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Ch4Creation - Classics 10 Chapter 4 Fall 2011 Myths of...

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Classics 10: Chapter 4: Fall 2011 Myths of Creation: The Rise of Zeus I. Legacy of the Near East II. Hesiod’s Theogony : The First Generations of Gods A. Chaos to Gaea and Uranus B. Cronus and the Titans C. The Rise of Zeus Goya paints Saturn [Cronus] Devouring His Children , 1819-23 (see Powell, pp. 90-1)
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I. Legacy of the Near East Greek culture and Greek myths clearly dependent in basic ways on the older Near Eastern cultures of Mesopotamia How to trace their influence very difficult Representations of the divine in art? Linguistic analysis (Indo-European)? The Linear B texts of Mycenaean Greece suggest divine names now lost What we don’t know is surely a lot
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Female Divinities from the Near East in Artistic Form Top: Mother goddess figure, from Chatal Huyuk (Turkey), ca. 6000 BCE, flanked by leopards Bottom: Inanna, Queen of Heaven in Sumerian Myth (goddess of love and war), ca. 3500 BCE, flanked by leopards (?) and owls
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Artemis in Greek Art Top: As “Lady of the Beasts” (Potnia Theron), ca. 570 BCE -- flanked with animals and winged (a Near Eastern divine feature) Bottom: Later Greek depiction of the “virgin huntress”, NOT a love goddess but still mistress of the wild (then there’s Brauron)
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The Influence of the Near East Greek culture and Greek myths clearly dependent in basic ways on the older Near Eastern cultures of Mesopotamia But how determinative are the Near Eastern traditions to the Greeks? Unbroken tradition of “Lady of the Beasts”? Divergence of “Lady of the Beasts” and goddess of love, human fertility? The similarities are intriguing, but the difficulties of this example are representative
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Sequence of Rulers of Mesopotamia Sumerians 4000-2300 BCE Akkadians 2300-1750 BCE A Semitic people who displace the Sumerians Babylonians 1750-700 BCE Hammurabi’s law code Persians 700-325 BCE Also: Hittites (central Turkey, 1600-1200 BCE) Egypt: very old civilization, but few known myths
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Mesopotamia: “Between the Rivers” of Tigris / Euphrates
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Mesopotamian Gods Tiamat (primordial salt water) An / Anu (sky, kingship, order) Inanna / Ishtar / Astarte (queen of heaven, sexual love, war) Enlil / Marduk (storms, kingship) Enki / Ea (male fertility, wisdom, trickster) Ki (mother goddess, Mother Earth) Ereshkigal (underworld, dead)
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Major Written Sources of Near Eastern Myths Near Eastern Cuneiform Tablets [Cuneiform = “Wedge- Shaped”] Enuma Elish Sumerian (see Ch. 4) Kingship in Heaven Hittite (see Ch. 4) Epic of Gilgamesh Babylonian (see Ch. 12) Legend, not Divine Myth
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Evolution of Cuneiform
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Evolution of Cuneiform below: from the 9 th century BCE Assyrian palace at Kalhu
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Legacy of Near Eastern Creation Myth Greek creation myths follow the same basic pattern of Near Eastern Creation myths in two hugely important ways: Successive generations of gods battle with each other = part of the destiny of the world Progression from female (e.g., Mother Earth) to male (King and Father of Gods and Men) A thematic progression from chaos to order Sex is primal but problematic
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