Assignment: Mythology Research Project Essay, Research Paper
Assignment: Mythology Research Project
September 27, 1996
In The Yoruba and Madagascar myths of creation, the beginning of the
world was a formless Chaos which was neither sea nor land. Orisha Nla, also
called the Great God, was sent down from the sky to the Chaos by Olorun, the
Supreme Being. His obligatory mission was to create solid land and to aid him
in the accomplishment of this task, he was given a snail shell, a pigeon, and a
five-toed hen. After the earth and land were separated, a chameleon was sent
with Orisha Nla to inspect his work and report to the Supreme Being. Olorun was
satisfied with the good things reported to him and sent Orisha Nla to finish.
He planted trees, Olorun made rain water fall from the sky and grew the seeds
into a great forest. The creation of earth took four days and on the fifth
Orisha Nla rested from his work.
Orisha fashioned the first people from earth for Olorun, but only the
Supreme Being was able to give them life. Orisha Nla hid in his workshop trying
to watch him, but a spell of deep sleep was cast onto him so that only Olorun
knew the secret. He made the first man and woman and their daughter and her
husband. The rest of the human beings descended from the them.
As time passed, the Creator noticed that as humans multiplied and
prospered, they gave thanks to Mother Earth but forgot about him. He decided
thenceforth to take the souls of half the humans signifying a tribute.
In the myth, Why Men Must Die told by the Zulu’s of Natal in South
Africa, we are told how because of a slow moving tiny animal man-kind suffered
and still does of mortality. The first man on earth, also a god, sent the
chameleon to give humans the message that they will be like the gods and never
die promptly. Because he took too long to travel to mankind and spread the good
news, he sent a viper out of annoyance with the message that he changed his mind
and they will not live forever.
In the Egyptian creation story my group has studied, everything descends
from Nu, the sea. His son Ra, becomes the Creator and makes a god for
everything in our world: Shu, the wind god, his consort Tefnut, ?The Spitter?,
brought rain, Seb, the earth god, Nut, goddess of the firmament, who were the
parents of Osiris and his consort Isis, and Set and his consort Nepthys.
The story also tells about sins that people had since their earliest
existence, such as desire, impatience, deception and lying. Isis, who is greedy
for power, goes as far as poisoning the Creator, in order to obtain his secret
and sacred name, which is the symbol and holder of the Creator’s powers. A
short legendary history of some customs (such as those of the New Year’s
celebration) is given. By reading these stories, one can see some of the
similarities present between the myths of Christianity (mainly Roman and Greek)
and those of Africa, such as the story of the creation, the deceiving of the God,
his anger with the people and the punishment he gave them in order to teach them
a lesson and his forgiveness, etc.
Death is first introduced in the form of punishment, which Ra is giving
the people, with the help of Hathor, who is doing the actual slaying. Ra also
divided the world between two of his gods: Osiris, who will rule the dead, and
Horus, who will rule on the ?island of the fiery flames.? Once people die, they
enter Osiris’ kingdom, where they are divided between those who can stay and
those who will be taken by the serpents, ?dragging them away, while they utter
loud and piercing cries of grief and agony, to be tortured and devoured; lo!?
Bierlein, J. F. Parallel Myths. New York: Random House Inc., 1994
Clifford, Eth. The Magnificent Myths of Men. New York: Globe Book Co.,
Ions, Veronica. Egyptioan Mythology. New York: Peter Bedrick Books,
Mackenzie, Donald A. Egyptiona Myths and Legends. New York: Crown
Publishers Inc., 1978