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ANAHITA  January 1999

ANAHITA January 1999

Subject:

Re: Quest for Immortality

From:

Jim Miller <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 12 Jan 1999 20:30:48 EST

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (31 lines)

   I remember two or three infants whose mothers or nurses tried to make them
immortal, but did not succeed because they were found out.  In the Hymn to
Demeter 2.231-255 the goddess tried to make an infant immortal by placing him
in a fire.  However the mother discovered the scene, screamed and interrupted
the process.  Likewise Thetis almost made Achilles immortal except that
(version 1) his heel remained vulnerable because she held him there when
dipping him in the Styx or (version 2) her husband Peleus discovered her
placing Achilles in the fire and he "rescued" the infant.  There seems to be a
similar tradition about Medea and her children by Jason (which Euripides
represents as being killed by their mother).  It is interesting that although
the Hymn to Demeter represents the infant as surviving the fire, Apollodorus
1.5.1-3,12 represents the child as dying in the fire.
        Possibly these tales of attempted immortality were later reinterpreted as
child sacrifice under Phoenician influence.  I argue as much in my book The
Western Paradise 59-60 (as I shamelessly plug my work).
Jim Miller

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