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9-06-2015, 11:59

The Story of Aqhat

A fragmentary colophon on the edge of KTU 1.17 vi, together with the script, suggest that this composition is from the hand on Ilimilku (Wyatt 1999a: 234-5).

KTU 1.17 (6 columns: about half surviving): Danel spends six days in the temple, trying to gain a son. Then on the seventh Baal intercedes for him with El, so that he may beget a son who will perform the appropriate filial duties on his father’s behalf. Aqhat is born, Danel rejoices, offering thanks to the childbirth goddesses, and the years pass. . . After two missing columns, Kothar brings a wonderful bow, which is given to Aqhat. At a sacrifice, Anat sees the bow and covets it. When she tries to persuade Aqhat to give it to her, with promises of wealth and immortality, he insults her. She goes to El. . .

KTU 1.18 (4 columns: about a third surviving):... threatening him with violence if he does not give her freedom to punish Aqhat. He gives her carte blanche. She comes to Aqhat, inviting him to go hunting with her... She plots his death with her hit man Yatipan, who will swoop on him like (or in the form of) a falcon.

KTU 1.19 (4 columns: most of the text survives): The bow is smashed. The enraged Anat laments the bow and tears Aqhat to pieces. Danel, unaware of the tragedy, sits to judge his people. His daughter Pughat, intuiting his loss, rends his cloak. Danel utters a terrible curse. Still unaware of what has happened, he tours his fields, and two messengers bring the news of Aqhat’s death. Danel curses the falcons, retrieves Aqhat’s remains and buries them. He then curses the neighborhood of Aqhat’s death, while Pughat plans her revenge. She comes to Yatipan’s camp disguised as Anat, bent on revenge, and plies him with strong drink. . .

If the very fragmentary Rpum texts (KTU 1.20-2 appear to be parallel versions of the same narrative) are related to this composition, a view now largely discounted (Wyatt 1999a: 235 and n. 3, 237), and relying on the circumstantial mention of the name Danilu in the text, then it would appear that a kispum feast of dead kings (the rpum are perhaps close in conception to the Greek heroes; cf. Wyatt 2002b: 305 n. 1) takes place at a threshing floor. We might conjecture that Danel, but hardly his son, was included in their number.

The most recent surveys of Aqhat scholarship are Margalit (1989) and Wyatt (1999a). Early attempts were historicist and seasonal (that is, seeing the narrative as an allegory of the flow of seasons, with ritual application) (Virolleaud 1936), or seasonal and astronomical (Gaster 1950; Astour 1967), both categories rejected by Caquot and Sznycer (Caquot et al. 1974). De Moor (1988) extended his seasonal theories concerning Baal to Aqhat. A royal ideological dimension was recognized by Ginsberg (1945a, 1945b) but rejected by Gibson (1975), who followed Driver (1956) in seeing the theme of death and resurrection in the narrative, which is emphatically absent from the surviving text, except in the offer which Aqhat rejects. Del Olmo Lete (1981) judged Aqhat to be epic, but ‘‘more mythical’’ than Keret, thus illustrating the problem of trying to apply genre categories. Margalit’s analysis (1989) was driven by two theoretical points, the so-called Kinneret hypothesis and the non-royal nature of the story. The former has not commanded assent; the latter is rebutted in my treatment (Wyatt 1999a: 249-51). I would now go further than my comments there, to see the composition as dealing specifically with royal ideological issues, however much it is dependent on traditional and diverse literary motifs.