May 14, 2013

Fighting Eagles

The Duluth News Tribute reports,

Two adult bald eagles made an unplanned landing on the tarmac at the Duluth International Airport on Sunday.

The two birds had locked talons in mid-air and couldn’t get separated before they crashed to the concrete, said Randy Hanzal, a conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

In Odyssey 2:146-54 two eagles tear into each other above the assembled suitors.

[Zeus] sent forth two eagles, flying from on high, from a mountain peak. For a time they flew swift as the blasts of the wind side by side with wings outspread; but when they reached the middle of the many-voiced assembly, then they wheeled about, flapping their wings rapidly, and down on the heads of all they looked, and death was in their glare. Then they tore with their talons one another's cheeks and necks on either side, and darted away to the right across the houses and the city of the men.

Despite its lacunose nature, an Old Babylonian tablet from Ur published by Weisberg may reflect a similar motif.

šum-ma ši-[na] e-ru-ú
a-[x]-ma a-na pa-ni [ṣa-bi-im]
[x x]-lu-ma an-a [x x]
[it-]te-eš-ru
[ṣa-bu]-um a-šar il-li-ku

If two eagles [. . .] before the [army . . .] advance against(?), [. . .] the ar[my] will return safely whence it marched. (ii 36-41)

Based on other omens, Weisberg’s 90, 97, reconstruction of [ṣa-bi-im], “army,” is all but certain; less certain is the verb [it-]te-eš-ru from ešēru(?), “to make towards”; other lacunae totally resist reconstruction.

The Homeric two eagle omen has a positive portent while the Old Babylonian omen has a negative one. I suppose the Duluth airport omen turns out to be positive - both birds survived.

Via The Huffington Post.

References:

Smith, D. E. “Portentous Birds Flying West: On the Mesopotamian Origin of Homeric Bird-Divination,” JANER, 13:1 (2013), 49-85 (forthcoming - soon!).

Weisberg, D. B., 1969. “An Old Babylonian Forerunner of Šumma Alu,” HUCA, 40-41 (1969-70), 87-104.

Posted by Duane Smith at May 14, 2013 4:05 PM | Read more on Akkadian |

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