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  • Kinyras: The Divine Lyre by John C. Franklin
  • Paul Properzio
John C. Franklin. Kinyras: The Divine Lyre. Hellenic Studies 70. Cambridge, Mass., and London: Center for Hellenic Studies, 2015. Pp. xxxviii, 794. $39.95. ISBN 978-0-674-08830-6.
Distributed by Harvard University Press.

This revealing study traces at its core the evolution of the lyre in antiquity. It looks at Kinyras, the central culture-hero of ancient Cyprus—legendary king, metallurge, Agamemnon’s ally, Aphrodite’s priest, father of Myrrha and Adonis, rival of Apollo, ancestor of the Paphian priest-kings, and much more. Kinyras has increased in importance with the fairly recent discovery that a god Kinnaru—the Divine Lyre—was venerated at Bronze-Age Ugarit. Furthermore, this book connects Kinyras as a mythological symbol of pre-Greek Cyprus with what is known from archaeological evidence and abundant Mesopotamian, Syro-Levantine, and Hurro-Hittite sources of deified instruments and sacred music in the Ancient Near East.

Franklin addresses issues of ethnicity and identity; migration and colonization, especially the Aegean diaspora as far as Cyprus in the Early Iron Age; the cultural interface of Hellenic, Eteocypriot, and Levantine groups on the island; early Greek poetics, epic memory, and mythmaking; performance traditions and music archaeology; royal ideology and ritual poetics; and many specific philological and historical issues arising from the collation of classical and Near Eastern sources. The book also includes an important background study of divinized balang-harps in Mesopotamia. [End Page 276]

In twenty-one chapters, Franklin has produced an almost encyclopedic study of how Eastern and Western cultures came into contact with each other. The topics are arranged in a way that conveys us back to many original sites around the Mediterranean world. He begins with some preliminary details about Kinyras and Kinnaru that focus on the cult of Kinnaru: instrument gods and musician kings in early Mesopotamia; the knr (from Hebrew kinnōr, the harp/lyre of David); first beginnings at Ebla (Tell Mardikh in ancient Syria); Mari and the Amorite Age (Tell Harīri in ancient Syria on the Euphrates circa eighteenth century b.c.) peripherals, hybrids, and cognates; Kinnaru of Ugarit; David and the Divine Lyre. From there Franklin transitions to Kinyras on Cyprus and looks at Kinyras the kinyrist (harp-/lyre-player); praising Kinyras; lyric landscapes of early Cyprus; Kinyras the lamenter; the talents of Kinyras; restringing Kinyras; crossing the water; the kinyradai of Paphos (guild of Aphrodite’s temple priests at Paphos). Finally, Franklin surveys Kinyras and the lands around Cyprus; Kinyras at Pylos; the melding of Kinyras and Kothar; Kinyras, Kothar (Canaanite god), and the passage from Byblos (the ancient Phoenician port city in modern Lebanon); Kinyras at Sidon (another ancient Phoenician port city); the strange affair of Abdalonymos (king of Sidon in Alexander’s time); and Syro-Cilician approaches.

Of the twenty-one chapters mentioned above, three stand out. Chapter 7, “Kinnaru of Ugarit,” focuses on the Ugaritian texts for which the kinnāru material is consistent both within itself and with other evidence for cult music in the city, which offers the most abundant textual evidence for the instrument outside of the Bible. Chapter 13, “The Talents of Kinyras,” shows that Kinyras is associated in Greco-Roman sources with industries typical of Mycenaean/Late Bronze Age Cyprus. The Kinyras traditions thus relate first to the Golden Age of Cypriot popular memory. Chapter 19, “Kinyras, Kothar, and the Passage from Byblos,” proposes that Kinyras, Kauthar, and Theias are three names for a single complex Byblian figure in whom a Kothar was fused with a Divine Knr independent of Ugarit.

The appendices aptly supply information on the subject. Among these are Ptolemy Khennos as a source for the contest of Kinyras and Apollo; Horace, Cinara, and the Syrian Musiciennes of Rome; and Theodontius: another Cilician Kinyras? Following this is Wolfgang Heimpel’s vital background study of Balang-Gods in Mesopotamia. Completing the volume are a generous bibliography, an index locorum, and a general index.

This exhaustive study will be appreciated by classicists who wish to know more about Kinyras and his deep roots on Cyprus. Franklin argues that Kinyras came to the island in the Late Bronze Age...


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