Chinese and Greek Mythology
Chinese and Greek Mythology
Long ago, people wanted to acquire a better understanding of the beginning of the universe which ultimately resulted in the establishment of religions, beliefs and most pertinent, creation myths. Mythology provides explanations for the worlds mysteries especially in regards to the creation of Earth, Humans and the environment. This comparative paragraph analyzes the similarities and differences between a Greek myth entitled, The Beginning of Things, and a Chinese myth named, Heaven and Earth and Man, contrasted in the aspects of conflict, solutions, heroic action, and the education of the first humans.
Conflicts arise for different concerns but after the battles cease, peace is restored because of supernatural intervention, the world advances and progresses to prevent future misfortune. Firstly, if peace is kept in the heavens of Greece then there will be less despair on Earth. The battle of authority results in a punishment system being enforced to confine cruel people and prevent rebellions. In ancient Greece there was a constant power struggle for the gods because of the underlying fear that their children would replace them in the chain of command.
The text supports the argument of development and enhancement after unreasonable decisions are made by the deities; If any of them breaks the oath, for one year he lies breathless, and cannot partake of sweet nectar and ambrosia; after that year he is cut off from the meeting of the gods for nine years more, and then only may he come back and join their company. (Rouse, 3) During the destruction of the battles, evil is unleashed and causes chaos in the land. The justice system, which is created in response to Cronuses’ rebellion, is essential for any society to continue successfully.
There is heroic involvement in both myths, with Zeus in particular in Ancient Greece. Zeus defeated his father and saved his brothers and sisters after being swallowed and trapped in his stomach. Cronuses’ awful deed deserves punishment which results in Zeus creating the Underworld and a standard of the amount of time spent punished. In fact, the Chinese story also includes a quarrel, different in rationale but improvement after the disagreement is a prevalent theme in both.
Subsequently, in respect to the Chinese myth, after the war between fire and water, the pillar was destroyed; Nu-Kua repaired the gaps in the sky by supporting the sky with additional blocks. The literature provides evidence to confirm this line of reasoning; Block by block, she patched the holes in the sky. Lastly, she killed a giant turtle, and cut off its powerful legs to make pillars between which the sky is firmly held over the Earth, never again to fall. (Birch, 7) After chaos returns for the second time, when the elements fight against each other, involvement from spirits resolves the crisis and mitigates harm from humans.
The irrational and aggressive clash between fire and water causes destruction but also provides reasoning for the position of the oceans and world geography. Apart from the similarities, there are many discrepancies circulating around the topic of conflict. In the Greek myth, conflicts originate from the desire to establish power and authority by rebelling. First, Cronus rebelled against his father Uranus and Zeus against Cronus followed. The competition is caused because children inherit their parents’ position and both gods prevent this from happening by swallowing or imprisoning them.
On the contrary, the Chinese dispute is against the elements fire and water. In Chinese mythology, fire is masculine and symbolizes strength, aggression, impulsiveness. Water is considered feminine and symbolizes fluidity, downward energy but has the potential to be noisy. The conflict is probably caused because the elements are opposites and naturally enemies. This clash of the elements is a result of senseless hostility and not a fight for control. The difference in culture is what causes the significant differences in myths.
Evidently, in Greek mythology acquiring status and supremacy is valued whereas there isn’t a sense of hierarchy but instead teamwork in China. According to the Asian myth, the spirits all work together towards a common goal which is to enhance and protect the Earth. Another obvious commonality in relation to either conflict is the presence of a supreme being which triggers and assists the chain of events which form the World. The Greek mythology had many different supreme beings which were responsible for various forces on Earth.
The Chinese version, only included two main beings, one which was the result of the environment and the other was the creator of the human race. Comparative mythology also requires examining the distinction between the ideas of how both cultures though the Earth was created. An indication of how diverse the culture and beliefs of people is demonstrated in the topic of the formation of Human beings and the surrounding eco-system. The creation of humans, wildlife and geographic landscapes varies with the idea of the Greek Gods sculpting most organisms
themselves whereas the Chinese believe Pan’Ku’s body transforms into the environment. The aspect of creation and the environment is portrayed very differently in both legends. The number of dissimilarities outweighs the number corresponding ideas surrounding the mystery of the beginning of the Universe and our existence. In ancient Greece, after a period of chaos and disagreement between the deities a clever titian named Prometheus establishes the first human and provides luminosity and warmth in a world, swallowed by darkness after the sun sets.
Prometheus sculpts animals and accidentally, the first human out of clay and began to teach them how to survive including hunting and making fire; Prometheus was very much pleased with his new pet. He used to watch men hunting for food and living in caves and holes, like ants or badgers. He determined to educate men as well as he could. (Rouse, 2) After rebelling by taking responsibility for the Earth underneath the heavens, Prometheus entertains himself by making models out of clay. Accidently, he creates humans and spent most of his time teaching humans how to continue to exist.
Prometheus sculpts humans by accident whereas Nu’Kua from the Chinese myth wants to produce beings that will aid to cure her solitary state. To contrast, in the Chinese myth, the weather conditions, mountains, rivers and vegetation are all created by Pan’Ku’s body. Additionally, after humans are created by Nu’Kua, they are taught many vital skills in addition to simply the ability to survive; “Who in his life [Pan’Ku] had brought shape to the universe, by his death gave his body to make it rich and beautiful… to the Earth he gave his body” (Birch, 6).
In the Chinese story, the environment is not created by a specific spirit but instead transforms from a god into the surrounding nature and landscape. A further comparison against the Greek tale is the little explanation about how the land and plants are created except for the separation of sky and ground which reveals an already existing ecosystem. Moreover, the humans in the Chinese myth are taught how to communicate, reproduce and to live in peace. The humans in ancient Greece are never taught skills beyond survival. Finally, there is an evident variation for the reasons to assemble humans.
Nu’Kua intends to create a creature that will provide her relief from isolation meanwhile Prometheus is only amusing himself and the first human emerges entirely unintentionally. Nevertheless, both fairy-tales have a couple of resembling principles. To begin with, humans are formed and educated by the deities. The first humans were taught to hunt, gather food, and construct shelter to avoid perishing as a species. The principal objective is to aid humans to continue to populate and the justification in both fables was that supernatural intervention maintained the evolution of such a powerful species.
Magical clay was used in both myths as the main material in the production of creatures and human beings. The motive for why these two parables are so similar is to emphasize how there is an external influence which assisted the formation of humans because it is difficult to believe that simple resources could have conceived such complex living, breathing creatures. Additionally, as a society in the present day, education is a requirement and essential for the genetic continuity of the human race, peace and maintenance of the Earth’s resources.
By the means of education can one’s potential be used to maximum extent. It is natural for the authors of these short fictitious stories to assume the hero’s and goddesses teach humans because then there will be no foundation to carry on the sharing of lessons and information. In conclusion, it is in the nature of humans to wonder about the unknown and search for answers. At the foundation of nearly every culture is a creation myth which explains how the wonderful mysteries of the Earth came to be.
Despite geographical barriers, many cultures have developed creation myths with the same basic elements and structure. However, there are many cultural and societal influences which cause variations in the beliefs and alter the overall creation myth from region to region. Apart from the fundamental similarities, the Greek and Chinese ideologies deviated in certain aspects of the myth because their values and morals as separate countries have impacted, adapted and evolved differently in response to world events.