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Mesopotamia - Essay Example

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History has always been chronicled as a series of political events, rise and fall of dynasties. It is within the framework of political history that the historian has to discern the religious and intellectual emotions of the people living in the ancient world…
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Download file to see previous pages... History has always been chronicled as a series of political events, rise and fall of dynasties. It is within the framework of political history that the historian has to discern the religious and intellectual emotions of the people living in the ancient world. 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. Polytheistic religious ideas are evident in the inscriptions and dedications of various temples and shrines, the myths and legends of particular gods, the recorded or observed practices of various cults and rituals, hymns and prayers that were transcribed by the priests and priestesses of the temples. The Mesopotamian thought process and religious ideas were characterized by polytheism coupled with a unique pessimism. In Mesopotamia, city-states were theocracies. The king was regarded as the political and religious leader of the city-state. He was the people’s representative to the gods, and was the ‘First Servant’ of the gods to the people. Individual city-states often adopted a patron god to worship as their chief god. but recognized the validity of other gods and worshiped them on appropriate occasions. However, one god would be chosen as a patron god to aid them in time of war or crisis....
lands on Mt. Nimush, he offers sacrifice to the gods. The gods responded by gathering
like flies around the sacrifice having not received any because humanity was destroyed
by the flood: "the gods smelled the sweet savour, and collected like flies over a sheep
sacrifice." 2. Only the best yield of the land and best animals were sacrificed at these
rituals. It was their conviction that Gods could be appeased only by these offerings. So
they had to be of optimum quality. The whole community would be involved in these
rituals. Localized or private cults dedicated to a particular god that limited membership to
a few or an elite also emerged, but the predominant forms of cultic worship involved the
whole community; rich and poor; artisan and craftsmen, city-dwellers and country folk.
Mesopotamian polytheism had many gods and goddesses that were immortal, but
these gods had gender and specific functions or duties, and thus, limited powers. While
they may appear to have been powerful and immortal, they were very human, in terms of
behavior and emotions. They had the full range of human emotions: they expressed fear,
lust, anger, envy, greed; yet the gods also expressed love, compassion, and a sense of
justice, as well as, injustice and revenge.
One notices an incredible and overwhelming mood of pessimism and insecurity
that underlines the Mesopotamian Weltanschauung (world-view). The Mesopotamians
viewed their relationship with their gods in this way rather consistently. Since they were
devoid of political and personal security, the threat of constant war contributed to a sense
of dread, uncertainty, and pessimism. This is potrayed in the "Lament for Ur", in which
the goddess Ningal recounts the destruction of Ur in wartime and the sufferings of her ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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