2022-23 UTM Annual Classics Seminar Series: Mary Bachvarova

When and Where

Friday, March 31, 2023 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Maanjiwe nendamowinan (MN 3230), University of Toronto Mississauga


Mary Bachvarova


How to Do Comparative Ancient Mediterranean Literary Studies


The Department of Historical Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga is hosting a talk as part of 2022-23 Classics Seminar Series on March 31, 2023, and delivery mode is hybrid (zoom details below).

UTMACS Seminar: Mary Bachvarova (Willamette University)

Professor Bachvarova’s talk will start at 1:10 pm. Join us in person at UTM in Maanjiwe nendamowinan 3230 or virtually on Zoom.

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 875 1833 8654
Passcode: 342661

* After a short break, the talk will be followed by a seminar-style discussion at 3 pm; you are invited to stay for the second part, if you can. A dossier with texts will be distributed on Friday.

Abstract: Much useful work has been done making direct comparisons between Greek and Mesopotamian literature, the Epic of Gilgamesh and Epic of Creation in particular, which shows that there was some kind of interaction between the Near East and Greek-speakers that allowed for the transmission of material available to us in scribal works. Much less work has been on the mechanics of transmission: who, what, where, when, why, how? I, therefore, have chosen to focus more on finding ways to answer these difficult questions rather than to continue to expand the list of parallels among literary texts. Because there is no evidence supporting a theory of direct contact among Mesopotamian scribes trained to read and copy literary texts and Greek speakers, I have zeroed in on Anatolia as a place where formative contact could have occurred that also has fortuitously preserved examples of Late Bronze Age “cousins” of the narrative traditions that clearly impacted the Homeric tradition. Starting with this answer to “where,” I will discuss ways to provide answers to the other five questions, using as my examples three sets of Hittite texts: the Kumarbi cycle, widely acknowledged to have precise parallels to Hesiod’s Theogony, the Telipinu myth, which shares motifs with angry disappeared god storylines, such as in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, and the Song of Release, which I have argued shares the same plot as both Iliad 1 and the overall story of the Trojan War.