Name History and Political Science 30 September 2012 Mesopotamians Polytheism and the Epic of Gilgamesh The Mesopotamians had a spiritual view of their world which was of utmost significance to their culture. They believed that the gods were living, real and influenced all features of their lives…
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Nippur city state for example, was dedicated to the god of the wind known as Enlil. Occupying a number of acres was a temple complex at the heart of each city-state. It comprised of a ziggurat and a temple dedicated to the god or goddess of the city at the top. The god or goddess placed at the top of the temple was in the form of a statue. The construction of temples and other buildings such as priests and priestesses residents always consumed a lot of wealth. A close relationship between the culture and religion of the Mesopotamians could be seen in the way temples were dominating structures in their commercial and personal lives. The Mesopotamians view of the world or universe was impacted by their physical environment. Their local climate consisted of a disturbing climate, heavy downpours, ferocious floods and scorching winds. Famines and such conditions were convincing factors to the Mesopotamians that supernatural powers controlled the world and the life of human beings in it were short. These can be clearly seen in the laments of the epic of Gilgamesh where the Mesopotamians always felt helpless in the presence of nature. Some words from the poem are as follows; “The rampant flood which no man can oppose, Which shakes the heavens and causes earth to tremble, In an appalling blanket folds mother and child, Beats down the canebrake’s full luxuriant greenery, And drowns the harvest in its time of ripeness.” (qtd. in Spielvogel 11). Because of the many gods and goddesses that controlled the universe, Mesopotamians had a religion of polytheism. The greatest god was An, god of the sky, he was the source of all authority followed by Enlil, god of the wind. The god of the earth was known as Enki, he was in charge of all canals, wells and rivers as well as waters of creativity. Ninhursaga, the goddess was initially associated with mountains, soil and vegetation but eventually became a mother goddess. The relationship between the Mesopotamians and their gods was that of subservience since they believed they were created to work for their gods. Since they were unsure of what the gods would do they developed arts of divination. Divination took various forms with the most common being that of priests and kings. They would kill animals like sheep and analyze their organs to foretell events. Predicted events served as a means of guiding people to act wisely. The Mesopotamians viewed death with horror and fear. Death and disease were viewed in a spiritual perspective. They believed that the gods ordained immortality for themselves and death for man. They also believed that death and sickness were the results of sin. According to their mythology, man was made of clay which was then added blood and flesh of a god; therefore, God was present in all human beings. The main purpose why man was created was to serve the gods. When humans offended the gods, they would get angry and withdraw their support allowing demons to take over. The souls of dead people went to the underworld where according to the Mesopotamians was a dark land from which no one returned. However, offended spirits could find their way back to the living and inflict misery on them for their wrongdoings. To avoid such wrath, the Mesopotamians gave daily sacrifices to the spirits of the dead to appease them. The story of Gilgamesh is similar to the story of Noah in the Bible. The story deals with issues surrounding mortality and immortality. Gilgamesh was Sumerian king
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Although literary sources are not abundant sine they have not been preserved till date, archeological sources including monuments and inscriptions provide us a more or less clear picture of the thought process of the people living in the ages gone by
The author states that the hero in Gilgamesh, as in other related epics, is portrayed as having the best of qualities that any man can aspire. The element of beauty, strength, and wisdom are stretched in ways that project the hero above the normal character of a human. Gilgamesh is described as exceedingly beautiful and mighty.
Hebrew believes in One God, on the contrary, Mesopotamians has many gods and demigods. This establishes the reason why the God who caused the flood in the book of Genesis is definitely not the same god/s that causes
The Genesis has an uncertain date but it places between the 1,500 and 5,00 B.C consisting of events that have occurred more than a thousand years earlier. Epic of Gilgamesh has been based on the Babylonian society while the Genesis is the first book of the Tanakh, the Hebrew
It shows these topics were as relevant in those times as they are still today, as people continue to seek the elixir of life that will not only guarantee a long life but a long and youthful life, a search for the fountain of youth, which somehow also illustrates the sheer vanity of Man.
He was the son of a goddess and this is one aspect that is thoroughly highlighted upon here. This classic piece manifests a number of different strengths, all of which are linked with love, feelings of brotherhood and relationships amongst friends. Indeed Gilgamesh is a classic piece of Middle Eastern culture and one which was written in cuneiform with the assistance of 12 clay tablets in 2000 BC.
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