It’s Not Greek To Me

An abnormally interesting Greek text reads in Steven Lonsdale’s, 153, translation:

Line of flight from right to left: If the bird disappeared from sight, the omen is favorable, but if it raised its left wing and then soared and disappeared, the omen is inauspicious.
Line of flight from left to right: If it disappeared on a straight course, it is an ill omen, but if it raised its right wing and then soared and disappeared, the omen is good.

Lonsdale says of this text, “A fascinating historical document from Ephesus in the sixth century B.C. indicates that there was an attempt to codify the laws of augury.
But here’s the rub: Looking both at form and content together, this supposed “attempt to codify the laws of augury” has its closest parallels in tablets 66 and 67 of the Akkadian omen series Šumma Ālu ina Mēlê Šakin and not in the Greek world. Sure, this kind of omen is common in Greek literature but not in such strict protasis – apodosis structure. More on this when I finish working my way through Nötscher’s handwritten Akkadian of tablets 66 and 67 along with his handwritten German translation and notes. (Did I say handwritten? Did I mention that Nötscher used quite a few ligatures when writing German?) Those were the days when scholars literally wrote their books and articles. I also need to spend some quality time with the Greek of the Ephesus text. Dittenberger wrote his notes on the text in, you guessed it, Latin!
I’m worried that I’ve bit off more than I can chew with this project. I haven’t even began looking at the Hittite material. Here’s hoping interlibrary loan isn’t too swift and gives me time to finish the Akkadian and Greek stuff.

Lonsdale, Steven. H. “Attitudes towards Animals in Ancient Greece,” Greece and Rome, Second Series 26:2 (Oct., 1979), 146-59
Nötscher, Friedrich, “Die Omen-Serie šumma ālu ina mēlê šakin,” Orientalia, NS, 51-54 (1930), 150-165
Wilhelm Dittenberger, Sylloge inscriptionum Graecarum, vol 3 (Leipzig: Lipsiae Hirzel, 1925) text 1167. p. 309