Proverbs and Proverbial Allusions in Hittite

by Gary Beckman
Proverbs and Proverbial Allusions in Hittite
Gary Beckman
Journal of Near Eastern Studies
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Gary Beckman, Yale University

The genius, wit, and spirit of a nation are discovered in its proverbs.

Francis Bacon

MESOPOTAMIAN proverbs have been discussed thoroughly by Edmund Gordon,

W. G. Lambert, and Bendt ~lster,' but this speech genre has until now received scant attention from ~ittitolo~ists,~

possibly because of the scattered and uncertain nature of the relevant material in the Bogazkoy archives. The term "proverb" itself is somewhat problematic-everyone knows what a proverb is, but students of proverbs have yet to agree upon a definiti~n.~

Here I will simply state with Alster that proverbs are sayings of "popular currency which express common knowledge in brief and concise form."4 For the scholar concerned with the texts of an extinct speech community, such as the Hittites, the chief difficulty lies in the determination of popular currency. In the absence of a folk among which to conduct research, there are four basic criteria by which to recognize proverbial material in a body of texts? (I) a saying is included in a collection;

(2) a saying is explicitly cited as such; (3) a saying is found in the same shape in different texts, that is, it exhibits "bound form"; and (4) a saying, if interpreted literally, appears out of place in its context. For example, the English proverb "the leopard cannot change its spots" is most often employed in nonzoological discussions.

* In this instance, as so often, I have profited greatly from discussions with Professors H. G. Giiterbock and Harry A. Hoffner, who also gra- ciously allowed me to utilize the lexical resources of the Hittite Dictionary Project of the Oriental Insti- tute of the University of Chicago. Professor Karla Taylor has been my guide to the literary-critical literature on proverbs, and Professors W. Randall Garr, Charles Carter, and Robert Falkowitz have made helpful comments. An earlier version of this paper was presented to the annual meeting of the American Oriental Society held in Seattle in March 1984.

Abbreviations used here are those listed in J. Friedrich and A. Kammenhuber, Hethitisches Worter- buch. 2d ed. (Munich, 1975-), pp. 13-33.

[JNES45 no. 1 (1986)l 0 1986 The University of Chicago. 'All rights reserved. 0022-2968/86/4501-0002$1 .OO.

I E. I. Gordon, Sumerian Proverbs: Glimpses of Everyda.v Life in Ancient Mesopotamia (Philadelphia, 1959); W. G. Lambert, Babylonian Wisdom Literature (Oxford, 1960). pp. 213-82; B. Alster, Studies in Sumerian Proverbs (Copenhagen, 1975); idem, "Paradoxical Proverbs and Satire in Sumerian Literature," JCS 27 (1975): 201-30.

2 H. Hoffner informs me that Albrecht Goetze delivered a paper on this topic to the annual meeting of the American Oriental Society in 1968. This work was unfortunately never published. See also the brief remarks of R. Werner, StBoT4.78 .

3 The dean of proverb studies, Archer Taylor, declares: "Let us be content with recognizing that a proverb is a saying current among the folk," The Proverb (1931; Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1962). p. 3. The best theoretical discussion of the proverb known to me is A. Dundes, "On the Structure of the Proverb," Proverbium 25 (1975): 961-73.

Alster, Studies. p. 37.

5 Ibid., pp. 37 f.

Although the presence of trilingual Sumerian-Akkadian-Hittite tablets of "wisdom" character at ~attu~a~demonstrates that Hittite scribes were familiar with Mesopotamian proverb collections, we have uncovered no compendia of Hittite sayings. Thus the first criterion for proverb recognition fails us.

That the Hittites themselves were conscious of a genre of proverbs, however, is clear from a passage in the Prayer of Queen Puduhepa to the Sun-Goddess of Arinna (CTH384):

[I] Among humans one often speaks the proverb (memian)' as follows: "A god is well disposed to a midwife." I, Pudubepa, am a midwife, (and since) 1 have devoted myself to your son, be well disposed to me, 0Sun-Goddess of Arinna, my lady! Give to me what [I ask of you]; grant life to [HattuSili], your servant!'

Thus Puduhepa appeals to what "one often says among humansw-indicating a proverb according to the second criterion-in order to persuade the goddess to heed her plea. It is probably the same queen who cites a further proverb in a letter to a son-in-law (CTH 180):~

[2] Why does one speak [thlus: "The son-in-law whose wife has died remains in every sense a son-in-law"? You were my son-in-law, but you do not recognize [m]y relationship(?).'0

Here the quoted saying serves to underline the queen's complaint about unfilial


6 CTH 315, 316, 814 (Akk. only). The first two compositions are also attested at Ugarit. H. Hoffner and H. Berman have identified KBo XI1 128, assigned by E. Laroche to CTH 389, as a probable Hittite column of a bilingual Akkadian-Hittite "wisdom" text (CTH 316). Hoffner's collation, however, shows that it cannot be part of the same tablet as KBo XI1 70 + KUB IV 3. On "wisdom" in general, see Excursus below.

7 This lexeme, whose basic sense is "utterance," has a wide range of contextually defined meanings, as may be seen from a perusal of the passages quoted in CHD 111, S.V. (forthcoming).

8 KUB XXI 27 ii 15 ff.:


Sar-ni-in-krjn bar-mi

because I have personally made restitution for

the god, my lord, as a midwife,

and because the king had exerted himself severely in rebuilding the deity's beloved town of Nerik (iv 38-42).

Significantly, the imagery of child care is also employed in another prayer of Puduhepa and HattuSili, KUB XIV 7 + KUB XXI 27 ++ (CTH 383):

iv 1I. . . . ma-a-an UN-US-pat

12. at-ti an-ni DUMU-an Sal-la-nu-zinu-US-Siar- la-aS an-nu-as'

ka-a-ri ti-.)![a-zi] har-na-a-wa-


am-mu-uq-qa-za f~u-du-h~-pa-a~ aS SAL-da . . . ]


A-NA DUMU-KA Se-ir SAG.DU-az pi-ya-an &[r-mi]


nu-mu dUTU "R"TUL-na GA[~AN-Y]A kaa-ri ti-.)la


nu-ur-ra [Ij-e-ik-mi] ku-it nu-a/-mu pa-a-i


A-WA "'Ha-at-tu-Si-li I]R-KA TI-/ar pa-a-i

    1. A-NA DUMU.NAM.LU.ULU~"-~~~-~~~13. SASALUMMEDAme-mi-an kii-an me-mi-jS-krjn-zf When any person raises a child for (its) parents,


    2. an-da U-UL im-ma pa-a-i
    1. bar-nu-a-u-wa-as'-wa SAL-ni-i DINGIR~"~ do not the parents give her (the fee) of a


For the translation of SAL harnauwafas ''midwife," see SlBoT29, 233 f.

Pudubepa returns to this theme later in the same prayer, bidding the Storm-God of Zippalanda to intercede on behalf of herself and HattuSili

Again, the service alluded to is the restoration of Nerik to its Storm-God, child of the Sun-Goddess of

Arinna and the Storm-God of Hatti. (For the equiva- lence of the Storm-Gods of Nerik and Zippalanda, see Goetze, ~leinasien' 140. and V. Haas, KN

107-09). See 0. Carruba, StBoT 2, 15 with n. 16. '0KUB XXlll 85: 7 ff.:

7. [ki$-]ay-ma ku-wa-ar me-ma-an-zi ak-krjn-ra-aS-

wa "'HA-DA-NU 8, [~]~.~~-~~-~d~

L~UA-DA-NUz;-ik-ma-mu-za LUHA-DA-NUe-eS-/a

9. ram-me-ell!-ma-za :pur-pur-ri-va-ma-an 0-UL



There can be little doubt that the two sayings already adduced are genuine proverbs,

in fact the only definite examples known from Hittite texts. But we enter the realm of

uncertainty when reduced to the final two criteria mentioned earlier, those of "bound

formwand of disharmony with the literal context. First, the Hittite corpus is not so large

that we have the luxury of accepting only sayings attested in similar form in two or more

contexts as proverbs. Second, not all proverbs employ metaphor and thereby lift

themselves from the literal, as shown by Pudubepa's remarks on family responsibility.

Finally, it is no simple matter to distinguish nonce usages of vivid or figurative language

from traditional collocations, that is, proverbs.

We may skirt these difficulties and continue our inquiry by considering the situation

of the creative literary individual in Hittite society. Since he did not address himself to a

sophisticated audience eager for novelty, but rather to scribal colleagues educated in a

system founded on instruction by rote copying," to illiterate princes via other scribes, or

to the ever conservative divine world,'* his creativity naturally took the form of

innovation with traditional material. That is, while an author of any period must set his

own contribution within the generic and linguistic conventions of his society, thereby

participating in the evolution of these forms, the degree to which the traditional

dominates the individual is particularly great in the "cuneiform ci~ilizations."'~

Therefore, although we may be unable to determine with certainty whether a given

expression of Hittite "common knowledge" is proverbial or an example of creativity, the

water in either case is drawn from the same well, Hittite tradition.

I proceed, therefore, with a selection of passages which seem to contain proverbs,'4

and no great harm will have been done if I am mistaken in this or that instance.

In his Arzawa treaties (CTH68, etc.), MurSili I1 prefaces an admonition against hasty action upon idle gossip with the pessimistic comment that

[3] Since humanity is depraved, rumors constantly circulate.15

An admonitory function is also served by the inclusion in the Instructions for Temple Personnel (CTH 264) of a bit of wisdom. Lest those responsible for the property of the deity be tempted to appropriate something for themselves, they should bear in mind that

[4] The will of the gods is severe! It does not hasten to seize, but when it does seize, it does not let go again!16

See my discussion in "Mesopotamians and 33 ii 12, KUBXlll 35 iv 19 f., KUBXL 88 iv 13 (all Mesopotamian Learning at HattuSa," JCS 35 (1983): StBoT 4, 78). and KUB XL 1 rev.! 11 (C. Kiihne, 97 f., esp. n. 2. "Bemerkungen zu kiirzlich edierten hethitischen

I* Note the Hittite preference for addressing a Texten," ZA 62 [1972]: 237). deity in his or her "native" language, even when that 15 KBo V 13 iv 8 f.: language was no longer well understood by the

8. nam-ma an-tu-uh-fa-tar-[a ku-it mar-Sa-ah-ha- Hittite worshipers, as in the case of Hattic and Palaic an nu-kan A- WA- TEMEs in the empire period.

9. kat-/a-an pid-da-a-es'-kan-zi

13 The anthropological literature on this subject is vast. For an introduction, see J. Goody, The Domesti-

Cf. J. Friedrich, SV 1 134 f., and see CHD Ill 196 for cation qf the Savagr Mind (Cambridge, 1977), and a listing of parallel passages. idem, ed., Literacj, in Traditional Soc,ieties (Cam-

16 KUB Xlll 4 ii 22 ff.: bridge, 1968). l4 Possible Hittite proverbial material identified 22. DINGIR.MES-~S-~U

Z[(I-an-za da-US-Su-)]US by other writers but not treated here includes KBo I nu e-ip-pu-u-wa-qn-zi UL nu-un-tar-nu-zi 10 + KUB 111 72: 7-8 (R. Falkowitz, The Sumerian 23. e-ip-zi-[(ma ku-e-d)]a-ni me-e-hu-ni nu nam-Rhetoric Collections [forthcoming], sub comment on ma ar-ha LC 3.17). KBo 11 11 rev. 8 f. (HW~ 108). KUB Xlll 24. UL tar-nu-a-i

Apparent proverbs are among the elements of popular speech recorded in the "transcripts" of peculation inquests, which constitute a valuable source of late Hittite vernacular usage." Unable to account properly for animals in his charge, the official Ukkura admits to lax bookkeeping and carelessness but adds (CTH293):

[5] This one disappears, and that one's still here!''

That is, while confessing to a certain incompetence, this Hittite bureaucrat seeks to dispel suspicions of venality by employing a saying reminiscent of English "Now you see it, now you don't," and "Here today and gone tomorrow." Comparable is a remark from a fragmentary inquest record (CTH294):

[6] [Something] is on hand, (but) something (else) is not on hand.19

In a historical text from the Old Hittite period (CTH 13), the speaker, probably HattuSili makes use of a proverb:

[7] May [they takle away my teeth [. . .] with (the wood of) the apple(-tree), if I have mixed fat into the clay!21

The sense of this self-imprecation is admittedly obscure, but the appearance in three other contexts (KUBXXXV 145 rev. 18; KUB XLIV 4 + KBo XI11 241 rev. 28 f.; and 13081 u i 3 f.) of language identical to that of our apodosis makes it clear that traditional material is involved.22

Similarly, in prayers (CTH 378 and 381), MurSili I1 and Muwatalli appeal to divine compassion by means of the same ornithological observation:

[8] (When) a bird takes refuge in its nest,23 the nest preserves its life (var.: and it lives).24

The god should likewise be the salvation of his servant. The use of quite similar language by the two rulers in separate compositions again supports the interpretation of the imagery as proverbial.

Restorations are from KUB XI115 ii 30-32 and KUB See Kempinski and KoSak, pp. 89 and 92 f. 
Xlll 6 ii 14-16: cf. E. Sturtevant and G. Bechtel, 22 See Laroche, "Etudes de linguistique anatolienne: 
Chresr 152 f. 13. Hittite kaga-." RHA 31 (1973): 90 f.; and my 

'7 On this characteristic of these documents, see comments in StBoT29, 197. Werner, StBoT4,77-79. 23 Guterbock, "The Ahhiyawa Problem Reconsi-

'8 KUB Xlll 35 iv 45 f.: dered," AJA 87 (1983): 137 f., suggests this transla-

tion for (-za) appa ep- in KUB XXlll 13: 5 (see H.

45. . . . mar-ta-ri-u*a-ra-at-kin Hoffner, review of Friedrich and Kammenhuber,46. nu-wa-ra-at-kdn a-as'-zi Hw',Lieferungen 2 and 3 [Heidelberg, 19771 in BiOr Lit., "It disappears and it remains." See StBoT 4, 37 [1980]: 201), and it fits well into the present 14 f., 19, and cf. Guterbock, Cor.ling 67.

context. See also Giiterbock, "Hittites and Akhaeans:

19 KUB XL 88 iii 9:

A New Look," Proceedings of the American Philo- [ku-it-ki] LGAL ku-it-ki-pat NU.I.GAL sophical Society 128 (1984): 1 19.

See SrBoT4.22 f., 26 (utilized as Bo 4867).

24 MurSili (CTH 378)-KUB XIV 8 rev. 22: 20 See A. Kempinski and S. KoSak, "CTH 13: The M USEN-if-za-kin C1'tap-ta-ap-pa-an EGIR-pa Extensive Annals of HattuSili I (?)," Tel Aviv 9 e-ip-zi nu-an G'stap-ra-ap-pa-af hu-u-[if-nu-zi] (1982): 87 f.

Muwatalli (CTH 381)-KUB VI 45 iii 40:

2' KBo 111 46 ii 12 f.: MUSEN-;a! G'stap-rap-pa-an EGIR-pa e-ip-zi nu-aS

12. [ . . . nu-mu-kan(?)] Sa-am-lu-wa-an-zaga-ku-uf



and dupl. KUB VI 46 iv 9 f.: 
da i-mi-e-nu-un 

13. [. . . do-an-d]u(?) ma-an wa-ar-kan u-li-ni-i an-

A final example along these lines is from the Bilingual Edict of HattuSili I (CTH 6), where courtiers are enjoined:

[9a] Let your clan be [united] like that of the ~etna-!~'

which is to be compared to, and mutually restored from, a passage in HattuSili's shorter edict (CTH 5):

[9b] Let [ylour clan, that of my servants, be united like that of the

Although it is no longer held that wetna-is the Hittite reading of the Sumerogram UR.BAR.RA , "wolf,"27 the term must nonetheless designate some beast. Therefore, we encounter here the same concept in the two passages, i.e., the body of the king's followers should be as cohesive as a hunting group of carnivores.

Animal imagery such as this is frequently employed in Hittite texts, and in many instances it is seemingly proverbial. In the historical introduction to the Akkadian- language SunaSSura Treaty (CTH 41), there is a discussion of the shifting allegiances of the land of Kizzuwatna. Once under Hittite domination, Kizzuwatna had gone over to the king of Mitanni, who boasted to his Hittite rival:

[lo] Now, finally, the cattle have chosen their stable. They have definitely come to my country!

But upon recovery of this area, ~uppiluliuma could throw this back in the face of the Hurrian:

Now (the people of) Kizzuwatna are Hittite cattle and have chosen their stable!''

More frequent than the quotation of a complete saying is the allusion to proverbial material, to widely held conceptions about the qualities, behavior, or origins of common objects, plants, and animals.29 In particular, the characteristic Hittite genre of analogic

25 KUB 1 16 ii 46:

[Su-me-en-za-nu] i-e-it-nu-US ma-a-an pa-on-ku-ur-

Se-me-;[/ I e-ei-du See F. Sornrner and A. Falkenstein, HAB 8 f. Although this is the sole attestation of phonetic wetna-, a restoration [hu-]i-e-it-nu-af "of wildlife (in general)," as suggested by Laroche, review of Friedrich, Wiirterhuch, 3. Erganzungs- heft (Heidelberg, 1966), RA 62 (1968): 88, must be rejected on contextual grounds; see already HA B77,

n. I. 26 KBo 111 27: 15 f.:



[.fu-]mi-in-za-najR.M~hm-ma-an a5 ma-a-an pa-an-Aur-.fe-me-it]

  1. lEN e-e.f-tu See HA B 75 with n. 2. 27 See H. Otten, "Noch einrnal hethitisch 'Lowe"' WO 5 (1969): 94 f.. where the equation of harraggu-


with UR.BAR.RA is strongly supported. 28 KBo I5 i 17-19.30 f.:

17. i-nu-an-nu-mi up-pu-nu-am-ma GUD.HI.A

  1. E.GUD.HI.A-Su-nu i-uw-ad-du-nim-mi ap-pu- nu-am-ma 


  2. i-nu KUR-yo il-li-ku-um-mi. . . 


30. i-nu-on-nu KU R "R"Ki-iz-zu-wa-at-ni Sa "'"Haat-ti GUD.HI.A

3 1. ir E.GuD.HI.A-.~u-~ui-uw-ad-du-nim

See Goetze, Kizz 39, n. 151.

29 To be noted in this regard are epithets applied to animals. For instance, at KUB XI1 34 ii 25 (CTH 404--L. Rost, "Ein hethitisches Ritual gegen Familienzwist," MI0 1[1953]: 358). the _harziya/a- ("snail"(?)"-see C. Watkins, "Hittite" FsG.A.Kerns 345-48) is called (dupl. KBo IX 106 ii 24: pid-do-a/-/;-is') GIR-US. "fleet foot," while in the same ritual (KUB XXXlV 84 + + obv. 15-- Rost, "Ein hethitisches Ritual,"

350, cum. line count i 40) the fish is referred to as a-ru-nu-as' GUD.MAH-US, "the ox of the river" (see Carruba, StBoT 2, 23, and H. Otten, RIA. vol. 3,
68). Unclear is the mention in KUB Vlll 67 iv 17 (CTH 348.2-3. Siegelova, StBoT 14, 40 f.) of IKU-US-ma KU6.HI.A-US f~-a5 UR.ZfR, "the fish of the field (?),the dog of the river" as the food of the monster Hedammu.

magic3' is based upon this store. A typical example (CTH395) includes these analogies:

[I I] As a small (piece) escapes the grinding stone, may the offerant likewise escape the mouth of the god Agni!; as the rear wheel does not catch up to the front, may the evil day likewise not catch up to the ~fferant!~'

From the Laws (CTH291) comes a probable reference to an animal proverb. In 6 37 we read:

[I21 If someone elopes with a woman, and a rescuer goes after them-if two or three men die, there is no legal compensation. "You have become a wolf!"32

That is, through his crime the offender has set himself apart from the human community and its norms and sanctions.33 The exclamation is introduced here abruptly,34 without a verb of speech, as befits proverbial material according to the fourth criterion listed earlier.

An animal reference also appears in a complaint made by HattuSili 111 in an Akkadian-language letter to an Assyrian king (CTH 173):

[I31 Why do the men of Turiya sniff at(?) the gift of me, the lion?35

This allegation of ingratitude should be compared to the English saying "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." While Goetze's suggestion that this remark "alludes to a

30 See Goetze, ~leinosien~ 156-58, and also my comments in StBoT29, 17 f. 31 KBo XI 14 ii 20 ff.:

GIM-an iz-zi

KAXU-za QA-TAM- MA ii-par-ti-id-du

    1. ~~4~RA-za-kdn kap-pi-is' ii-pdr-ti-i-e-


    1. E~.~l~~~R-kdn*~-og-ni


  1. IGl-zi-an GI M-on GiShur-ki-in EGIR-zi-is' an-dg u-UL


  2. u-e-mi-yo-zi i-da-lu-US-Sa UD.KAM-oz


  3. EN.SISKUR li-e KAR-zi


Cf. Hoffner, AI.Heth 134 f.

32 KBo VI 2 + (see B. Hrozny, CH. pl. 5, and cf. Giiterbock, review of Friedrich, Die herhitischen Ceser:e [Leiden, 19591. JCS 15 [1961]: 68) ii 10 ff.:

10. r6k-ku SAL-no-an ku-is'-ki pit-ti-nu-uz-zi n[u(?)-kan(?) iar-d]i-i-ei a-up-pa-an an-do pa-a-an-z[i]

I I. i6k-ku 3 L~.MES nu-as'-ma 2 LU.MESa[(kkan-z)]i iar-ni-ik-zi-il NU.GA[(L)]

12. zi-ik-wa UR.BAR.RA-ai ki-if-fa-at

H. Otten and V. SouEek, SrBoT8,94, read [klu-i-es' at the end of the break in 1. 10, which must be rejected both because the dupl. KBo VI 3 ii 29 has [ialr-di-ya-US and because it is probably the shared usage of the word iardi- which accounts for the placement of 6 38 after this paragraph-see already SouEek, "Bemerkungen zur Schlussformel der hethi- tischen Gesetze," ArOr 29 (1961): 22, n. 121.

33 On the Indo-European background of the com- parison of a human criminal to a wolf, see V. Ivanov, "On the Interpretation of the § 37 of the Hittite Laws in the Light of Other Indo-European Traditions," Lin~uisrica 13 (1973): 102-10. and cf. also V. KoroSec, "Einige Probleme zur Struktur der heth- itischen Gesetze," Acra Antiqua 22 (1974): 297 with

n. 34. Do obv. 17-23 of the poorly preserved KUB XLlll 22 perhaps deal in greater detail with a case such as that described in Law ij 37?

34 See, for example, KoroSec "Raub und Kaufehe im hethitischen Recht," in Srudi in onore di S. Rii,ohono, vol. 1. (Palermo, 1932), p. 565 ("eine feierliche Erklarung"), R. Haase, "Bemerkungen zu einigen Paragraphen der hethitischen Gesetzeitexte," ArOr 26 (1958): 34 f., and C. Watkins "Studies in Indo-European Legal Language, Institutions, and Mythology," in G. Cardona et al., eds., Indo-European and Indo-Europeans (Philadelphia, 1970),

p. 324. 35 KBo 1 14 obv. 18 f.:

  1. .. . am-mi-ni a-nu yo-s'i UR.MAH


  2. LU.MES Tu-u-ri-.r.a SUM-ya L-uz-za-nu-ni-ni



The sense of the verb here is not certain. AHw. 252 lists it as "unkl." under the D-stem of e~Fnu, a form it renders as "beriechen, beschniiffeln." This interpreta- tion informs my understanding of the passage. How- ever, while CAD E 345 does not cite KBo 1 14, it translates ussunu as "to smell bad, to make (some- thing) smell bad." If this is the nuance intended by the Hittite scribe, HattuSili's complaint is rather "Why do they find foul (lit.: cause to stink) my gift?"

popular tale about a lion and some contemptible animal"16 may well be correct, it was a venerable tradition in Hatti to compare the monarch to the king of beask3' A particularly interesting use of a proverb is contained in an incantation to chthonic deities (CTH 447):

[I41 0 Sun-Goddess of the Earth, the king and queen have now heaped up for themselves the Black Earth (i.e., dug a ritual pit). The (materials of) the ritual concerning (evil omen) birds, (namely) nine sheep, nine loaves, (and) nine libation jugs (are placed) on the right. Cock a favorable (lit.: the right)38 ear to them, 0 Sun-Goddess of the Earth, and receive this ritual with your right hand! And if it was a bird of evil (omen), you change it, 0 Sun-Goddess of the Earth! Render it nine times favorable! "The tongue is a bridge!"

Set out, 0 Sun-Goddess of the Earth! Make everything favorable; attend to it! If you do not attend to it, let the divine oath of this ritual proceed to seize you, 0 Sun-Goddess of the

In this instance the disharmony of the proverbial material with its context is particularly apparent. Nothing before or after the sentence "The tongue is a bridge" deals with human anatomy, with curses, or with architecture. Of the entire incantation, this sentence alone is provided with the quotative particle, thus setting it off explicitly. Here on the juncture between the request and the threat to the deity, the proverb affirms the power of the incantation to achieve the goals of the practitioner. The incantation, often referred to as a "tongue" in Hittite magic,40 is a bridge4' between the human and the divine world. The inevitable oral accompaniment to offering or manipulation of ritual equipment renders explicit the logic of the magic and leaves even the most recalcitrant deity no choice but to comply with the human request.

We can now see that the function of proverbial material in Hittite texts is identical to that of the analogic magic incantations in rituals. Just as this analogic magic ensures

3"Kz 28, n. 113. No translation is offered.

37 The use of this imagery is quite frequent in historical texts of the Old Hittite period. To cite just one example, in his Bilingual Edict (KUB 1 16 ii 39-CTH 6), HattuSili 1 predicts of his successor:

is' UR.MAH-afpi-di UR.[MAH-an- [DINGIR~]'~-

pit tittonuzi(?)] The [gold [will install(?) only a] li[on] in the place of

the lion.

38 See Guterbock, "A Hurro-Hittite Hymn to Ishtar," JAOS 103 (1983): 161 for the interpretation of the adverb kunna, lit. "on the right," as "propi- tiously, pleasingly." On the symbolism of bodily symmetry, see the collection of essays edited by

R. Needham, Right and Left (Chicago, 1973). 39 KBo XI 10 iii 10 ff.:

10. [(rrjk-n)]a-as' d~~U-ufka-a-s'a LUGAL SAL.LUGAL GE6-in KI-on

I I. par-ki-yo-an-to-at nu-a;-to MUSEN~I.*-as' SISKUR.SISKUR


9 UDU"'-A 9 NINDA.KUR4.RA 9 DuGi9-pa-an- du-uz-zi ZAG-az


nu-us'-ma-a9 tik-nu-as' dUTU-u~ ZAG-an UZUGESTU-na-an

  1. pa-ro-a e-ip nu-us'-ma-US-kin ki-i SISKUR ZAG-az


  2. SU-az ar-ha do-a no-US ma-a-on HUL-us'



    1. zi-ga-on KI-US~UTU-US


    2. wa-oh-nu-ut nu-an 9-SU
  1. SIC5-in MUSEN-in i-ya EME-as'-wa G'sar-mi-iz-zi


  2. nu-as'-ta KI-a9 dUTU-u~ i-ya-on-n,i nu hu-uma-an


  3. SIG5-in nu-or-kin as'-nu-ur ma-a-nu-at-kan


  4. u-UL-ma US-nu-Si nu-ut-ta u-id-du ki-i SA S1SKUR.SISKUR


  5. NI-ES DINGIR~'~


tu-uk tbk-nu-oi dUTU-un e-ip-du

Restorations are from KBo XI 72 + KBo XX 92 ii 47 ff., which has a few variants insignificant for our purposes. Cf. CHD 111 22 ("The tongue is a bridge."), StBoT 2, 21 ("und die Zunge (sei) Briicke"), and Otten, "'Brucken' im hethitischen Schrifttum," FsBit- tel 434 ("Die Zunge (Rede) ist eine Briicke."). The interpretation presented byHW~327-"Mache es (Opfer) zu einem 9x gunstigen Vogel (der sagt) 'Briicke der Zunge' (sc. zu den Gottern)"-is in my opinion forced. See Hoffner, review of Friederich and Kammenhuber, HW~.Lieferungen 4 and 5 (Heidelberg, 1979-80). BiOr 40 (1983): 4 12.

See CHD 111 23-25.

4i Note that the denominal verb armizziya-, "to bridge, uberbriicken," could be used in a metaphorical sense; see HW2 327.

that the action carried out on the physical level will find its equivalent in the realm of nonhuman forces, so the citation of, or allusion to, a proverb mobilizes the authority of Hittite tradition in the service of the rhetorical and social goals of the author. Indeed, because this material was shared by all participants in Hittite culture, its citation is often laconic, and its interpretation correspondingly difficult for the modern researcher.

1 have restricted myself in this discussion to a few of the clearer examples of Hittite proverbs and proverbial allusions. A great many more are available, particularly in the incantations.


This paper raises the question of whether the Hittites possessed a literary genre comparable to the "wisdom literature" of the Old ~estament.~~

At the outset of his study of Akkadian "wisdom" texts, Lambert admits the difficulty of employing this generic classification in connection with a text corpus other than that to which it is native:

"Wisdom" is strictly a misnomer as applied to Babylonian literature. As used for a literary genre the term belongs to Hebraic studies and is applied to Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. Here "Wisdom" is a common topic and is extolled as the greatest virtue. While it embraces intellectual ability the emphasis is more on pious living: the wise man fears the ~ord.~~

This theological position is of course absent from ancient Mesopotamia, but Lambert nonetheless finds it useful to designate as "wisdom" those Akkadian literary works corresponding in subject matter to the Hebrew wisdom books.

Since Yahwist piety informs no Hittite texts, may we follow Lambert in recognizing a more general "wisdom" in Hittite analogues to Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes? Such an approach yields little: in regard to the first Hebrew book, I have already mentioned that no collections of native Hittite proverbs are known. And although the Story of Appu (CTH 360)~~ in the initial situation of its

is somewhat reminiscent of Job-both protagonist and in its Marchen-like ~haracter~~-the

similarities are superficial. Finally, although both texts present advice to posterity from a wise and experienced ruler,46 the

42 On this genre in Mesopotamia, see most recently no. 12 in Hirrite Fragmenrs in American CoNections Sara Denning Bolle, "Wisdom in Akkadian Litera- (New Haven, 1985)=JCS 37 (1985): 23. ture: Expression, Instruction, Dialogue"(Ph.D. diss., 46 The display of wisdom in a more general sense is University of California, Los Angeles, 1982), in limited largely to the Hittite king himself. In addition which extensive bibliography is presented. For an to the wise policies enunciated in the various royal interesting application of genre theory to the compara- edicts (CTH 5.6, 19, etc.), note the contrast between tive study of Mesopotamian and Israelite literature, the intelligent orders issued by the king and the see Tremper Longman 111, "Fictional Akkadian bumbling efforts of his officers to carry them out in Royal Autobiography: A Generic and Comparative the Siege of UrSu (CTH 7; see Giiterbock, "Die StudyW(Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1983). historische Tradition und ihre literarische Gestaltung

43 Lambert, Babylonian Wisdom Lirerature, p. 1. bei Babyloniern und Hethitern bis 1200," ZA 44

44 Edited by Siegelovh, SrBoT 14, 1-34. [1936]: 130). The sole example known to me of a

45 See C. Grottanelli, "Observations sur I'histoire royal advisor is Pimpiralit, author of the Fiirslen- d'Appou," RHA 36 (1978): 49-57. To the proemium spiegel CTH 24(latest edition by A. Archi, in of this text, which seems to set forth the "moral" FsLaroche 39-44), who was himself a member of the illustrated by the tale itself. compare now the royal house (see Archi, "L'Humanit.6 des hittites," fragmentary introduction to the Story of Silver FsLaroche 39, n. 20). (CTH 364), published by H. Hoffner and myself as



Bilingual Edict of HattuSili 1 (CTH 6)47and Ecclesiastes differ radically in purpose and spirit.

An examination of the vocabulary of "wisdom" offers a second approach. According to a standard Hebrew lexicon48 hkrnh, "wisdom," may be more closely defined thus: "(I) skill in war; (2) wisdom in administration; (3) shrewdness; (4) prudence in religious affairs; (5) ethical and religious wisdom." By far, the bulk of the attestations, and almost all of those occurring in the three wisdom books mentioned earlier, are assigned to meaning 5.

hattatar, the Hittite noun usually translated "wisdom,"49 is found most frequently in the divine epithet hattannaf ENILUGAL, "lord/king of wisdom." The god thus qualified is usually ~a"-but in a single text ~umarbi"-and the term is clearly a calque of the Akkadian bBI n~rne~i(rn).~'

hattatar is generally the possession of a deity. In the myths of the Kumarbi cycle we encounter the construction -za GALGA-tarlhattatar iftanzani piranlkattan da-, "to take battatar into one's mind." For example:

Kumarbi takes hattatar into his mind, he who rears the (evil) day (and) the evil person. He (under)takes for himself evil against the Storm-God, and he rears areplacement53 for the storm-~od.'~

Since this text proceeds to detail the initial actions in Kumarbi's scheme of revenge, a translation "plan of action, plot" is appropriate here. Elsewhere hattatar is a quality dispensed by deities. The recipient might be another god, as in the prediction of a deity about to be born:

Old Testament prophets often speak out on contemporary problems in an attempt~to correct the policies of the monarch, Such activity is not, however, attested for the Hittite L"Siuni.vanr-, "ecstatic, prophet" (see Goetze. "Die Pestgebete des MurSiliS," KIF I [1927]: 233). Note only that the "men of the gods" (Si-u-nu-an an-ru-uh-ii-is'), who may be the same group, bemoan the internecine bloodshed in the time of Telepinu (KBo 111 1 ii 32 f.-CTH 19).

47 Edited by Sommer and Falkenstein, HAB.

48 F. Brown, S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs, eds., A Hebrew and English Lexicon ofrhe Old Tesramenr (Oxford, 1907), p. 315.

49 See HW' 65: "Weisheit, Verstand, weiser Rat." See the basic discussion of this word and its family, HA B97-100.

50 E.g., KBo IV 1 i 32 f. = KUB 11 2 i 40.

51 KUB XXXIII 120 ii 5: ha!-at!-fa!-an-nu-US bar- lurn!-nu-US [EN-]US, and iii 15: ha-or-fa-an-nu-as' bar-lum-nu-ai EN-US. This expanded form of the epithet, to be translated "lord of wisdom (and) of the headwaters," contains a reference to the Apsu; see Laroche, "Etudes de toponymie anatolienne," RHA 69 (1961): 79.

52 See CAD N/ 11 161 (c. 1'); and n. 66 below.

53 See H. M. Kummel, SrBoT3, 36 f.

54 KUB XXXlll98 i 4-8 (CTH 345):

  1. .. .nu-za d~u-mar-pi-iS GAL[GA-]tar (dupl.: ha-or-<[a->tar) ZI-ni


  2. [klar-fa-an (dupl.: pi-an) da-US-ki-iz-zi UD.K[(AM- a)]n ku-is'(dup1. omits) L~.HUL-U~


  3. Sal-la-nu-US-ki-iz-zi nu-za dU-[(n)]i me-nu-ahha-an-da


  4. HUL-far da-US-ki-iz-zi nu d~-ni me-nu-ah-haan-da


  5. far-pa-nu-01-li-in Sol-la-nu-us'-ki-iz-zi


I have included only those variants from the dupli- cate KUBXXXIII 96 i 5-8 which are relevant for the present discussion. (For a complete edition, see Guterbock, "The Song of Ullikummi," JCS 5 [1951]: 146 f.). The interchange of preverbs in the duplicates suggests that the variation is merely stylistic. Other similar passages are KUB XXXIII 98 i 9-10 (dupl. KUB XXXIII 96 i 9-1 1); KUB XXXllI 101 + KBo XXVl 69 iii 6-8; KUB XXXlll 106 iv 25-26; KUB XXXIII 119: 9(?); and KUB XXXIIl 113 +XXXVI 12 i 14-15. Since the reflexive particle is found in all cases where the text is preserved, it should be restored also (contra Giiterbock's transliteration, "The Song of Ullikummi (continued)," JCS 6 [1952]: 10) in the last passage cited.

The Earth will give me her strength; Heaven will [glive me his heroism; Anu will give me his manhood; Kumarbi will give me his hat~atar.~~

As an abstract term, comparable to "strength" and "heroism," hattatar should mean something like "capacity to generate a plot." A human might also receive hattatar from a beneficent deity. The Prayer of Kantuzili (CTH 373) includes this praise:

Ever since I was born, I have experienced all of the compassion (and) hattatar of my god.56

In contrast, MurSili 11 reproaches the gods in one of his prayers (CTH 376) for withholding the same:

Your hattatar has been cut off from humanity, so that the correct thing which we would do is nought."

Since this human incompetence is a consequence of the absence of divine hattatar, the nuance of the word here must be "advice" or "guidance." Only two texts presenthattatar on a strictly human level. Most important of these is the Bilingual Edict. HattuSili first instructs his subordinates:

But now [you who klnow my words and my _hattatar-make my son _h. (_hatta_hheS-)!,

and later he directly addresses his heir:

Let this [tabllet be read before you monthly, so that you will press my [wolrds and my _hattatar to (your) heart!"

In this document hattatar seems to encompass both shades of meaning met thus far-the hattatar of the old king is guidance for the younger, while MurSili's _hattatar must be his own skill in rule. Significant is the close connection of hattatar with words, for guidance and instruction would have of necessity been imparted orally to most ~ittites.'~

Of great interest is the Hittite translation of a lost Akkadian proverb:60

55 KUB XXXlIl 120 ii 8-9 (CTH 344):

  1. KI-US-mu KAL-tar-Se-it pa-a-i AN-if-mu UR.SAG-Ij-j.a-/ar-~t[pal-d-i]


  2. d~-nu-.fa-mu LU-nu-tar-ie-i/ pa-a-i dKu-marhi-Sa-mu ha-at-ta-tar pa-a-i


The remainder of this passage is too damaged to be of use here, but note also line 12: nu-ak-ki-!$a-tar-.fe- ir pa-a-i. "will give his(?) power and his hattarar. "Cf. also KUB XXXlll 105 i 10 ff.

56 KUB XXX 10 obv. I I: ku-i-ta im-ma mi- eS-ha-ti nu-za-ta SA DINGIR-YA du-ud-du-mar ha-at-/a-/a hu-u-tna-an-ta .Fa-ki-nu-un. Parallel is KUB XXXl 127 ii 27-28 (CTH 372). Since the ob- ject here is compound, it is uncertain whether this passage presents a unique plural form of hatratar.

57 KUB XXIV 3 ii 17-19 (CTH 376):

  1. . . . nu-af-t[(a A-NA DUMU.LU.ULU~")]


  2. ha-a/-/a-tar-.<urn-mi-it bar-ak-[(/)a (nu ku-un- nu-an ku-i/ i-,pa<-u->e-ni)]


  3. na-at NUGAL


Restorations are from KUB XXIV 4 obv. 8-9; see

R. Lebrun, Hvmnes et prKres hittites (Louvain, 1980),

p. 160. 58 KUB 1 16 ii 56-57:

  1. [Su-um-me-eS-m]a ki-nu-na ud-da-a-ar-mi-it ha-at-ta-a-(la-mi-it-ta


  2. [ku-i-e-eS Sa-]ak-re-ni nu DU M U-la-ma-an



Ibid. iii 56-58:

  1. . . . nu ki-i


  2. [/up-pli ITU-mi ITU-mi pi-ra-an-ti-it ha/-zi-ef- .fa-an-du nu-za-an


  3. [ud-da-]a-ar-me-it ha-a/-ta-<ta->me-it-la karta ti-if-at-ri


See HA B8 f.and 14 f. The Akkadian correspondence of neither passage has been preserved. 59 Cf. also KUB XXXllI 101 + KBo XXVI 69: 7: GALGA(?)-tar me-mi-if-ki-nu-un. 60 See n. 6 above.

Be quiet now and listen! Such matters as concern (lit.: are placed before) a mortal-research(?16' them by means of62 your hattatar! Maintain them by means of regulation! Know them by heart!63 Inquire into them by means of the assembly! Look them up on the wooden tablets!64

Although hattatar stands here at the head of the resources available to the mortal, nothing in the Hittite material suggests that it was the highest virtue. LO-natar,"manliness," and innarawatar, "strength," for example, are mentioned far more frequently, and battatar never appears among the boons requested on behalf of the royal family in the cult.65 Nor is battatar di~inized.~~

In addition to the noun hattatar, there exists a poorly attested adjective hattant-, "characterized by h.," and a verb hattahheb, "to make h.," found only in the passage from the Bilingual Edict quoted above. Whatever the etymological connection between the family of words under consideration and the verb hatta-, "to cut, hew,"67 the participle of this latter word is identical in form to our battant-. Therefore, it is not always possible to distinguish the two words and/or meanings in broken or obscure contexts.68

There are only three certain attestations of the adjective.69 Note first yet another translated proverb:

[Do not buy(?)] a meretricious(?) man! [Purchase(?)] a hartant-companion!70

and a similar passage from a myth:

Continually seek for yourself hattant-men [.. .(?)I!"

61 This translation of arka au(S)- is only a sugges- 66 Note only d~azziz(z)i from Akk. hasisu-"ear, tion. Elsewhere this combination is always employed understanding"), in Hurrian-influenced contexts, in connection with looking out a window, excepting which Laroche, GLH 100, understands as a divinized only KUBXXlV 7 iii 21, where a directional sense is attribute of Ea, corresponding to hattatar. nonetheless present; see Friedrich, ZA 49 (1950): 67 Sommer and Falkenstein, HAB 100, suggest a 226 f. connection with this verb, while J. Tischler, HEG

6i See H. C. Melchert, "Ablative and Instrumental 214 f. and 222, posits a second, homophonous verb in HittiteV(Ph.D. diss., Haward University, 1977), p. *hatta-. "denken, iiberlegen, klug sein," underlying 406, for the possibility that several of the ablatives in hattatar and its relatives. this passage indicate the source of the information68 Uncertain are ha-at-ta-an-te-es' in KUB XXXlII sought. 118 i(?) 26, and aiSauwa mivauwa ha-at-la-an-ta

C. Justus, Mat.heth. Thes 1017 (1981): 54, trans- uid[du] in KBo XVlI 105 iii 7-8. Hoffner has lates kardit Sak- here simply as "learn." It is difficult suggested to me that in view of the latter context-the to see how such an action in the present context referent is uddar in iii 6-we may be dealing here

could be "unintentional" as Justus claims for usages with an assimilated form of handant-. "pleasant." of Sak- without -:a (p. I). With this usage, cf. karta 6? See also KUBXXXlll 120 iii 38: ]-mi IGI.GAL- (s'ai-), on which see SfBoT 29, 163 f. an-:a-US.

64 KBo XI1 128 rt. col. 6-14: 70 KUB IV 3 + KBo XI1 70 ii 33-35 (CTH 316):

  1. nu-uk-ku ka-ru-uf-fen nu GESTUG-fen 33. me-ii-ri-wa-an-da-an-za UN-an [IF waSti(?)]


  2. nu DUMU.LU.ULUL"-li ku-e 1~IM.hlES-ar 34. (blank)


    1. pi-an CAM GAR-ri


    2. 35. a-ra-an-:a ha-ad-da-an-da-an [waf(?)]
  3. nu-a/-za-kan ha-ad-da-nu-za


The Akkadian correspondence here is unclear. See 10. ar-ha a-us'-fen Laroche, Ugar V 78 1.

I I. nu-a/ ii-hi-u-la-:a ha[r]-ten

  1. nu-at SA-it Se-ik-fen 7l KBo XXVl88 i 5-6 (CTH 346):


  2. nu-at tu-li-ya-:a pu-nu-[u]s'-ten 5. . . . nu-za ha-at-ta-an-du-us' UN.MES-uri. . .


  3. nu-at GIS.HUR-:a a-US-fen 65SeeStBoT29,4, 11.


Unclear, but certainly belonging here, is a line from the Tale of the Fisherman (CTH 363):"

The mind of the woman is harranr-.73

These examples of the adjective confirm that the related hattatar is a positive attribute, but they add nothing to our understanding of this lexical family. In summary, we may define hattatar thus: "(I) a plan or plot (for oneself);

(2) advice, guidance (for others); (3) the ability to generate 1 or 2." Both the passages from the Bilingual Edict and several mythological contexts show that hattatar could be imparted by its possessor to another. Finally, hattatar is usually the possession of a deity or a human of high rank. Although "wisdom" is not inappropriate in some instances, the best single English translation would appear to be "cunning."

Comparing this result to the meanings of Hebrew hkmh adduced above, we see that hattatar might well encompass meanings 1-3. There is, however, no evidence that the Hittite word covered either meaning 4 or, more importantly, meaning 5. Thus it is best to avoid the term "wisdom" in discussions of Hittite intellectual categories and literary genres.

72 For the immediately preceding context see 73 KUB XXIV 7 iv 49: . . .SAL-aS ZI-an-za ha- SrBoT29, 154. ad-da-an-za. . . . See already HAB99.

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