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The Ideology of Brotherhood

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Abstract

With its unmistakable suggestion of domination, the ‘protection’ metaphor, even if reciprocal and multi-directional, is best reserved for unequal relationships: those between a great and a small king, or between a king and his officials. Where peer relations are concerned, it is much better to employ another metaphor, also springing from family and small group relationships, namely, the metaphor of ‘brotherhood’ (ahhutu).1 The legal procedure of ‘adoption in brotherhood’ was so common in the Late Bronze age that the metaphor had no problem in being perfectly understood and widely accepted. ‘Brotherhood’ is a conventional relationship, but it has the same force and meaning as one of blood. It is therefore one that is perfectly convenient for the expression of a political alliance between peers, emphasizing (in comparison to other more technical terms)2 the personal and voluntary involvement of the partners. Moreover, intermarriage between royal families was intensive enough to supply a further incentive and justification for using the metaphor. Many kings were in fact linked by brother-in-law relationships, and many more were always involved in negotiations with this end in view: ‘Are you not looking for brotherhood and good relations, in order to keep closer each other, when you write to me about marriage? And I, just for that, for brotherhood and good relations, in order to keep closer each other, I write to you about marriage.’3

Keywords

  • Good Relation
  • Royal Family
  • Political Alliance
  • Voluntary Involvement
  • Unequal Relationship

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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  • DOI: 10.1057/9780230286399_21
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Notes

  1. W. L. Moran in JNES, 22 (1963), pp. 173–6

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  2. W. L. Moran in CBQ, 25 (1963), pp. 77–87

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  3. G. Schmuttermayr in Biblica, 51 (1970), pp. 499–543

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  4. H. Schäfer in MDIK, 12 (1943), pp. 73–95

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© 2001 Mario Liverani

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Liverani, M. (2001). The Ideology of Brotherhood. In: International Relations in the Ancient Near East, 1600–1100 BC. Studies in Diplomacy. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230286399_21

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