Flood Stories Comparison

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The Epic of Gilgamesh, Genesis 6-9 and Ovid’s Metamorphosis are three classics in which the gods are discontented with the actions and manners of men, and take extreme action in the form of a flood to rid the world of those that unworthy in their eyes, sparing only a select few. In all three of these stories, a flood is sent to wipe out humanity, sparing only a select few. The motivation of the gods for the floods is different, however. Through comparison of these motives, the moral fiber of divinity in these three stories will be analyzed.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the gods are simply unhappy. Man is bothersome and a nuisance. Enlil is ‘aroused by the clamour [because the] uproar of mankind is intolerable...So the gods agreed to exterminate Mankind.’ (Gilgamesh, 39) This quote makes it seem as if the people of earth were simply causing a disruption to the gods. As is characteristic of an epic, this portrays the gods as selfish, seeing mortals as playthings that should be seen and not heard. The gods do not seem to be in control of the flood however. They do cause the flood but once it starts, ‘the gods were terrified at the flood, they fled to the highest heaven…, they crouched against the walls. The great gods of heaven and of hell wept, they covered their mouths.’(Gilgamesh pg 40) These gods are not all powerful or courageous. The gods in the Epic of Gilgamesh are cowardly children with powerful weapons that they use on a whim to accomplish their egotistical agendas.

The gods of Gilgamesh are unlike God in Genesis. Although He is vengeful, God is more paternal toward the mortals of earth. His decision to flood the earth comes after he observes mans’ ‘wickedness’ (Gen 6) and comes to the conclusion that although catastrophic, the flood is necessary to wipe clean all of the corruption and violence of man. God controls the flood and shows no fear. After the flood God promises to ‘never again smite any more every thing living,’ (Gen 8) showing remorse and...
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