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August 13, 2018

2

Classic: Mesopotamian Myths

by N@ncy

 

 

  • TriviaGlossary: pg 317 – 331
  • …but I found the ‘flipping’ back to pages irritating
  • The book is easier to read if you use Wikipedia.
  • #ReadingTipHERE is an excellent list in  right sidebar
  • …of many characters in these myths.

 

Quickscan:    Myth:

  1. The ancient civilization of Mesopotamia thrived between ….
  2. the Tigris and Euphrates rivers over 4,000 years ago. .
  3. These myths include parallels with the biblical stories
  4. …of the Creation and the Flood and
  5. …the famous Epic of Gilgamesh.
  6. This is a the tale of a man of great strength, 
  7. heroic quest for immortality is dashed
  8. through one moment of weakness.

What is the Epic of Gilgamesh?

  1. The Epic of Gilgamesh is a collection of  fragments of tablets
  2. …of the epic date from 2100 B.C.
  3. What  is widely read today is a 19th C  translation.

What does Gilgamesh learn at the end of his journey?

  1. He learns that wisdom and kindness are
  2. …far superior to immortality.

Who is Gilgamesh?

  1. Gilgamesh is the King of …Uruk  (modern day Warka, Iraq).
  2. He is the wisest, strongest demigod with 2/3 god 1/3 man.
  3. He served as the representative of the gods to his people.
  4. He was NOT divine….but was supposed to enforce the
  5. …will of the gods on earth

Who is Endiku?

  1. Enkidu is a unknown demigod created by Anu (god of Uruk).
  2. Enkidu is a product of the wilderness, 2/3 animal 1/3 god.

 

Conclusion:  Epic of Gilgamesh

  1. It is time to shift gears and enter the world of myths!
  2. It’s not about the goal…to find immortality
  3. …it’s about the journey. (transformation)
  4. Part 1: journey of of physical action in the world…fights/fun with Enkidu
  5. Part 2: journey into the spiritual…find the meaning of life
  6. Gilgamesh want to be spared the frightening experience of death
  7. …such his good friend as Enkidu suffered.
  8. Moral: the lesson of wisdom Gilgamesh learns
  9. mortal death transforms the human form
  10. ..though the essence continues.
  11. The spirit of Endiku will remain with Gilgamesh forever.
  12. Last thoughts: The Epic of Gilgamesh….
  13. …I am  able to say: “I read it”!
  14. #Classic

 

Structure:    There are 10 myths in this book.

  1. Epic of Gilgamesh is the longest.
  2. There are 2 versions of the epic in this book
  3. I read the longest one that was complete. (pg 50-125)
  4. It took me 1 hr 45 min to read the epic.
  5. It is filled with repetition of verses.
  6. 10 x ” the sky-bolt of Anu (supreme sky god) …”.
  7. Especially in ch 10…
  8. there is a lot of moaning and gnashing of teeth
  9. …as Gilgamesh weeps at the loss of
  10. “My friend who I love has turned to clay.”

 

Other shorter myths:

  1. Atrahasis: Flood story (parallels with the Bible)
  2. The gods created man….
  3. but “the noise of mankind has become too much.”
  4. The Flood roared like a bull.
  5. But Enki ( god of fresh water and wisdom)
  6. …made sure life was preserved!
  7. He warned Antrahasis….”build a boat”.
  8. First impression: chaotic text until I got used to the repetition.
  9. Names of gods an goddesses went over my head.

 

  1. The Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld:
  2. Ishtar was a powerful goddess.
  3. There are benefits  from worship of Ishtar because
  4. …she brings fertility to the land and the people.
  5. Ishtar goes to the underworld to
  6. …ask her sister Ereshkigal (Queen of Underworld)
  7. ..to let her lover Dumuzi free.
  8. Not going to happen….yet!
  9. This myth was very short ….
  10. the work is looking up the names of gods/goddesses.
  11. If I don’t do that…
  12. I’ll won’t understand what’s going on!

 

  1. Nergal and Ereshkigal:
  2. This was filled with names…just so confusing.
  3. The main message: Nergal (god) can move up and down the
  4. …stairway between heaven and the underworld.
  5. Ereshkigal (Queen of Underworld)  seduces him
  6. ….but Nergal knows
  7. …”absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
  8. He secretly flees back ‘up the staircase’.
  9. Ereshkigal is livid.
  10. Nergal decides to return to her loving arms
  11. …and becomes her husband.
  12. That is just what he wanted….
  13. …now he is CHIEF demonic god in the underworld!
  14. Research: looking up names – 50 min
  15. Reading time: 30 min

 

  1. Adapa: 
  2. Simple short myth…not many characters….very easy to read.
  3. Mortal man who refuses the gift of immortality (…was tricked!)
  4. Reading time: 20 min

 

  1. Etana:
  2. Sumerian king of Kish….what is going to happen in his realm?
  3. King begs for the plant of birth (heir). He hops on the back of
  4. an eagle to visit heaven…Ishtar, the mistress of birth.
  5. The eagle brings him to the doors of heaven.
  6. Etana pushes them open and goes inside…end of story!
  7. The Sumerian scribes must have run out of tablets.
  8. Research: looking up names – 20 min
  9. Reading time: 30 min

 

  1. Anzu:
  2. ..is a lion headed eagle…that’ll  cause a stir!
  3. Plot: centers around Tablet of Destinies
  4. It is believed whoever possesses tablet is master of the universe
  5. Will the bird Anzu steal the tablet?
  6. Who will receive the stolen document?
  7. Research: 1 hr 15 min
  8. Reading time: 10 min
  9. Conclusion: for all the myths the work is in the research.
  10. Many  god/ goddesses have multiple names! Grrr.)
  11. #Confusing  #NeedCoffee

 

  1. The Epic of Creation: ..this is going to be a long read!
  2. Plot: The whole family is determined to kill goddess Tiamat.
  3. She is one of the first gods (primordial) to be created from the void.
  4. Remember…this is a myth so
  5. her great-great-great-great grandson Marduk has been
  6. chosen to do the deed!
  7. Research: 8 min intro book ( skim)
  8. To understand this myth you
  9. …have to note the family tree starting
  10. …with Abzu and Timaat –> Marduk the hero-god of the story.
  11. Reading time:  1,5 hr
  12. This is a long myth so I am going to read and search names
  13. …at the same time.
  14. Large pages of the myth is a list of gods and
  15. …their duties. Just skim through this….
  16. Conclusion: this was the easiest of all the myths to read….
  17. …felt like a fluid, normal narrative.

 

  1. Theogony of Dunnu: (…short read – 1 page!)
  2. Tale of successive generations of Gods .
  3. Mythical tale of successive generations of gods
  4. ..who take power through
  5. …parricide and live incestuously with their mothers.
  6. #GodsBehavingBadly

 

  1. Erra and Ishum:
  2. …Hmmm Erra is another name for Nergal…
  3. he is the god who can go up and down
  4. …the stairway to heaven and the underworld!
  5. Remember him?
  6. Erra (god of war) is bored and wants to fight!
  7. Ishum his assistant is obliged to follow.
  8. This not a story but a series of ‘fiery speeches’
  9. …by Erra, 7 Sebetti warrior gods, Ishum and Marduk.
  10. Plot: Erra  is called upon to
  11. ..lead the destruction of mankind. (Again?)
  12. Mankind is causing havoc
  13. …our cattle tremble and turn to clay!
  14. Ishum tries to mollify Erra’s wakened violence, to no avail.
  15. Research: 8 min
  16. Reading time: 45 min

 

Conclusion:

  1. This was of all the myths the most boring story
  2. .…or perhaps I’ve
  3. ...reached my “myth saturation point”.

Read more from Classic, short story

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