Top – Middle – Base. A System of Omen Sequencing and its Interpretation in Barûtu Chapter 3 and in Old Babylonian Precursors
This paper analyses three omen sequences from the third chapter of the first millennium extispicy omen series Bārûtu, which is devoted to the section of the liver called Manzāzu, ‘the Presence’. These sequences share the same Top-Middle-Base system of vertical arrangement in the omen protases, while the apodoses associate this scheme with sets of three subjects belonging to the same social group or environment. This article compares these 1st millennium sequences with their Old Babylonian precursors and discusses similarities and discrepancies in the interpretation of the Top-Middle-Base scheme. I investigate the omen sequences on both the horizontal, or syntagmatic, and on the vertical, or paradigmatic, level. On the syntagmatic level, I determine the rules governing the association of a given section of the Presence in the protasis with a given subject in the apodosis. On the paradigmatic level, I investigate the different interpretative systems adopted in the apodoses in correlation with the Top-Middle-Base scheme in the protases, and provide evidence for two such systems of interpretation. In some cases, the Top-Middle-Base scheme in the protases is interpreted as a three step-movement, from the closest to the furthest from a certain point, in the parallel sequence of apodoses. Other texts choose a different interpretation which assigns a special function to the middle entry’s apodosis, which functions as a structural medium between the two external elements of the sequence, thus playing the role of a ‘pivot’ line. This paper focuses especially on this interpretative system, which has not previously been detected within the omen compendia.
DivinationOmenSequenceExtispicyBārûtuTop-Middle-BaseSyntagmaticParadigmatic'Pivot' line
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English [eng]
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Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes
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