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Konstantakos, Ioannis M.
Trial by Riddle: The Testing of the Counsellor and the Contest of Kings in the Legend of Amasis and Bias

2004, e-publikation
ISBN 978-87-635-0638-0
s. 85-138 i:
Classica et Mediaevalia Vol. 55

27 DKK  4 $   4 €


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The tale of the riddle-contest between the Pharaoh Amasis and the king of Ethiopia (Plut. CSS 151A-E) was based on an Egyptian story about a contest of wits between Amasis and the king of Kush. The Egyptian story was taken over by Greek narrators, who incorporated it into the cycle of the Seven Sages, casting Bias in the role of Amasis’ consultant. The story about the tongue being the best and the worst part of an animal (CSS 146E-F) grew out of a well-known maxim and was widely disseminated. In the legend of Amasis and Bias it functioned as a prelude to the main riddle-contest, testing Bias’ aptitude for the role of the Pharaoh’s consultant. This twofold pattern (a first, testing problem as a preliminary for a more serious contest of wits) occurs in many stories, both in the Greek (Glaukos and Polyidos, Kroisos’ diapeira of the oracles) and in other traditions (Sanskrit, Norse, ancient Egyptian). The legend of Amasis and Bias was structured on this pattern by Greek storytellers before Plutarch; the latter found the story so developed in a written source (probably a work about the Seven Sages). An appendix examines various types of riddles and problems which occur in the stories here discussed (adynaton, riddle of the superlative, simile- riddle, games based on a climactic sequence, the relation of oracles and omens with riddles).

 
Emneområde | Græsk-romersk oldtid |
Specifikt emneord | Komparative studier | Legender |
Biograferet person | Plutarch |
Periode | Klassisk oldtid |
Sprog | Engelsk |





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