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Velikovsky at second sight

Author : Zenon Kelper
Created 98/03/07

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This is an answer to an excerpt of an article below  . This article invalidates an error (Velikovsky's dating of Akhnaton) and employs this rejection for throwing away the truth it was hiding (Akhnaton is Oedipus is Moses).

I appreciate Atir's interest for looking at the 'unconscious motive' of Velikovsky. It is especially interesting since he does not praise the psychoanalytical (Freud's) interpretation - and perhaps even not the psychoanalytic method.

He writes :
Besides the fact that there is at best only a symbolic relationship... ...and thus nothing substantial on which to build a case... ...there is the added fact that it is highly doubtful that the Egyptians themselves understood ... the manner prescribed by Velikovsky and the psychoanalysts.

I shall scrutinize what is ' highly doubtful' - especially since he wrote also, to conclude his investigation of Velikovsky:
To pretend otherwise, or to propose that a few legendary motives drawn from Greek tragedy will help alleviate this gap in our knowledge of this period in Egyptian history seems the height of folly.
It is quite the only sentence where Atir shows an emotional emphasis ; so I shall - indeed in my very 'freudian' attitude - take it for what emotion reverses. Beside the ' few legendary motives ' - which is depreciative, the other end of the sentence conterbalances with ' the height of folly ' which is known though the adage as ' ultimate wiseness '.

Checking out which paradox has thus stung Atir in his very good work, we find that he explains what struck his mind - he explains:

The myth of Oedipus... ...appeared to have been inspired by celestial events.

He also claims that the Oedipus legend is far too symbolic to be a human affair. I shall examine later the nature of this symbolism. For the moment, Atir's paradox takes form ; he seems to deny that human affairs are molded, if not inspired by celestial events!

Atir admits that myths may be inspired by celestial events;. Yet, as clearly humans are inspired by myths, they are consequently inspired by celestial events too. Thus Oedipus being inspired by celestial events does not contradict the idea that human affairs have 'enforced' its tale.
One can even welcome the fact that celestial events would share the historization of Oedipus.

At a certain point, if Oedipus is a true historical person, it is theorically requested that his story would represent celestial events - according to the thesis that I have presented in my Velikovsky page where I consider how Letter and memory start with the cosmos or life itself  . This linguistic theory is not only frequent amongst mystics, but is shared by some scientists - if the Letter precedes what we usually identify as human, and if it is adopted by mankind to write its history, it is expected that representative human stories will be determined by, and carry the representation of celestial events (as well as microcosmic - genetic - events see CYBEK NewsLetter 980304 ).

I know that this is bewildering in comparison with the common feeling that - except for the belief that it has been given by (a) God - mankind has invented its Scripture. I shall thus examine now what can be brought forth in more classical arguments.

Atir suggests that Velikovsky may have "sincerely believed Freud's Moses and Monotheism to have degraded the Jewish people, God, and most revered prophet - and perhaps was he expecting to restore them to their former positions." He suggests that one should question 'the influence of Velikovsky's orthodox Jewish upbringing and well-known Zionist sentiments on his life's work and theoretical pursuits.' It looks like we should decide between Freud's Moses (disciple of Akhnaton murdered in the Sinai) and Velikovsky's Akhnaton (dated several centuries after Moses, thus preventing Moses to have anything to do with the Oedipus Complex) !
Before making this decision, I would like to suggest to the reader to think how both Velikovsky and Freud would have theorized the affair if they had known Ahmed Osman's latest Egyptology. How would have they disputed and pleaded in the light of the identification of Yuya as Joseph ? (or at least, in the light of the most compelling probability that Tiy's father (Yuya) and thus Akhnaton's maternal family was not Egyptian but Haribu or Hebrew).
The evidence that Aknaton was not totally Egyptian would have certainly changed Freud's thesis. probably Velikovsky's too. I personnaly wonder if Atir himself would modify his position if he he had acknowledged this important factor.

But then again, it may be too bewildering, and not clearly related to the Oedipus riddle - so I shall supply a better argument in place of another missing piece.

The data which is dramatically lacking from Atir's exposé is the Middle-Ages figure known as Hermes Trismegistus.

It is a major fact regarding Akhnaton's memory that Hermes Thot alias Hermes Trismegistus see Trismegistus page was obviously repressed by the end of the Renaissance ; yet current archeology has shown that this repression has been exerted from idle motives. With current egyptology it is even more obvious that Hermes Triple Great Master, the legendary Egyptian Monotheist King in his legendary Solar City, was a Christian name for Akhnaton, after he had been temporarily remembered during the Ptolemean period (350 to 0 BCE) as Hermes Thot, in Hermopolis Magna, built on the very location of Akhetaton (currently Tel El Amarna) see Trismegistus graph .

Moreover, the debate around Trismegistus during the Renaissance clearly depicts a conclusion which was bringing Trismegistus and Moses close to a unique identity; and while Orpheus was at that time the Hellenic corollary figure of the Triplex, the 20th century interpretation of the displacement form Orpheus to Oedipus, brings today Hermes Thrice Born as the persuasive reference for an Egyptian Monothesit King Moses and Oedipus.

This piece of our memory, recently but indisputably restored by the historian Yates, brings decisive information to Atir's undecidable reflection. It is an opportunity for describing the logic and particularity of Akhnaton's re-identification, based on a 'triple conjunction' of data.

A) The memory of the Egyptian Monotheist King sheds light on Moses and Oedipus (especially when Orpheus indicates the function of the Oedipus identification).

B) The memory of Moses sheds light on a specific repression which explains the apparent discrepancy and relation between Akhnaton and Oedipus,

C) The memory of Oedipus sheds light on the exile of Akhnaton and Moses (to and beyond Kolonus).

Notable topological studies (J. Lacan) about this kind of logic shows how the specific structure of such a triple conjunction prevents any one of its bi-relations to stand by itself. It explains why the sole 'Oedipus=Akhnaton' can only lead to a ring of controversy, as we see in Atir's text (at the Renaissance Akhnaton-AKA-Trismegistus=Moses was undecidable likewise as Orpheus did not present a functional set of arguments see Contemporary analogy with Freud & Osman as Oedipus does at the present time).

Atir symptomatically fails thus, and eventually rejects both Freud  (Akhnaton>Moses) and Velikovsky (Akhnaton=Oedipus). Yet his first step is correct. He distinguishes two elements in Velikovsky's analysis. He begins with Velikovsky's dating of Akhnaton - that he shows being invalid (see chapter below + additional note ). Then he examines Oedipus=Akhnaton - but without the Moses reference, the more arguments he develops, the more he depicts connections with a foreclosed character - so that eventually he rejects both error and truth, giving in to the repression (notice that with such a world view and an ignored Unconscious, he concludes in favor of a cosmos without humanity [re sus: about a mythology which refers to the cosmos alone, without humanity]).
Let us look at the first step :

Step one - Invalidation of the mistake :

Atir's invalidation of Velikovsky's dating of Akhnaton is clear and decisive. I summarize it with a series of excerpts of Atir's text below:

It is difficult to reconcile the testimony of Homer and Hesiod with Velikovsky's thesis in Oedipus and Akhnaton... ...Velikovsky must ask his readers to believe that Homer and Hesiod composed their verses in memory of an obscure foreign king who reigned only a generation or two earlier... ...Such a scenario goes against everything that we know of the sanctity and relative conservatism of epic traditions.

On the one hand we have Velikovsky's reconstruction which has it that Akhnaton died c. 850 BCE, one the other hand the Oedipus traditions are "surely much older" than the eighth century BCE. This is exactly similar to Casaubon's reconstruction see Osman-as-Casaubon page , at the end of the Renaissance, when he dated the invention of Trismegistus around the third century AD, while the recent discoveries in Nag Hammadi shows that he was mentioned in pre-Christian times. Those are circumstances where facts call for a scientific decision - which in the present case, must be to renounce Velikovsky's Akhnaton dating.
The next step is to consider Akhnaton=Oedipus in a time frame that Akhnaton shares with Moses - Freud being the first scholar to make it known.

Step two - Collapsus of Truth (Akhnaton=Oedipus) following the abandonment of the mistake (Akhnaton/Solomon) :

Once Akhnaton is thus replaced in his classical time frame. Atir endeavors a second analysis which is more subtle. He studies how the Oedipus myth matches Akhnaton's story. He examines two categories of correspondences: those that Velikovsky claim to be positive similarities, plus a complementary set of correlations. Atir claims that both are actually 'negative' and in opposition to Oedipus=Akhnaton. I shall begin my own comment with the later:

Atir considers the Dionysus and Hades references, which are regularly attached to Oedipus, and concludes that they contradict Akhnaton's character of being a peace loving, placid and obscure Egyptian king. Yet, if Atir had Moses in mind at the same time, he would certainly thought about the Freudian Moses, if not the very Akhnaton himself in exile, characterized with the assimilation of volcano fire instead of the solar light, and perfectly fitting in his tragedy with the underworld and the 'sufferings of Dionysus' references.

In other words, what Atir brings forth as opposing Oedipus=Akhnaton turns out to be an argument in favor of Oedipus=Akhnaton=Moses.

This reversal is also present with the second category of correspondences that Atir criticizes in Oedipus political picture. The questionable symbols/facts are, according to Atir:

Oedipus murdered his father -Atir says: Akhnaton did not murder his father

Oedipus married his mother - Atir says: Akhnaton did not marry his mother.

Oedipus' mother hung herself (We know nothing about Akhnaton's mother's death)

Oedipus blinded himself - Atir says: Akhnaton did not blind himself.

Although we do not know if Akhnaton blinded himself or not - and although the semblance of an incest is quite manifest, let's take Atir's denegations as they are. There again, we recognize an issue of reversal as depicted by Freud at the foundation of the analysis of symbolism.  The first problem that one encounters is that, unless we reject Psychoanalysis, we must consider Freud's basic discovery regarding the symbols as a murder representing no-murder, an incest reprensting its sublimation, blindness representing clear-sight etc... The way for invalidating a symbolic table cannot rely on the demonstration of its negation.

I shall strengthen this Psychoanalytical approach in the following - yet, at this point I have logically made a comprehensive and exhaustive invalidation of each argument developed by Atir. I have even shown how many amongst them turn out to even favor Oedipus=Akhnaton. We can continue deeper in this final analysis of the symbolic conjunctivity and show there again that they can be turned in favor of Oedipus=Akhnaton=Moses :

Turning a mistake into a lesson :

A)A first lesson was given when archaeology retreived the story of the infant Moses saved form the river, in Sargon's own story (much earlier, in Babylonia). This is showing how symbolism - as in dreams activity - gathers and condenses its material from the present and from ancient past - even from cosmic time scales as Atir admits. Thus Akhnaton's love for his father might have signified an earlier murder, as Oedipus legends report clearly.

Another detail may be stimulating for our meditation. It regards Oedipus' blindness. There is a possible translation of the greek text which describe the 'articulation of the testicles' (instead of the eyes - Re: the French essay of M.Balmary). Oedipus' blindness would be a metaphor which gives a 'real' meaning to what 'father' means. This translation - that we did not learn at school for we were not taught that it was not unusual to rip out one's balls for the Goddess in Troy's area - does not show a large discrepancy between the reputation of an effeminated Akhnaton and both blindness and murder of the father.
There again it may not indicate the historical castration of the Egyptian King than dangerous sun contemplation with tears in the eyes when mum' is dead - and it may carry indications in the past of certain cultures that Atonism gathered see the political span of Atonism .

Atir does not mention these points and insists only on the fact that the erasure of a Name in the Egyptian tradition would not suffice to consist as a murder, as Velikovsky hypothesizes, (Akhnaton notably did not murder his father but erased his name and/or the name of Amon from the Egyptian monuments). Not only is it probably wrong, but moreover Psychoanalysis as been brilliant enough to show how the Name-of-the-Father for grounds per se the fantasy of any murder. Without mentioning the betrayal that a flight to the Sinai could mean for the pharaonic lineage, we already have three notions which re-establish a substantial validity in Oedipus parricide in regards to Akhnaton.

B)We can continue with the mother/incest symbolism:

At this point, we have a good opportunity to exploit the Trismegistus data. As we know, the typical Trismegistus was first associated with Orpheus, instead of Oedipus. And not only could it be used by the Hades/Orpheus reference; it is also instructive for the incest reference. Let us remember that we are here talking about symbolism and imagine such sentences as : " Cleopatra thought that Caesar would marry Egypt..." This would certainly not be absoluteley rejected by historians today. The psychology of the 'hero' in the Greek Drama would admit such comparison. It would then have been possible for Sophocles and his predecessors to write that 'Oedipus married Egypt.' But...
did he had something to hide and/or to show?
For instance - could he have easily written that 'Oedipus married Israel', if this was a 'secret knowledge?' We know that the sacred 'secret' was regularly worshiped in Greek Schools - more than one 'heretic' was exiled in Sicily if not killed when they broke this rule. Similar social systems were found in Israel, during the long lasting Ramsedes policy which set the condition for the entry in the Promised Land (one still find this rule denounced by Jesus Christ on the Transfiguration mount, when he presents Moses unveiled to his disciples Peter, James, and John -Matthew (17:1-13), Mark (9:2-13), and Luke (9:28-36) - as well as Paul/Corinthians.2 see Akhnaton's identity by Jesus Christus )

But I have just used euphemism, shortcuts  and condensation, and my reader may be a little confused. This is the effect of the logic from which one can guarantee the Oedipus=Akhnaton connectionon the basis of a third link (Moses). Let me therefore remind the reader of the Trismegistus-Orpheus legend in regards to its historical story :

If it was common sense to say that a pharaoh usually married his folk, his country, then, after his first marriage, Akhnaton married a second time or, in other words, found again an Eurydice in/with 'Israel.' This is meant in the hypothesis that he displaced his Aton worship for the people of the Volcanic Sinai. Moreover, the Moses reference does not only give substance for an Alchemic Wedding by/in Hades, but the remarkable obligation that he would veil his face/identity in regards to Israel is opportunately signified by blindness in a Narcissistic relation.
Besides the formal evocation of an incest with Tiye, we see how the symbolism - though ambiguous in essence - offers an in depth penetration into History. Even though symbols show various meanings - as for instance for that of blindness - it teaches more than it deserves to be rejected. If Akhnaton married Israel when he discontinued his egyptian lineage, it is legitimate to state an incest and a murder-of-the-father, especially in a drama which addresses the psychological effects of historization.

We must not fall refractory in front of the muddled aspect of the interpretation. There again we must remember that this last chapter of my analysis refers to the symbolic dimension. If Freud's first step was correct, there is no other definable possibility of a symbolic complex. Atir shows how to cut the Gordian Knot end in a total negation. The true sustenance of the Truth, through the power of the symbolic is at its best when an amalgam of combination shows its strength.
Fortunately we can add the clear and unambiguous series of arguments that I have first developed, and which annul each of Atir points. I regret that Atir did not mention Osman and Yates, it is also regrettable that he did not take more benefit from Freud's method of thinking. With the foundation of a logic and the living composite of the darned mythology, we have covered the exhaustive analysis of a mass psychology.

To summarize:

In my opinion Atir would have better targeted his topics if he had simply declared that he was criticising Freud's Psychoanalysis. As far as the piece I have read, none of his arguments are relevant, if Freud's theory of the symbology is correct. Once it is admitted that Velikovsky's dating was wrong, Atir could not substancially invalidate the Akhnaton=Oedipus equation. On the opposite, he seems to show in a reversed manner that Akhnaton=Oedipus is even reinforced when Moses character is brought forth in the equation, thus validating its symbolism.

REMINDER : The present analysis applies to a first part of Atir's text. It does not prejudge what the rest of his exposé would reveal and perhaps invalidate in my criticism. Moreover the beginning of the article is also missing. I took it as any good archeological artifact which often lacks some parts.

ATIR's Document

...important truth reveals itself to them?" To the student of Velikovsky these words stand out as among the most impassioned in all his writings. It is even possible that they tell us more about Velikovsky's emotional approach to the subject-matter than Freud's. Whatever one's opinion on this particular issue, it is clear that a discussion of Freud's irrational tendencies is beyond the scope of this paper. With regard to Velikovsky's own motivation, it is arguable that if he sincerely believed Freud's Moses and Monotheism to have degraded the Jewish people, God, and most revered prophet, in dismantling Freud's thesis Velikovsky might have believed himself to have elevated these same entities; or, at the very least, to have restored them to their former positions before Freud's theoretical onslaught. In any case it is obvious that by identifying Akhnaton with Oedipus, and by placing Akhnaton's reign in the ninth century BCE, Velikovsky's analysis [if successful] would effectively pull the rug out from under the two most central and heretical tenets of Moses and Monotheism: namely, (1) Moses' being an apostle of Akhnaton's (since Moses would presumably have predated Akhnaton in Velikovsky's reconstruction); and (2) Akhnaton's supposed priority with regard to origins of monotheism.

Indeed, cannot both Worlds in Collision and Ages in Chaos be interpreted in similar manner, i.e., as a rejoinder to the widespread revision of traditional Jewish history? A major portion of the former work, for example, is devoted to providing a physical explanation for the extraordinary circumstances which attended the Jewish exodus from Egypt. A common theme of the latter book was the attempt to bring the histories of the Near East more into line with the history outlined in the Old Testament. Can it be doubted that here Velikovsky's interpretation owes a little something to the researches of Freud and other scholars which cast doubt on the historical veracity of the Exodus-traditions, thereby raising doubts about the rest of Hebrew history? Consider also the explicit statement of Velikovsky himself in Stargazers and Gravediggers; there Velikovsky relates that his research was inspired by his disagreement with Freud's conclusions in Moses and Monotheism. Indeed it is undeniable that Velikovsky's researches [if valid] restore faith in the historicity of the traditions of the Old Testament, particularly with regard to the Exodus traditions, the cornerstone of the Jewish faith. In raising this issue, however, I do not mean to imply that Velikovsky intentionally set out to restore faith in the literal interpretation of the Old Testament. Nor would I accuse Velikovsky himself of having taken a Fundamentalist-stance with regard to Biblical exegesis.

The question is one of unconscious motivation, and as Velikovsky was moved to call attention to certain episodes in Freud's life which might have betrayed an unconscious bias towards Moses (such as Freud's feeling of awe before Michelangelo's statue of Moses), so too must a historian of Velikovsky face the question of the influence of Velikovsky's orthodox Jewish upbringing and well-known Zionist sentiments on his life's work and theoretical pursuits. Unconscious motivations aside, the central issue is how does Velikovsky's interpretation of the Oedipus legend stand up to scrutiny? Oedipus and Akhnaton Velikovsky's thesis is as follows: the historical source for the tale of Oedipus as related by Sophocles and other Greek mythographers is to be found in the events surrounding the reign of the Egyptian king Akhnaton, traditionally assigned to the 14th century BCE by Egyptologists. The little that we know about Akhnaton, according to Velikovsky, closely approximates the mythical career of Oedipus; the more obscure circumstances attending the fall of Akhnaton and his family, in turn, can be illuminated by comparison with the tragedies which befell the family of Oedipus. Velikovsky supports is thesis with an extensive discussion of the relevant sources, both Greek and Egyptian, ancient and modern. We will evaluate his handling of these sources in due course. By way of introduction it should be said that while Velikovsky's thesis appears incredible, it is no more incredible than those which have been offered by Egyptologists. Thus Akhnaton has been seen as a woman masquerading as a man; as a eunuch; as a great poet or philosopher-king; etc. {Note from a correspondent: If Akhnaton identified himself with Venus, it could explain these allusions to feminity on his part. Ransom calls attention to Lewis M. Greensburg's hypothesis on Akhnaton's identification/intermingling of Venus with Aton. Note of the note by Z.Kelper - a feminine identification may be considered, but I guess that 'Venus' typology is posterior to Akhnaton's time - I personnaly identify Venus as the evolution of Ishtar, also indicated as the moment when Europa coming from East on a Bull, mounts an Ox once she left her stage in the Aegean and continue towards West. This may be seen in regards to the Freudian Castration Complex in relation with a parallel evolution of the feminine experience}

Indeed, the period of Akhnaton has given rise to more strange theories than virtually any other period of ancient history. Margaret Murray, for example, was moved to state: "More nonsense has been written about the Amarna period than any other in Egyptian history." My first impression upon reading Oedipus and Akhnaton was that Velikovsky had succeeded in the identification of Oedipus and Akhnaton, an impression influenced more by the charm of Velikovsky's writing style, perhaps, than by the weight of the evidence. Eventually, however, I was led to the conclusion that Velikovsky was mistaken concerning the historical personages behind the Oedipus myth. Indeed, it was while pursuing research inspired by Velikovsky's novel ideas with regard to the recent history of the solar system that I was led to the conclusion that the myth of Oedipus had virtually nothing to do with palatial intrigue at the human level; rather, it appeared to have been inspired by celestial events. This is more than a little ironic, of course, since it was Velikovsky's special genius which first documented the fact that ancient mythology frequently commemorated cataclysmic events associated with the planets.

The Constraints of Time

A major stumbling block in the way of Velikovsky's thesis concerning Oedipus and Akhnaton, in my opinion, is one of time. Here I refer to the short interval of time between the reign of Akhnaton (as placed in Velikovsky's reconstruction) and the earliest Greek testimony concerning Oedipus. The Iliad, for example, contains mention of the death of Oedipus. The passage in question appears to relate that Oedipus fell in battle and was subsequently accorded funeral games befitting a hero. To my knowledge Velikovsky never discussed this passage, either in his voluminous writings or in private correspondence. The fact is, however, that the passage is damaging to Velikovsky's thesis on several fronts: (1) the date of the tradition is dangerously close, if not actually antecedent, to the time of Akhnaton in Velikovsky's reconstruction; (2) the manner of the hero's death is inconsistent with that of Akhnaton. To take the latter point first, although the circumstances of Akhnaton's death are completely unknown it is most doubtful that he died a warrior's death. Redford, for example, states his opinion: "There is no reason to question that Akhnaton died peacefully at Akhetaten in the summer of 1359 B. C." Aldred summarizes the evidence with regard to Akhnaton's end as follows: "The end of the reign of Akhnaton is even more scantily documented than the earlier part and the situation appears to be confused...He died in circumstances that are totally obscure to us and likely to remain so." Under whatever circumstances Akhnaton died, it is known that his successors attempted to erase all memory of the heretical king from the Egyptian records. Is this a likely aftermath of a hero's military career? Indeed the heroic end and rites associated with the Oedipus of Greek epic are difficult to reconcile with the image of the effeminate-looking Akhnaton, ruminating about poetry and religious matters while residing in virtual seclusion in Akhetaton. Heroic rites would have been appropriate for Amenhotep III, the vigorous warrior-father of Akhnaton, but hardly so for Akhnaton, whose military accomplishments were practically nil to judge from the evidence. To return to the issue of time, Velikovsky states that the earliest reference to the Oedipus legend is to be found in the Odyssey. The passage in question reads as follows: "I saw the mother of Oedipus, fair Epicaste, who did a monstrous thing in the innocence of her heart; for she married her own son, and he had slain his own father first. But the gods kept it from the people's knowledge for a time. So he continued to be king in his lovely Thebes, but full of misery himself, by the god's cruel will; and she went down to the strong prison of Hades the warder of the gates. Her grief was too great for her, and she hanged herself from a lofty roof-beam; but she left him misery enough and to spare, which the avenging spirit of his mother brought to bear." Like the Iliadic passage cited earlier, this passage also poses severe difficulties for Velikovsky's thesis. For as Edmunds points out, Homer's language implies that Oedipus murdered his father during military combat: "In the brief summary of Oedipus' life at Odyssey 11: 271-280, Homer uses the terms exenarizo of the parricide. This verb, which elsewhere refers to encounters on the battlefield, might indicate that Homer knew of a military parricide." Needless to say, Homer's account of Oedipus' patricide cannot be made to apply to Akhnaton, who certainly did not murder Amenhotep III in battle. While it is debatable whether this passage from the Odyssey is older than that from the Iliad, Velikovsky himself concedes that the Odyssey, "was most probably put into writing early in the seventh century before the present era." The question thus arises as to how it was possible for Akhnaton's life to be mythologized, "Hellenized," and adopted by the Greeks in less than two centuries, as according to Velikovsky's reconstruction Akhnaton died c. 850 BCE? Velikovsky's position is further threatened by the fact that Homer's brief references to Oedipus imply that the story was well-known to his readers and understood as occurring at some time before Homer, if not in the remote, mythical past. This too appears to be the general opinion of Greek scholars, as Velikovsky points out: "It is generally accepted that the Oedipus cycle of legends is of greater antiquity than the so-called Homeric cycle of the siege of Troy... The inclusion of a short reference to the Oedipus tragedy in the Odyssey permits us to deduce only that the legend is older than the seventh century, the time when the Homeric epics were put into writing." On the contrary, Homer's reference [based as it apparently is upon ancient traditions] allows us to deduce that the legend of Oedipus is substantially older than the 7th century. Thus {Note from a correspondent: The Homeric legends were precise enough for Schleimann to locate Troy. I would think that geographical details would get clouded after centuries.} Edmunds states his opinion that the Oedipus traditions are "surely much older". The brief reference to Oedipus in Hesiod supports the same conclusion. Hesiod relates that the gods had destroyed two generations of heroes: the first at Thebes in the war over Oedipus' sheep, and the second at Troy in the war over Helen. Here again Oedipus is placed in the distant mythical past. In summary, it is difficult to reconcile the testimony of Homer and Hesiod with Velikovsky's thesis in Oedipus and Akhnaton.

For his reconstruction to survive in its entirety Velikovsky must ask his readers to believe that Homer and Hesiod composed their verses in memory of an obscure foreign king who reigned only a generation or two earlier, yet represented him as a heroic Greek king living in the distant past!

Such a scenario goes against everything that we know of the sanctity and relative conservatism of epic traditions.

Greek Drama

Most commentators upon the origins and nature of Greek drama have called attention to its uniquely Greek nature. Gilbert Murray, for example, observed: "Greek tragedy, strictly speaking, was a peculiar form of art with narrow limits, both local and temporary. It was, in literal meaning, a "goat-song," i.e., a molpe (dance and song combined), performed at the altar of Dionysus over the sacrifice of a dismembered goat, which, by a form of symbolism common in ancient religion, represented the god himself. Hardly acted outside one small district of Greece, lasting as a living form not much beyond the limits of the fifth century B.C., performed only at one particular type of religious festival, the Dionysia at Athens." The subject-matter of Greek drama was also narrowly defined. According to the testimony of the Greeks themselves, tragedy concerned the "sufferings of Dionysus". Indeed the Athenians were wont to exclaim upon a play they disliked that: "It has nothing to do with Dionysus." At this point an obvious question arises: What possible connection could there be between an obscure Egyptian king and the peculiar rites of Dionysus? Certainly it would be a rare innovation [in a profession distinguished by its conservatism] were Aeschylus, Euripedes, and Sophocles to select as their greatest protagonist a recently deceased king of a distant people. {Note from a correspondent: This would not be a problem if Akhnaton really made it to Greece after bailing out of Egypt.} Velikovsky's thesis is also at odds with the fact that the characters of Greek drama were typically heroes of Greek epic, many of whom were also subjects of worship. On this characteristic of Greek drama Murray writes: "We must remember that the subject of Greek tragedy is always the heroic saga. It is never an invented story, and it is never the history of ordinary human beings. I should doubt if there was any named character in an Attic tragedy who was not actually in some way an object of worship: a god or hero or at least the possessor of some taboo tomb or oracle or ritual." Oedipus himself would appear to fit this description, being a leading character in Greek epic tradition and the possessor of at least five sacred tombs, the best known being that in Attica on the Areopagus in the precincts of the Semnai, and that in Boeotian Eteonos in the temple of Demeter. Pausanias also records the interesting fact that at Kolonos Oedipus with Adrastus. We will have reason to return to Adrastus, a leading figure of Greek epic tradition, who [as the king of Argos and Sikyon] was credited with leading two great expeditions against Thebes. Suffice it to observe here that Adrastus has stong affinities to both Dionysus and Hades, and that Oedipus' association with him is understandable if he was a Greek hero with close ties to the underworld, yet difficult to reconcile with the notion that Oedipus was actually the Egyptian king Akhnaton. In short, the nature of Greek drama, like the testimony of Greek epic, is decidedly against Velikovsky's thesis.

The Myth of Oedipus

To proceed to the primary motives of the Oedipus myth as related by Sophocles [Oedipus' patricide, his incestuous marriage to the queen-mother, the fate of Jocasta, the hero's self-inflicted blindness, etc.] it is striking how few can be accommodated by Velikovsky's hypothesis. Akhnaton did not murder his father; he did not marry his mother; there is no evidence that Akhnaton's mother hung herself; nor did Akhnaton blind himself upon discovery of his crime (according to Velikovsky's interpretation, it will be remembered, the "patricide" of Akhnaton consisted solely of the erasure of his father's name from the face of monuments). We could easily quit here and rest assured that Velikovsky's thesis has been put to rest. Yet the most important issue here,or so it seems to me, is not whether Velikovsky was right on this particular identification; rather it is Velikovsky's approach to comparative mythology and his handling of the ancient sources that warrants our attention. It was Velikovsky's novel approach to comparative mythological analysis, after all, which inspired his revolutionary views with regard to ancient history, and thus it is imperative to evaluate the merits or problems with this approach. The flaws in Velikovsky's approach to Akhnaton, while manifest throughout Oedipus and Akhnaton, are particularly apparent with regard to the issue of Akhnaton's "patricide." Besides the fact that there is at best only a symbolic relationship between Akhnaton's desescration of his father's name and Oedipus' crime [and thus nothing substantial on which to build a case of such sweeping ramifications] there is the added fact that it is highly doubtful that the Egyptians themselves understood Akhnaton's actions in the manner prescribed by Velikovsky and the psychoanalysts. Rather, the truth of the matter appears to be that Akhnaton's erasure of Amenhotep's name was not directed at his father, but was an incidental by-product of the attempt to remove the name of Amen and other gods from public consciousness under the sweeping religious reforms initiated by Akhnaton. One might as well argue that Akhnaton had suicidal tendencies from the fact that he obliterated the Amen in his own name on Egyptian monuments. Indeed there is nothing in the Egyptian sources which suggests that Akhnaton had anything but the usual filial piety with respect to his father. An alleged incestuous relationship between Akhnaton and his mother [deduced by Velikovsky from a painting in which the king escorts his mother while holding her hand] provides the only substantial parallel between the lives of Oedipus and Akhnaton, yet it must be said that I know of no Egyptologist who would accept Velikovsky's interpretation of this portrait. Not only is there no evidence that Akhnaton seduced his mother, the evidence appears to be decidedly against Velikovsky's hypothesis. Thus it is known that the painting to which Velikovsky refers was drawn in the 12th year of Akhnaton's reign. If one rules out the possibility of a co-regency between Amenhotep III and Akhnaton [as Velikovsky would] Tiy would have been at least 55 years old at the time of these paintings (This figure is arrived at by adding the 38 years of Amenhotep's reign to the 12 years of Akhnaton's reign at the time of the paintings, plus Tiy's age at the time of the marriage to Amenhotep. A few years might be deducted in the event that Tiy's marriage to Amenhotep occurred subsequent to the beginning of his reign). This is hardly the most propitious age for an affair, much less for child-bearing! Nor is there any evidence that Tiy delivered any children to Akhnaton, a necessary result of the alleged affair if Velikovsky's Oedipus-thesis is to survive (remember that Antigone, Ismene, Polyneices, and Eteocles were the offspring of the union of Oedipus and Jocasta).

Most Egyptologists accept that Akhnaton's six children [all females, were delivered by Nefretity]. A few Egyptologists, however, with reference to the misshapen form of the Akhnaton, suggest that hwas actually the sufferer of a rare disorder known as Frohlich's syndrome, in which the secondary sexual characteristics fail to develop, thus rendering him incapable of producing children. Aldred, asupporter of this view, presents evidence that Amenhotep III sired the children of Nefretity. For our purposes, however, it matters little whether Nefretity delivered these children to Akhnaton or Amenhotep III; the truth is that both scenarios are equally incompatible with Velikovsky's thesis. Velikovsky's case in Oedipus and Akhnaton, in fact, is built upon the kind of "deduction" which characterizes his discussion of the painting of Akhnaton and Tiy.

Out of a few lines of blank verse Velikovsky deduces that Akhnaton became blind ; because of the lack of a suitably magnificent tomb for Tiy, Velikovsky supposes it possible that the queen hung herself; because of an epithet associated with Akhnaton ("who lived long,"), coupled with the Egyptian practice of consulting oracles upon royal succession (at least during the 18th dynasty), Velikovsky deduces that Akhnaton was spirited away as a youngster to avoid the death sentence imposed on him by his father; and so on. This makes for entertaining reading, but it is hardly a case that would stand up in court. Indeed at the outset of any investigation of the career of Akhnaton it should be admitted that very little is really known about the Egyptian king. It appears most probable that Akhnaton succeeded Amenhotep III upon the throne of Egypt, that he was physically deformed, that he participated in a religious reform in which the Aton was glorified, that he built himself a sequestered city (the modern Amarna), that the construction of this city was hurried and sloppy by Egyptian standards, and that this city was later destroyed in what appears to have been a backlash against Akhnaton, recalled as "that criminal of Akhet-Aten." The circumstances of the death of Amenhotep III, the upbringing of Akhnaton, the political aspects of his reign, the details of the relationship between Akhnaton and Tiy or Akhnaton and Nefretity, the circumstances of the deaths of Tiy or Akhnaton himself, all remain obscure. To pretend otherwise, or to propose that a few legendary motives drawn from Greek tragedy will help alleviate this gap in our knowledge of this period in Egyptian history seems the height of folly.

In retrospect it is strange that Velikovsky would attempt to trace the myth of Oedipus to a historical personage when so much of his work argues forcefully that the great subjects of ancient mythology trace to celestial events and planetary agents (one of the most seminal aspects of Velikovsky's work, in my opinion).




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