Term Paper- Ancient Sumeria/Babylon Essay, Research Paper
One of the many ancient civilizations
that need to be clarified is ancient Sumeria. Sumer was an ancient region
in southern Mesopotamia, located in the extreme southeastern part of what
is now Iraq. The land of Sumer was virtually devoid of human occupants
until about 5000 BC, when settlers moved into the swamps at the head of
the Persian Gulf and gradually spread northward up the lower Tigris-Euphrates
Valley. Although the Sumerians as people disappeared, their
language and literature continued to influence the religion of their successors.
Their basic economic organization and system of writing cuneiform, architectural
forms, and legal practices remained in use. ?Later generations elaborated
upon the mathematics and astronomy that the Sumerians had originated.?
Almost every culture or ancient civilization
has a flood story. For example, in the Old Testament, there was a
flood story that lasted forty days and forty nights. In the Sumerian
civilization, there is a flood story as well. The motive for the
flood story in the Old Testament is similar to the motive in the flood
story in the Sumerian culture. This motive was to punish the wickedness
of men. The flood happened in a city called Shurrupak. It stands
on the bank of the Euphrates River. The city grew old and the gods
that were in it grew old. The city was in an uproar and the god Enlil
heard the clamor and he said to the god in the council, ?The uproar of
mankind is intolerable and sleep is no longer possible by reason of the
babel.? (Bailey 59.) The gods decided to exterminate mankind. ?For
six days and six nights the winds blew, torrent and tempest and flood overwhelmed
the world, tempest and flood raged together like warring hosts.? (Bailey
57.) Even the gods were terrified at the flood, they fled to
the highest heaven, the firmament of Anu.
In Babylonian civilizations, a god is responsible
for reasoning and wisdom. This god of wisdom is Enki. Enki
receives his power from the resources and fertility of the land.
The myth of Inanna and the god of wisdom begins with Inanna delighting
in her womanhood and wishing to test its powers. In this myth, Inanna
goes on a journey. Inanna sets out to visit Enki, the god of Wisdom,
who is also the god of Waters. In Sumerian, ?Enki? means the god of the
Earth. (Beret 111.) As god of wisdom, Enki knows that the powers
of knowledge need to be shared. As king of Eridu, he knows that the
best rule is the self-sufficiency of his citizens. (Beret 111.) As
a father, he knows the best way to raise his children is by encouraging
initiative and independence. ?Like a first drop of water, which generously
offers a place o the second drop, Enki in his state of drunkenness, freely
shares his own powers.? (Beret 111.) Enki belives that power should
be concurrent. Powers should be shared among citizens. He believes
that when this task is done, more wisdom is gained to the individual.
A hero is a character whose actions are
inspiring and or noble. Deeply troubled by the death of his friend
Enkidu, Gilgamesh embarks on a quest not for glory but for everlasting
life in the flesh. Gilgamesh is a great hero known for defeating Humbaba.
Gilgamesh has a restless and arrogant nature. Enkidu was created
by the goddess Aruru because of Gilgamesh?s strong arrogance. Enkidu
was made to contend with Gilgamesh and absorb his energies. However,
Enkidu was no match for Gilgamesh. Instead he became his faithful companion.
Enkidu is like the rational type while Gilgamesh acts bold and fearless.
?O my Lord, you may go on if you choose into this land, but I will go back
to the city, I will tell the lady mother all your glorious deeds till she
shouts for joy; and then I will tell her the death that followed till she
weeps for bitterness.? (Wolkstein 143.) This quote shows how Enkidu is
rather reluctant to assist Gilgamesh in fighting Humbaba. Gilgamesh
on the other hand is so arrogant and naive he doesn?t know Humbaba?s strength.
When Gilgamehs was fighting Humbaba, Enkidu died.
Gilgamesh is deeply troubled by the death
of his companion and friend Enkidu. ?Hear me, great ones of Uruk,
I weep for Enkidu, my friend. I weep for my brother.? (Wolkstein
144.) The king can?t accept the inevitability of death, and with
all the energy of his proud and restless nature, he begins a quest, or
search, for everlasting life. He determines to find Utnapishtim,
survivor of an ancient flood and the only man to whom the gods have granted
immortality. Up until this time, Gilgamesh was ambitious for glory.
He undertook the battle with the giant Humbaba in order to rid the land
of evil and create a name for himself.
The hero?s quest in this case is a search
for immortal life or some kind of secret knowledge. This is a theme
found in literature of many cultures. Usually, the hero must suffer
a number of ordeals in the course of his search. This suffering can
be compared to an initiation. In fact, the initiation into a club
or fraternity resembles in a minor way the difficulties faced on a quest.
In both situations, suffering leads to special knowledge or privileges.
Like any serious quest, Gilgamesh?s journey is dangerous because it takes
him past the boundaries of the similar world. ?He travels to distant
places known only in legend, such as the Great Mountains.? (Philip 21.)
His appearance, too, becomes less and less civilized as he journeys farther
One goddess that the Sumerians adored was
the goddess of creation. Her name was Inanna. ?Inanna?s descent
is needed to set in motion the annual cycle of life on earth.? (Wolkstein
167.) ?According to the me, which dictates the order and form of
things, a New Year?s Day is ordained that marks the earth?s awakening to
new life? (Philip 48.) Inanna, the great goddess
followed all these philosophies. The mystery of human life, connected
to the mystery of natural life, dwells with the goddess of creation.
It is she who brings fertility to all things.
The Sumerians has many myths and hymns
that are similar to many other cultures. However, some may differ
vigorously. The Epics of Gilgamesh portrays Gilgamesh as a typical
archetype. He is the typical hero who is in search for immortality.
The gods and goddesses of ancient Sumeria/Babylon were respected highly
among it?s people. The myths of ancient Sumeria seem controversial
to many other cultures. This is because the belief and faith of their
own cultures are very strong. This is what makes the origin of the
Sumerians unknown. It seems like we will never know.