Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Telipinu and Demeter

After reading the Hymn to Demeter, I was interested to learn about the Hittite tale of Telipinu, as found in Bryce, 2002, page 211: The god Telipinu has flown into a rage. He puts on his shoes and departs the land. Crops wither and die, sheep and cattle reject their young and become barren, men and gods starve. In great alarm the Storm God, father of Telipinu, dispatches an eagle to search for his wayward son. The search is in vain. The Storm God himself attempts to seek him out. Again to no avail. No god, great or small, can determine his whereabouts. In desperation the Storm God sends a bee to look for him. The bee searches on high mountains, in deep valleys, in the blue deep. Finally, in a meadow, it discovers Telipinu. It stings his hands and feet, bringing him smartly upright, and then soothes the pain of his stings by smearing wax on the affected parts. But the god's anger remains unabated. Indeed his fury is increased by his rude and painful awakening. In an orgy of destruction, he unleashes thunder and lightning and great floods, knocking down houses and wreaking havoc on human beings, livestock, and crops. Then Kamrusepa, goddess of magic, is sent to pacify him and bring him back. She conducts a ritual for this purpose. By the process of ritual analogy Telipinu's body is cleansed of its anger. The god's way home is made smooth by spreading oil and honey upon it. Telipinu returns and once more cares for his land. All is restored to normal. The land once more becomes fruitful.


Blogger Wm Annis said...

The business with the bee is curious. Does the bee feature in other Hittite myths?

6:29 PM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

I haven't come across the bee anywhere else yet, but it is interesting. I wonder if the bee was associated with magic and healing, as the producer of honey. I thought I remembered reading somewhere else that it was not the Storm God who sent the bee out, after his own failure, but rather the/an earth goddess, against his advice---but I can't remember where I saw that. I remember that her name meant "Grandmother", which reminded me of the address of Demeter as Grk. MAIA, which reminded me in turn of a group of female healers and midwives in Hittite society called "Old Women". I was thinking of writing a post on them.

I was interested to find that the Fertility God in Hittite myth was male.


10:32 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Hannahanna was the one, who sent the bee, searching for him.When it found him, stung his feet and hands, then smoothed them with wax(honey). When the Mothergod sent the bee The Strom God asked: how could this little creature find My Son? with it's weak wings etc.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

Thanks Peter! Now I can look into Hannahanna. All the best, N.

6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See the comments by Irene Huber, Rituale der Seuchen- und Schadensabwehr..., Stuttgart, 2005, p. 190-193. She points out the similarities between Demeter Melaina and Telipinu.

11:21 AM  

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