Walls of Bronze

From an essay by Gregory Nagy (my emphasis)

Jeremiah 1:18

Jeremiah 15:20

Horace Epistle 1.60

Horace Carminae 3.65

I was really digging into try to think about what these parallells meant but lucky for me this dude already did!

WORMELL, D. E. W. “WALLS OF BRASS IN LITERATURE.” Hermathena, no. 58 (1941): 116–20. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23037709.

He has a great little joke on the first page:

“…assuming that a bronze tower need no more be of bronze than an ivory tower need be of ivory…”

I agree with this fairy land view. He goes on after this to make the case that bronze had magical properties, of this I am less convinced is relevant in these literary examples… He also speculates that in Horace’s Epistle the bronze walls are the goal or home base of the game and connects it to a childish version of the lusus Troiae! I’m not convinced but points for creative thinking!

He then jumps the shark and goes in for early English lit reference, claiming Horace lies behind this imagery.

NO MENTION OF JEREMIAH!!! Wormell must have fallen asleep in Sunday School.

Homer (maybe Hesiod) are likely in dialogue with Eastern traditions on which Jeremiah is also drawing (I’m thinking of the East Face of Helicon and West’s thoughts on connecting Sappho to Babylonia magic and Psalms; no, I’m not going to go find a citation right now, it is in my teaching notes if I ever need it). Plato is drawing on Homer. Horace is likely also drawing on Homer in an archaizing fashion. I’d love to connect Horace to Semitic literary traditions just for fun, but I don’t think I can really do that with any intellectual honesty.


That magic idea of Wormell’s might have some merit:

[arrived from ILL! 5-3-23]

(link to above from which below is taken)

I kept digging and lo! A commentary on the wall of tin in Amos gave be to pharonic Egypt references:

A full view of this commentary is available on the Internet Archive

From Breasted 1906 Ancient Records of Egypt:

update from 5-3-23:

From the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary:

s.v. dūru

From Muss-Arnolt’s concise Assyrian dictionary:

2 thoughts on “Walls of Bronze”

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