Picture the scene: in the second millennium, an elder Hittite potentate writes to a young Assyrian despot. That’s Tudhaliya to Tukulti-Ninurta, who has just assumed power.
It is true, you defeated with your weapons (the Hurri despot), and you have now become a great king. But why do you speak to me in terms of brotherhood?
And why are you always writing to me?
I imagine some poor scribe, pressing this message into wet clay, and looking up: you want me to put that drivel on a clay tablet?
Tudhaliya goes on:
By the way, my boy, among us kings, one writes to another for aid.
To which Tikulti-Ninurta responds:
I will never write to another king for aid [that is: up yours, you old fart]
This benediction was composed for the venerable Hattusili I, king of the Hittites:
His frame is new, his breast is new, his penis is new, his head is of tin, his teeth are those of a lion, his eyes are (those) of an eagle, and he sees like an eagle.
Now that is a benediction.
A bit of a squeeze before the trip to China, but enough time to have a chat with my good friend, Francesco Bajeira. Apparently, Francesco sent an article called ‘Hittites, Horses and Corpses’ to Themelios. For those not in the know, Themelios is published by The Gospel Coalition:
Themelios is an international evangelical theological journal that expounds and defends the historic Christian faith.
Its primary audience is theological students and pastors, though scholars read it as well.
Unfortunately, Francesco’s article was rejected. But since evangelicals are such nice people, the editor wrote the following
Dear Mr Bajeira:
Thank you for your submission of an article for consideration in Themelios. I have skimmed through most of the article and am afraid that this journal would not be the right fit for your piece. It is not so much the subject-matter per se, as it is the tone and style of approach, which I do not think would make a good fit with Themelios. I wish you well in finding a home for this piece.
With all good wishes,
Managing Editor, Themelios
Such a nice guy… Francesco tells me he replied as follows:
Many thanks for taking the time to look over the article. I must admit I am deeply crestfallen, but hope that my piece finds a more comfortable fit elsewhere.
In my research for ‘Hittites, Horses and Corpses’ I came across these, um, sculptures from about 1000 BCE. These Hittites certainly seemed to ‘feel one’ with their horses:
And for my favourite, since he’s looking a little, well, goggle-eyed:
Apparently the Hittites, far from disappearing in history, are still with us:
Mark Matthews, The Horseman: Obessions of a Zoophile. Prometheus Books, 1994
All Opposed Say ‘Neigh’. River Front Times, Dec 15, 1999.
Thought I’d share some of my research findings relating to Fleshly Readings, especially that piece on ‘Hittites, Horses and Corpses’:
Here’s Pete the onion man: http://www.nerve.com/Opinions/Singer/heavyPetting/
And here’s a guy called Steve Rinella with ‘Depraved Indifference’: http://www.nerve.com/personalessays/rinella/depravedindifference/