Principal National Geographic Essential Visual History of World Mythology
National Geographic Essential Visual History of World MythologyNational Geographic
Complementing our enormously successful offerings on the bible and history, National Geographic Essential Visual History of World Mythology encompasses myths and creation stories from around the globe. It presents a palm-size overview of culture-defining myths, from ancient Egyptian deities to the Vedic gods of India...from Maya, Inca, and Aztec legends to the Dream time of the Aborigines. This is a must-have resource for anyone who wants to know more about the stories that have shaped societies for millennia. The innovative formatwith timelines, sidebars, and self-contained interactive spreadsgives readers a variety of entry points depending on their interest level. The editors of the Essential series have enhanced this book’s resource value by including such elements as numbered picture references that match each image with its historical era as discussed in the text, and cross references to related topics at the bottom of the page. Conveniently sized yet large in scope, it reflects National Geographic’s authority and credibility in the category of world culture and peoples.Those fascinated by Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, a classic backlist title on the Greek myths, will find this illustrated world survey richly satisfying. Accessible, absorbing, and affordable, it will delight casual browsers and mythology buffs alikeand the very attractive retail price of $15.95, for a 500+-page lavishly illustrated hardcover, makes National Geographic Essential Visual History of World Mythology an irresistible treasure to own and to give.
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National Geographic Essential Visual History of World Mythology National Geographic Essential Visual History of World Mythology o NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Washington, D.C. • Table of Contents 12 Elements of the Book ID Ancient Near Eastern Mythology Hierarchy ofthe Ancient Near Eastern gods, see p. 31 16 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 56 58 Introduction The Creation of the Un iverse The Creation of Humanity Divine Bri ngers of Culture The Battle of the Gods The Flood An and Enlil Enki The Tower of Babel Nanna Inana/lshtar Utu/Shamash Marduk and Assur The Underworld The Epic of Gilgamesh Naram-Sin Teshub and Kumarbi EI and Baal Ahura Mazda Ormuzd and Ariman Mithra m Egyptian Mythology 62 Introduction Thoth invents hieroglyphics, see p. 99 68 70 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88 90 92 The Great Mystery of the Pyramids Heliopolitan and Hermopolitan Theogonies Memphite Theogony Geb and Nut Osiris Isis Seth Horus Deified Rulers and Other Mortals Amun-Re Temple of Luxor Aten Hathor 94 96 98 100 102 104 • Anubis Journey Through the Underworld Thoth Khnum Maat Animal Gods 1m Greek Mythology 108 1 14 116 1 18 120 122 124 126 128 130 132 134 136 138 140 142 144 146 148 150 152 154 156 158 160 162 164 166 168 170 172 174 176 178 I n troduction Gaia and Uranus The Titans The War of the Giants Zeus Zeus Pandora's Box Hera Poseidon Demeter Apollo The Oracle of Delphi A rtemis Athena Ares Aphrodite Birth of Aphrodite Eros Hermes Hephaestus Hestia Hades and Persephone The Underworld Orpheus Dionysus The Dionysia Heracles Prometheus Cultural Heroes Sisyphus Nymphs and Muses Monsters and Gia nts Magical Creatures Minos and the Minotaur ,W �. .; y;j ,,... '�'.."... .. - .�.' �'� . .';(�, . .. " ..,. � . .. - " ; . , ' _- � Persephone and the pomegranate seed, see p. 154 • 180 Perseus 182 186 188 190 Ovid's Metamorphoses, seep. 212 Jason and the Argona uts The Trojan War Oedipus The House of Atreus 1m Roman Mythology 194 198 200 202 204 206 208 210 212 214 216 218 220 222 I ntroduction Aeneas Romulus and Remus ml 226 230 232 234 236 238 240 242 244 246 248 250 The Rape of the Sabines Horatii and Curatii Jupiter Juno Minerva Ovid's Metamorph oses Janus Ceres Personified Virtues The H oly Emperors Eastern Gods and Cults in Rome Norse Mythology I ntroduction Odin Thor Loki Goddesses-Hel and Freya Ragnarok The World Tree Yggdrasil Frigg Asgard Valhalla-Warrior Paradise The Eddas Beowulf Em Celtic Mythology The Fenrir wolf and the barrie of Ragnorok, see p. 235 254 258 260 262 I ntroduction The Dagda Belenus and Belisama Brigid • 264 266 268 270 Celtic Goddesses Elves and the Otherworld Tales of The Mabinogion Cuchula i n n 272 Samhain-The Origin of Halloween 274 King Arthur 276 Quest for the Holy Grail 278 Celtic-Roman Deities EllIll lndian Mythology 282 288 290 292 294 296 I ntroduction Creation Myths I n dra Yama and Agni Varuna and Mitra The Mahabharata 298 Lakshmi a nd Saraswati 300 Durga and Kali 302 304 306 308 310 312 314 316 318 320 322 em 326 330 332 334 336 338 340 342 344 An ovararofVishnu, see p. 3/3 Kali Kills Raktabija Ganesha Asuras and Demons Brahma The Buddha Vishnu Rama Battle of Rama and Ravana Krishna Shiva Holy An imals Chinese Mythology I ntroduction Creation Myths Ying and Yang The Three Sovereigns Yellow Emperor Sun and Moon Deities The Eight Immortals Dragon Deities Sacred Mountains Nuwa creares people and animals, see p. 335 • 1m Japanese Mythology Fukurokuju, one of the seven gods ofluck, see p. 365 348 352 354 356 358 360 362 364 366 368 370 372 I ntroduction Izanami and Izanagi The Wedded Rocks The Kami Amaterasu 5usanoo Okuninushi The Seven Gods of Luck The Dance of the God Daikoku Ninigi no Mikoto and Jimmu Tenno Ancestor Worship The Yokai mJ American Mythology 376 380 382 384 386 388 390 392 394 396 398 Introduction Aztec-Creation Myths Aztec-Hu itzilopochtli Aztec-Coatlicue The Aztec Calendar Aztec-Xipe Totec Aztec-Quetzalc6atl Aztec-Tlaloc Maya-Creation Myths Maya-Chaac The Step Pyramids of Pre-Columbian Civilizations The Aztec crearor god Quetzalc6atl, see pp. 390-391 400 402 404 406 408 410 412 414 416 418 420 422 424 426 Maya-Huracan The Popul Vuh Maya-Itzamna Maya-H unahpu and Xbalanque Xibalba-Maya Underworld I nca-Viracocha Inca-Myths of Love and Tragedy I nca-Sun Cult Inca-The Huacas Inca-Machu Picchu North America-Creation Myths North America-M anitou North America-Totem Poles and Animal Spirits North America-Sacred Locales • 428 North America-Lelawala the Maiden of the Mists 430 aD 434 438 440 442 444 446 448 ml 452 456 458 460 462 464 466 9 North America-Artie Myths African Mythology Introduction Creation Myths Tricksters Cultural Heroes Myths of the Zulu and the Maasai Myths ofthe Yoruba and the Fon Animism Australian and Oceanic Mythology Birrh of rhe Yorubon tricksrer god Eshu, see p. 447 I n troduction Oceania-Creation Myths Oceania-Gods of Polynesia Ancestor Cult Australia-Dreamtime Australia-Tracing the Ancestors Uluru Appendix 470 I ndex 479 Copyright Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, see pp. 466-467 .. Elements of the Book The bold text states the Titles of the spreads are title of the chapter. i n d icated here. Greek Mythology I ATHENA Athena Athena, also known as Minerva in the Roman tradition, was the goddess of war, wisdom, and the arts. Athena's parents were Zeus, the god who ruled heaven. and Metis, the Titan who governed intelligence. AlhenawGJOfrenanompo. nlrobyanowl,mdepic/edon rhil Allumion coin She was referred to as the Virgin goddess-Athena Parthenos-by the The main text featu res the given god or myth a n d identifies its proper cultural and mytholog ica I context. G 'ee ks. True to this, she never had any love affairs, :,,:: most of the other Olympic gods and god ",t': :=; unlike ===-_ , desses. She was named the patron goddess of many 8 She Inveoted lhe plow, rake. bridle, chariot, POI, ilnd f1ule Greek cities including. most famously. Athens and • She!aughtlheGreeksmalir emalics, as well as how 10 weave.spln• .'!ndcook often show her bearing full military arms. • She was o!ten depci led in full Sparta. The artistic depictions of her in this role However, she was not only a warrior. She was also the patron of craftsmen and artists. As a friend of the demi-god Prometheus, she gladly shared her wisdom and intelligence with humankind. Key facts give the sign ificant attributes a n d fu nctio n s o f t h e god o r goddess. The Cu/r ofAthena As goddess o(war, Athena Pro mochas was associated with defense rather Ihan attock. The Greeks buill her shrines on top ofrhe;r!itadefs so that she might defend theireiries against Invader5. The Greeks Special topic boxes h i g h light a specific rel igious or cu ltural aspect. also built her shrines on the prows of their triremes so thor shemightprotecttheirshipsin bailie. As Athena was also the goddl!5s o( wisdom and the �����It !l�£ii:i�1i ;: arts, philosophers, historians, teaehers.sculpIOrS,Wt'Dvers, and potters also built her shrines within their homes. rn Worship of Isis, p. 79 Page references to related topics in the book a re given at the bottom of the page. .. Picture related text that describes a selected Athena Athenaand Arachne When the mortal womanArachne, a famous weaver, challenged Athena toacontest(f),the goddess could not refuse, She wove a tapestry showing her competition against PoseidonatAthens,while Arachne wove a tapestry showing Zeus's 21 infidelities. Outraged by the subject of Arachne'stapestry,Athena destroyedArachne's work. Later,whenArachnetealized herarrogance,shehung her self, butAthena took pity on her. She brought her back to lifeasaspider. - Num bered picture ---\- - - - - - - - - - - ,, d, , O, ,, A' 'k . ; ,m -p -,;-';,-, W; ' h P, '===--c- Wh" ",",pie mo"d toAtt;". the se. god Poseidon andAthena competed for the new city. g it i ;����������i��� e��� :o ����� i�:����e people easy access to the sea. Then,Athena offeted the people a domesticated olive tree (ll. giving the people an endless supply of wood, oil. and food. Seeing the value of the people named their cityAthens theit new patron Ah t ena and Medusa One day Poseidon chased a beautiful young girl named Medusa into one of Athena's temples Catching the girl under the goddess's statue onthe altar,he raped her. FutioU5 about what had hap- na rrative o r myth. Not a descri pti o n of the photo itself. pened in her temple, Athena transformed Medusa into a hideous, green gorgon with snakes for hair (2).Afterward, pp.42-143 Apostles. see all humans who met I The pp.442-447 the gaze of Medusa were turned to stone Perseus.pp.442-447 until shewas slain by ( The Trojan War. pp. 186--187 Perseus. see Framed boxes refer to stories and figu res su rrou n d i n g the given person o r theme. references wit h i n the text match each image with its context. .. Ancient Near Eastern Mythology I INTRODUCTION Ancient Near Eastern Mythology The ancient Near East was the site of the earliest high civilization: Mesopotamia. A rich legacy of texts, addressing all aspects of human life, has survived from this cultural center. Quantum leaps in cultural history took place here, including the invention of writing and the wheel. Thus, in many respects this region can be viewed as the cradle of future cultures, both Eastern and Western. The cultures of the ancient Near East are considered to include all civilizations that used the cuneiform writing system (1), as well as a few other forms of writing, such as Luwian hieroglyphs and astroglyphs, or star pictographs. The most widely used ancient Near Eastern languages were Sumerian, Babylonian-Assyrian, also known as Akkadian, and Hittite. Other languages with more limited reach included Hurritic and Ugaritic. Written sources from these cultures have been found from Turkey (3, Hattusa in Central Asia) in the north to the Levant in the southwest and Iraq in the east. The texts surviving from this period reflect many diverse areas of human endeavor. Documents concerned with daily affairs include administrative and economic texts, such as certificates and notices; legal documents, such as laws and treaties; letters and inscriptions; and scientific records, such as glossaries and medicinal potions. Works of cultural creativity have been preserved in the form of myths, epics, hymns, lamentations, prayers, rituals, elegies, love songs, debates, satires, sayings, fables, riddles, and texts from the ancient educational system, and narratives and dialogues aimed at passing on wisdom to the next generation. Introduction Due to its natural borders, the nearby Egyptian civilization was relatively stable, experienced minimal foreign influence and relatively few wars, and remained monolingual over a substantial part of its history. On the other hand, ancient Mesopotamia was geographically more open, developing into an ethnically heterogeneous state with a multilingual culture. Although con tinually plagued with wars and unrest, it also repeatedly succeeded in in tegrating diverse external influences. This phenomenon is also reflected in the areas of religion and mythology. The worship of a large number of different gods was typical among the diverse cultures of the ancient Near East (2, Sumerian religious statuette). By the middle of the third millennium B.C., catalogues of Mesopotamian gods con tained hundreds of systematically organized names. While the main gods of different ethnic groups were often similar, the worship of other divinities, even across cultural borders, was an accepted practice. The same god could also be depicted and experienced in quite different ways: as a human-like .. .. Ancient Near Eastern Mythology I INTRODUCTION figure, a symbol, a plant or animal (e.g., wheat or a lion). a heavenly body (e.g., the moon), or a powerful natural phenomenon (e.g., a storm). It was also believed that the gods could appear to human beings in dreams and even carry them off to heaven or the underworld. Early writers worked conscientiously to record their knowledge about the world in encyclopedia-like collections. The first explicit theological documents arose as part of this effort. These consisted of lists and charts of the gods, which people had attempted to place in a logical order. These texts in particu lar give modern observers-despite their separation from the chroniclers by up to 5,000 years-detailed impressions of the ideas held by people of those times. The sphere of the gods was considered to be organized in the same hierarchical structures as the human world. Thus, there were high rulers among the gods, responsible for a city-state or an entire country, as well as subordinate gods, who functioned as ministers, officials, or messengers. Ruling deities were supported by family members and court officials, including such diverse personnel as barbers and sweepers. Human rulers were seen as mere representatives of the true, divine sovereign. The gods who ruled cities and states were usually conceived of as male. There were exceptions, however, such as Inana (4, ancient Babylonian vase), who was revered as the ruling goddess of several cities. Along with the great power attributed to the gods, people be lieved themselves to be vulnerable to demonic beings, who were viewed as occupying an intermediate zone between humans and the gods. In addition, the dead were believed to hold power over the life and death of people on earth. The great themes of human exis tence have remained constant over the millennia: love and hate; birth, I ntroduction illness, and death; rulers and subjects; order and chaos; and war and peace. While some people today seek support in chatrooms and self-help books, the people of the ancient world looked to stories for guidance and inspira tion. Myths, such as those passed down in great detail from ancient Mesopotamia, addres sed the fundamental questions of life. The earliest myths are dated from the third millennium B.C. (5, Sumerian hero with six locks of hair, 2500 B.C.), while others date to the second and first millenni um B.C. The material they report, however, is often much older, since myths were typically handed down orally for centuries before people attempted to set them down in writing. For example, the earliest known clay tablets record ing the story of King Etana, who was said to be carried into heaven by an eagle, date from the 18th century B.C. However, surviving artwork depicting motifs from this story prove that the tale was well-known in the 24th century B.C. Most of the scribes who recorded myths and other literary works went un named, and thus remain hidden from us by the mists of time. The earliest exception dates back to the 23rd century B.C. Several texts in the Sumerian language give the name of their author as Enheduana, which might be trans lated as "adornment of (the god of) heaven." From these texts and other historical sources, it becomes clear that this earliest author of world literature was a woman of royal descent-a high priestess who held the most important religious office of her time. .. Ell Ancient Near Eastern Mythology I THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE The Creation of the Universe Rather than an i m personal creation through matter, gods form the center of all Sumerian a n d Akkad i a n • Divine entities were present at the beginning of creation • The first gods were usually heaven and earth or primordial water • Some myths claim that the world was created when heaven separated from earth • In other myths, the world was created when heaven and earth united • In a Ba bylonian myth, the universe came into being when freshwater mixed together with saltwater OJ creation myths. These su pernatu ral entities were either imag ined as the universe, consisti ng of heaven and earth, o r as pri mordial waters. The creation process, through which the very first enti ties gave rise to new beings, was said to have taken place i n one of two ways: either the first entities sep arated from each other or u n ited with each other. Indeed, a n early Sumerian myth expla i n s that heaven and earth were once one g reat whole before the god Enlil separated them from each other. I n another version, heaven a n d earth came together to produce the rest of the world. Sometimes Enlil and a mother goddess were personified as heaven a n d earth. I n t h e Babylonian creation epic, the masculin e subterranean freshwater (1, Euph rates River) joi ned with the fe minine saltwater, which was d escribed as an enormous monster. As other gods emerged from their u n ion, one of these gods created the world from the saltwater mo nster's body. The Creation of the Universe II Enki Produces the Necessities of Life for Humankind In the earliest Sumerian myths from the first half of the third millen nium B.C., An and Enlil appear as the gods that bring the uni verse into being. In a myth from 1800 B.C., the freshwater god Enki, together with an entire line of goddesses, produced the basic components of the world (2, Babylonian worldview). First, Enki united with Ninhursaga (3), the "lady of the highlands," who then gave birth nine days later to the goddess Nin nisig, "lady of the green plants." When Enki first saw Figures and Stories Relevant to the Creation of the Universe An and Enlil, Creator Gods, see pp. 30-31 The Creation of Hum a nity, see pp. 22-23 the beautiful Ninnisig, he im mediately wanted to kiss and sleep with her. This union cre ated the goddess Ni nkura, the "lady of the mountains." In turn, Ninkura's union with Enki pro duced Uttu, the goddess of wool and weaving. The active role played by the freshwater god demonstrates the impor tance of freshwater to human life: in the highlands it helped plants grow and flourish, and was also necessary to support livestock. Worm At the beginning, An, god ofthe sky, created heaven. Then heaven created earth, earth created rivers, rivers created canals, canals created mud, and mud created the worm. When the worm asked Ea, the god of wisdom, what kind offood he was allowed to eat, Ea a n swered: "Figs, apricots, and apples." However, as the worm preferred to nibble on the teeth and gums of people, an appeal was made to Ea to destroy the worm, as it did not have the permission to delight in eating human gums. Thus, the myth was not only about the pulling of diseased teeth (4, ritual at bedside), but also about giving hope to the sick and as sisting the healing process. rn Creation Through Water: pp. 71,380 I Creation Through a Body: pp. 27,229,288,331,380 • Ancient Near Eastern Mythology I THE CREATION OF HUMANITY The Creation of Humanity • The mother goddess was variously called Mami ("mama"), Nintur ("lady who is the birthing hut"), or Ninhursaga ("lady of the highlands') • The mother goddesses cre ated humankind by giving birth to primordial people • The freshwater god Enki, who was also called Ea, shaped people by mixing clay and a liquid • People were made of two different substances, "earthly" clay and the blood of a god • People took on divine char acteristics, such as the ability to plan and to reason According to the ancient myths of the Near Ea st, the first people were either born or formed by hand. Two deities were responsible for creating h u mankind: a mother goddess known by a variety of names and Enki, the god of Terracotta figurine in a freshwater and of practical birthing position inventions. Most often, these myths combine the birth and the shaping of the first people into one story. Stories that mention the mother goddess highlig ht her pregnancy, which lasted only nine days instead of nine months, and the birth itself. In contrast, myths about a more artistic creation have Enki forming people from clay as if he were making a pot. The difference was that the clay was mixed with an extraordinary liquid. Several myths name the l i q u i d u s e d i n creation a s t h e blood o f a slaughtered deity. Sometimes Enki added divine spittle into the raw clay mixture. Often, the reason given for creating hu mankind was to provide workers so that the younger generation of gods could be relieved of the hard work of digging canals. Creation in the Bible and the Both ancient Near Eastern and biblical gods were said to have formed people from two substances, one of which was clay. In the Babylonian Atramchasis myth. the divine substance was the blood of a god who had the gift of understanding. According to the Bible, in Genesis 2, God breathed life into the first person, which represented endowing him with a divine spirit. While both creation traditions portray hard work as the lot of humanity, it was seen as a pun ishment in the Bible and as a task in Mesopotamia. rn Creation of People With Clay: pp. 100, 166 I Zulu-People From Reeds: p. 444 The Creation of Humanity When the Gods Were Human The Babylonian Atramchasis myth opens with the words "inuma ilu awilu" ("when the gods were human"). The myth is about the gods (1, Sumerian cuneiform writing) and hu mans: their creation, their du ties, and their relationship to one another. Even the language indicates the belief that some thing of the gods (ilu) was also present in humans (aw-ilu). People were made of clay mixed with the blood of a rebel lious god of knowledge. In this way, humans were said to share the g ift of divine understanding and received something im mortal, a spirit. Enki and Ninmah Enki and the mother god desses worked together, but sometimes there were conflicts. In one argument over humans (2), Enki wanted to prove to Ninmah that he could as sign each person a proper place, even if Ninmah had endowed that person with shortcomings. Enki was successful; he even gave people with disabilities a certain task. f- Figures and Stories Relevant to th e Creation of Humanity __ _ _ ___ An and Enlil, Creator Gods, see pp. 30-31 The Battle of t he Gods, Resulted in the Creation of People, see pp.26-27 The Creation of the I Universe, Mother God- desses, see pp. 20-21 Divine Bringers of Culture, Enlil and Ninlil, see p p. 24-25 Enki, Created Humanity, see pp. 32-33 People Who Grew Like Plants In a Sumerian hymn of praise to the axe, the most powerful god Enlil separated heaven from earth. At the "place where living flesh grows," the first people sprang from the soil like plants (3), and Enlil was pleased. When the other gods saw the newly sprouted " people, they prayed to Enlil, full of admiration, in order to make humanity provide for them and cater to their needs. The mother goddess Nin mena, the "lady of the crown," created rulers thus order was brought to humanity. She also made it possible for human beings to procreate. .. Ancient Near Eastern Mythology I DIVINE BRINGERS OF CULTURE Divine Bringers of Culture To the people of the ancient Near • Ninlil gave birth to the god of canal construction • Ninazu and Ninmada brought barley to Sumer • Ninurta was the god of agriculture; Dumuzi was the god of animal husbandry • The gods Enlil and Nisaba invented oral poetry and literature East, the world was a gift from the gods. These divine gods were even credited with cultural adva ncements, such as the development of ag ricul ture and an imal husbandry as well as the creation of sophisticated u rban culture. Myths show that i rrigation technology was seen as a tremen dous accomplishment. Digging Ancie n rSyrian slacue of canals meant breaking through a warergoddess into the u n derworld-a dangerous adventure undertook by N i nlil, god dess of the city of N ippur. Many gods were credited with the development of ag riculture, especially N i n u rta, god of agriculture, who taught about crop produc tion. The shepherd god D u m uzi taught a bout an imal husbandry and N i nkasi how to brew beer. Nin urta's Instructions Regarding Crops When faced with questions about irrigating the land, protecting the fields (1) from flooding, and finding the constellation of stars indi cating favorable conditions for planting, the Sumerians were given answers from Ninurta, who even recom mended a ritual for doing away with rn Teachers of Agriculture: pp. 130, 335 I Bringers of Culture: pp. 32, 41,166,442 Divine Bringers of Culture .. Figures and Stories Relevant to Divine Bringers of Culture The Creation of Humanity, Hymn of Praise to the Axe, see pp.22-23 The Underworld, Con structing Canals, see pp.44-4S Canal Construction The god dess Ninlil set out to accom plish an extremely dangerous task of building irrigation works. During the construction, she had to rely on the coopera tion of the terrible powers of the underworld, as she had to intrude on their territory i n order t o d i g t h e canals. Ninlil left her city (3, fortress surrounded by canals) and set out for the underworld. There she made a pact with the various gods of the Barley and Beer The basic food staple in Sumer and Baby lonia was grain, especially barley, which could be grown easily (5). This grain was used to make bread and beer, the national drink (4, beer mug). Over 60 different types of beer were brewed. Beer production was con trolled by the god dess Ninkasi. Barley was also seen as a di vine gift. Earlier, people had eaten grass like sheep, but An allowed underworld, sleeping with them until she conceived and gave birth to the god of canal construction. After ward nothing could stand in the way of building canals (2, opening of a canal on the Tigris). .. Ancient Near Eastern Mythology I THE BATILE OF THE GODS The Battle of the Gods • Aggressive, heroic gods such as Ninurta, Marduk, and Assur-saved the world from monsters made of stone and water and predatory beasts • The hard-working younger gods rebelled against the privi leged, older gods I • The younger gods caused such an uproar that the older gods wanted to destroy them • With the help of the heavenly bull, Inana was as mighty as her father rn In one poem, the poet Enheduana sang about the god dess I n ana: "It sha l l be known that The victory srele ofEonnolUm of your sight i nspi res terror, Logosh that you inflict this terror upon your enemies, that you completely o b l iterate those who rebel, that you even cons u m e their corpses l i ke a n a n i ma l ." Da ily l ife in Mesopotam i a was everyt h i n g but harmonious. Various confl icts were reflected in mythology (1, Sta ndard of Ur, war panel)_ The younger gods threatened the old gods, the primor d i a l gods planned to destroy the you nger gods, a n d I n ana wanted t o challenge her father's positio n o n the throne. S h e defia ntly took t h e heavenly bull from An, god of the sky, to use as a weapon. M o n sters threatened t h e world, b u t savio r gods, such a s N i n u rta and M a rd u k, destroyed them. Fighting Between the Gods: pp. 117, 118, 238, 245, 458 The Battle of the Gods The Gods Rebel The over worked gods had had enough and they decided to storm the residence of Enlil, the king of the gods. First, they destroyed their tools and burned their spades and the baskets they carried on their backs. Then they marched to Enlil's house and surrounded it. Over whelmed, the ruler called on An and Ea, other high gods, to .. help. As the striking gods continued to shout out their demands (2), An and Ea gave Enlil advice. Enlil just wanted to crawl away and hide in An's sky, but Ea, the god of wisdom, had a better idea: the gods should be relieved of the burden of work and a new being could be created to take it over. Thus, humanity was cre ated to shoulder the burden. Figures and Stories Relevant to the Battle of the Gods The Creation of Humanity, see pp.22-23 Enlil, Creator God, see pp.30-31 1nana, Goddess of the City, see pp.38-39 Marduk, God of the Nation, see pp.42-43 Marduk Saves the Gods The Babylonian goddess Tiamat and her husband Apsu could not bear the u p roar caused by the younger gods and planned to destroy them. When Ea killed Apsu during the battle, Tiamat, an enormous water The Monster Killer Enlil's oldest son Ninurta, the god of rainstorms, was often drawn into battle. In one story, he pursued Anzu, the l ion-headed eagle (4) who had stolen Enlil's tablet of destiny. Whoever possessed this one tablet could rule the world. After slaying a series of monsters, Ninurta regained the tablet. Another myth had h i m battl ing Asag, a demon from the mountains, who threatened the world with an army of stones. After his victory, Ninurta collected the water and kept it in the mountains, allowing it to flow down to the plains little by little. In doing so, he created the basis for agriculture. ill Heroes Fighting Against Monsters: pp. 181,165, 251,315,361 Creation Through a Body: pp. 20, 229, 288,331, 380 snake, sought revenge. Marduk was selected to fight her (3), and he won. He cut her body i n two t o form heaven a nd earth. .. Ancient Near Ea stern Mythology I THE FLOOD The Flood The flood is the subject of a variety of Sumerian, Babylonian, and Hebrew myths. The storyline is always the same, but the details vary. The gods (or a sole God) decided to destroy all of humankind by flooding the entire earth (3). Only one person, who the gods protected, was able to save his fa mil y a n d a n i mals. I n the Bible, this was Noah, whose a rk was sup posed t o have la n d ed on Mount Ararat (1). I n the Sumerian myth, this hero was Ziusudra ("a life of long days") and the Babylo n ians called him Atramchasis ("amazin gly clever"). In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the gods gave the hero Utnapishtim ("I have fo u n d life") eternal life. While the u n i n h i bited procreation of people, as well as the u p roar they caused, brought a bout the flood in the Mesopotam i a n myth, i n the B i ble, t h e co mmission of s i n s was said to have provoked God's anger, causing h i m t o destroy h u m a nkind i n a flood s o as to wash The Epic of Gilgomesh George Smith, an assistant professor at the British Museum, worked on deciphering a cuneiform tablet (2) found in the ruins of Nineveh. In 1 872 he discovered fragments of a flood story similar to that in the Bible written on the tablet. Between 1873 and 1 874 he traveled to Nin eveh and found more pieces of the tablet. Today this tablet is known as the eleventh tablet of the Epic ofGi/gamesh.ln an attempt to escape death, King Gilgamesh fled to the end of the world. There he met Utnapishtim, who had survived the flood. When the god Enlil noticed that he was stili alive, he was angry. But the other gods were relieved and de creed that such a catastrophe shou Id never happen again. rn Great Floods: pp. 32,335, 401,411,445 The Flood a .. Ancient Near Eastern Mythology I AN AND ENLIL An and Enlil • For a long time, An and Enlil were seen as the highest gods of the Mesopotamian pantheon • They were the creators of the universe • An translates directly as 'sky" and Enlil possibly means 'god of the gods' • Both were considered proto types of human rulers • An and Enlil's most impor tant places of worship were the cities of Uruk and Nippur ED Gods as Law Givers: pp. 40,178 For many centu ries, the gods An and Enlil had the hig hest status among the gods of Mesopota m i a . They played a central role in t h e Mesopota mian cosmology, beg inning with creation myths where the god of sky An separated from the go ddess of the earth, Together they created the world a n d its gods, Enlil (1, Nipp u r, sacred city of Enlil) was referred to as the creator of the gods or as the separator of heaven and earth. While A n is clearly translated as "sky," the transla tion of Enlil remains unclear. Possible meanings include "lord wind," "lord who is a spi rit," o r also the "god of gods." An and Enlil both presided over the assembly of gods and decided on the future of the world a n d h u mans, either alone or with t h e assembly. H u m a ns, however, could try to i nfluence their fate. The power of An and Enl il's decisions ensured law a n d order. Therefore, they were also the most i m portant fig u res in the constitution of Mesopotam i a n rulers, An and E n l i l Order of the Gods The world of the gods was structured according to a strict hierarchy, which can be seen in docu ments from the second half of the second millennium B.C. (2). They list the specific symbols of the gods: the gods of the stars are shown on top, the terrestrial gods in the middle, and the powers of the underworld at the bottom. As far back as the third millennium B.C., there were books similar to encyclo pedias that listed the names of all the gods. Each high god was assigned a family with a wife and children, as well as a heav enly household with min isters, scribes, messengers, and even bakers, cupbearers, hair dressers, and groundskeepers. An was always preeminent on these lists of gods. Figures and Stories Relevant to An and Enlil Creation of the Universe, An and Enlil as Creator Gods, see pp. 20-21 Audience With the Gods A high god could only be visited when a certain etiquette was observed, just like an audience with a ruler (3, Xerxes I) would require. First, one had to reg ister with the gatekeeper. With a little bit of luck and the help of a mediating personal guardian god, one would be allowed to proceed. Before presenting the matter of the visit, one had to prostrate oneself before the god sitting on his throne. A gift for the god (as well as ruler) was a must i n order t o appease him s o that he would be compelled to help (4, audience at the court of a ruler from 21 st century B.C.). rn Hierarchy of the Gods: pp. 70, 72, 308 Marduk and Assur, Later Replaced An and Enlil as High Gods, see pp. 42-43 Nanna, Enlil's Son, see pp 36-37 • .:II Ancient Near Eastern Mythology I ENKI Enki • In Sumerian artifacts, Enki was actually written "Enkig' and most likely means "lord kindness" and not, as scholars previously thought. 'lord earth' • His Akkadian name was Ea (originally Hayya), which means 'life' • Enki was the god of fresh water, wisdom, and craftsman ship, and the art of conjuration • His symbols included the goat and Ash, which were later combined into one creature • Enki's main city of worship was Eridu, an ancient Sumerian city located in present-day Iraq In Sumerian mythology, Enki a p pea rs as the last resort when everyt h i n g else seems hopeless. Half-goa t, half-fish crearures, Enki's The god of freshwater symbols, on a freshwarer tank was believed to have provided Dilm u n (today's B a h ra i n Isla nd) with ac cess to freshwater. He was also credited as having filled the Tigris River with streams of water. The life-g iving water-sa i d to be his sperm-prod uced new generations of gods and ensured the develop ment of the cosmos (1). Thro u g h the clea nsi ng power of water, Enki freed h u m a n ity fro m evil. He was considered a powerful specialist of rituals a n d t h e lord of t h e a r t o f conj u ration. Enki was s h rewd, wise, inventive, c u n n i n g , and full of ideas. He was also the father of crafts m a n ship. L i k e a potter, he created h u m ans with the help of the mother god desses. Once, E n ki even had to be rescued by a mother god dess when h e was i m p regnated by his own sperm. Because he lacked a womb, she saved him by sto p p i n g the delivery. This preg na ncy was said to have resulted i n the birth of various med icinal plants. rn Bringers of Culture: pp. 24,41,166,442 I Great Floods: pp. 28,335,401,411,445 Enki " Enki Organizes the World Enki was ordered by the highest god Enlil to assign certain re sponsibilities and cities to the other gods. But before doing that, he decided to give the country Sumer, the city of Ur, the Persian Gu lf, the Indus Valley, and the nomads of Mesopotamia a good fate. He filled the Tigris River with water and made the soil fertile (2). Then he assigned roles to var ious gods, which resulted in gods of the canals and thunder storms, barley, bread-making, architecture, and so on. Inana Takes Enki's ME The gods of the various city-states enjoyed visiting each other. Celebrations during these visits were often exuberant, such as when the goddess of love and sexual desire, Inana, visited Enki in Eridu. They both drank so much beer that Enki lay drunk under the table. Seeing an op- portunity, Inana per suaded him to give her the SO ME, the heavenly powers necessary to rule over urban culture (3, King Gudea of Lagash), priesthoods, crafts, war, peace, and other things. Before Enki had a chance to sober up, she had taken the ME into her city, Uruk. A Friend to Humanity When man named Ziusudra by whispering to him through the reeds (4) that he had to build a boat large enough for the animals and his family. The sage Adapa was another pro god's ',;n,; n·f Fnld Under all the other gods wanted to destroy humankind through a massive flood, Enki helped humanity escape the impending disaster. To ensure I a i . A 1 I supervision, he invented the sail boat. Enki also gave humanity rites, such as a priest's vestments and anointment. Many accounts say that people received medical help from Enki, who gave them healing ointments. \ Ancient Near Eastern Mythology I THE TOWER OF BABEL The Tower of Babel A ccording to the Judeo-Christian tradition, God mixcd up the language of the people during the construction of the tower of Babel because they were arrogant for wanting ro build a tower reaching into the sky. The model for this tower was a ziggurat, a srruc ture typical of Mesopotamian city -states. Thcse city states had many temples; though some of them were built lower than others, all were nonetheless towering buildings majestically overlooking a plain as would a mountain. The temples were the meeting point between heaven and earth, places where humans and gods would encounter each other. Their meaning is also reflected in the translarions of their many names: "bond between heaven and earth," "house that is a mountain," "house with its head held high," and others. The Tower of Babel .. • Ancient N e ar Eastern Mythology I NANNA Nanna • The Sumerian names of the moon god were Nanna and Dil imbabbar, 'he who resplen dently hurries there alone" • In Akkadian, Nanna was called Suen or Sin • Nanna's symbols were the crescent moon, the bull, and the number 30, represen ting the number of days in a month • Many well-known rulers bore the name Nanna in their names, e.g., Naram-Sin, "favorite of Sin" • His main city of worship wasUr The high god Enlil, together with N i nlil, created Na nna, the god of the city of Ur. There a re many connections in this myth made between Ninlil, god dess of the city of Nippur, a n d Enlil, her consort. For exa mple, it states that Enlil appeared to Ninlil as var ious forms of the gods ofthe underworld, and with their u n ion, they created different gods. When the city of Ur (1, Zikkurat) became the capital of Sumer in the 21 st century B.c., N a n n a was honored i n t h is myth as the firstborn of Enlil a n d Nin lil. Because Nann a, god of the moon, was E nlil's first born son, he had high stature a mong the gods. Nanna was considered to be the father of the celes tial deities Inana (Venus) and Utu (sun). As father he was believed to be supreme. The three d e ities were seen as particularly i m portant in assisting with the pleas and needs of humans, and thanks were given to them for their guidance. There were many different symbols for Nan na; for exa mple, a boat or the horns of a bull for h i m as a crescent moon, o r a ripe piece of fruit resem bling the full moon. Nanna City God of Ur Nanna was the god of the city of U r. He con trolled Ur, which by the third century B.C. was already a thriving city. The earliest known high priestesses performed their duties there. When Ur became the capital of a large empire in the 2 1 st century B.c.. Nanna maintained a high place among the gods for governing the city perfectly. State enter prises registered each arrival and exit from the city, down to the last cattle carcass. Large scale cattle breeding was nec essary so that sacrificial offerings could be made to Nanna (2, left, on the crescent moon). The Shapes of Nanna Nanna-Giver of Time The new day began with the appearance of the moon (3). Nanna's symboli c number, 30, stood for the 30 days of the month. These were divided by feast days for the new moon, half moon, and black moon. The best known symbol for Nanna was the cres cent moon, upon which he was depicted standing. This symbol was often mounted on a pole and taken on military campaigns as a sign that Nanna was present. As the crescent was reminiscent of bull's horns, the bull became a particularly popular representative of Nanna (4), who was seen as the bull who grazed his herd, the stars, at night. The full moon was often depicted as fruit. Figures and Stories Relevant to Nanna Enlil, Nanna's Father, see pp. 30-31 Inana, Nanna's Daughter, see pp. 38-39 Naram-Sin, Named After Nanna, see pp. 48-49 II • Ancient N ear Eastern Mythology I INANA/ISHTAR Inanal l shta r • l Her Akkadian name, Ishtar, became the word for 'goddess' • Inana was the goddess of love and war . In Sumerian, Inana means 'ladY of the heavens' • Her main Akkad city of worship was I n a n a, godd ess of the celestial body of V e n us, is the best known goddess i n a ncient Near Eastern mythology, a n d one of the most a m biguo us. She stood for opposi ng id eals, like love and fertility, a n d war a n d a n n i h ilation. Some texts describe how these opposities worked i n u n ison; for i n stance, I n a n a waged war agai nst the enemies of the beloved ruler to whom she had promised good gov ernance through the ritual of the holy ma rriage. Many myths speak of her deeds. She stole the temple of the celestial deity An, and the d ivine powers, or ME, of the god of freshwater, Enki. She brutally subjugated the gods who did not submit to her. She traveled fearlessly through the underworld, was killed a n d then brought back to life. One myth states that she ha nded over her lover to the u n d er world, while in a n other she searched despe rately for him. Her symbolic a n i m a l was the lion ill Terrifying Goddesses: p p . 9 3 , 265,300 (1). Inan a/lshta r Inana in the Underworld Inana journeyed into the realm of the dead elabo rately adorned with her ME. Her intention might have been to overthrow the queen of the underworld, but she fa iled. At every door to the underworld, a piece of her adorn ment was taken, and she even tually was naked and stripped of her powers. Eventually she was killed and turned into a rotting The Author Enheduana Little is known about the people who wrote myths and other texts about gods. The earliest exception is from the 23rd century B.C. when the king's daughter, Enheduana (3, in the middle), became the world's earliest known author. Although she was a high priestess of the moon god Nan na, she ended up offering her services to Inana, lump of fiesh. After three days, beings which had been created especially to rescue her managed to restore her using an elixir of life. The myth has several meanings, one of which is an attempt to explain the temporary invisibility of the celestial body of Venus. Another might be the extraordi nary power of Inana's servants (2), as well as the sign ificance of certain constellations. and thus honed her skills as a theologist. When she was threatened with death, she tried to persuade Inana to help her through her writing so as to act out against her enemies on her beha lf. Her song was a testimony to maintaining hope in seem ingly hopeless situations, and centuries later it was still taught i n schools. Holy Marriage Myths about Inana and her lover Dumuzi (or , Tammuz), god of vegetation, form the background behind the holy marriage (4) ritual that took place between Inana and the king. In the myth, Inana elects the king as her husband and gives him her blessing. Ho wever, it has been speculated that Inana may have been re presented in this ritual by a priestess or the queen. It is more plausible that contact with the goddess was made only through her statue, her ce lestial body, or while in a trance. • Figures and Stories Relevant to Inana The Battle of the Gods, Inana Competes With Nanna, see pp. 26-27 Enki, Inana Gets Heavenly Powers, see p. 33 Nanna, Inana's Father, see pp. 36-37 Naram-Sin, Inana Protects Him, see pp. 48-49 The Underworld, Inana Tra veled There, see pp. 44-45 Utu, Inana's Brother, see pp. 40-41 rn Journeys in the Underworld: pp. 41, 159, 353, 407 I Holy Marriage: p. 127 .. Ancient Near Eastern Mythology I UTU/SHAMASH Utu/Shamash • Utu can mean either "light" er "day" in Sumerian • His Akkadian name, Shamash, is related to schorn schu, "sun" • Utu was the son of Nanna and brother of Inana • l As god of the sun,Utu brought light, but was also re sponsible for justice • He led the living into the realm of the dead • His main cities of worship were Larsa and Sippar • He was often depicted en throned with a staff and a ring The sun god Utu brought lig ht, and with this illumi nation was able to see clearly. This made him the ideal guardian and p rotector of equ ality a n d justice. T h e ancient relationship between sunl ight and justice can also be found in the B i ble, as the "sun of justice" (Malachi 3:20). Every morning Utu made his way through the mountains in eastern Mesopotam ia, where the gatekeeper Hornmurapilaw gods opened the gates for h i m . After codepillor he had shone for the living d u ring the day, he took the opposite route from west to east, which brought h i m through the reg i o ns of the underworld. Utu was the judge of both the living and the dead_ The fa mous ruler of Babylon, H a m m u ra pi, depicted Utu as the g u ardian of law and order on a pillar that contained his code of law. In a reg ion i n which constant warfare was the order o f the day, the desire for peace and stability was as strong as the longing for light in seemingly threatening da rkness, Shamash and Hammurapi's Pillar The pillar bearing Hammu rapi's code of law, one of the very first, names Shamash as the "great judge ofheaven and earth" from whom the king is who allows the people to comp on his green meadow. This image shows how Shamash hands over 0 measuring stick and rope, the symbols of au "bestowed the right and given the task" to protect and serve the weak. To prove that he had fulfilled his duty, Hammurapi portrays himself as a herdsman thority, to Hammurapi, who respectfully stands before him. In this pillar, the temple serves as a throne for the god, and his feet rest on the mountains. m Gods as Law Givers: pp. 30, 1 78 Utu Passes Through the Realm of the Dead Celestial gods were seen as something similar to human rulers. It was said that Utu (1, with gate keepers), after finishing the daily tasks along his heavenly route, returned to his chambers to rest with his wife Ningal. There are several myths that claim that Utu continued his journey through the cosmos, traveling into the night. He went through a large tunnel from the west back to the east, crossing through the re gions of the underworld, in a difficult and dalil gerous journey. Utu brought light to the dead in the underworld, and presided over legal cases. On his way, he brought the dead to the under world, and took spirits back with him to the world. When he arrived at the end of the tunnel, Utu used his saw to get back up out of the mountains, and with his emer gence, the sun rose (2) again. legal Texts Dating from the 1 8th century B.C., Hammurapi's code of law is part of a long tra dition. ln the 21 st century B.C. the codex of the Sumerian ruler, Urnamma, was established. In all, there are two Sumerian and four Akkadian jury laws known today. Even older than these are the reform texts of the 25th century B.C. ruler, Urukagina, which attempted to reverse the privileges of the rulerfor the good of the temple (3). Utu as Gilgamesh's Helper I n the tales about King Gilgamesh, Utu is depicted as his protector. When Gilgamesh wanted to travel to the mountains to cut down cedars, the god sent with him seven local warriors who knew the place well. In the Epic ofGilgamesh, the goddess Ninsun (4), mother of the hero, complains that the sun god is responsible for the restless heart of her son, which drives him to dangerous adventures. Inana. Utu's Sister, see pp. 38-39 Nanna,Utu's Father, see pp. 36-37 The Underworld, Utu Brought the Dead Here, see pp. 44-45 .. Ancient Near Eastern Mythology I M A R D U K A N D A SS U R Marduk and Assur • He was considered the son of the god Enki • The cult of Marduk centered on Babylon • Assur had the same name as the city in which he was worshiped • Both gods were initially regional gods before later becoming state gods • Both gods were to protect the king's sovereignty r Figures and Stories Relevant to Marduk and Assur - - An and Enlil, Enlil Was Replaced by Marduk and Assur, see pp. 30-31 I L The Battle of the Gods, Marduk Saves the Younger GOdS Against the Older Gods, see pp. 26-27 - -- The history of the gods Marduk and Ass u r charts their steep ascent from relatively u n i m portant local gods into the great national gods of Babylon a n d Assyria that they later became. P r i o r t o t h e 1 8th century B.C., when King Hamm u ra p i made Babylon the center of a great empi re, the city and its god Marduk were only important regionall y. However, under H a m m u rapi Marduk's influe nce g rew, as d i d t h e state c u l t and t h e n u mber of i n d ivid u a l s w h o p a i d h i m worship. A great n u mber o f h y m n s a n d prayers were s u n g in praise o f Marduk. Something similar happened during the seco nd m i l l e n n i u m B.C. with the god Assur i n Assyria (1, Assyrian King Assurnasirpal ll). Both M a rd u k and Assur took over the position formerly h e l d by the god Enlil, a n d the myths associated with h i m were tra nsferred to them according ly. In the world cre ation epic Enuma elish, M a rd u k and Assu r i nter changeably take over the role of the warring god N i n u rta, and saved the un iverse from destruction by the dragon Tiamat. This quest was played out by cult memb ers every year d u ring New Year festivities. Marduk and Assur The New Year Festival The best loved festival in Mesopotamia lasted 1 1 days. People carrying their idols from neighboring states a rrived, and after many preparations, the gathered crowd confirmed the rule of the highest god Marduk (or Assur) and acknowledged the king as his representative. Alongside this, these gods en sured a good destiny for the capital and the cou ntry. On the eighth day, a large procession The 50 Names of Marduk After Marduk (3, his symbol, the dragon) saved the gods from Tiamat, he was given the highest position among CD them. The 50 most im por tant gods gave him their powers by assigning one of their names to him. Lord of was identical with that of his city, it is likely that at first a place near the city was initially worshiped as holy. In contrast to other gods who had many temples, Assur had a temple only in his city (4, relief of a god found there ). His rise to preeminence was theologically explained by his association with the primordial god Anshar. It was believed that Anshar had existed prior to heaven and earth, and he was called the source of all things. (2) left the temple area and car ried a statue of Marduk into the city and throughout the sur rounding countryside. It was probably the only time in the year that the populace saw their god. Marduk's victory over the dragon Tiamat was reen acted in rituals in which the king played the role of the god and had to participate in var ious challenges. These celebra tions would continue for three more days outside the city. .. .. Ancient Near Eastern Mytho logy I THE UNDE RWORLD The Underworld The un derworld is usually pre sented as dark, d usty, and i n hos pitable i n most ancient Near • The rulers of the underworld were the goddess Ereshkigal ("lady of the great place') and the god Nergal • The dead could affect the fate ofthe living • Spirits and demons could haunt the living • Among the best known demons were Lamashtu, who caused puerperal (childbirth) fever, and Pazuzu, a wind demon The Death Dream of Enkidu What happened in dreams was considered very real for the Mesopotamians. It was in a dream that Enkidu, the com panion ofGilgamesh (1), was seized by a heinous demon and brutally carried off to the un derworld. Terrified, Gilgamesh refused to help him. It was after this dream, that Enkidu lost all hope of recovering when he fell ill, and died. Eastern mythology. It was the rea l m of the un derworld gods, Nergal and Ereshkigal, and of various demons and spirits. The fate of the dead i n the underworld was depen dent u pon their Genie performing a protec earthly l ife. After his death, tive magical gesture Enkidu reported to his friend Gi lgamesh that someone who had no c h i l d ren wou l d, as a result, starve in the afterl ife, The more sons one had, the more one would have to eat a n d drink. These beliefs shaped people's behavior i n life. Faring particularly well in the u n d erworld, sti l l-born babies were a l l owed to play on the tables of the gods and received honeyed treats to eat. The Underworld Evil Spirits and Demons Anyone seized by a demon would become ill and die. The terrible demon Lamashtu (3) primarily targeted pregnant women and babies. First, she offered them her breast like a caring nurse only to then snatch them into the underworld a moment later. Another demon, Pazuzu (2), had the power to expel the evil Lamashtu, so people often wore Pazuzu amu lets for protection. Spirits were also to be feared. The g hosts of people who had not been properly Death of a Royal Household The excavation of a cemetery in Ur from the early 25th century B.C. revealed what was consid ered to be a unique find: an entire royal household, in cluding wagons, animals, and treasures of gold (4) and lapis lazuli, buried alongside their ruler. Amazingly, not so long ago a Sumerian text describing just such a scene was d iscov ered: Gilgamesh's Death tells the story of Gilgamesh who, in a dream, was called to a gath ering of the gods. There he learned that the sky god had decreed his death, even though buried, and who did not have enough to eat in the afterlife, could not rest and they haunted, tor tured, and injured the living. Many rituals grew as a result of these beliefs in spirits. But the dead, par ticularly members of one's own family, could also be merciful judges and i ntercessors when a living person faced judgment. The dead also passed on their knowledge of the future to the living. Gilgamesh was the son of a goddess. But the god of wisdom, Enki, told Gilgamesh a way to obtain a particularly good posi tion in the realm of the dead. To become a ruler in the afterlife, Gilgamesh should build a burial palace under the Euphrates River. So Gil gamesh diverted the river, built a stone house, and moved into the palace with his favorite wives, concu bines, children, servants, and many treasures to give to the gods of the underworld. The river was then returned to its natural course. .. .. Ancient Near Eastern Mytho logy I THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH Th e E p i c of G i l g a m e s h The Epic of Gilgamesh is renowned as being one of the o ldest known li terary works. The earl iest tablets of the Babylo n i a n version are thought to have been written at the beg i n n ing ofthe second m i l l e n n i u m B.C. I t s a bout 3,600 lines o f verse were written on 1 1 tablets. The epic tells the story of G i l g a mesh's q uest for eternal life (1, depicted on cyl i n d e r sea ls). In the first section, G i lga mesh attempts to perform heroic deeds in order to win u n dyi n g fa me for his name (3, as a lion slayer, 1 2th century). His friend E n kidu ac companied him in these fa mous adventures. The second part of the epic, after the death of E n kidu, re volves a ro u n d the basic physical survival of the hero. A l o n e d u ri n g this part of the journey, Gilgam esh searches for a way to over come the obstacle of death. His journey took h i m through the Tunnel of the S u n and the Water of Death, a n d o n to Utnapishtim, hero of the flood, who told Gilga mesh where to fi nd the herb of l ife. He fou n d the herb, but it was stol e n a n d eaten b y a serpent, a n d thus his search for eternal l ife fa i led. All that remains of Gi lga mesh's fa m e today i s the wall built by h i m a ro u n d his city, Ur uk. The Fight Against Huwawa One of Gilgamesh and Enkidu's adventures takes place in a cedar forest, far away in a land never visited. The gods made the fearsome Huwawa (2, also Humbaba) the guardian of the forest, and no one ever dared to go there. Even Huwawa's voice alone would make whoever heard it shake and cower. However nothing and no one could stop Gilgamesh. He wanted to cut down the cedars to win glory for himself, and to build a gate for the temple of the goddess Enlil in Nippur. After Gilgamesh receiving the promise of protection from the sun god Shamash, Gilgamesh, ac companied by Enkidu and several men from the city, headed for the forest. There, he successfu lly tricked Huwawa, taking away his seven auras. Afterward Gilgamesh (some versions say Enkidu) killed Huwawa and became the first to ever cut down a sacred cedar tree. But GiI gamesh paid dearly for his daring, as his beloved friend Enkidu died from this sacrilege of cutting down the sa cred trees. The Epic of Gilgamesh .. .. Ancient Near Eastern Mythology I • Nara m - Sin Naram Sin was N a ram-Sin was the grandson of the celebrated Sargon of Akkad, who fo u n d ed the first great empire of the a n cient Near East. the em perorof Akkad, grandson of the empire's founder Sargon of Akkad • Naram-Sin means "fa vorite of Sin" • He bore the title "king of the four quarters of the world" • Naram-Sin was deified as a god after he prevailed over a great coalition of enemies; he became the protector god of his capital, Akkad • NARAM-SIN On the Naram-Sin stele he is seen wearing a crown of horns During his reign, N a ram-Sin fou n d h i mself facing violent resistance. The situation be came dan gerous when cities to the south a n d north o f his land combi ned their forces against him. Because of th is, he was fo rced to fight i n nine battles in j u st one year. H e c l a i med that h e was a ided by the love of his personal protection goddess, Inana. To a i d h i m, the h i g h priestess Enh eduana, his a u nt, w a s p raying for I n ana to destroy the opposition. When h e won, the citizens of Akkad p rayed to the gods to make N a ram-Sin their patron d e ity. H e was worshiped i n a temple. While previous rul ers often identified themselves a s children o f t h e gods, t h e actual de ification of the sovereign hi mself was first found here with Nara m-Si n . The Naram-Sin Stele Battles for the continuation and expansion ofhis empire brought Naram-Sin as far as the Mediterranean Sea. In the northeast, he came against a mountain tribe, the Lullubi. A six-foot-high, artfully crafted stele made of sandstone lca 2230 B.C.) describes his victory. He is seen as a majestic ruler ris ing over the world of man and beyond into the world of gods. Beneath him, his soldiers are seen marching. Undoubtedly it is an attempt to liken the ascen- sion into the steep mountain ous territory to Akkad's ascen sion to power. The stele shows three scenes: in the first, the opposing leader has his hands raised, begging for mercy. Next, he is shown with a spear in his neck and finally, in the center ofthe stele, he can be seen falling headfirst into the abyss. In the mid- 12th century, the stele was stolen by the E/amites and taken from Babylon to Susa. rn Divine Rulers: pp. 84, 20 1 , 220,336,368 Nara m-Sin Naram-Sin as Protector God In the third millen nium B.C., the status of a protector god in his capital. According to sources from the second and The Curse of Akkad The fal l o f the great Akkadian Empire was explained by a myth, a lamentation known as The Curse ofAkkad (2). Within the poem, Naram-Sin (3) was described as an unholy ruler. He only worshiped and loved the goddess Inana, which an gered the other high gods. These gods, along with Inana, took away their protection. Be cause he had no permission to renovate the temple of Enlil, he plundered a nd destroyed it. Because of this, Enlil sent hosts of barbarian enemies to attack Naram Sin, leaving the land devastated. In order to calm Enlil down, the other gods cursed the city of Akkad: it would forever remain i n ruins. .. first millenniums B.c., every person had two protective gods, who created a sort of parental pair. In rituals, a person would add their father's and their protective god's (1, praying woman from Lagash) name to their own. If the gods were benevolent toward huma nity, all was well. If not, the gods would leave them, and they would face sickness, poverty, and social isolation. An and Enlil, Enlil Was Naram Sin's Enemy, see pp. 30-31 l 1nana, Naram-Sin's P rotec tor Goddess, see pp. 38- 39 Nanna. Naram-Sin's Name sake, see pp. 36-37 --- - J - • Ancient Near Eastern Mythology I TESH U B A N D KUMARBI Teshub and Kumarbi • Teshub was the supreme god of thunderstorms in the Hittite pantheon • Kumarbi, the father of the gods, was a grain deity • The Hittites also worshiped countless nature gods • Kumarbi gave rise to Teshub, who became his successor • Teshub's symbol was the lightning bolt; he was fre quently depicted together with bulls As i n t h e entire ancient N e a r East, the H ittites be l ieved the world was created by the gods. A l ready during antiqu ity, the people spoke of the thousand gods of the Hittite Empire (1). The weather god Teshub was adored in the Hittite Empire, which spanned from Anatolia to Syria a n d Mesopota mia, as the supreme god. H e had particular s i g n ificance i n ag riculture, and was worshiped as the protector of the cosm i c order and of the kingship. Frequ ently, he was seen on a bull or i n a carriage p u l l e d by b u lls. Aside from Teshub, it is poss ible to disti n g u i s h countless gods of nature: of rivers, springs, m o u n tains, stones, and trees. T h e gods a n d their myths ind icate that the Hittites were i nfl uenced by m a ny foreign cultu res, such as Mesopota mia, the H u rrites, and the reg ion of Syria. Conversely, the H ittite mythology influenced the Greeks, which is why Hesiod's Theogony resembles the myths of Kumarbi. Furthermore, the Greek tale of Jason's h u nt for the golden fleece shows infl u ence from the myths of the Anato l i a n god Tel i pinu. rn Jason and the Argonauts: p . 1 8 2 I Castration of Uranus: p. 1 1 5 I Battles Against Serpents: p p . 291, 233 Teshub and Kumarbi Teshub Battles weather god, but then Teshub received help from humanity and the gods. The great goddess of the land arranged a magnificent feast, during which Illuyanka and her kin drank so much that one man was able to capture the serpents and release the weather god. This man wished to be thanked for his help by being granted a night to sleep with the god dess. When he wanted to return to his family, Against the Ser pent lIIuyanka Teshub (3) and the serpent Illuyanka (2) both fought against and com plemented each other. Both repre sented a part of the year: the ser pent for the winter time; the weather god for the ti me of crops. One version of the myth re ported that the serpent nearly vanquished the The Search for Telipin u Telipinu, the god of vegeta tion, went missing. The gods, m large and small, searched for him, but the results were fruitless. Finally a bee (4) found the sleeping god and woke him up by stinging him. After Telipinu's anger had ceased, a bag made of sheepskin (remi niscent of the story of Jason and the golden fleece) was hung in an oak tree. Within the bag, there were blessings for the new year for fertility, long life, and offspring. she killed him.ln another version, IIluyanka stole Teshub's eyes and heart. His son succeeded in get ting both back for his father, so that he could de feat the serpent. Figures and Stories Relevant to Teshub and Kumarbi An and Enlil, An as Kumbari's Predecessor, see pp. 30-31 Inana, Holy Marriage, see pp.38-39 Kumarbi and An The Babylonian, Hittite, and Greek mythologies contained genera tions of gods, developing from and replacing each other. At the center of the Hittite myth, the grain god Kumarbi cas trated his predecessor, An. Af terward Kumarbi carried An's sperm, which created many things like the Tigris River (5) and Teshub. Eventually, Teshub came to remove Kumarbi from .. .. An cien t Near Eastern Mythology I EL AND BAAL EI and Baal EI and Baal were gods of Ugarit, a city-state on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The city was reached its prime during the the king god second half of the second of Ugarit and millennium B.C. Standing at father of the gods the head of the pantheon, and people • EI acted as the king of the Baal, "lord: was a god of weather gods and as the creator of and agriculture, EI and a worshiper, Syrian relief, 13th century 8.C. both gods and people. He gave blessings and and ruler of the earth endowed people with offspring. His importance was • apparent through his numerous appearances in The cult of EI was primarily ob sacrificial lists, and as a part of people's names. served in Ugarit • Baal also appeared in people's names during the Baal was wor third millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia and Ebla. As a shiped from weather god, he was a cloud rider, exhibiting his Ugarit to Egypt; he was especially wor power over thunder and lightning, He ruled over shiped during the first millen the earth as a king. His cult reached to Egypt and nium in Byblos, Sidon, Tyre, and was also supported by many kings in Israel. Yahwe, Carthage the Judeo God, shares traits with EI and Baal. In the • A bull was the symbol of Phoenician-Punic religion, Baal; he was often pictured with a thunderbolt • Several conceptions of the ' I � biblical God correspond to characteristics of EI and Ba -- --.-..ot'Irl;R the adoration of Baal maintained itself. while EI became much less important. The Golden C alf Baal was also worshiped in Israel. In Jerusalem, there was even a temple dedicated to him. Psalm 29, a song of praise to Yahwe in a thun derstorm, likely goes back to the hymns of Baal. In the narrative of the Israelites' escape from Egypt, found in the book of Exodus, the adora tion of a golden calf is denounced. The people danced wildly and lustfully around this idol (1l. Thus, it could have been referring to an orgiastic cult of Baal in his guise of a bull. In biblical texts, his worship was st r o n gly punished and condemned. '·'C·I. Baal and Mot Once Baal found himself in a fight against Mot, the god of death and infer tility. He was defeated and had to descend into the abyss of monsters, the land of the dead, Baal's lover, the warlike Anat, challenged Mot to Palace Building for Baal EI had asserted ,II I\ " .. .. I j .. \ !: , t, J ,/ I , .·t' ii that a palace be built for his son Yamm, the sea god. However, Baal ended up with the palace when he conquered the threatening sea god in battle, He threw a feast to celebrate his new role as ruler El a n d Baal . J, '';,.' 1 /\ \ . '/,( \\' ( " \' ' ' '(I \ I " . • \ i , .\ , , a new battle. When she succeeded and killed Mot, Baal (2) was free to return from the underworld, He brought his dead ancestors with him so that of the sea, But later, Baal wanted renovations to the palace (3). His lover, Anat, approached the god king EI with the request Be cause of her menacing threats to destroy him, EI eventually ap- they could partake in a feast The myth has different inter pretations: Baal's death and resurrection reflect the annual cycle of vegetation between continuous crops and yield. Yet elements of the king and an cestor cults are seen here that also assume a connection with the New Year festival. proved the reconstruction, In another variant of the myth, Baal and Anat called on EI's wive, and she advocated the reconstruction. Thus, the holy master builder Kothar-wa Khasis was called from Crete and Memphis to build the palace out of silver and gold, Figures and Stories At various points in the Bible, Baal and his wit are mentioned nega tively, In the second book of Kings, a god named Baal Zebub was said to be the patron of the city of Ekron. /n the Gospe/s, Jesus was said Relevant to £1 and Baal Inana, Parallels to the Myths of Baal and Mot, see pp. 38-39 Marduk and Assur, New Year Festival, see pp.42-43 to have used the power of Beelze Nanna, Moon God Related to bub to expel demons. Both names are defamations of the name "Baal Teshub and Kumarbi, Teshub the prince" or "Baal the destroyer." Bulls, see pp. 36-3 7 Similar to Baal, see pp. 50-51 . • An cien t Near Eastern Mythology I AHURA MAZDA Ahura Mazda Ahura Mazda ("omniscient ruler") was the most powerful god in the ancient Iranian pantheon. The closer the religion of ancient Iran moved toward monotheism, the more Ahura Mazda was described as possessing characteristics of an omnipotent, all encompassing god. Because of his identification with the sun and as the god of light, Ahura Mazda's • Ahura Mazda was the most powerful god in the ancient Iranian religion called Zoroastrianism • Although he was the father of the twin spirits Spenta Mainyu and Angra Mainyu, he was par ticularly identified with the good spirit • Zoroaster (also called Zarathustral developed the teachings concerning Ahura Mazda symbols are the winged sun (1) and fire, a purifying element. He created the universe with his thoughts, The reforms encouraged by his prophet, Zoroaster (ca 650-553 B.c.), changed him from a personal god into a representation of the prinCiples of creativity and goodness. He also upheld a just world order, and was a world ruler who was willing to stand in judgment over the deeds of humankind, Ahura Mazda was also the father of the "twin spirits" Spenta Mainyu ("good spirit") and Angra Mainyu • ("destructive spirit"), who determined what hap • was identified as an aspect of Spenta Mainyu, who The six amesha spenta were helpers of Ahura Mazda As befitting the god of the sun and of light, his symbol is the winged sun CD pened in the world, At the end of time, Ahura Mazda was to emerge victorious to lead the world and hu manity to redemption. A h ura Mazda Ames ha Spenta The six amesha spenta (2, "benefi cent immortals") were originally autonomous Iranian deities. Later, they became compan ions of Ahura Mazda, who also helped him to keep order in the world. They each embodied cer tain principles important to Zoroastrianism: Khshathra Figures and Stories Relevant to Ahura Mazda Mithra, Ahura Mazda's Helper, see pp. 58-59 Ormazd and Ahriman, Ahriman Was Ahura Mazda's Adversary; Ormazd Was Identi fied With Ahura Mazda, see pp.56-57 rn Fire Cult: p. 282 Vairya ("power"), good governance; Haurvatat ("purifi cation"), integrity and health; Armaiti ("compliant disposi tion"), devotion and love; Ameretat ("immortality"), life force; Vohu Manah ("righteous thinking"), purity of spirit; and Asha Vahishta ("right order"), clarity and truth. Saoshyans Saoshyans ("one who brings ben efit") is the central mes sianic figure in the ancient Iranian religion. It was said that "the spirited one" will conquer death and will restore life at the end of time. He will shake the dead until they wake so as to attend the divine final judgment. He embodies righteousness and truth. The teachings say either that Saoshyans will be conceived miraculously from the preserved seed of Zoroaster (3), or that the prophet himself will return at the end of the world as Saoshyans. Like the Vedic religion, which symbol of cultic purification. It was a precursor of Hinduism, also represented the relation the ancient Iranian religion has ship between the original puri been linked with a fire cult. In ty of the beginning and of the the days of the ancient Persian end time that was still to come. empire, the burning sacrificial The fire temple or altar in fire was ignited on a stone altar Naqsh-i-Rustam (left), located "in the face of the sun" (Ahura in Fars province, Iran, was like Mazda) and tended by fire Iy a major center of worship for priests. The fire served as a the Iranian fire cult. .. .. A n ci e n t Near Eastern Mythology I ORMAZD AND AHRIMAN Ormazd and Ahriman The Persian religion demonstrated dualism, which was best exemplified by the teachings of the twin spirits Ormazd and Ahriman. According to these teachings, everything that • In the ancient Persian happens is determined by the struggle between religion, the twins Ormazd and the principles of light and darkness, which both Ahriman embody goodness complement and antagonize each other. During and evil • Duali sm is an important principle in Zoroaster's teach ings; it was said to determine everything that happens in the world • In the teachings of Zurvanism, Ormazd and Ahriman are seen as the sons of the god of time • The Parsis in India are the the Sassanid period (A.D. other by regarding both as the sons of the god of time Zurvan: the "bright and sweet smelling" Ormazd embodied the principle of goodness and the "dark, foul smelling" Ahriman, the principle of evil. As he had wanted a son, Zurvan had made a sacrifice, but he had doubts of it working. Ormazd, who was often compared to Ahura modern believers of the Zoroastrian Mazda teachings • The purifying fire in produced by Zurvan's doubt. supposed to provide pro evil Figures and Stories Relevant to Ormazd and Ahriman Ahura Mazda, Ahrim an Was His Adversary; Ormazd Was Often Identified With Him, see pp.54-55 Mithra, Incorporates Aspects of Ahriman, see pp. 58-59 (1), arose from the sacrifice, while Ahriman was the Parsi temples is tection from Ahriman and 200-700). attempts were made to harmonize these principles with each The Lion -Hea d e d Mithra Aspects of both of the opposing powers were later combined in the lion-headed god Mithra (2). He also obtained a new significance as an aeon, or power, in that he was associated with the limitlessness of time that goes on and o n, epoch after epoch, and creates as well as destroys. The snakes that wind around his body symbolize the path of the sun; the four signs of the zodiac on his chest and thighs represent the two solstices and the two equinoxes. His scepter and keys also m refer to the power of the sun. ill Dualism: pp. 332, 38 4 O rmazd a n d Ahriman Battle Over the World Ormazd repre sented creativity, through which good was generated. However, Ahriman always introduced something bad. For example, he created the dark night as a contrast to the bright day, and winter and blazing heat to counter the more pleasant seasons (3, zodiac with the six areas ruled by Ahriman and the six ruled by Ormazd). Sickness transformed into health, evil thoughts to good ones, and "evil animals," such as poisonous snakes, rats, and vermin, became farm animals. It was said that during the battle over the world, the powers of goodness and creativity would ultimately prevail, but people, who can choose between good and evil, also play a large role. Parsis Following the Islamic conquest of Persia, the believers of the ancient Persian religion emigrated to India, where they were called Pars is. Many of them settled in the region surround ing Mumbai. Modern-day Parsis consider themselves monotheists. As the cultic purification achieved through fire holds significance for them, the holy fires in the temples are tended Vigilantly (left). The Pars is affirm their active partici pation in the battle against evil with a statement of three ethical values: good thoughts (humata), good words (hukhta), and good deeds (huvareshta). At the age of puberty, a young person is accepted into the congre gation of the righteous in a ritual that involves putting on a white shirt and tying a sacred cord around the waist (right). .. • Ancie n t Near Eastern Mythology I MITHRA • The ancient Persian god Mithra is re lated to the In the ancient Iranian pantheon, Mithra, analo gous to the ancient Indian god Mitra, was the Indian god Mitra; the Romans god of contracts and friendship, but he was also worshiped as the god of light and of the sun. He played an important role in the knew and worshiped rituals of male societies in Persia. Later, himas Mithras Roman soldiers took up the practices of this cult. The ethical principles he stood for include • Mithra, whose name means 'contract: was the god of jus tice and of honoring contracts justice, virtue, and honoring contracts. He made sure that order was kept in the universe and in the passing of the seasons and days. In his original depiction, he was riding in a chariot pulled by white steeds, so the Greeks identified him as their sun god, Helios. Mithra also carried a • As a god of light, he was a messianic figure • From about AD. 100, he was also worshiped in Rome • His attributes were a torch, in reference to his function as the bringer of light, and a weapon (a spear, dagger, or axe), with which he killed the bull silver spear. He was also regarded as one of Ahura's helpers at the final judgment when Ahura measured the deeds of human kind. Killing the Prime val Bull Mithra's most important act was killing the primeval bull. He knelt down on the bull, grabbed it by the nostrils with his left hand, and wrenched its head up (1). With his right hand he thrust his dagger into the bull's throat. This act symbol ized the rebirth of all living things because new life arose out of the bull's blood and semen that poured onto the ground. It also symbol ized the taming and domination of wild, natural powers by the orderly rule imposed by humans. ill Eastern Gods and Cults in Rome: p. 222 I Mitra: p. 294 Mithra m Bringer of Light and Redeemer In the Avesta, a sacred book of Zoroas trianism, it is said that Ahura Mazda created and instructed Mithra, thus he should be wor shiped as though he were the powerful god himself. From the start, Mithra was known as the god of light and the sun, and was depicted either as the sun (2) or surrounded by rays of light (3, Roman altarpiece). As a sun god, Mithra was also a giver of life, and, by the time of the Parthians (247 B.C.-AD. 226), he was trans formed into a savior, depicted as a youth with a Phrygian helmet, tunic, and cape covered with zo diac signs. He was also brought into the Roman pantheon as a savior and redeemer. The goal of Mithra's believers was personal salvation. Representations of the Mithraic mysteries include a depiction of a banquet attended by the sun god Sol and Mithras. Figures and Stories Relevant to Mithra Ahura Mazda, Mithra Was One of Ahura Mazda·s Helpers, see pp. 54-55 Ormazd and Ahriman, Mithra United Both Principles in One, see pp. 56-57 Roman Mithras Cult -\ _ __ ______ Mithras, who was supposedly born in a rocky cave, was worshiped in underground sanctuar ies, called the Mithraea (left). Only men could participate in the mysteries, which were kept strictly secret. Believers had to go through vari ous rites of initiation. Roman soldiers, who be came familiar with this cult in Asia Minor, brought it back with them to Europe. In the third century, Mithras was linked with the Ro man state sun god Sol lnvictus ("unconquerable sun"). For a long time, the worship accorded to this god was more powerful than Christianity. El • I Egyptian Mythology Egyptian Mythology Pharaoh TUlOnkhomun is embraced by Osiris III Egyptian Myt hology I INTRODUCTION Egyptian Mythology With its annual floods and silt-rich soil, the Nile River Valley was the seat of one of the earliest civilizations. The two kingdoms of Upper (south) and Lower (north) Egypt rivaled against one another until they were unified under Narmer (1, Narmer stele) in around 3050 B.c. Centralizing the kingdom strengthened the developing pharaoh cult that lasted into the later dynasties. Alongside the expansion of their political structure, the ancient Egyptians created an astounding religion that included a staggeringly complex pantheon of more than one thousand gods and goddesses. Most of these deities have survived as little more than names, but others are known through the images that depict them, the hymns that praise them, the magic spells that invoke them, and the tales that narrate their myths. Egyptian gods, like the gods of any other culture, served the purposes of the people who worshiped them, reflecting their needs, desires, and concerns. Some pertained to fertility, agriculture, and animal husbandry, which provided the staples of life. Others served the political needs of the state, invoked to protect Egypt's borders or the person of the pharaoh, or facilitated the promise of an eternal afterlife. Most often, one deity served many purposes, which might overlap with those of another god. Even the singular act of creation was attributed to different gods, as each major cult center had its own unique theory of genesis. While today this might seem to be a breeding ground for theological confusion, for the Egyptians this multiplicity-and redundancy of divinities produced a layering of meaning. It attempted to express their perception of the subtlety and complexity of the world around them. By the late fourth millennium B.C., precursors of gods that became famous later had Introduction .. made their appearance in Egyptian art, in the forms of figurines carved of stone or ivory, or modeled in clay. Always keen observers of the natural world, the Egyptians embodied the divine in animals before adapting the human body as an expression of the sacred. Although such forms, often combining human and animal features, might seem primitive, they were not intended to be taken literally. A god's power might be manifest in a sacred animal, such as the Apis bull of Osiris, or in a cult image made of gold and precious stones, but neither the animal nor the statue was the god. These things were merely concrete expressions of more complex meanings. Gods (2, Anubis and Horus, for example, who are depicted on this wall mural with Ramses I) were de scribed as "mysterious," their true natures lying beyond human understanding. However, the Egyptian gods still suffered from human frailties. They could be greedy, lustful, or physically weak. They could grow old and they could die. Yet this did not stop them from pervading and controlling every aspect of the Egyptians' world. .. Egyptian Myt hology I INTRODUCTION The Egyptians envisioned that they lived in a universe centered on the Nile River, which flowed across not a globe but a flat earth. Above the earth stretched the watery realm of the sky, while below lay the underworld. Surrounding this created world were the waters that existed before creation, a primordial state personified by Nun, the father of the gods. The geography of the earth, sky, and underworld were known, but not even the gods knew the limitless, lightless, and motionless expanse of Nun. The Egyptians saw much of the universe in dualities, composed of pairs of either opposite or comple mentary elements. This concept of duality was best exemplifed in mythology by the gods Seth and Horus, who battled over the rule of earth. While Seth was the protector of Upper Egypt, including the desert areas and nomadic tribes (3, tribesmen in the Sahara), Horus was the protector of Lower Egypt, which saw greater urban development and held the pharaonic cult. Thus, both gods personified chaos-Seth and the deserts-and order-Horus and the pharaoh. From the unification of Narmer, Egyptian society was highly stratified, with the pharaoh at the peak, interceding between his subjects and the gods. Next followed a bureaucracy that included nobles and other officials (4, figure of a scribe) who occupied administrative positions of varying degrees of impor tance, including the priesthood. Introduction 1m Beyond the government was the overwhelming majority of the Egyptian population. They eked out livings as farmers, fishermen, craftsmen, and laborers. With a cen tralized government, the pharaoh could mobilize these peasants on a scale previously unimaginable. With the labor of thousands at their disposal, the rulers of the Old Kingdom (ca 2687-2191 B.C) commissioned enormous funerary stone monuments, the pyramids, that even today symbolize the apex of Egyptian civilization. Pharaohs of this period also dedicated temples to the gods throughout the country. Late in the Old Kingdom, temples received grants of land to provide resources, including peasant labor, to support their upkeep. With such wealth, which had formerly belonged to the pharaoh, more power came into the hands of the priesthood and nobility. This relatively small, though important, shift in the balance of power scarcely mattered in the daily lives of most Egyptians. However, the period (ca 21902061 B.C) following the Old Kingdom loosened the pharaoh's grasp on another important aspect of Egyptian culture that did have an impact on their afterlife: Other social classes now adopted funerary spells formerly reserved for pharaohs. Now all Egyptians could aspire to participate in the myth of Osiris, god of death. Other changes also lay in store. By about 2061 B.C, a dynasty from the Upper Egyptian city qf Thebes ruled the whole of Egypt. The falcon-headed war god of Thebes, Montu, became an important national god. However, soon another god venerated at Thebes, Amun, eclipsed him in importance. When yet another Theban dynasty freed Egypt from a humiliating century of rule by the foreign Hyksos (ca 1664-1555 B.C), Amun's place at the pinnacle of the Egyptian pantheon was secured. As these few examples demonstrate, the prominence of individual gods-as well as how they were perceived and portrayed-was, like the fortunes of pharaohs, shaped by the flow of 3,000 years of pharaonic history. • Egyptian Mytho l o g y I INTRODUCTION The pharaoh had to continually defend his position as the "son of the gods" against the priesthood, especially the mighty Amun priests of Thebes. This gave the drafting of cosmologies (the gods and their families}-such as the Ennead of Heliopolis or the Ogdoad of Hermopolis-and the cults of the various gods large influence. Many changes in the importance of individual gods, especially the Aten cult of Pharaoh Akhenaten, are seen as a direct result of the power struggles between the pharaoh and the priesthood. Throughout ancient Egyptian history, the official religion remained focused on the temples (5, Ramesseum temple in Thebes). Within them, reliefs and statuary portrayed the pharaoh presenting offerings to the gods because the pharaoh was the sole intermediary between humanity and the divine. In reality, the temples were staffed by an extensive priesthood, which-acting explicitly on behalf of the pharaoh-cared for the cult images, attended to the daily rituals, and oversaw the workshops, farms, fleets of boats, and other holdings of the temple. Introduction .. Within each sanctuary stood a statue (the ka, or "double") of the god, made of precious materials such as gold and lapis lazuli. The Egyptians believed that their gods, although divine, required care like any living creature. Providing for these needs formed the basis for the daily ritual. Each day, priests unsealed the sanctuary door and left a meal within the shrine, which was then shut and sealed until the next morning. Renewing the god's offerings pleased the deity, who was expected to express satisfaction by maintaining cosmic order. These were private rituals, witnessed only by the priests. Periodically, the statue was removed from its sanctuary and carried in a festive procession. The bureaucracy did not sever the relationship between ordinary Egyp tians and their gods. Although they did not participate in the daily ritual within the temple, men and women had themselves depicted honoring the gods. They left votive offerings at the temples. Ranging from clay figurines, which could be purchased from temple workshops, to flowers, these were given in hopes of some divine favor, such as a child, good health, or success in a lawsuit. Some priests, acting as magicians, performed rituals for individ uals. Physicians were also priests, and magic was an important element of the medical arts of ancient Egypt. Whether performed for official or personal purposes, these rituals commonly reflected some aspect of the myths of the gods whose powers they sought to invoke. When the cult statue was refreshed each day, it was placed on sand symbolizing the first land that emerged from the primordial waters of Nun in the moment of creation. Water poured over a statue of the child god Horus became a cure for snakebites because Horus's mother Isis had protected him from the dangers of the swamps. In funerals, female mourners accompanied the body as the goddesses Isis and Nephthys, who lamented the murdered god Osiris. For the ancient Egyptians, mythology was not merely a collection of stories about the gods. Mythology was an active force in their daily lives. Egyptian Mythology I THE GREAT MYSTERY OF THE PYRAMIDS The Great Mystery of the Pyramids T he pyramids in Egypt that served as tombs for the ancient Egyptian pharaohs have come to represent an entire culture today. Contemplating the immense amount of labor and resources involved in these constructions always leaves one wondering the same question: why? The form of the pyramid suggests the primordial mound of land that rose from the primeval waters during the process of creation. A tem ple complex dedicated to the deceased pharaoh surrounded each pyramid, for at his death he became a deity, joining the gods Osiris and Re. Carefully aligned to the north, the pyramid and its temple facilitated the royal soul's journey to the sky to join the "imperishable stars," as the Egyptians called the circumpolar The Great Mystery of the Pyramids II • Egyptian Mythology I HELIOPOLITAN AND HERMOPOLITAN THEOGONIES He liopol itan and Hermopo litan Theogonies • The chief deity of Heliopolis was Atum; he created himself from Nun, the primordial waters that existed before creation • Atum was the head of the Heliopolitan family of gods • The Ogdoad of Hermopolis was argued to be the oldest of the theogonies • Thoth, the main god of Hermopolis, was symbolized as a baboon or an ibis In early Egypt, each city had its own separate gods. As a theological step toward unifying the kingdom, priests created theogonies-stories about the gods' births and the creation of the world. By showing the gods as being connected through a hierarchical family struct ure, it also ranked the importance of the c ity. The two most well-known theogonies are the Ennead of Heliopolis and the Ogdoad of Hermopolis. Re-Atum (1, seated on a cow with Ptah) was the main god of Heliopolis. From him, the rest of the Ennead (family of n ine gods) came into existence. Her mopolis, located between Thebes and Memphis, worshiped Thoth, the god of wisdom. In Hermopolis, he gave l ife to the Ogdoad (family of eight gods), who created the world . The different theogonies are important for under standing the power dynamics of ancient Egypt. For example, when the pharaohs ruled from Heliopolis d uring the Old Kingdom, the Ennead became domi nant in Egypt. The pharaohs called themselves the "son of Re," legitimizing their r ule. Heliopolis was later replaced by Thebes in the Middle Kingdom. Figures and Stories Relevant to Heliopolis and Hermopolis Amun-Re, the Sun God Re as Amun, see pp. 86-87 Geb and Nut, Atum's Grand children, see pp. 74-75 Memphite Theogony, Rival T heogo ny, see pp. 72-73 Osiris, Atum's Great Grandson, see pp. 76-77 Ptah, Manifestation of Atum Memphis, see pp. 72-73 in Thoth, the Main God of Hermopolis, see pp. 98-99 ED Hierarc h y o f the Gods: pp. 31 , 72, 308 Hel iopolitan and Hermopolitan Theogonies Heliopoli5-Nun and the Birth of Atum Nun (2, his arms outstretched to support the rising sun) was the personification of the inert, lightless, watery abyss that existed before cre ation. Atum created himself by emerging from Nun's waters as a mound of earth. From this earth, he arose again as Re-Atum, the sun. The place where the first sun rays shone, the sacred benben mound, was housed in the temple of Re. Although Atum-the first god who sprang from Nun-was self-created, Nun was honored in Heliopolis as "father of the gods." The next gods to be born were also not really "procreated." The god-pair Shu and Tefnut (3) were sneezed or spat into existence, or developed as a product of Atum's masturbation. Shu was the dry air between "wind of life." Second-born Tefnut, a lioness earth and goddess, was moist air. One day when Shu and sky, Tefnut got lost in the primeval waters, Atum sent through out his eye to find them. Once reunited with his which offspring, he shed joyful tears that became sunshine humankind. Together, Shu and Tefnut produced reached the the sky goddess Nut and the earth god Geb. From them the remaining gods of the Ennead were created: Isis, Nephthys, Osiris, and Seth. Hermop01i5Thoth and Creation of the World Before the existence of time, Thoth (4), who gave birth to himself out of speech, created the world with the Ogdoad, or four god-pairs: Nun and Naunet; Huh and Hauhet; Kuk and Kauket; and Amun and Amaunet. Each pair repre sented a primordial element: water, boundlessness, dark ness, and air, respectively. When they collided, a mound of earth emerged-the city of Hermopolis,"the island of flames." As a bird, Thoth laid an egg from which the sun god, Re, was born. As the god of words, Thoth was the heart and tongue of Re. The Hermopoli tan version of creation was complementary to other theogonies, and so was main tained. Therefore, as Re was the main god of the Heliopolitan theogony, the inclusion of the sun god Re in the Hermopoli tan Ogdoad allowed it to thrive amid the dominance of Heliopolis in the Old Kingdom. Similarly, Amun and Amaunet became the main gods of the Theban theogony, which gained importance during the Middle and Late Kingdoms. rn Creation Through Water: pp. 21, 380 .. .. Egyptian Mythology I MEMPHITE THEOGONY Memphite Theogony • Ptah was the chief god of Memphis, the capital of the Lower Kingdom • Ptah, the universal creator, thought the cosmos into being • • He progenerated all the gods In art, he is portrayed as a bearded mummified man, often wearing a skullcap and holding an ankh ("life"). a was ("power"), and a djed ('stability') The ancient capital of the Lower Kingdom, M emphis was known as Ankh Tawy, or "that which binds the two lands." It was the religious and administrativ e c ent er of Egypt during the pre The rheagany 01Memphisislound dynastic p eriod and part on rhe Shoboko Srone of the Old Kingdom. The theogony of M emphis was h eaded by th e god Ptah (1, on the right), who was believ ed to have created the universe using his heart and tongue. Together with his wife, S ekhmet, and his son, Ne fertem, they formed the main triad of the M emphite theogony. Other gods from n eighboring Heliopolis were also assimilated into the Memphite theogony, often as incarnations of Ptah. As the creation tale can be found inscribed on the Shabaka Stone, which dates from the New Kingdom, the Memphite theogony is one of the first to b e text-based, like J ewish and Christian th eologi es. rn Hierarchy ofthe Gods: pp. 31, 70, 308 Memphite Th eogony Ptah and Sekhmet The divine pair of Memphis was Ptah and his wife Sekhmet (2). Because Ptah created the gods through thought and speech-giving each life (ankh) and life force (ka)-he was known as the patron god of craftsmen. He appears as a mummy, wearing a skullcap and grasping a staff with the signs of authority, life, and stability. The lioness god dess Sekhmet,"the powerful one," was a fierce, fire breathing goddess. Pharaohs claimed her power and protec tion on the battlefield. Because plagues served as Sekhmet's messengers, there were many strict rituals surrounding her cult to keep her happy. Apis-Holy Black Bull, Mani festation of Ptah, see Animal Gods, p. 1 05 Atum, Manifestation of Ptah in Heliopolitan Theogony, see pp. 70-71 Destruction of Humanity, Hathor Becomes Sekhmet, see Hathor, p 93 Heliopolitan Theogony, Rival to Memphis, see pp. 70-7 1 Horus, Falcon God Working With Sokar in Underworld, see pp. 82-83 Sokar The falcon god Sokar (3) was the egg, Sokar cracked the shell with a har patron of metalworking, which led to his poon. Then another falcon god, Horus, identification with Ptah, another craftsman carried the dead aloft in Sokar's boat to god. Most important, Sokar was a deity of the judgment. In the underworld, Sokar ruled cemetery. His main function was the puri over the desert through which the sun fying of the dead. When a dead pharaoh was god, Re, passed in the fourth and fifth reborn among the gods by hatching from an hours of the night. Nefertem Although Sekhmet was a fierce goddess, she also had a maternal aspect. Her son with Ptah was Nefertem, the god of the lotus. He repre sented the blue lotus that sprouted from the primor dial waters during creation; from the lotus's petals emerged the sun. Nefertem became a deity of perfume (4, women squeezing flowers). Worshiped at Memphis, he often appears as a man with a lotus blossom on his head or as a child seated on a lotus. rn Lotus Flower in India-Lakshmi and the Lotus Flower: p. 299 .. .. Egyptian Mythology I GEB A N D N U T Geb and Nut • Geb w a s the g o d of the earth; Nut was the sky goddess • Geb's body is used to repre sent the earth, the mountains, vegetation, and the fertile valley of the Nile • Nut, often represented as covered with stars, swallowed the sun and stars and gave birth to them every morning • Geb and Nut were pas sionate lovers, separated in the day by their mother-the air goddess Shu-and together by night • The glyph used for Geb means goose and he is often represented as a black goose; black symbolizing fertile soils Part of the Ennead of HeliopoliS, Geb and Nut were the Nut swimming with a offspring of Shu and latus flower Tefnut, the first divine pair created by Atum. Geb was the god of the earth, Images of Geb depict him as a man lying on his side, beneath the outstretched body of his sister-wife, Nut, the sky. Geb could also be identified with the divine goose that laid the egg from which the sun hatched. Geb's body was the land, making him responsible for earthquakes, but also soil and moisture, which made him a god of fertility. Plants sprout from his body. Geb reigned over the earth and appointed his son, Osiris, to succeed him. The mother of Geb's children was Nut, the sky goddess. Her star-spangled body (1, Nut spanning over Geb, depicted lying on his side) made up the expansive vault of the sky, and she might have ori ginally been a goddess of the Milky Way. As the celestial cow, she carried the aging sun god Re into the sky when he abandoned the earth. The sun was also said to be a child of Nut, Each evening she swallowed him. He passed through her body to be reborn from her every morning. \ ill Primordial Pairs: pp. 114, 352, 446 Geb and Nut " Role in the Underworld Because she was symbolized by a coffin, Nut often appears on coffin lids (2), stretching protec tively over the mummy. She is often depicted emerging from a sycamore fig tree to offer food and water to the dead upon their arrival. As the goddess who repeatedly gives birth to the sun, she figured promi nently in the symbolism of resurrection. Geb was seen as the grave, from which the dead hoped to escape. Nut Gives Birth to the Gods Once, Re forbade Nut (3) from giving birth during the 360 days of the year. Thoth, who was in love with Nut, gambled with the moon to win enough light to create five more days. During this between-year time, m Mummification: pp. 94, 416 Nut gave birth. A voice an nounced that the firstborn, Osiris, would be a great king. Rhea delivered Horus next, followed by Seth, who actually tore himself from the womb. The goddesses Isis and Nephthys emerged last. r r l Figures and Storie� Relevant to Geb and Nut Osiris, Isis, and Seth, Geb and Nut's Children, see pp.76-8 1 70-�I Shu and Tefnut, Geb and Nut's Parents, see pp. _ . .. Egyptian Mythol ogy I OSIRIS Osiris • Osiris ruled the underworld and was the god of vegetation • He was depicted as a mum mified king, wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt • His skin was either black-the color of decay or fertile earth or green-the color of renewal and abundance; he carried the crook and flail Osiris was a major god in Egypt mythology, as lord of the underworld and promiser of eternal life. He was most important for his death and later resurrection. Perhaps originally a god of vegetation, he was the first-born son of Geb and Nut. He was often paired with his sister and wife, the goddess Isis. After having inherited the earthly throne of Geb, Osiris was said to Osiris wearing the white crown of have civilized Egypt and then went Upper Egypt out to do the same to the rest of the world. When Osiris was murdered by his envious brother Seth, the magic of Isis, Anubis, and other gods revived him. However, Osiris took his place as lord of the underworld, so that his posthumously conceived son, Horus, could inherit the throne of the living. Because of this story, the pharaoh was said to beco