World of Gods and the World of Men as Perceived by the Sumerians
Evolutions of civilizations can occur because of differences in people’s religion, culture, or geographic setting of the settlement. The relationship between the world of the gods and that of men was perceived differently by the Sumerians, Egyptians, and Hebrew ancient civilizations. This is demonstrated by the way each group viewed the process of creation. They had different thoughts on the creation of their gods, the universe and of man. This essay will discuss the relationship between humans and their gods in three different ancient civilizations: Sumerian, Egyptian and Hebrew.
The Sumerians lived in a harsh climate. They were located between two rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. The fertile crescent, as it was called, between the two rivers was prone to unpredictable flooding. This often resulted in the ruination of crops causing the people of Mesopotamia to move around in search of food. Due to these harsh conditions they perceived their gods as powerful and merciless. They believed their gods created man for the sole purpose of serving them so that the gods could rest.
The Sumerians would build large temples called Ziggurats for their gods to live in. They appointed high priests to run the community and converse with the gods. The Sumerians believed in a hierarchy of the gods which is discussed in the Akkadian Creation Myth,. The Akkadian Creation Myth would be similar to the present day Christian bible to the Sumerians. It tells about the first gods Aspu (the primordial waters under the earth) and Tiamat (the personification of the sea) and their succession by their own offspring. Their offspring were younger and stronger than the older gods. An example of this is shown in Marduk’s succession.
The Sumerians believed that the abilities they had to accomplish the things they did were given to them by their gods, things such as building the Ziggurats. However, there was pessimism in their view of their own living conditions. They felt that the condition of their civilization was not improving and would not improve in the future because of the harshness of their gods.
Another example of how the Sumerians felt about their gods came from The Epic of Gilgamesh. The gods brutally punished Enkidu, causing him death, because he aided Gilgamesh in killing the Bull of Heaven and Humbaba. This is portrayed in a quote by Anu, a Sumerian god, “Because they have killed the Bull of Heaven, and because they have killed Humbaba who guarded the cedar mountain one of the two must die”. Since Gilgamesh was part god, the gods chose to kill Enkidu, the full human. This demonstrates how merciless the Sumerians portrayed their gods.
Egyptian geography was more promising than that of the Sumerians. The land on both sides of the Nile was very fertile, due to annual flooding. The flooding was very predictable which helped the Egyptians see the universe as...