CMLIT 108: Ancient Near Eastern Myth Review
CMLIT 108: Ancient Near Eastern Myth Review CMLIT 108
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This 11 page Study Guide was uploaded by Jocelyn Eget on Thursday April 23, 2015. The Study Guide belongs to CMLIT 108 at Pennsylvania State University taught by Dr. Abul-Hosn in Spring 2015. Since its upload, it has received 138 views.
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Date Created: 04/23/15
Unit 1 Ancient Near Eastern Myth Sumerian Myth The Descent of Inanna Primary Characters Inanna quotQueen of Heavenquot she is the patron goddess of Uruk associated with agricultural fertility as well as matriarchal power structures In this poem she engages in a power struggle with her sister Eriskigal Her descent to the underworld is a katabatic journey referring to a journey downward o Ereshkigal sister of Inanna and ruler of the underworld Dumuzi husband and brother of Inanna he is called the 39shepherd God and represents pastoral fertility He spends half the year in the underworld as a sacri cial substitute for Inanna and is therefore a dyingrising divinity o DyingRising Divinity a deity who follows a repeating cycle of life and death that represents seasons of fertility 0 When Dumuzi is in the underworld the animals do not procreate When he is released for six months of the year the animals are fertile Gestinanna another sister of Dumuzi she shares time with her brother in the underworld Summary 0 Hell Underworld there is no judgment in the afterlife Lapis Lazuli semiprecious stones in the Near East Inanna goes to the Underworld for her sister s husband s funeral 0 Her ulterior motive is to take her sister s power of the Underworld This represents a power struggle among the deities Before going she dresses lavishly to show her power and tells her minister that if she does not return to go to Enlil Nanna and Enki that she is stuck in the underworld When she gets to the Underworld they see how she is dressed and understand what she is there to really do 0 They strip her naked to remove her power and the Seven judges sentence her to death She falls sick and they hang her corpse on a spike After three days lnanna does not return so her minister goes to Enlil and Nanna who both will not help her because she brought it on herself The minister than goes to Enki who takes dirt from his ngernails and forms K amp K 0 He gives them the food of life and the water of life and tells them to go to hell to address Ereshkigal He warns them not to eat anything that she offers because if you eat something from the Underworld it becomes a part of you 0 He tells them to only demand the corpse that hangs on a spike and to then scatter the food of life and sprinkle the living water to revive lnanna They do as they are told and lnanna is revived but in order to leave the Underworld she must provide a substitute to take her place 0 As she attempts to leave she is stopped and the devils suggest substitutes that could take her place but she objects to all of their suggestions Devils enforce the rules of the Underworld they are not necessarily good or bad 0 She instead wants her husband Dumuzi to take her place because while she was in the Underworld he was trying to take her power Dumuzi is taken to the Underworld by the devils and lnanna acts as though she is mourning the loss of her husband Geshtinanna goes down to the Underworld to make a deal that she and Dumuzi will alternate half of the year in hell Explanation Dumuzi represents the old style of life a herding pastoral life before the Sumerians settled in the TigresEuphrates River Valley 0 He is a dyingrising divinity representing a cycle of fertility in the livestock lnanna gt Dumuzi because Farming gt Pastoral Ereshkigal is the most powerful because she is death and controls life lnanna does not stay down in the Underworld eternally because she represents the hope that the crops will grow lncest is common among the deities because they want to keep the power among the deities The power struggle between lnanna and Dumuzi and lnanna s ultimate victory over Dumuzi represents the evolution of the Sumerian culture from a pastoral to an agricultural way of life It also suggest the signi cance of a matriarchal power struggle Babylonian Myth Enuma Elish the Epic of Creation Primary Characters Apsu God of fresh water eg rivers Tiamat Goddess of salt water eg the Persian Gulf also called the Chaos Dragon Ea God of wisdom Ea kills Apsu in a power struggle among the generations of gods 0 Marduk kills Tiamat gives the calendar Kingu quotcaptainquot to Tiamat humans are created from his blood Summary 0 quotBy day I cannot restquot the younger gods are being too loud which is a metaphor that the older gods fear that they will be overthrown Apsu wants to kill the younger gods before he and Tiamat are overthrown Ea overhears them talking about this and kills Apsu before he has the chance to kill the younger gods Tiamat is infuriated and wants to kill younger gods for Apsu s death 0 She gives Apsu s power to Kingu who is a much lesser god 0 Because of this the younger gods wants to challenge Tiamat Ansar tells Anu to challenge Tiamat but she pushes him back with her power of language The younger gods are unsure of what to do Marduk says that he can defeat Tiamat but only if he can become the supreme deity o The other gods test Marduk by asking him to command a garment to vanish then reappear proving that he has the power of language Marduk catches Tiamat in a net 0 Tiamat opens her mouth to speak and Marduk blows the evil wind in her mouth 0 He pierces her with a spear and uses her body to create the separation between heaven and earth Marduk takes his own blood to create humans Explanation Marduk represents order creates the calendar zodiac sky establishes order The humans in this story only have the purpose of worshipping and serving the Gods Marduk s 50 names are used to show how powerful he is The myth describes O O O The ordering of the universe and society The possible change from a matriarchal to a patriarchal society The ritual of the New Year s Festival done in spring asks Marduk for order in the New Year Power struggle among the younger and older gods Epic of Gilgamesh Primary Characters Gilgamesh semidivine King of Uruk 13 man and 23 God Enkidu the 39wild man sent as a companion and equal to Gilgamesh Humbaba the monster who guards the Cedar Forest under the protection of Eni Ishtar the Babylonian name of lnanna the queen goddess of Heaven patron of Uruk and wouldbe suitor to Gilgamesh Shamash God of the Sun who helps Gilgamesh and Enkidu defeat Humbaba Enlil God of earth wind and air who aids Humbaba Utnapishtim the only survivor of the great ood the only human to attain immortality Summary The prologue describes Gilgamesh as mystic and all powerful but it was written after Gilgamesh comes back from his journey The people are annoyed with Gilgamesh 0 He has the right to sleep with the brides on their wedding nights 0 He is oppressive and abuses his power The people pray to the Gods to send someone to tame him The gods send Enkidu as Gilgamesh s equal Gilgamesh hears of Enkidu and decides to civilize him using a woman 0 She sleeps with him for seven nights 0 The animals begins to reject him 0 The sex is civilizing because humans have sex for fun unlike animals 0 She feeds him bread and wine because it is human manufactured and shows the pleasures of civilization Gilgamesh tells his mother of his dreams about a meteor and axe he cannot move 0 She says that these represent the comrade of a friend in need Enkidu Gilgamesh and Enkidu ght Gilgamesh throws him down and then they become best friends eventually lovers Gilgamesh and Enkidu decide to go to the Cedar Forest to ght Humbaba o For fame 0 To prove their worth 0 To challenge themselves 0 To get wood Shamash protects Gilgamesh o The battle is really a battle between Shamash and Enlil Gilgamesh Enkidu and Humbaba are just puppets Gilgamesh and Enkidu defeat Humbaba When they return lshtar proposes to Gilgamesh but he turns her down because she scorns all of her husbands Dumuzi lshtar sends the Bull of Heaven which represents disease famine and natural disaster Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the Bull of Heaven Enkidu insults Ishtar 0 She punishes Gilgamesh by killing Enkidu 393 He dies slowly through illness meaning that he dies in shame He is a sacri cial substitute for Gilgamesh Gilgamesh begins to become like Enkidu He realizes that he is going to die too He goes to consult Utnapishtum the only man to reach immortality by surviving the great ood Gilgamesh walks 36 miles through a tunnel to reach Utnapishtum o The long journey of the tunnel represents death and the exit is like a rebirth Utnapishtum tells Gilgamesh how he reached immortality o The Gods ooded the earth to exterminate the humans because they were being too noisy o3 Motif fear of noise the Gods fear they will be overpowered o Ea comes to Utnapishtum in a dream which somewhat breaks the Gods oath to not tell the humans of the ood o Utnapishtum builds a boat and gains immortality once the ood ends oz Flood possibly related to unpredictable oods of TigresEuphrates river Utnapishtum tells Gilgamesh that if he passes a test he will give him immortality 0 He must stay awake for six days and seven nights oz This symbolizes death The immortals don t die so they don t sleep 0 Utnapishtum s wife bakes loaves of bread 1 for each day he slept oz The bread symbolizes the human body rotting in the grave After Gilgamesh fails Utnapishtum tells Gilgamesh of a plant of eternal youth Gilgamesh gets the plant but he loses it and a snake steals it o The snake is chosen to steal the plant because snakes shed their skin and are then 39renewed When Gilgamesh returns to Uruk he writes his story on the wall of Uruk o This gives him the power of language by not making him immortal but making his story immortal Gilgamesh eventually dies of old age in his bed Explanation The myth describes humans fear of death and desire of immortality It teaches that one cannot cheat death and that we cannot choose the way we die Egyptian Myth The Myth of Osiris and Isis Primary Characters Geb the earth God atypically male Nut the sky Goddess atypically female Osiris the dyingrising divinity who represents the fertility of the Nile River as well as the Pharaoh after death lsis the wife and sister of Osiris Seth brother of Osiris who represents death and sterility also represents the political power centered at Heliopolis Horus son of Osiris and Isis represents Pharaoh in life as well as the political power centered at Memphis Re the Sun and rst King combines with Atum the creator to become AtumRe Summary Nut gave birth to Osiris lsis and Seth o Osiris marries lsis Seth is jealous of Osiris Seth has a party and has a coffin made Whoever ts in the coffin can have it o Osiris sacri ces himself for the fertility of the Nile o lsis gives birth to Horus lsis revives a human child then Horus using the power of language She needs help doing so because Horus is divine lsis goes looking for Osiris s body 0 The cof n becomes lodged in a tree the tree grows quickly around it because Osiris is a fertility gure lsis scares a boy to death after she opens the box 0 Even though Egyptian gods are close to humans there is still a line and the boy crossed that line Seth chops Osiris into 14 parts and scatters them around Egypt lsis nds the parts and builds shrines at them Seth threw Osiris s penis in the Nile which symbolizes fertility of the Nile 0 When the Nile is up Osiris is alive When the Nile is down Osiris is dead making him a dyingrising divinity Osiris becomes the judge of the dead Seth and Horus battle because Horus wants to avenge his father 0 Horus is about to kill Seth but lsis stops him Horus steals lsis s crown Explanation Osiris is the Nile Horus symbolizes the Pharaoh when alive Osiris symbolizes the Pharaoh when dead 0 Seth symbolizes sterility desert drought famine etc o If Horus killed Seth the desert would not exist Creation Myths Atum Version Khepri creates other gods by spitting them up 0 He puts his st in his mouth 0 Fistpenis mouthvagina o Metaphor for masturbation and birth 0 Sexual and physical description of creation Ptah Version Ptah uses the power of language 0 With his lips and teeth he speaks things into existence 0 Linguistic metaphor Verbal description of creation Myth Theory Robertson Smith Monolithic theorist myths are something humans have experienced or observed external to the mind Old Testament scholar Believes myth is directly related to ritual and that myths come after the ritual to explaindescribe the ritual Problems 0 We don t know if the myth or ritual came rst 0 Not all myths have ritual Psychological theorist myths are from the mind Believes that as human beings we all share certain concerns and questions that we can t answer so we have myths to help us deal with these concerns Believes that this is biological as well and we are predisposed to think of religion and myths Speaks of archetypes standard characters repeated in different myths o Tragic hero 0 Wise old man 0 Evil foe o Damsel in distress o The trickster
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