Publication details [#9311]

Rochberg, Francesca. 1996. Personifications and metaphors in Babylonian celestial 'Omina'. 11 pp.


Personifications of the sun, moon, and Venus and the use of metaphor to describe their appearance are explored in the protases of the Babylonian celestial omen series 'Enuma Anu Enlil' to clarify the Babylonian view of the relationship between gods and nature and the implications of metaphor for abstract relational thought in the language of Babylonian divination. Attested metaphors invoke the actions or appearance of gods to provide anthropomorphic representations of physical phenomena, e.g., eclipses, that are judged ominous. Contrary to widely held views on the historical dichotomy of magical and scientific modes of thought, the Babylonian use of metaphors is argued to evidence a capacity for abstract rational thought regarding natural phenomena and a context in which the need to describe the latter could be filled by meaningful associations with divinities. (Copyright 1997, Sociological Abstracts, Inc., all rights reserved.) (LLBA 1997, vol. 31, n. 5)