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August 27, 2003

Hiketia

Hiketia.jpg

I offer myself in supplication,
to you, Diana, Princess of Themyscira,
I come without protection.
I come without means.

A recent disagreement between Chaos Overlord and the Flea may need to be reconsidered in light of the Wonder Woman factor. My budget was already directed elsewhere and so did not stretch to the graphic novel I found yesterday. A review offers some clues.

The Hiketia is an ancient Greek holy ritual that, once enacted, binds the seeker to the one from whom she seeks protection. Because the bond is a sacred contract, the one who protects must do so at all costs. Rucka, who knows his way around strong female protagonists, sets up DC's mightiest female hero, Wonder Woman, to accept the plea of a young woman who has committed a murder. The problem is, the young woman has Batman on her tail, and he will not let anything stand in the way of bringing the girl to justice.

Hats off to DC for the somewhat obscure "hiketia" reference. An anthropological discussion of Odysseus provides detail on this ancient ritual of supplication.

2. The notion of hiketia involves self-abasement, placing oneself at the mercy of the one who is supplicated. It is done by crouching and clutching the knees (associated with sexual generation, see Onions 1951:176-186) of the superordinate one. 13 This is sometimes accompanied by chucking the chin or kissing the hands. A kiss (philema) on the face was how philoi might greet one another. In the Iliad supplication is made, often unsuccessfully, by a vanquished warrior seeking mercy. Were a foe spared, he would be expected to reciprocate with a ransom in order to be freed. Perhaps the most moving scene in the Iliad involves king Priam visiting Achilleus under supernatural protection in order to redeem his son Hektor's body. Seeing Priam, Achilleus becomes hostile, but Priam performs hiketia and Achilleus takes him by the hands, raises him up, wines and dines him, and releases him next day with Hektor's body. 14 Agamemnon's improper rejection of a father's (Chriseus's) hiketia for his captive daughter eventually triggers off the rift between Agamemnon and Achilleus, and Achilleus's noble acceptance of Priam's supplication heralds the epic's close.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at August 27, 2003 11:31 AM

Comments

No need to reconsider anything. Batman still outwits the the super-strong, super-fast, super-moral Diana. Interesting background info on the ritual, though.

Posted by: *** Dave at August 27, 2003 12:31 PM

But would have not a snowball's chance in hades against the Man Of Steel.

Posted by: Chaos Overlord at August 27, 2003 04:11 PM

Stooping to conquer, huh?

Posted by: Eric Scheie at August 29, 2003 07:17 PM