Ancient Mesopotamia Essay

1182 words - 5 pages

Ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates was home to the ancient civilizations of Sumer, Babylon, and Akkad. The Mesopotamian people were predominantly of polytheistic faith; the social construct of gods allowed them to develop meaning and order in their lives. Every aspect of life was dominated by the belief that submitting to the worship of gods would shield them from divine wrath. Cities were endowed with patron gods that were guardians and the duty of the ruler was to act upon their behalf. Ziggurats were built to honor the holiness of the gods and to appease them in hopes of attaining their blessings. The Mesopotamian peoples zealously enslaved their ...view middle of the document...

Even among themselves gods held an unequal status, a parallel to the city-states of Sumer and Akkad with the highest authority of the king, the priests, and the ordinary people. These gods were derived from nature due to life in Mesopotamia being so reliant on and affected by the seasons.
Between the gods and the people, an earthly representative was chosen to guide the people and serve as a mediator. This was commonly the ruler of the city-state and the message of the gods was relayed through him, in the case of the Akkadians this was Sargon. After conquering Sumer, the Akkadians did little to change the religious aspects except to differentiate and expand on them, changing the names of previous Sumerian gods. To the people living under the rule of a king in Sumer or Akkad, they fervently followed the message of the gods appeasing them with prayer and sacrifice. There was great fear of incurring the punishment of the gods and suffering the consequences. Every action was in accordance to the will of these gods and in inferiority to their greatness. To the people that thrived in Sumer and Akkad, their sole existence was in honor of the gods.
Traveling back to the Babylonian Empire in ancient Mesopotamia, there was ruler by the name of Hammurabi that formed a set of laws for his people to live by. The Code of Hammurabi is the first set of written laws that highlights an ethical society where crime is rivaled with the severe punishment of death. To Hammurabi his justification of these laws comes directly from the gods and that he has been given the order to rid the land of all evil. Hammurabi not only makes his case by describing his pious character but how he appeals to each and every god. His influence and success comes directly from the fact that the people so staunchly invested themselves in the gods and surely Hammurabi was a rightly guided man. To the people it creates this obligation to the gods and the word of the gods is divine compared to that of a man. Hammurabi used the fear that the people had of the gods to his own gain by simply referring to himself as this “messenger” of the gods and declaring the utmost support of the laws by the gods. The Code of Hammurabi strictly implemented social order and set in stone ethical behavior in society. Disrespecting Hammurabi or the code of law he created would indirectly equal that of insulting the gods, which would be a...

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