'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

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seanjonesbw
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'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by seanjonesbw » Tue Mar 10, 2020 2:17 pm

As I wait for the impending viral apocalypse, I've been working my way through HH 5 to Aphrodite and was struck by the similarity between Aphrodite's speech to Anchises after she's woken him up at 192-201 and the Annunciation in Luke 1.30-33.
192 Ἀγχίση, κύδιστε καταθνητῶν ἀνθρώπων, 193 θάρσει, μηδέ τι σῇσι μετὰ φρεσὶ δείδιθι λίην· 194 οὐ γάρ τοί τι δέος παθέειν κακὸν ἐξ ἐμέθεν γε, 195 οὐδʼ ἄλλων μακάρων· ἐπεὶ ἦ φίλος ἐσσὶ θεοῖσι. 196 σοὶ δʼ ἔσται φίλος υἱός, ὃς ἐν Τρώεσσιν ἀνάξει 197 καὶ παῖδες παίδεσσι διαμπερὲς ἐκγεγάονται· 198 τῷ δὲ καὶ Αἰνείας ὄνομʼ ἔσσεται, οὕνεκα μʼ αἰνὸν 199 ἔσχεν ἄχος, ἕνεκα βροτοῦ ἀνέρος ἔμπεσον εὐνῇ· 200 ἀγχίθεοι δὲ μάλιστα καταθνητῶν ἀνθρώπων 201 αἰεὶ ἀφʼ ὑμετέρης γενεῆς εἶδός τε φυήν τε. μὴ φοβοῦ, Μαριάμ, εὗρες γὰρ χάριν παρὰ τῷ θεῷ. 31 καὶ ἰδοὺ συλλήμψῃ ἐν γαστρὶ καὶ τέξῃ υἱὸν καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν. 32 οὗτος ἔσται μέγας καὶ υἱὸς ὑψίστου κληθήσεται καὶ δώσει αὐτῷ κύριος ὁ θεὸς τὸν θρόνον Δαυὶδ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ, 33 καὶ βασιλεύσει ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον Ἰακὼβ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας καὶ τῆς βασιλείας αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔσται τέλος.
Aphrodite and Gabriel both tell Anchises/Mary not to be afraid (μηδέ τι σῇσι μετὰ φρεσὶ δείδιθι / μὴ φοβοῦ, Μαριάμ) because they are favoured by God/the gods (φίλος ἐσσὶ θεοῖσι / εὗρες γὰρ χάριν παρὰ τῷ θεῷ), that a son will be born to them (σοὶ δʼ ἔσται φίλος υἱός / τέξῃ υἱὸν), what the name of the son will be (Αἰνείας ὄνομʼ ἔσσεται / τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν) and that they will become rulers - in the same order apart from the final two which are swapped.

Setting aside Luke's potential influences (that kind of discussion seems to chase its own tail), can anyone think of any other Greek 'annunciations' which follow this format?
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Re: 'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by jeidsath » Wed Mar 11, 2020 7:10 pm

Luke's influences seem to me to be from the Septuagint (your name will be called Abraham, your name will be called Israel, etc.). But the fostering of Bachhus in Dionysiaca, IX seems to take some of its cues from Luke's Annunciation, though it is the foster mother that gets the new name.

„δέξο, γύναι, νέον υἷα, τεῷ δ’ ἐνικάτθεο κόλπῳ
παῖδα κασιγνήτης Σεμέλης σέθεν, ὃν παρὰ παστῷ
οὐ στεροπῆς ἀμάθυνεν ὅλον σέλας, οὐδέ μιν αὐτοὶ
μητροφόνοι σπινθῆρες ἐδηλήσαντο κεραυνοῦ.
καὶ βρέφος ἀχλυόεντι δόμῳ πεφυλαγμένον ἔστω, (65)
μηδέ μιν ἀθρήσειεν ἔσω γλαφυροῖο μελάθρου
ἠμάτιον Φαέθοντος ἢ ἔννυχον ὄμμα Σελήνης, @1
μηδέ ἑ κουρίζοντα, καὶ εἰ ταυρῶπις ἀκούει,
ζηλήμων βαρύμηνις ἴδῃ κεκαλυμμένον Ἥρη.
δέξο κασιγνήτης σέθεν υἱέα· σοὶ δὲ Κρονίων (70)
ἄξια σῶν καμάτων ὀπάσει θρεπτήρια Βάκχου.
ὀλβίη ἐν πάσῃσι θυγατράσιν ἔπλεο Κάδμου·
ἤδη γὰρ Σεμέλη φλογερῷ δέδμητο βελέμνῳ,
Αὐτονόην δὲ θανόντι σὺν υἱέι γαῖα καλύψει,
ἀμφοτέροις δ’ ἕνα τύμβον ἀναστήσειε Κιθαιρών, (75)
καὶ μόρον οὐρεσίφοιτος ἐσαθρήσειεν Ἀγαύη,
Πενθέος ὀλλυμένοιο νόθης ψαύσασα παρειῆς,
παιδοφόνος γεγαυῖα λιπόπτολις· ἀλλὰ σὺ μούνη
ἔσσεαι αὐχήεσσα τόσης ναέτειρα θαλάσσης,
οἶκον ἀμειβομένη Ποσιδήιον, εἰναλίη δὲ (80)
ὡς Θέτις, ὡς Γαλάτεια φατίζεαι Ὑδριὰς Ἰνώ·
οὐ χθονίῳ κενεῶνι κατακρύψει σε Κιθαιρών,
ἀλλὰ σὺ Νηρεΐδων μία γίνεαι· ἀντὶ δὲ Κάδμου
ἐλπίδι λωιτέρῃ καλέσεις Νηρῆα τοκῆα
παιδὶ τεῷ ζώουσα σὺν ἀθανάτῳ Μελικέρτῃ, @1 (85)
Λευκοθέη, κρατέουσα χυτῆς κληῖδα γαλήνης,
εὐπλοΐης μεδέουσα μετ’ Αἴολον· εὐδιόων δὲ
σοὶ πίσυνος πλεύσειε φιλέμπορος εἰν ἁλὶ ναύτης
βωμὸν ἕνα στήσας ἐνοσίχθονι καὶ Μελικέρτῃ,
ῥέζων ἀμφοτέροισι· θαλασσαίοιο δὲ δίφρου (90)
δέξεται ἡνιοχῆα Παλαίμονα Κυανοχαίτης.“
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Re: 'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by Paul Derouda » Wed Mar 11, 2020 9:13 pm

The similarities between the Homeric Hymn and Luke are indeed almost disturbing. But it's not likely that Luke was influenced by a relatively obscure text such as this hymn; it's rather that this is a recurrent theme in Greek mythology. Bart Ehrman says in his New Testament introduction that I've been reading (p. 155); I find this quite credible:
As we will see later, Luke is generally thought to have been writing to a Christian community that was largely Gentile. It may be that he has molded his portrayal of Jesus for these converts from other Greco-Roman religions. He presents the story of Jesus' birth in a way that would make sense to a pagan reader who was conversant with tales of other divine beings who walked the face of the earth, other heroes and demigods who were born of the union of a mortal with a god.

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Re: 'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by seanjonesbw » Thu Mar 12, 2020 1:50 pm

Like I say, I think it's a moot point what Luke was directly influenced by (apart from the OT) and who exactly he was writing for (long, dull debates about theophilus/Theophilus case in point), but the coincidence of the presentation here suggests to me that at the very least that this was some kind of ancient prophecy motif, especially as Luke uses the format three times with slight variations (the prophecy to Zechariah of the birth of John the Baptist and the annunciation to the shepherds of the birth of Jesus are the other two). Of the antecedents in the OT, Isaiah is probably the closest (7.14/9.6) but there's nothing that has all of these elements together in the same place. I'd be surprised if there wasn't another example like this somewhere with all five parts.

Joel - I think I saw the Dionysiaca described somewhere, possibly on textkit, as deranged - I'm inclined to agree after reading that snippet! Have you read the whole thing?
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Re: 'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by jeidsath » Thu Mar 12, 2020 3:01 pm

Nonnus is not for me, I'm afraid. I only found that because I thought that I had recalled something from the Bacchae about Dionysus' birth, and did some TLG searches.
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Re: 'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Thu Mar 12, 2020 7:55 pm

I have long felt that Luke in particular is writing elenctically, interacting with certain forms and motifs familiar to his broader audience while repurposing them for his own theological use. I would include the shipwreck narrative in Acts 27 and the Zeus and Hermes story in Acts 14 (think of Baucis and Philemon).
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Re: 'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:08 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 7:55 pm
I have long felt that Luke in particular is writing elenctically
Barry, have you read anything by Dennis MacDonald? I was searching to see if I could find anything else about Luke and this hymn and his books Luke and Vergil: Imitations of Classical Greek Literature and The Gospels and Homer: Imitations of Greek Epic in Mark and Luke-Acts came up, which seem to be in your bailiwick. I can't tell if he's a crank, a scholar, or both.
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Re: 'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by Paul Derouda » Sat Mar 14, 2020 5:31 am

I had a quick look once at something he’s written. He apparently sees Homeric parallels everywhere, in a way that didn’t inspire my trust. I didn’t read him at any length, but from what I saw I’d put him in the crank category. To begin with, Homer and the New Testament are by far the most studied books of antiquity, and now, out of the blue, he finds extensive parallels that no one else has noticed?

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Re: 'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by seanjonesbw » Sat Mar 14, 2020 12:11 pm

Thanks Paul, I was getting quite strong crank vibes from reading the Amazon listing.
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Re: 'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by Paul Derouda » Sat Mar 14, 2020 2:01 pm

I've been participating to a Greek reading group that mostly reads weird apocryphal stuff like the Acts of Andrew and Matthias in the Land of the Anthropophagi. That story has striking parallels with the Odyssey and I pointed it out to the other members of the group, who were mostly theologists with little knowledge of Homer. They seemed quite skeptical at first, for the apparent reason that unknown to me, Macdonald, who wasn't too high in their esteem, had advanced the same hypothesis - their first thought must have been that I was crank as well. Anyway, that's when I decided to see who this Macdonald fellow was. It seems to me he has come to the right conclusion as far as the Acts of Andrew and Matthias is concerned, but no one believes him because he also sees Homeric influences in lots of places where there are none.

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Re: 'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by jeidsath » Sat Mar 14, 2020 2:21 pm

The old adage about a broken clock.
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Re: 'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Sat Mar 14, 2020 4:17 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:08 pm
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 7:55 pm
I have long felt that Luke in particular is writing elenctically
Barry, have you read anything by Dennis MacDonald? I was searching to see if I could find anything else about Luke and this hymn and his books Luke and Vergil: Imitations of Classical Greek Literature and The Gospels and Homer: Imitations of Greek Epic in Mark and Luke-Acts came up, which seem to be in your bailiwick. I can't tell if he's a crank, a scholar, or both.
No, actually not familiar with him.

Here is a Bryn Mawr Review:

https://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2004/2004.08.13

I hesitate to say anything about an author I haven't read but from this review and some other online précis of his work:

1) I think "crank" is too strong a word. He has a decent scholarly pedigree and seems honestly to be interacting with his material. That doesn't mean he isn't way out in left field when it comes to his ideas.

2) It doesn't sound like he's saying what I'm saying. Admittedly, what I'm saying are simply impressions done without any real research, so cum grano salis time, but certainly I've never seen the gospels as deliberate reformulations of Homer, rather that Luke takes themes and motifs that would have been common knowledge and uses them as a sort of backdrop in which to frame, or which to a certain extent condition, his own narratives.

So if I ever take this any where beyond simply chatting about it on a forum, I should probably have a closer look at the guy.
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Re: 'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by seanjonesbw » Sat Mar 14, 2020 9:39 pm

Thanks for the link to the review Barry! I should probably make clear that I wasn't suggesting that cranks are your specialist subject, just that his books seemed to be at the crossroads of your interests on textkit.

As always in literature and theology, pointing out interesting parallels is one thing and a feverish obsession with a particular explanation for those parallels is another, but the review has piqued my interest.
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Re: 'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Mon Mar 16, 2020 3:25 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 9:39 pm
Thanks for the link to the review Barry! I should probably make clear that I wasn't suggesting that cranks are your specialist subject, just that his books seemed to be at the crossroads of your interests on textkit.

As always in literature and theology, pointing out interesting parallels is one thing and a feverish obsession with a particular explanation for those parallels is another, but the review has piqued my interest.
Sure, and not for a moment did I think you were suggesting that! Though if someone wanted to specialize in cranks, there would be no shortage of material...
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Re: 'Annunciation' in Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite

Post by seneca2008 » Mon Mar 16, 2020 8:17 pm

By coincidence the following review arrived in my inbox today:

The Bible, Homer, and the search for meaning in ancient myths: why we would be better off with Homer’s gods
John Heath, The Bible, Homer, and the search for meaning in ancient myths: why we would be better off with Homer's gods. Routledge monographs in classical studies . London; New York: Routledge, 2019. 418 p.. ISBN 9780367077204 $140.00.


https://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2020/2020.03.27

The review notes "John Heath’s The Bible, Homer, and the Search for Meaning in Ancient Myths comes as the latest in a growing list of studies comparing the Bible and Homeric epic." and lists the following books "These include Homer, the Bible, and Beyond: Literary and Religious Canons in the Ancient World (2003) by Margalit Finkelberg and Guy Stroumsa, Ancient Israel and Ancient Greece (2003) by John Pairman Brown, Homer und die Bibel: Studien zur Interpretation der Ilias und ausgewählter alttestamentlicher Texte (2015) by Meik Gerhards, and, also from Routledge, Bruce Louden’s Greek Myth and the Bible (2018)."

Quite an industry here.

I was disappointed by the review Barry posted. The very idea of an opposition between conscious and unconscious imitation seems to miss the possibilities opened up by this line of enquiry. But I think this touches on reception theory and we have been round that course maybe too often and certainly too recently.

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