I trattati nel mondo antico: Forma, ideologia, funzione

by Delbert R. Hillers
I trattati nel mondo antico: Forma, ideologia, funzione
Delbert R. Hillers
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Start Page: 
End Page: 
Select license: 

 Reviewed work(s): I trattati nel mondo antico: Forma, ideologia, funzione by Luciano Canfora; Mario Liverani; Carlo Zaccagnini Under the auspices of the Seminario di Antichistica of the Istituto Gramsci, scholars interested in ancient treaties met in Rome in 1986 for a conference which bore the same title as the book under review, Treaties in the Ancient World: Form, Ideology, and Function. The volume consists, for the most part, of the collected papers delivered at that conference, mostly in Italian and English. Just two of the papers read are not included (those of D. Musti and F. Coarelli), while a related essay by M. Weinfeld, present only as a discussant, has been added. The ambition of the organizers of the conference, according to the preface by M. Liverani, was to bring together specialists in various sub-fields within ancient studies to confront a subject of common concern and of considerable importance, and this book reflects the overall success of the enterprise. At all points the collection constitutes a useful bringing-up-to-date of a topic of perennial interest, by recognized authorities, and here and there new and valuable advances are made. Though the reader feels the lack of an attempt at synthesis, and regrets that it was apparently impossible or impractical to include the discussion and the interchange that must have taken place between the scholars present, at the same time, he is put in a position to form his own synthesis, or frame his own questions, on the basis of the broad and diverse collection of subjects expertly presented. It would have been helpful, for this purpose and others, if the editors had provided indices, of authors, of subjects, of Semitic, Greek, and Latin terms, but there are none.  The essay by H. Tadmor, "Alliance and Dependence in Ancient Mesopotamia and in Israel: Terminology and Practices," is an abridgement of his "Treaty and Oath in the Ancient Near East: A Historian's Approach," in Humanizing America's Iconic Book, ed. G. Tucker and D. Knight (Chico, Cal.: Scholars, 1982), translated into Italian by M. Liverani. A good deal of useful material from the earlier, English, essay has been omitted, for example, the review of previous studies, and there is in this reprinting little engagement with more recent work, for example, A. Lemaire's and J. M. Durand's Les Inscriptions arameennes de Sfire or S. Parpola's, and K. Watanabe's Neo-Assyrian Treaties and Loyalty Oaths. By compensation, there is a useful new table, "Terminology of the Pact in the Ancient Near East"; a detail, of some significance, mentioned in passing in "Treaty and Oath", is left out of the table and the Italian version: the very probable occurrence of Hebrew dym (MT rym) in Isaiah 33:8, removed from the realm of mere conjecture by new textual support, confirming evidence long available. Tadmor's essay remains a classic among studies in this field; rereading it, I note how Tadmor is constantly conscious of the incompleteness of our documentation, yet I wonder if, even so, he takes sufficient account of how the written texts which accompanied treaty rites, the only evidence that has come down to us, may give us only a partial and incomplete view of all that was said and done in a treaty ceremony. The contribution of J. Brinkman, "Political Covenants, Treaties, and Loyalty Oaths in Babylonia and between Assyria and Babylonia" (in English) is an up-to-date review of its subject exhibiting the author's characteristic thoroughness and critical acumen; Brinkman devotes special attention to the Synchronistic History and the Tukulti-Ninurta epic, and is able to give some attention to the views of Parpola on ade agreements. Brinkman contributes, as an appendix, an edition of the text of the treaty between Marduk-zakir-shumi I and Shamshi-Adad V (introduction, cuneiform text in transliteration, translation, commentary, and copy). Specialists will be interested in the differences in significant details between this edition and that of Parpola and Watanabe, Neo-Assyrian Treaties, State Archives of Assyria, vol. II (Helsinki, 1988), 4-5, with photographs pl. I; with the two editions, we are well-provided as far as this treaty is concerned! In a valuable essay of a different type, M. Fales reviews critically recent work on the Sefire treaties, adding interesting new suggestions of his own to those he has made in previous studies of the problems connected with these pivotal texts. M. Liverani reflects his characteristic recent intellectual concerns in "Terminology and Ideology of the Treaty in the Assyrian Royal Inscriptions," where, among other points of interest, one finds special attention given to the Akkadian term kitru, a treaty term that receives less attention in other essays in the collection. C. Zaccagnini's "The Forms of Alliance and Subjugation in the Near East of the Late Bronze Age" is a lengthy terminological overview, impressive in the breadth and variety of materials assembled, marred by frequent solecisms in the English. Weinfeld's "The Common Heritage of Covenantal Traditions in the Ancient World" is in a sense the boldest article included; though certainly subject to criticism or even refutation in detail, it presents, as the title indicates, a strong statement of a theory concerning the topic with which all participants were concerned. Three essays on treaties in the classical world conclude the volume. Canfora writes on "Treaties in Thucydides," J.-L. Ferrary on "Treaties and Roman Domination in the Hellenic World" (in French), and F. Grelle on "Cities and Treaties in the Roman Imperial System." These last essays are among those which made this reviewer most lament the absence of some synthetic presentation by the editors, or wish that there had been present a participant who could have given a view of the subject from outside, from an intellectual distance, not from the view of a specialist in ancient studies. The book is carefully produced, with few typographical errors. In Tadmor's original English paper, "Treaty and Oath," by a slip, some words were omitted from his citation of Reiner's translation of a curse from a treaty (ANET, 533), yielding mystifying syntax; this haplography is reproduced faithfully here in the Italian translation, with a slight repair obscuring the original sense. COPYRIGHT 1992 American Oriental Society

  • Recommend Us