Ale to Polika
In M. L. Wests exemplary edition of Hesiods Theogony, published in 1966, W. claimed that “Greece is part of Asia; Greek literature is a Near Eastern literature” (p. 31), a remarkable claim when everyone knew that Greece is part of Europe and its literature unlike anything that appeared in the Near East. Yet in the last thirty years others have made similar claims. W. Burkert, especially, argued that “Akkadian cuneiform side by side with Aramaic, Phoenician, and Greek alphabetic script produces a continuum of written culture in the eighth century which stretches from the Euphrates to Italy” (The Orientalizing Revolution, Cambridge, Mass., 1992, p. 31). Here W. sets out to prove his thesis, now a generation old, and we might be disturbed that he has succeeded so well.
There are twelve chapters, which I will briefly review in order.
In the first chapter, “Aegean and Orient,” W. takes a birds-eye view of salient features of Near Eastern and Aegean cultures that for explanation cry out for direct transmission or a common origin. He does not say this, but if one were to compare Bronze Age Greece with Bronze Age China or the Hopi Indians of Arizona one would not expect to find
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