Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More study

Whilst reading great gobs of ancient history, one's mind can, believe it or not, wander on occasion. The chapter I read at lunchtime today (Mario Liverani's "Telipinu, or: on solidarity," in Myth and Politics in Ancient Near Eastern Historiography, Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2004, pp 27-52) had an epigraph from Freud's Interpretation of Dreams:
The dream discharges the unconscious excitation, serves it as a safety valve and at the same time preserves the sleep of the preconscious in retern for a small expenditure of waking activity.

And so, when, in the middle of the chapter (I'd just finished off a warm bowl of soup), and I drifted into the half-awake state known technically as "seated drool," I thought it would be appropriate to remember the things that went through my brain as I drifted into the book, especially as they seemed appropriately historiographic.

I was entering a cave with Telepinu, a Hittite king of the sixteenth century, and author of an Edict, whose contents have provided the backbone for much scholarly reconstruction of the prior century or so of Hittite history. The goal was to enter the cave and come out with Hattushili (first?), king of the Hittites, and his mother the Tawanna (queen, and one of the plausible, though almost certainly insufficient, links to and reasons for Hattushili to claim, the Hittite throne). We had no success; our quarry kept disappearing around corners, and quite frankly, I got rather closer to Telepinu (imagined second-millennium Hittite hygiene is what you might expect) than entirely comfortable.

That's ancient history for you.

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