Lecture 3 reading 1 - Reading 3-1 1 READING 3-1 Source:...

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1 READING 3-1 Source: Jack R. Harlan. 1992 Crops & Man ASA, CSA, Madison, WI. Views on Agricultural Origins Agriculture as Divine Gift In the classical mythologies of all civilizations, agriculture is fundamentally of divine origin. It ar- rived in different ways from different deities and under various circumstances, but the underlying theme is recognizable. In the Mediterranean region, the source was a goddess: Isis in Egypt, Demeter in Greece, and Ceres in Rome. In China, it was the ox-headed god Shên-nung; in Mexico, Quetzalcoatl disguised as a plumed serpent or other animal. In Peru, perhaps Viracocha, perhaps the Inca sent by his Father the Sun, was responsible. The appearance of agriculture in mythology was almost always associated with other features of civilization: settled life, household arts, formal religion, and government by laws. We shall also see that agriculture brought death and gods that demanded sacrifi ce in exchange for rain and abundant harvests. The general features of these stories can be grasped from the selections that follow. According to Diodorus Siculus (fi rst century BC) agriculture originated in this way: fi ve gods were born to Jupiter and Juno, among them Osiris and Isis. Osiris married his sister Isis and: Did many things of service to the social life of man. Osiris was the fi rst, they record, to make mankind give up cannibalism; for after Isis had discovered the fruit of both wheat and barley which grew wild all over the land along with other plants but was still unknown to man, and Osiris had also devised the cultivation of these fruits, all men were glad to change their food, both because of the pleasing nature of the newly-discovered grains and because it seemed to their advantage to refrain from their butchery of one another. As proof of the discovery of these fruits they offer the following ancient custom which they still observe; Even yet at harvest time the people make a dedication to the fi rst heads of the grain to be cut, and standing beside the sheaf beat themselves and call upon Isis, by this act rendering honor to the goddess for the fruits which she discovered, at the season when she fi rst did this. Moreover, in some cities, during the festival of Isis as well, stalks of wheat and barley are carried among the other objects in the procession, as a memorial of what the goddess so ingeniously discovered at the beginning. Isis also established laws, they say, in accordance with which the people regularly dispense justice to one another and are led to refrain through fear of punishment from illegal violence and insolence; and it is for this reason also that the early Greeks gave Demeter the name Thesmophorus, that is lawgiver, acknowledging in this way that she had fi rst established their laws.
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This note was uploaded on 04/03/2011 for the course HIST 302a taught by Professor Staff during the Summer '08 term at Purdue University-West Lafayette.

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Lecture 3 reading 1 - Reading 3-1 1 READING 3-1 Source:...

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