Lecture 3

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7 Apr 2012
Lecture Three: Cosmogony and Theogony
What is Cosmogony and Theogony
Cosmogony: the birth of the universe (the cosmos)
Theogony: the birth of the gods
In many traditions, including the Greek Mythological tradition, the two are identical:
+ Natural elements are themselves deities.
Non-Greek Creation Stories Babylon
Source: Enuma Elish (“when on high”)
Text probably dates to 18th to 16th c. BCE (Bronze Age)
Contains the Babylonian creation myth
Leads to the supremacy of the Babylonian patron city-deity, Marduk.
The natural elements and forces are viewed as gods.
Primordial watery substance: Tiamat
+ Female
+ Cosmic Chaos/disorder
+ Lack of form
+ Defeated by Marduk
+ Then divided and shaped by Marduk into elements of nature in their current (proper) order: sky
above, mountains, earth, rivers below.
+ A Thunder-god
+ Male
+ Cosmic order
+ Defeats Tiamat and becomes a supreme god
Non-Greek Creation Myths Egypt
Various local versions, with roughly the following outline:
+ Primordial infinite chaotic sea called (Nu or Nun)
+ Pyramidal mound emerges from the sea
+ The Sun (often as god Ra) emerges from the mound
+ The natural elements and forces are viewed as gods.
Non-Greek Creation Myths Biblical
A pre-existing deity initiates creation
Infinite and formless primordial watery mass
Light is created
The watery mass is divided by a partition (the sky) in water above and water below.
The natural elements are not personified: they are not gods.
Some Themes in Creation Stories
One, undifferentiated, formless element is separated into multiple elements
From disorder eventually forms order
Motionless, stagnant mass gives way to animated cosmos full of change and activity
Hesiod's Creation Myth
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