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Greek Mythology, Lecture 3

Greek Mythology, Lecture 3 - Origins of the World in...

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Origins of the World in Near- Eastern and Greek Mythology Sept. 4, 2008
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Creation of the World “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Next steps: separation of light and darkness; creation of earth and separation of it from water
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Enuma Elish (“When on High”) Babylonian Epic about the coming to power of Babylonian chief god Marduk Surviving version dates before 1,100 BC Recited on 4 th day of New Year’s festival appropriate to recite the myth of beginnings at the beginning of New Year
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Creation according to Enuma Elish When on high heaven was not yet named, nor was the hard ground below called by name – there was nothing but primordial Apsu , the begetter, and Mother Tiamat , she who gave birth to everything. The waters of Tiamat and Apsu were mingled together as a single body…
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First Elements Lahmu and Lahamu (mud/slime) were brought forth… Anshar (Heaven/Up) and Kishar (Earth/Down) took form, greater than the others. Anu (sky) was their heir, rival to his own fathers. Ea (water) – born soon thereafter
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Birth of Marduk “He was born fully developed, mighty from the start. When his father Ea looked upon him, he rejoiced and beamed; his heart was gladdened. He made him perfect, a god twice over. Exalted above them all, he was superlative in every way… When he opened his mouth, fire shot forth. His four ears were huge, his four eyes saw all that war. His limbs were immense, he was enormously handsome.”
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Generational Conflicts in Enuma Elish Conflict 1: Apsu and Mummu vs. new gods (Tiamat takes side of new gods) Ea defeats Apsu through cunning, and builds his house on top of his body Conflict 2: Tiamat, Kingu, and army of monsters vs. the rest of the gods Marduk defeats Tiamat, builds a temple on top of her body
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Marduk recycles “He split her (Tiamat) like a clamshell into two parts. Half he raised up high, calling it sky. He lowered the bar and set up watchmen. He commanded them never to let her waters escape.” Tiamat’s spittle clouds, wind, rain Tiamat’s poison fog Her eyes Tigris and Euphrates Her tail Milky Way
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Marduk with Tiamat’s Eyeballs
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Origin of Humans in Enuma Elish Creation of man from the blood and bones of Kingu, Tiamat’s lover: “I will mash blood together and bones And make a primeval man: Man shall be his name. His purpose will be to serve the gods, That they might be at ease!” origin of humans out of divine matter
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Unresolved Problem One of the main epithets/names for gods in Near-Eastern myths is “immortal” or “deathless.” Yet Ea and Marduk manage to kill earlier gods.
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