Portrayal of the Gods
Portrayal of the Gods
Gilgamesh was an historical king of Uruk in Babylonia, on the River Euphrates in modern Iraq. It revolves around the relationship between Gilgamesh, who has become distracted and disheartened by his rule, and a friend, Enkidu, who is half-wild and who undertakes dangerous quests with him. In the epic of Gilgamesh and in the lives of the Mesopotamian the gods where portrayed as self-serving arrogant beings. These beings created the human race as slaves for the gods and so a human in the view of an early Mesopotamian had better do what the gods said if they wanted to live a happy life.
We see gods that that do not really care about the lives of the Mesopotamian. The Mesopotamian could not depend on the safety of a strong government. The lack of a strong government was caused by many different factors and one of the main factors that brought about a weak government in the land of the Mesopotamia, was the lack of a reliable food source. The unreliable food source was due to the lack of a reliable source of farmland. Moreover, this lack of farmland was due mostly to the ever-changing rivers that surrounded the early civilizations that believed in these harsh gods.
These peoples could not depend on a predictable flood pattern from the Tigris or the Euphrates. This fact above all, is the reason that the view of mean uncaring gods came about for the lives of these early people. One year a village could be right next to the Tigris but in the next year, they’ll be a mile away from the river thus destroying the type of economy that the village had in the previous year. Living with this, the people of the early civilizations blamed this hardship on the gods.
These people did not think that the gods were all bad though, but just thought that they did not care about human existence because, as they believed, humans were created by many gods and for the sole service of these gods that created them. We conclude that these gods are always out to get the humans in whatever endeavor they may take up. Gilgamesh and Enkidu learn all too well that the gods are dangerous for mortals. Gods live by their own laws and frequently behave as emotionally and irrationally as children. Piety is important to the gods, and they expect obedience and flattery whenever possible.
They can often be helpful, but angering them is sheer madness, and a character’s reverence for the gods is no guarantee of safety. He is rich in religious symbolism. Religious rituals in Mesopotamia involved sacrifices, festivals, sex, dream interpretation, and shamanic magic. The walls of Uruk symbolize the great accomplishments of which mortals are capable. The epic of Gilgamesh differs markedly from that of the Judeo-Christian tradition, in which God is both a partner in a covenant and a stern but loving parent to his people.
The covenant promises that people will receive an earthly or heavenly inheritance if they behave well. The Judeo-Christian God represents not just what is most powerful but what is morally best, humans should aspire to imitate him. These differences are noteworthy because Gilgamesh also shares certain common elements with the Judeo-Christian Bible. The bible and Gilgamesh are written in both languages. In Oedipus Tyrannus, it talks about the Ancient Greece where a lot was not understood; science was merely an infant and everything that happened was explained as an act of the gods or fate.
Gods were the pinnacle of power; existing since the dawn of time. They were immortal, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Different gods had different personalities. In this sense, the gods were anthropomorphic. Having such mastery of the world would enable them to control man’s behavior. Fate is the idea that people’s lives are predetermined and that no matter what is done, fate cannot be changed. With the gods it was used to explore events that seemed unexplainable. It is clear that a betrayal of the god’s dominance resulted in Laius and Jocasta’s education. Oedipus is the victim of both fate and circumstance.
Apollo is the God behind the nebulous conspiration involving Oedipus. Oracular god hides what he reveals through his oracles. Here is evidence of the Greek theories, which contempt for the gods leads to pain and suffering. As a result he is punished in a way that is more severe than even death. There is also the fact of knowing that his mother is suffering terrible pain. In the embattle of Oedipus, fighting for his own life, the god is present as an old prediction, inescapable for sure, but acting as background for the development of facts, or better, for the discovery of what had already happened.
Oedipus experiences great grief when he looks back and realizes how much he has fallen from his former perch of power. This end is not only ironic but also cruel. Arachne was so apt at weaving that she challenged the god Athene to a contest. Oedipus certainly is not one without flaws. His pride, ignorance, insolence and disbelief in the gods, and unrelenting quest for the truth ultimately contributed to his destruction. The tragedy brought this evolution in the way of analyzing the relationship between the Greek gods and man, giving the latter more freedom of action.
When Oedipus was told that he was responsible for the murder of Laius, he became enraged and calls the old oracle a liar. He ran away from his home, Corinth, in hopes of outsmarting the gods divine will. Like his father, he also sought ways to escape the horrible destiny told by the oracle of Apollo. The chorus warns us of man’s need to have reverence for the gods, and the dangers of too much pride. “If a man walks with haughtiness of hand or word and gives no heed to Justice and the shrines of Gods despises, may an evil doom smite him for his ill, starred pride of heart.
If he reaps gains without justice and will not hold from impiety and his fingers itch for untouchable things. When such things are done, what man shall contrive to shield his soul from the shafts of the God? ”(pp. 452). Finally, the Greeks are warned that the only way to happiness is through humility and respect towards the gods. In the book “Monkey” by Wu Cheng, Sun Wukong, realized that despite his power over the monkeys, he was just like them, and was not beyond mortality. His determination to find immortality made him to travel on a raft to civilized lands where he was made the disciple of a Buddhist.
Through his travels, he was able to acquire human speech and manners. He established himself as one of the most powerful and influential demons in the world and traveled into the ocean where he got the weapons that suited him. Hoping that a promotion and a rank amongst the gods would make him more manageable, the Jade emperor invited Wukong to Heaven, where the monkey believed he would receive an honorable place as one of the gods. Instead, he was made the head of heavenly stables to watch over horses.
He went against the gods when he discovered what he was doing, and proclaimed himself as the great sage, and teamed up with the most powerful demons on earth. Although the heavens recognized the title of the monkey, their attempt to subdue the monkey king was unsuccessful. Wukong’s indignation turned into open defiance when he realized that he was excluded from a royal meeting that included that god and the goddess. After stealing the empress Xi Wangmu’s peaches of immortality and the Jade Emperor’s royal wine, he escaped back to his kingdom in preparation for his rebellion.
Finally he proved himself equal to the best of Heaven’s generals when he defeated the army of heavens. Conclusion In the three books, it’s evident that the gods were caring and if one goes against their will, there was a repercussion for that. The gods are the pinnacle of power who takes control of all the things in the world. Different gods have different personalities and deeds. Gilgamesh learns that the gods are dangerous for mortals. Gods live by their own laws and frequently behave as emotionally and irrationally as children. Piety is important to the gods, and they expect obedience and flattery whenever possible.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 9 November 2016
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