Thursday, December 12, 2013

Who Deserves the Blame?

Occasionally the news media will report something outrageous of some diva (whether male or female), thinking that the world revolves around her whims. This behavior is old indeed, and particularly unbecoming when involving someone with power. Jared Miller provides one such ancient story that accompanied an instruction by means of explanation:
Furthermore, you who are water carriers, you must be very careful concerning the water, and you must always filter the water with a sieve. One time I, the king, in the city of Sanhuitta, found a hair in the washbasin, and (my), the king's ire was raised, and I became enraged at the water carriers (and said): "This is disgusting!" Arnili (responded) so: "Zuliya was the overseer!" And the king (continued) thus: "Zuliya shall go through the river(ordeal)! If he is (shown to be) innocent, then let him purify his soul. But if he is (shown to be) guilty, then he will die." So Zuliya went through the river(ordeal), and he was (shown to be) guilty. And they "dealt with" him in the city of Suresta. (Jared L. Miller, Royal Hittite Instructions and Related Administrative Texts [Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2013], 17)
Miller also notes that there is another version of this story in which Arnili is put to death as well.

One thinks of the variety of jokes about a hair (or fly) in one's soup:
Man: Waiter! What is this fly doing in my soup?

Waiter: It looks like the backstroke to me.
In the case of the Hittite king, however, it was more serious, deadly serious. Depending on which version you read, one or two individuals lost their lives over something as trivial as a hair. The problem with tyrants is that one never can be sure ahead of time, what will set one off, or what their reaction will be.