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Monday, 16 January 2012

Creation of men and deluge myth in mythology and religions

 Edited, June 08, 2012
 Greek mythology

 There was also an account, stating that Prometheus had created men out of earth and water, at the very beginning of the human race, or after the flood of Deucalion, when Zeus is said to have ordered him and Athena to make men out of the mud, and the winds to breathe life into them (Apollod. i. 7. § 1; Ov. Met. i. 81; Etym. Mag. s. v. Promêtheus). Prometheus is said to have given to men something of all the qualities possessed by the other animals (Horat Carm. i. 16. 13).

Ovid, Metamorphoses 1. 363 ff :
"[Deukalion speaks aloud, after the Great Deluge has wiped out all of mankind:] ‘O for my father's [Prometheus'] magic to restore mankind again and in the moulded clay breathe life and so repopulate the world!’"

To view Prometheus blog click here

                                             Otto Greiner, Prometheus.

 The individual character of the creator was not without bearing upon the nature of his creatures; good was the necessary outcome of the good gods, evil of the evil ones; and herein lay the explanation of the mingling of things excellent and things execrable, which is found everywhere throughout the world. Voluntarily or involuntarily, Sit and his partisans were the cause and origin of all that is harmful. Daily their eyes shed upon the world those juices by which plants are made poisonous, as well as malign influences, crime, and madness. Their saliva, the foam which fell from their mouths during their attacks of rage, their sweat, their blood itself, were all no less to be feared. When any drop of it touched the earth, straightway it germinated, and produced something strange and baleful—a serpent, a scorpion, a plant of deadly nightshade or of henbane. But, on the other hand, the sun was all goodness, and persons or things which it cast forth into life infallibly partook of its benignity. Wine that maketh man glad, the bee who works for him in the flowers secreting wax and honey, the meat and herbs which are his food, the stuffs that clothe him, all useful things which he makes for himself, not only emanated from the Solar Eye of Horus, but were indeed nothing more than the Eye of Horus under different aspects, and in his name they were presented in sacrifice. The devout generally were of opinion that the first Egyptians, the sons and flock of Râ, came into the world happy and perfect;[*] by degrees their descendants had fallen from that native felicity into their present state.

* In the tomb of Seti I, the words flock of the Sun, flock of Râ, are those by which the god Horus refers to men. Certain expressions used by Egyptian writers are in themselves sufficient to show that the first generations of men were supposed to have lived in a state of happiness and perfection. To the Egyptians the times of Râ, the times of the god—that is to say, the centuries immediately following on the creation—-were the ideal age, and no good thing had appeared upon earth since then.

Some, on the contrary, affirmed that their ancestors were born as so many brutes, unprovided with the most essential arts of gentle life. They knew nothing of articulate speech, and expressed themselves by cries only, like other animals, until the day when Thot taught them both speech and writing.

These tales sufficed for popular edification; they provided but meagre fare for the intelligence of the learned. The latter did not confine their ambition to the possession of a few incomplete and contradictory details concerning the beginnings of humanity. They wished to know the history of its consecutive development from the very first; what manner of life had been led by their fathers; what chiefs they had obeyed and the names or adventures of those chiefs; why part of the nations had left the blessed banks of the Nile and gone to settle in foreign lands; by what stages and in what length of time those who had not emigrated rose out of native barbarism into that degree of culture to which the most ancient monuments bore testimony.  The priests of Heliopolis took this work in hand, as they had already taken in hand the same task with regard to the myths referring to the creation; and the Enneads provided them with a ready-made framework. They changed the gods of the Ennead into so many kings, determined with minute accuracy the lengths of their reigns, and compiled their biographies from popular tales. The duality of the feudal god supplied an admirable expedient for connecting the history of the world with that of chaos. Tûmû was identified with Nû, and relegated to the primordial Ocean: Râ was retained, and proclaimed the first king of the world. He had not established his rule without difficulty. The "Children of Defeat," beings hostile to order and light, engaged him in fierce battles; nor did he succeed in organizing his kingdom until he had conquered them in nocturnal combat at Hermopolis, and even at Heliopolis itself.

* The Children of Defeat, in Egyptian Mosû batashû, or Mosû batashît, are often confounded with the followers of Sit, the enemies of Osiris. From the first they were distinct, and represented beings and forces hostile to the sun, with the dragon Apôpi at their head. Their defeat at Hermopolis corresponded to the moment when Shu, raising the sky above the sacred mound in that city, substituted order and light for chaos and darkness. This defeat is mentioned in chap xvii. of the Book of the Dead (Naville's edition, vol. i. pl. xxiii. 1. 3, et seq.), in which connexion E. de Rougé first explained its meaning. In the same chapter of the Book of the Dead (Naville's edition, vol. i. pis. xxiv., xxv., 11. 54-58), reference is also made to the battle by night, in Heliopolis, at the close of which Râ appeared in the form of a cat or lion, and beheaded the great serpent.
G. Maspero, History of Egypt Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria Vol. I Part C

Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Gayet. The scene is taken from bas-reliefs in the temple of Luxor, where the god Khnûmû is seen completing his modelling of the future King Amenôthes III. and his double, represented as two children wearing the side-lock and large necklace. The first holds his finger to his lips, while the arms of the second swing at his sides.

Let's look at the Bible.

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

In Bible, God God saw that Adam needed a human partner, so he put Adam to sleep, took a rib from his side, and created Eve from it.

                                         Michelangelo, The creation of Adam   

We have another common theme - The Great Deluge

A flood myth or deluge myth is a mythical or religious story of a great flood sent by a deity or deities to destroy civilization as an act of divine retribution. It is a theme widespread among many cultures, though it is perhaps best known in modern times through the biblical and Quranic account of Noah's Ark, the foundational myths of the Quiché and Mayas, through Deucalion in Greek mythology, the Utnapishtim in the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Hindu puranic story of Manu which has some very strong parallels with the story of Noah.

In Greek mythology Deucalion  was a son of Prometheus; ancient sources name his mother as Clymene, Hesione, or Pronoia. The anger of Zeus was ignited by the hubris of the Pelasgians, and he decided to put an end to the Bronze Age. Lycaon, the king of Arcadia, had sacrificed a boy to Zeus, who was appalled by this savage offering. Zeus loosed a deluge, so that the rivers ran in torrents and the sea flooded the coastal plain, engulfed the foothills with spray, and washed everything clean. Deucalion, with the aid of his father Prometheus, was saved from this deluge by building a chest (literally “chest” like the Bible's “ark,” which means “box”) Like his Biblical equivalent Noah and Mesopotamian counterpart Utnapishtim, he uses his chest to survive the deluge with his wife, Pyrrha.

Ovid, Metamorphoses 1. 363 ff :
"[Deukalion speaks aloud, after the Great Deluge has wiped out all of mankind:] ‘O for my father's [Prometheus'] magic to restore mankind again and in the molded clay breathe life and so repopulate the world!’"
                                                 Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo.

                                              Agostino Carracci, The Flood

                                            Scene of deluge-Joseph Desire Court
                                         Wassilij Petrovich Wereschtschagin

                                                  The Flood, by Paul Merwart.

                                                           Francis Danby, Deluge

                                                        John Martin, The Deluge

                          Cole Thomas The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge

In various Hindu traditions, Manu, is a title accorded to the progenitor of mankind, and also the very first king to rule this earth, who saved mankind from the universal flood. 

And we have the biblical Ark of Noah.

                              Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat by Simon de Myle

                                        Michelangelo,  Sacrifice of Noah

                                        Michelangelo,  Sacrifice of Noah, detail

                                 Michelangelo,  Sacrifice of Noah, detail

                                       Sébastien  Bourdon, Sacrifice of Noah

                    Francesco Bassano the Younger, Entry of the animals in the Ark

              Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione The Animals Entering Noah's Ark

     Jan Bruegel,Landscape of Paradise and the Loading of the Animals in Noah’s Ark

                     Czech movie poster to American movie Noah's Ark