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Founded in 1846!


Zeitschrift für antike Literatur und ihre Rezeption / A Journal for Ancient Literature and its Reception

Ed. by Föllinger, Sabine / Fuhrer, Therese / Reinhardt, Tobias / Stenger, Jan / Vöhler, Martin

CiteScore 2017: 0.06

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.116

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Volume 153, Issue 1


A Dove and a Nightingale: Mahābhārata 3. 130. 18–3. 131. 32 and Hesiod, works and days 202–213

Andreas Zanker
Published Online: 2009-09-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/phil.2009.0002


Hesiod’s Fable of the Hawk and the Nightingale remains a scholarly problem: its “might is right” moral seems to counteract the point that the poet appears to be making in this part of the Works and Days. Moreover, it is introduced with an address to the kings but finishes immediately prior to a dislocated appellation to Hesiod’s brother Perses. We have no clearly analogous fable to set next to this one. In this paper I step outside the Greek tradition and present a comparable story from the Indic Mahābhārata that involves not only a hawk and a dove but also a king who protects the latter. I argue that the material it supplies can help us in our interpretation of the Hesiodic fable by opening up the possibility that there is in fact a third character within the drama – absent from the text itself but essential for our understanding of it – who had the power to protect the nightingale from the hawk but who failed to do so.

Keywords: Hesiod; Mahabharata; Hawk and Nightingale

About the article

Published Online: 2009-09-25

Published in Print: 2009-07-01

Citation Information: Philologus, Volume 153, Issue 1, Pages 10–25, ISSN (Print) 0031-7985, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/phil.2009.0002.

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