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Lecture 3

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University of Toronto Mississauga

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 18 to 16 c. BCE (BronzeAge) – 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. – Marduk: +AThunder-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 – Apre-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 – Chaos: meaning something like chasm + Not really a god yet – The first deity is Gaia (“earth”) + Female +Associated with earth and fertility – Tartarus: the murky realm deep beneath the earth Eros – Eros: the word means sexual desire – Two apparently different images of Eros in Greek mythology – Hesiod's Eros, “Protogenos” (first born), one of the first deities + The agent of cosmic motion + The primal urge that initiates not only sexual procreation and multiplication, but more generally cosmic energy, motion, change. – The boy, Eros, playful, mischievous companion ofAphrodite, sometimes her son withAres. – The separation is not consistent – Known as “Cupid”? The Earth-Goddess – The idea of an Earth-Mother goddess, associated with agriculture and fertility, is common in many cultures + Recall Tiamat: the first divinity, female, generates other gods. +Aside from Gaea, Rhea, Themis, Cybele, Hera, Demeter andAphrodite all have significant elements of the ancient Earth-Mother in them. – The pattern in many traditions is the overthrow of te female earth goddess, often associated with primordial disorder, by a male sky-god (ie: Zeus) who establishes order. Hesiod's Creation Myth – Erebos, darkness, and Nyx,
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