 'Father of British Egyptology', at Kahun in 1887. Kahun was a pyramid workmen's town, and uniquely important because no such site had been discovered or excavated before. Many of the domestic and everyday possessions still remained in the houses, providing an unprecedented opportunity to study the lives of such a community, as well as the current developments in technology. These objects provide a marked contrast to the contents of tombs, on which so much Egyptology is based. The papyri at the site also revealed new facts about the legal and medical practices of such a community, and provide our earliest information about family planning and gynaecology in ancient Egypt.

This is an engrossing detective story, bringing to the general reader a fascinating picture of a special community that lived in Egypt and built one of the pyramids, some 4,000 years ago.

60Cynara
Dec 17, 2010, 7:43pm Top

Yeah, David's written some good stuff. I might look that up.

61Garp83
Dec 18, 2010, 12:35am Top

#59 That book sounds fascinating. I am always looking to read more sources on the ordinary ancient Egyptian rather than the Pharaohs and the other elites on which so most history is typically focused. A study of the Pharaohs seems to always imply a static civilization with almost no change, but I think that is simply because the upper echelon is so wrapped upon tradition. I want to believe that a greater emphasis upon the average person and his place in the society will reveal a greater dynamic. Thanks for the recommendation.

62BarkingMatt
Dec 18, 2010, 4:59am Top

> 59: Thanks.

63BarkingMatt
Dec 18, 2010, 5:01am Top

Sort of on topic for this thread: I just stumbled upon Ethnic identity in Greek antiquity (here on LT, haven't actually seen it, but sounds interesting).

64Feicht
Dec 19, 2010, 5:31am Top

Thanks for that one, Matt; sounds fascinating, and right up my alley! Cheers

65quicksiva
Dec 19, 2010, 12:05pm Top

How significant is the fact that Nag Hammadi is only located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north-west of Thebes, or to be anal, at (Latitude: 26° 3' 5 N, Longitude: 32° 14' 19 E)? Map. p. 41. Archeological sites of the Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period.Egypt:the world of the Pharaohs by Regine Schulz and Matthais Seidel.

66BarkingMatt
Dec 19, 2010, 12:18pm Top

I really can't answer that. I would'n put too much significance on it. Nag Hamadi is "just" that place where some people found some things.

I do know however - or rather I have become convinced through several publications (The archaeology of early Egypt, Egypt's making, Genesis of the pharaohs, Egypt before the pharaohs - some of these touchstones may not work) - that the origins of Egyptian civilization are to be sought in the south, rather than the north.

67quicksiva
Dec 19, 2010, 1:33pm Top

# 66
Nag Hamadi is "just" that place where some people found some things.
=======
Matt,
These "things" which include many of the earliest “real” books ever discovered “have revolutionized our image of 'Jesus'.” No wonder that many scholars consider them 'the archaeological find of the 20th century.” According to some writers, “Modern research on the Nag Hammadi texts is having an incredible impact on our knowledge of early Christian history-it is virtually redefining it."' -ELAINE PAGELS, author of Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas.

68BarkingMatt
Dec 19, 2010, 1:39pm Top

Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to be nasty about the Nag Hamadi writings. They're fascinating, no doubt about that.

But I wouldn't make too much of the exact location where they were found. North-west of Luxor (Thebes) or South-east, or wahtever...

69quicksiva
Dec 19, 2010, 6:27pm Top

19
There is no Thebes in Egypt -- it was a name the later Greeks attached to an area that had a completely different Egyptian name.
=======
The Thebaid or Thebais (Greek: Θηβαΐδα, Thēbaïda or Θηβαΐς, Thēbaïs) is the region of ancient Egypt containing the thirteen southernmost nomes of Upper Egypt, from Abydos to Aswan. It acquired its name from its proximity to the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes.(Wiki)

70quicksiva
Edited: Dec 19, 2010, 9:49pm Top

The myth of Hercules was known to the Sumerians, Phoenicians, and Greeks. Herodotus specuated on its origin and traced it back to the Egyptians. (See History, 96-97.) There is no god named Hercules in the official pantheon of Egypt, but an ancient Greek tradition identified Hercules with the ancient Nilotic deity, Khonsu. George St. Clair in a scholarly study of Egyptian mythology, after discussing the better-known gods of ancient Egypt, directs our attention to a small group of deities standing apart:
These are Amen, Mut and Khonsu, often spoken of as the Triad of Thebes, or the Trinity of Ethiopia. . . . E. A. Wallis Budge tells us that the Theban triad had nothing whatever to do with The Egyptian Book of the Dead, and from we may suspect that they were either gods newly come up or gods of foreign derivation. For some good reason, the orthodox Egyptian of the old school kept them out of his sacred books. They were the divinities of Thebes, and that city was hundreds of miles south of Heliopolis; they were the Trinity of Ethiopia and not of Egypt. (St. Clair, George. Creation Records Discovered in Egypt: Studies in the Book of the Dead. David Nutt, London, 1898. p.404.

I n the myth of Hercules, the sun (of which Hercules is the personification) begins his zodiacal journey in the constellation Leo, the Lion so the first labor of Hercules was the slaying of the Nemean lion. After killing the lion, the hero flayed the beast and used its skin thereafter as a shield. The leonine skin has been compared to the tawny clouds which the sun trails behind him as he fights his way through vapors which he eventually overcomes.

When the sun enters Virgo, the constellation of the Hydra sets; and thus the second labor of Hercules was the destruction of the Lernean hydra. The monster had several heads, one of which was immortal; and as the hydra raised his heads, one after another, to attack Hercules, the demigod in turn burned off the heads, and he disposed of the immortal head by burying it beneath a stone.

As the beast was possessed of many heads (writes Olcott) so the storm wind must continually supply new clouds to vanquish the sun; but the lighter vapor and mist, the immortal head, is only conquered for a time. The sun easily burns up the heavy clouds, the mortal heads, but only hides temporarily the immortal head which raises again and again to daunt him. In the fight Hercules was attended by his friend lolus, this name recalls Iole, signifying the violet tinted clouds, the attendants of the sun in its se­rene moments. (olcottwilliamtyler::Olcott, William Tyler. 5418972::Sun Lore of All Ages. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London, 1914. , pp. 72-7.
With the commencement of autumn, the sun enters Libra. At this time of year, the constellation of the Centaur rose above the horizon; and Hercules, in his third labor, was entertained by a centaur. Still later on, he slew a group of centaurs fighting over a cask of wine. When the sun was in Libra, the constellation of the Boar rose in the evening sky; so, after killing the centaurs, Hercules met the Erymanthian boar and disposed of him in mortal combat.

When the sun enters Scorpio, the constellation Cassiopeia, anciently known as the Stag, rises into view, and the fourth labor of Hercules was the capture of a stag with golden horns and brazen feet.

As the sun passes into Sagittarius, three constellations named after birds rise, and these three star groups are called the Vulture, the Swan, and the Eagle. In his fifth labor, Hercules kills three birds with arrows.

The constellation Capricorn was also known as the Stable of Augeas, and the sixth labor of Hercules was the cleansing of the A ugean stable.
When the sun is in Aquarius, the Lyre, or celestial Vulture, sets.
Prometheus also sets, while the Bull of Europa is on the meridian.

In the seventh labor, Hercules slew the vulture which had preyed on the liver of Prometheus, and also captured the wild bull which had laid waste the island of Crete.

While the sun is in Pisces, Pegasus, the celestial horse, rises; and in his eighth labor, Hercules carried off the horses of Diomede.
As the sun enters Aries, the Ram ohhe Golden Fleece, the Ship Argo rises in the evening sky, and Andromeda sets. One of the stars of Andromeda is called her girdle.

Hercules, in the ninth labor, sailed in the Ship Argo to search for the Golden Fleece; he fought the Amazons, and captured the girdle of Hippolyte, their queen, and rescued Hesione from a sea monster, the same as Perseus did Andromeda.

The sun passes into the Bull or Ox, as the Pleiades rise and Or sets; and the tenth labor of Hercules was to restore the seven kidnapped Pleiades to their father, after killing their abductor, King Busiris (Orion). Then he went to Spain and stole the oxen of Geryon.

When the sun moves into Gemini, Sirius, the Dog Star, rises; and the eleventh labor, Hercules conquered Cerberus, the guardian dog of Hades.
The sun enters Cancer as the constellations of the River and Centaur set in the western sky. The constellation Hercules descends toward the west, followed by Draco, the Dragon of the pole, guardian the Golden Apples of the Hesperides. Hercules is represented in , atlases as crushing the head of the dragon with his foot.

In his twelth and last labor, Hercules journeyed to the Hesperides to seek Golden Apples. Then he put on a robe dipped in the blood of a centaur, slain by him at the crossing of a river. The robe mysteriou caught fire, and Hercules perished in the flames.Man, God, and Civilization by John G. Jackson

In this death scene of the solar hero asserts Olcott and in the glories of his funeral pyre, we have the most famous sunset scene that has ever been presented for our contemplation. All the wondrous coloring that adorns western sky at set of sun illuminates the canvas, and the reflection of scene streams afar, lighting the waves of the Aegean and its clustering ideas, and painting in enduring hues a scene that all nations proclaim the sublimest that nature offers to man's vision. (Olcott, William Tyler. Sun Lore of All Ages. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London, (1914.)p. 74)

71BarkingMatt
Edited: Dec 20, 2010, 5:36am Top

Herodotus speculated a lot, and apparently so did Mr. Wallis Budge, Mr. St. Clair, and Mr. Olcott.

Several problems. For example:

How does equating Hercules with the lunar deity Khonsu fit the interpretation of Hercules as a personification of the sun?

How does the fact that the "Theban triad" had nothing to do with the Egyptian Book of the Dead, mean that "they were either gods newly come up or gods of foreign derivation."?

Also it is rubbish that they would have been kept out of the sacred books. There are equally "orthodox" sacred texts concerning Amun.

p.s.: And how does the allegorical interpretation of Hercules (solar myth) support the idea that he was a real African person?

72quicksiva
Edited: Dec 20, 2010, 8:15am Top

According to the advocates of the solar myth theory, the ancient crucified saviors were personifications of the sun; and their life stories were allegories of the sun's passage through the twelve constellations of the zodiac. The Roman scholar, Macrobius (fourth century), has been called the father of the solar myth theory. In his famous work, Saturnalia, he discussed the practice in pagan temples of representing the gods at different ages; and he stated: "These differences of age refer to the sun which seems to a babe at the Winter Solstice, as the Egyptians rep­resent him in their temples on a certain day; that being the shortest day, he is then supposed to be small and an infant."

This theory was not original with Macrobius, who probably obtained it from the Egyptian priests who were accustomed to explain their myths by means of the principles of astronomy. The solar theory has been neglected in recent years, so we shall give it some attention. In Egypt, three thousand years ago, the birthday of the sun god was celebrated on the 25th of December, since it was the first day to no­ticeably lengthen after December 21st (the day of the Winter Sol­stice). At the midnight hour, on the very first minute of the 25th of December, the birthday of the sun was commemorated. At the present day, the zodiacal signs (owing to precession) have shifted some distance from the constellations of the same name. But at the time when the zodiac was constituted and these names were given the sun was in the zodiacal sign Capricorn which was then known as the Stable of Augeas; so the infant sun god was said to have been born in a stable. Shining brightly on the meridian was Sirius (the Star from the East); while rising in rhe east was Virgo (the virgin), the line of the horizon passing through her center. To the right of Sirius was Orion (the great hunter), with three stars in his belt. These stars lie in a straight line, and point at Sirius. In ancient times they were known as the Three Kings. We meet them in the Gospels as the Three Wise Men, or Magi. In the zodiac on the interior of the dome of the Temple of Denderah, the constellation Virgo was pictured as a woman with a spike of corn in one hand; and on the adjacent margin, the ,virgin is an­notated by a figure of Isis with Horus in her arms.

But it is well known as a matter of history the worship of Isis and Horus descended in the early Christian centuries to Alexandria, where it took the form of the worship of the Virgin Mary and the Infant Savior, and so passed into the European ceremonial. We have therefore the Virgin Mary connected by linear succession and de­scent with that remore zodiacal cluster in the sky!

Anyway, Merry Solstice and a Happy Saturnalia!

73BarkingMatt
Dec 20, 2010, 8:30am Top

Happy solstice, by whatever name you may celebrate it.

74quicksiva
Dec 20, 2010, 8:42am Top

# 71
how does the allegorical interpretation of Hercules (solar myth) support the idea that he was a real African person?
=======
Matt,
We are talking about the creation of a myth, not a biography. I only claimed Hercules might be an African solar myth which came through Egypt and helped bring some light into Greece's “Dark Age”.

75BarkingMatt
Dec 20, 2010, 8:55am Top

Ah, my mistake. I was under the impression that you also thought about a "historical" Hercules.

76Garp83
Dec 20, 2010, 7:41pm Top

You mean he wasn't a real guy? So who constructed the Pillars of Hercules then? I feel ripped off ...

77BarkingMatt
Dec 21, 2010, 3:29am Top

Don't worry. We still have Xena.

78quicksiva
Edited: Dec 21, 2010, 7:56pm Top

#38

"The Greeks traveled far throughout the Mediterranean and had cultural influences from shore to shore; some aspects of Egyptian life may have been part of this, but certainly nothing of significance. If you study the Greeks and the Egyptians of this period, they have almost nothing in common culturally, religiously, politically."
=======

Amun, reconstructed Egyptian Yamānu (also spelled Amon, Amoun, Amen, and rarely Imen or Yamun, Greek Ἄμμων Ammon, and Ἅμμων Hammon), was a God in Egyptian mythology who in the form of Amun-Ra became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt. Whilst remaining hypostatic deities, Amun represented the essential and hidden, whilst in Ra he represented revealed divinity. As the creator deity "par excellence", he was the champion of the poor and central to personal piety. Amun was self created, without mother and father, and during the New Kingdom he became the greatest expression of transcendental deity in Egyptian theology. He was not considered to be immanent within creation nor was creation seen as an extension of himself. Amun-Ra did not physically engender the universe. His position as King of Gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other Gods became manifestations of him. With Osiris, Amun-Ra is the most widely recorded of the Egyptian gods.1 He was also widely worshipped in the neighboring regions of Ancient Libya and Nubia.(Wiki)

The worship of Ammon was introduced into Greece at an early period, probably through the medium of the Greek colony in Cyrene, which must have formed a connection with the great oracle of Ammon in the Oasis soon after its establishment. Ammon had a temple and a statue, the gift of Pindar, at Thebes (Paus. ix. 16. § 1), and another at Sparta, the inhabitants of which, as Pausanias (iii. 18. § 2) says, consulted the oracle of Ammon in Libya from early times more than the other Greeks. At Aphytis, Chalcidice, Ammon was worshipped, from the time of Lysander, as zealously as in Ammonium. Pindar the poet honoured the god with a hymn. At Megalopolis the god was represented with the head of a ram (Paus. viii. 32. § 1), and the Greeks of Cyrenaica dedicated at Delphi a chariot with a statue of Ammon.
Such was its reputation among the Classical Greeks that Alexander the Great journeyed there after the battle of Issus and during his occupation of Egypt, where he was declared the son of Amun by the oracle. Alexander thereafter considered himself divine. Even during this occupation, Amun, identified by these Greeks as a form of Zeus, continued to be the principal local deity of Thebes during its decay. (Wiki)

Several words derive from Amun via the Greek form, Ammon: ammonia and ammonite. The Romans called the ammonium chloride they collected from deposits near the Temple of Jupiter Amun in ancient Libya sal ammoniacus (salt of Amun) because of proximity to the nearby temple. Ammonia, as well as being the chemical, is a genus name in the foraminifera. Both these foraminiferans (shelled Protozoa) and ammonites (extinct shelled cephalopods) bear spiral shells resembling a ram's, and Ammon's, horns.
The regions of the hippocampus in the brain are called the cornu ammonis – literally "Amun's Horns", due to the horned appearance of the dark and light bands of cellular layers. (Wiki)

79Cynara
Dec 22, 2010, 11:14am Top

Interesting notes on the Etymology of Amun; I usually mention seshep-ankh -> sphinx, but those are great.

I'd question the following, though:
"His position as King of Gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other Gods became manifestations of him." Is this a quote from something and/or your own position?

80Garp83
Edited: Dec 23, 2010, 6:54am Top

Cynara is right. This info re Amun is just dead wrong -- he was not worshipped as a monotheistic god in Egypt. Akhenaten turned Aten (the sun's disc) into a monotheistic Egyptian god for a brief time, which ended forever with his death.

The Greek Olympic pantheon was wrapped around Zeus, an Indo-European god from the steppes similar to the Indo-European Hittite storm god. The Greeks also absorbed local gods from the Pelasgians they supplanted in Greece when they moved in from the Caucuses. I wouldn't be surprised if some Egyptian spiritualism crept into Greek religion here and there, especially in the mystery cults, but any major connection is certainly overdrawn.

Alexander the Great was looking for someone to call him god and in Egypt he found someone, although there is still controversy as to whether the priest’s words were simply translated badly.

Quicksiva -- why is it so important to you to prove a link between Egypt and Greece? You keep giving us a lot of speculative history to force this point. Again, we can't deny influences in both directions, but if you juxtapose the two cultures there is simply very little of REAL SIGNIFICANCE to bind them.

81quicksiva
Edited: Dec 23, 2010, 8:32am Top


# 38
The Greeks were originally Indo-Europeans from the Caucasus.
=======
The “Caucasian” blood in the Greeks came from the massive importation of slaves from the mountains of southern Russia by the citizens of Athens.

82quicksiva
Dec 23, 2010, 8:38am Top

#79
#80
========
Do you doubt Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge)?

83Cynara
Edited: Dec 23, 2010, 10:58am Top

Well, I've had a particular interest in Egyptian religion over the years. It's true that the Egyptians did a heck of a lot of syncretising - Osiris' absorption of Khentiamentiu comes to mind - and Amun was a prime example.

Amun becomes Amun-Re, becomes Amun-Re-Horakhty, becomes Amun-Re-Horakhty-Min-Ftang-Ftang-Olay-Biscuit-Barrel. However, you need to remember how many gods the ancient Egyptians had access to; syncretising all few hundred of them would have been a full-time job, even for a big important deity like Amun.

I'd mention Osiris, Isis, Sobek, Horus, and Bastet as deities who were still wildly popular in the late period (see their temples in Upper and Lower Egypt as proof) and who Amun never absorbed.

It's true that the Romans went apeshit for Isis, though. I'm not sure she retained much authentic Egyptian character, but they thought she did - very exotic.

84southernbooklady
Dec 23, 2010, 9:24am Top

>82 quicksiva:

Wikipedia can be a useful starting point, but is a very unreliable guide. As a rule, I always look for at least two legitimate scholarly sources (ei, subject to peer review) to validate any claims I find on it.

85BarkingMatt
Edited: Dec 23, 2010, 9:32am Top

> 82: Frequently - thank the Gods.

>81 quicksiva: : He said : from the Caucasus - not "Caucasian" in the euphemistic sense it's being used in America.

The “Caucasian” blood in the Greeks came from the massive importation of slaves from the mountains of southern Russia by the citizens of Athens.

I would like to see some evidence for that. At what time whas this supposed to have happened? Why is all Greek indo-european if that applied, and applied only / mostly to Athens? Etc.

As far as we can trace the Greeks were an indo-european speaking group of peoples. There is no linguistic evidence for anything else. There doesn't seem to be any genetic evidence for anything else. And so far you are making a poor case for any archaeological evidence for anythimng else.

86quicksiva
Edited: Dec 23, 2010, 10:04am Top

Garp,

Egypt never invaded Greece, Greece invaded Egypt.

“Alexander endeavoured to take over the Persian empire and yet in Egypt he had to distance himself from his Persian predecessors so as to appear as a liberator of the land and not yet another conqueror. In view of this dilemma, an official summons by a royal oracle to assume the office of pharaoh seemed the most expedient option available to him. Through the oracle's pronounce­ment of his mythical descent from an Egyptian god, Alexander was recog­nized as a legal successor of the native Egyptian pharaohs. This mark of legitimacy was obtained by him in Siwah and not in Thebes. The reason for this choice was because Amun of Siwah (in his guise as Zeus-Ammon) permitted a convenient union of the Egyptian myth of divine lineage with the Greek idea of descent from Zeus. Moreover, an announcement from Siwah would be binding not only on Egypt but also on the entire Greek oikumene. The oracular utterances from Siwah did in fact grant legitimacy to the Greek ruler cults established outside Egypt.
In addition to Alexander's actual father, Philip II, and his mythical one, Amun/Zeus-Ammon, he was to be provided with a third father (i.e. Egypt's last native king, Nectanebo II) for reasons of ritual once he became pharaoh. The prospect of establishing this kind of ideological link to Nectanebo II appeared very promising owing to the latter's reputation as a favourite of the gods.” A History of the Ptolemaic Empire by Gunther Holbl

87quicksiva
Dec 23, 2010, 10:31am Top

>81 quicksiva: : He said : from the Caucasus - not "Caucasian" in the euphemistic sense it's being used in America.
=======
Earlier in post # 42, he used the expression, “the Indo-Eurpean Caucasian Greeks,” I thought he was talking about the same people.

88quicksiva
Dec 23, 2010, 11:32am Top

As far as we can trace the Greeks were an indo-european speaking group of peoples. There is no linguistic evidence for anything else. There doesn't seem to be any genetic evidence for anything else. And so far you are making a poor case for any archaeological evidence for anythimng else.
=======
Matt,
We've got to be careful with genetic evidence. You have heard what happened to Hitler?

89DaynaRT
Dec 23, 2010, 11:35am Top

Hello Godwin.

90BarkingMatt
Edited: Dec 23, 2010, 12:08pm Top

> 88: Certainly. None of these things are conclusive in themselves. But if neither genetics, nor linguistics, nor archaeology really support a thesis like this, it's getting wobbly to say the least.

Also: Hitler had never heard of the kind of genetic evidence I was thinking off - DNA markers, totally unknown in his time.

91HectorSwell
Dec 23, 2010, 1:11pm Top

Is the question about the origins of the people known as the classical Greeks (linguistic evidence for which suggests migrations from the north), or is the question about interaction between ancient Greece and ancient Egypt (evidence of which ranges from architecture, sculpture and tomb design to mythology, literature and philosophy)?

92quicksiva
Edited: Dec 23, 2010, 4:59pm Top

#88
Hitler had never heard of the kind of genetic evidence I was thinking off - DNA markers, totally unknown in his time.
========
Good thing too, I was referring to the fact that several of his relatives have tested positive for black.

93stellarexplorer
Dec 24, 2010, 12:35am Top

I feel like the guy in the Munch painting.

94quicksiva
Dec 24, 2010, 12:50pm Top

# 93
I feel like the guy in the Munch painting.
=========
Screaming is good therapy. Let it rip.

95rolandperkins
Dec 24, 2010, 2:22pm Top

On the title of the thread:

To my mind (Iʻm a classicist-- Greco-Roman Classics) Hercules was clearly a THEBAN hero (the Thebes of Northern Greece,
not of Egypt). I regard him as legendary, which, by my definition, means semi-historical -- more historical than "mythical". Thus, not everything we hear or read about him is true, but it does have a historical base.

And, as a Theban, he was not a pure Greek, still less a pure Semite, but of Greco-Phoenician ancestry, and he was one who was melding into the more primitive Hellenic culture and away from the Semitic Phoenician culture. (A parallel is the story in Genesis of Abrahamʻs choosing the nomadic primitive Semitic culture of Palestine, over the urbanized culture of his native Ur, in what is now Iraq.)

Martin Bernalʻs depiction of the late 2nd Millennium B.C. was
originally an attempt to restore the role of the Phoenicians and other North western Semites in the beginnings of Greek civilization (in Vol. I of Black Athena. This became mixed with
a consideration of the Egyptian, as well as the Semitic, sources,
in Vol. II. From then on he was vulnerable to the charge of
"Afro-centrism", although he has denied BEING an Afro-centrist!
I think he has not denied the denial, but he no longer puts much emphasis on it. But the mentions of Bernal in this thread seem
superficial to me; they do not merely disagree, but even fail
to understand "where he is coming from".

96quicksiva
Edited: Dec 27, 2010, 11:17pm Top

An anecdote from Herodotus (II, 143), of a visit to an Egyptian temple at Thebes, is illustrative. It recounts how the priests showed Herodotus a series of statues in the temple's inner sanctum, each one supposedly set up by the high priest of each generation. Hecataeus, says Herodotus, had seen the same spectacle, after mentioning that he traced his descent, through sixteen generations, from a god. The Egyptians compared his genealogy to their own, as recorded by the statues; since the generations of their high priests had numbered three hundred and forty-five, all entirely mortal, they refused to believe Hecataeus's claim of descent from a mythological figure. This encounter with the immemorial antiquity of Egypt has been identified as a crucial influence on Hecataeus's scepticism: the mythologized past of the Hellenes shrank into insignificant fancy next to the history of a civilization that was already ancient before Mycenae was built. The Ancient Greek Historians; Bury, John Bagnell (NY, Dover Publications, 1958), pp. 14, 48

97quicksiva
Dec 28, 2010, 12:19am Top

#79
I'd question the following, though:
"His position as King of Gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other Gods became manifestations of him." Is this a quote from something and/or your own position?
========
"As soon as the Theban princes became kings of Egypt their priests at once began to declare that their god was not only another form of the great creative Sun-god who had been worshipped for centuries at Annu, or Heliopolis, in the North of Egypt, under the names of Ra, Temu, Khepera, and Heru-khuti, but that all the attributes which were ascribed to them were contained in him, and that he was greater than they. And as Thebes had become the capital instead of Memphis, it followed as a matter of course that all the attributes of all the great gods of Memphis were contained in Amen also. Thus by these means the priests of Amen succeeded in making their god, both theologically and politically, the greatest of the gods in the country". E. A.Wallis Budge , The Gods of the Egyptiansp.4.

98BarkingMatt
Edited: Dec 28, 2010, 5:13am Top

Ah yes, the cult of Amun was very powerful in New Kingdom Egypt. But it is doubtful if the priesthood of other cults quite agreed.

And apparently the "monopoly" didn't last. How else would the Isis cult have survived into the late Roman period?

99quicksiva
Dec 28, 2010, 8:56am Top

Many ''modern'' people wouldn't think of praying without calling on "the hidden god".
I say ''Ammon'' to that.

100quicksiva
Dec 28, 2010, 8:56am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

101BarkingMatt
Dec 28, 2010, 9:05am Top

That's cool with me. I happen to be an agnostic, but we all have our own paths to walk.

102quicksiva
Dec 28, 2010, 9:11am Top

The regions of the hippocampus in the brain are called the cornu ammonis – literally "Amun's Horns", due to the horned appearance of the dark and light bands of cellular layers. (Wiki)
=======

I seem to remember reading that the cornu ammonis is a major concentration of mellanin in our bodies. Is there any truth to this?

103BarkingMatt
Dec 28, 2010, 9:36am Top

Way, way out of my area of expertise! But what would a pigment be doing in a part of the brain?

104stellarexplorer
Dec 28, 2010, 1:41pm Top

Not exactly. Wikipedia gives this point very short attention, despite the interest here. It is actually a bit complicated.
The hippocampus “proper” is contiguous with the dentate gyrus. Together their gross anatomy appeared to earlier creative eyes to be shaped like a seahorse (the name of the genus for seahorses is Hippocampus).
The term "cornu ammonis" is actually a description of the cellular layers of the hippocampus. The cells of the hippocampus are very organized and laminar. The horned appearance of the hippocampus is due to differences within its lamina of cellular density and density of axonal fibres. The layers CA1 and CA3 contain densely-packed pyramidal cells. The impression once reminded a taxonomist of a ram's horn, and thus was described as cornu ammonis, or horns of Amun, as Amun was often associated with the head of a ram.
No, the hippocampus is not a brain site for the heavy concentration of melanin, like, for example, the substantia nigra in the basal ganglia. It is a structure with many binding sites for melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) however, the stimulation of which increases firing rates of hippocampal neurons.

105Garp83
Dec 28, 2010, 7:16pm Top

Thanks Stellar -- you just dramatically underscored for me all of the stuff I don't know! LOL

106quicksiva
Dec 29, 2010, 12:06am Top

Me too. That's why I love this site.
Thanks

107quicksiva
Edited: Dec 30, 2010, 8:27am Top

I can't wait to tell some racist that they have a "negro substance" in their brain:)

108BarkingMatt
Dec 29, 2010, 4:50am Top

Fascinating! Thanks Stellar.

109Cynara
Dec 30, 2010, 11:12am Top

Careful with the Budge-quoting! You have to remember that his publishing career lasted from 1885 - 1934. He was formed, mentally, during the Victorian era and (although his interpretations of Egyptian religion were less racist than some) he was a man of his time. Also, there's been a ton of scholarly work since 1904 when that book was published.

The only reason we're still talking about him at all is that his works have passed into the public domain, and some publishers (I'm looking at you, Dover) have reprinted masses of his work cheaply.

110BarkingMatt
Dec 30, 2010, 3:33pm Top

Yeah, wasn't he also convinced early Egyptians practicing canibalism just because he thought all Africans must have had some instinct towards that?

111quicksiva
Edited: Dec 30, 2010, 6:57pm Top

Yeah,
Whenever I would read this, I would want to ask him If Europeans actually ate ground up mummy for medicine or used mummies as fuel for rail road engines. Besides, don't Church records maintain that Christians eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus?

Then, a paragraph or two later, he'd be calling them the greatest civilization ever.

But he always called a spade a spade.
And he never stopped calling the Egyptians “Africans”.

112quicksiva
Dec 30, 2010, 6:51pm Top

Matt,
Could "Egyptian mumia" have been a cure for Melanin deprivation. We all recently learned how important that "negro substance" is to our mental health.

113BarkingMatt
Edited: Dec 31, 2010, 5:25am Top

;-) Who knows. But I doubt that would be effective. Would Melanin survive stomach fluid?

114stellarexplorer
Dec 31, 2010, 12:22pm Top

It might provide excellent protection if you ate something really bright...?

115quicksiva
Dec 31, 2010, 6:35pm Top

Hi Stella,
How "bright"?
Do you know if there is a relationship between Albinism and Parkinson’s Disease?
Also, how is this "negro substance" related to cocaine addiction?
Happy New Year!

116Garp83
Dec 31, 2010, 6:55pm Top

Errr ... it's "stellar" not "Stella" FYI

Happy New Year's Eve! (Who the hell is Eve anyway?)

117quicksiva
Dec 31, 2010, 7:16pm Top

Sorry.

118stellarexplorer
Jan 1, 2011, 5:13am Top

>115 quicksiva:

-Any level of brightness.

-I am aware of no relationship between the two diseases, other than that they both have some, though quite different, connections to melanin.

-The substance is neuromelanin. Any functional role for neuromelanin is speculative to some degree. It may accumulate where it does in the brain as a byproduct of monoamine synthesis. The areas of monoamine synthesis are the same as the areas where neuromelanin is found. Babies are born without neuromelanin in the brain, and it accumulates over time. Or there may be some as-yet-unrecognized physiologic utility to neuromelanin in the brain. Cocaine has effects on the same neurotransmitters, monoamines, that are produced in the areas where neuromelanin is found. How that relates to cocaine addiction, I cannot say.

-No problem.

- :-|

119quicksiva
Jan 1, 2011, 4:50pm Top

More on melanin-

"In Parkinson's disease, a disorder that affects neuromotor functioning, there is decreased neuromelanin in the substantia nigra as consequence of specific dropping out of dopaminergic pigmented neurons. This results in diminished dopamine synthesis. While no correlation between race and the level of neuromelanin in the substantia nigra has been reported, the significantly lower incidence of Parkinson's in blacks than in whites has "prompted some to suggest that cutaneous melanin might somehow serve to protect the neuromelanin in substantia nigra from external toxins." (wiki)

Maybe, consuming mumia actually did put some color into a patient's cheeks.

120BarkingMatt
Jan 2, 2011, 4:28pm Top

:-) Assuming that melanin "survives" mummification, thousands of years of (possible) deterioration, and being digested... But who knows.

121rolandperkins
Jan 2, 2011, 5:02pm Top

"(Budge) always called a spade a spade. And he never stopped calling the Egyptians Africans."

I assume this is said favorably to Budge, and means he was telling it like it was.

It made me wonder why Albanians, Welshmen, Basques, Lapplanders, and Bulgarians are seldom
called "Europeans", although, geographically they are just as European as the Egyptians are
African. Culturally, they fit more conveniently into a category of their own than into the European category. Egypt, too, was and is culturally in a class by itself, but, if you must fit it into a
larger category, it fits better, all things considered, into "Middle East" than into "Africa", for the latter is commonly taken to mean SUb-Saharan Africa.

I havenʻt even looked at a Budge book for years, but, if I were starting an in depth study of Egypt, he isnʻt one that I would start with.


122quicksiva
Jan 2, 2011, 5:21pm Top

The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica has this information which may be related to the O.P.
"BUSIRIS, in a Greek legend preserved in a fragment of Pherecydes, an Egyptian king, son of Poseidon and Lyssianassa. After Egypt has been afflicted for nine years with famine, Phrasius, a seer of Cyprus, arrived in Egypt and announced that the cessation of the famine would not take place until a foreigner was yearly sacrificed to Zeus or Jupiter. Busiris commenced by sacrificing the prophet, and continued the custom by offering a foreigner on the altar of the god. It is here that Busiris enters into the circle of the myths and parerga of Heracles, who had arrived in Egypt from Libya, and was seized and bound ready to be killed and offered at the altar of Zeus in Memphis. Heracles burst the bonds which bound him, and, seizing his club, slew Busiris with his son Amphidamas and his herald Chalbes. This exploit is often represented on vase paintings from the 6th century B.C. and onwards, the Egyptian monarch and his companions being represented as negroes, and the legend is referred to by Herodotus and later writers. Although some of the Greek writers made Busiris an Egyptian king and a successor of Menes, about the sixtieth of the series, and the builder of Thebes, those better informed by the Egyptians rejected him altogether. Various esoterical explanations were given of the myth, and the name not found as a king was recognized as that of the tomb of Osiris. Busiris is here probably an earlier and less accurate Graecism than Osiris for the name of the Egyptian god Usiri, like Bubastis, Buto, for the goddesses Ubasti and Uto. Busiris, Bubastis, Buto, more strictly represent Pusiri, Pubasti, Puto, cities sacred to these divinities. All three were situated in the Delta, and would be amongst the first known to the Greeks. All shrines of Osiris were called P-usiri, but the principal city of the name was in the centre of the Delta, capital of the 9th (Busirite) nome of Lower Egypt; another one near Memphis (now Abusir) may have helped the formation of the legend in that quarter. The name Busiris in this legend may have been caught up merely at random by the early Greeks, or they may have vaguely connected their legend with the Egyptian myth of the slaying of Osiris (as king of Egypt) by his mighty brother Seth, who was in certain aspects a patron of foreigners. Phrasius, Chalbes and Epaphus (for the grandfather of Busiris) are all explicable as Graecized Egyptian names, but other names in the legend are purely Greek. The sacrifice of foreign prisoners before a god, a regular scene on temple walls, is perhaps only symbolical, at any rate for the later days of Egyptian history, but foreign intruders must often have suffered rude treatment at the hands of the Egyptians, in spite of the generally mild character of the latter."

123BarkingMatt
Edited: Jan 2, 2011, 5:26pm Top

> 121: I agree I wouldn't start with Budge - way too dated. No surprise there of course - those works are "antiques" themselves by now. Unfortunately because of the many cheap modern editions (Dover Publications, I'm looking at you) many people do start there though.

However, I have to disagree. First of all because I have no hesitation at all calling Albanians, Welshmen, Basques, Lapplanders, and Bulgarians "Europeans". But equally I think it's a mistake not to see ancient Egypt as African. Of course they were always also roughly a part of the Middle east though.

124alaudacorax
Jan 3, 2011, 8:55am Top

#122 - Phrasius, a seer of Cyprus, arrived in Egypt and announced that the cessation of the famine would not take place until a foreigner was yearly sacrificed to Zeus or Jupiter. Busiris commenced by sacrificing the prophet ...

I'll be chuckling over that for the rest of the day. It's made my day, in fact.

125Cynara
Jan 3, 2011, 3:25pm Top

He walked into that one.

126BarkingMatt
Edited: Jan 3, 2011, 3:29pm Top

Yup, strictly historically true or not, that's a great anecdote. Got to love a guy who comes up with such solutions.

127stellarexplorer
Jan 3, 2011, 10:22pm Top

And surely effective as well. :)

128quicksiva
Feb 9, 2012, 4:28pm Top


"... all clearly recognizable as Egyptians." .... by the fact that the Egyptians are meticulously portrayed as circumcised.

For a photograph of a different vase, see the section entitled: "Greco-Roman Views on Alien Rites of Preputial Ablation", about 5 sections down:

http://www.cirp.org/library/history/hodges2/

129quicksiva
Feb 26, 2012, 7:21pm Top

The BULLETIN OF THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE tells us:

“An important clue to the Greeks' assumptions about the association of circumcision with the Egyptian priesthood is to be found on the fifth-century B.C.E. Attic red-figure pelike by the Pan painter, depicting Herakles overthrowing Busiris, a mythological priest-king of Egypt, and his bald-headed priestly attendants who have attempted to make of Herakles a human sacrifice.

The painter has taken great pains to depict the priests as having fat, ugly, wrinkled, circumcised penises with a bulbous externalized glans, which contrast sharply with the neat and attractive penis of Herakles, with its elegantly long and tapered prepuce. Likewise,' the snubbed noses and monkey-like faces of the Egyptians' could hardly be more dissimilar to 'the heroic Greek profile' of Herakles.”

The Ideal Prepuce in Ancient Greece and Rome: Male Genital Aesthetics and Their Relation to Lipodermos, Circumcision, Foreskin Restoration, and the Kynodesme
FREDERICK M. HODGES
THE BULLETIN OF THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE, Volume 75: Pages 375–405,
Fall 2001.

130quicksiva
Sep 8, 2013, 2:39pm Top

But if the Jews were in the twilight of history the Phoenicians, the latter may be traced themselves to the nations who used the old Sanscrit language. Carthage was a Phoenician city, hence its name; for Tyre was equally Kartha. In the Bible the words Kir, Kirjath are frequently found. Their tutelar god was styled Mel-Kartha (Mel, Baal), or tutelar lord of the city. In Sanscrit a city or communal was a cul and its lord was Heri. ** Her-culeus is therefore the translation of Melkarth and Sanscrit in origin. Moreover all the Cyclopean races were Phoenicians. In the Odyssey the Kuklopes (Cyclops) are the Libyan shepherds; and Herodotus describes them as miners and great builders. They are the ancient Titans or giants, who in Hesiod forge bolts for Zeus. They are the biblical Zamzummim from the land of the giants, the Anakim. Now it is easy to see that the excavators of Ellora, the builders of the old Pagodas, the architects of Copan and of the ruins of Central America, those of Nagkon-Wat, and those of the Egyptian remains were, if not of the same race, at least of the same religion--the one taught in the oldest Mysteries. Besides, the figures on the walls of Angkor are purely archaic, and have nothing to do with the images and idols of Buddha, who may be of a far later origin. "What gives a peculiar interest to this section," says Dr. Bastian, "is the fact that the artist has represented the different nationalities in all their distinctive characteristic features, from the flat-nosed savage in the tasselled garb of the Pnom and the short-haired Lao, to the straight-nosed Rajaput, with sword and shield, and the bearded Moor, giving a catalogue of nationalities, like another column of Trajan, in the predominant physical conformation of each race. On the whole, there is such a prevalence of Hellenic cast in features and profiles, as well as in the elegant attitude of the horsemen, that one might suppose Xenocrates of old, after finishing his labors in Bombay, had made an excursion to the East."

Blavatsky, H.P. (2008-02-24). Isis Unveiled (Kindle Locations 10580-10594). . Kindle Edition.

131quicksiva
Sep 8, 2013, 2:42pm Top

"Therefore, if we allow the tribes of Israel to have had a hand in the building of Nagkon-Wat, it cannot be as the tribes numbered and sent from the wilderness of Paran in search of the land of Canaan, but as their earlier ancestors, which amounts to the rejection of such tribes, as the casting of a reflection of the Mosaic revelation. And where is the outside historical evidence that such tribes were ever heard of at all, before the compilation of the Old Testament by Ezra? There are archaeologists who strongly regard the twelve tribes as utterly mythical, * for there never was a tribe of Simeon, and that of Levi was a caste. There still remains the same problem to solve-whether the Judaeans had ever been in Palestine before Cyrus. From the sons of Jacob, who had all married Canaanites, except Joseph, whose wife was the daughter of an Egyptian Priest of the Sun, down to the legendary Book of Judges there was an acknowledged general intermarrying between the said tribes and the idolatrous races: "And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites; and they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods," says the third chapter of Judges, " . . . and the children of Israel forgat their God and served Baalim, and the groves." This Baal was Moloch, M'lch Karta, or Hercules. He was worshipped wherever the Phoenicians went. How could the Israelites possibly keep together as tribes, while, on the authority of the Bible itself, whole populations were from year to year uprooted violently by Assyrian and other conquerors? "So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel" (2 Kings, xvii. 23, 24)."

Blavatsky, H.P. (2008-02-24). Isis Unveiled (Kindle Locations 10594-10607). . Kindle Edition.

132BarkingMatt
Sep 8, 2013, 2:52pm Top

The Phoenicians did not use Sanskrit. Period. They probably wouldn't have understood a single word.

But Blavatsky? Again? Honestly... I thought we were talking about history.

133BarkingMatt
Edited: Sep 8, 2013, 3:11pm Top

> 128: by the fact that the Egyptians are meticulously portrayed as circumcised.

Where do you get such rubbish? No they're not! Yes, I do know Egyptians did practice circumcision. But most depictions of Egyptians don't clearly show genitalia. So they're not portrayed as such, let alone "meticulously". Hogwash!

134rolandperkins
Edited: Sep 10, 2013, 3:15am Top

"The Phoenicians . . .
probably wouldnʻt have understood a single word (of Sanskrit)." (131>132)

As a classicist, and a big supporter of Martin Bernalʻs view of the Phoenicians, I think youʻre right. And right that Blavarsky and History donʻt mix.
I have read that not only the Greek alphabet, but the Arabic and even the (non-Semitic) Sanskrit are based on the Phoenician alphabet.*
This surprised me, but not enough to do further research on it. The Phoenician origin of their alphabet, however, wouldnʻt be a proof of their knowing the language, any more than with their Greek connection. The Phoenicians themselves -- those of the era of great Phoenicain voyages - - probably knew little or no Greek, though
their Carthaginian descendants probably knew it.

*Most classicists and historians trace the Greek
alphabet to the Phoenicians; this "concession" is made very reluctantly in the case of many of my colleagues.

135quicksiva
Edited: Sep 8, 2013, 3:35pm Top

>133 BarkingMatt: Where do you get such rubbish?
========

The Ideal Prepuce in Ancient Greece and Rome: Male Genital Aesthetics and Their Relation to Lipodermos, Circumcision, Foreskin Restoration, and the Kynodesme
FREDERICK M. HODGES
THE BULLETIN OF THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE, Volume 75: Pages 375–405,
Fall 2001.

136BarkingMatt
Edited: Sep 8, 2013, 3:41pm Top

Most classicists and historians trace the Greek alphabet to the Phoenicians

Ah, but I would agree with that. Well, I'm no expert (again), but yes: the forms of the letters and their "names" largely confirm this. Aleph to Alpha, Beith to Beta, etc. Makes sense.

Also, and more my area of expertise, pre-Classical Greek art - especially early Corinthian ceramics - shows many near-eastern influences. There is no doubt about there being relations.

137BarkingMatt
Sep 8, 2013, 3:51pm Top

>135 quicksiva:: Fine. I believe you. Again: I'm not denying that Egyptians practiced circumcision (but the Greeks frowned at that practice by the way, explain that if you wish to argue that Greek culture was merely something derived from Egypt).

However, did you - or that author - ever bother actually to look at Egyptian depictions of people? Generally there is no way of telling whether they would be circumcised or not. So again "meticulously portrayed as circumcised"? - rubbish.

Group: Ancient History

1,902 members

10,583 messages

About

This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.

Touchstones

Works

Authors

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 91,609,723 books! | Top bar: Always visible