The Blood Drinker

“His sons, his brothers, and his relatives by marriage, the members of his kindred and his soldiers were united.”

 

Hittite proclamation of King Telepinus.

Calvert Watkins associates it with the idea of a king as just ruler. His interest here is in the dragon slayer myth which he views as ” a symbolic victory over the forces of chaos”. Chaos  is identified as “anti-social, anti- traditional, anti-hierarchical that is in violation of the fundamental institutionalized gift-exchange relations and consecrated customs which are alliance and blood kinship, symbolized by hospitality.”

The idea of social order evoked by King Telepinus is rather interesting in regard to the legal code on how to become a wolf in the Hittite law codes, as marriage abduction is the road that leads to going a howling.

If this bilateral arrangement through marriage is important in Hittite society, particularly in regard to making up the members of the kindred active in warfare.

I would drink a drink in spite of my kinsfolk; not of the red wine of Spain but the blood of youre body to me, a better drink” (1)

The wolf would stand outside of that order and threaten the good order of the kindred and the relations made here by marriage. If he could win over such relations to become part of his own kin, he would be a particularly scary beast to the clan that has now just lost a vital part of itself.

Calvert Watkins is keen to present Hittite society in comparison with later Irish society, so not going to accept this on face value. It is rather interesting though.

Note

An early modern Gaelic lament of a wife to her husband, which hints at the political complexity of kin dispute in clan based systems where marriage is a vital component. i.e. it can break core family/ political relationships and end up in a very messy, bitter and complex dispute.

The relationship between kin and enemy, good order and chaos, is a fine one. One thing can easily be found in the other. To go a howling is forever an option in a world as socially fluid as this.

 

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