November 6, 2013
Comparison of the Sumerian Gods and the Greek Pantheon
The Sumerian civilization existed an estimated three thousand years prior to the Greeks (Powell p. 60). Although very little is actually known about the Sumerian culture, archaeologists have unearthed ancient artifacts and clay tablets containing cuneiform writing that have given historians bits and pieces of the stories that were told during that time (Powell pg. 63 Figure 7.3). While the Sumerian empire ended thousands of years before the Greek civilization began, there are striking similarities between the Sumerian gods and the Greek pantheon, as well as a few differences.
First of all, there is a substantial amount of resemblance between the Sumerican gods and the Greeks gods. Both cultures had gods that were anthropomorphic,, (resembled human beings) who often times exhibited dramatic scenes of human passion and emotion. Also, it is clear that all of the gods were related into one large family. This makes sense because these gods were the only beings that existed in their time period and so their only options for sexual partners were each other. The Sumerian god of the sky was An. An started out as the king of all of the gods, but later diminished in importance. This is similar to Cronos in the Greek myths, who was overthrown by his son and was rarely talked about after. An’s daughter was Inanna who was the goddess of sexual love and lust. Inanna’s greek parallel was Aphrodite, who also was born from the sky god and symbolized promiscuity. Lastly, the Sumerian parallel for Zeus was Enlil. Both of these deities were the prominent and most powerful god, they both also used thunderstorms as their defined weapons. In an empire that uses agriculture as its main economic system, thunderstorms may have devastating impacts on farmlands and ruin a whole year’s worth of income for a whole nation. This may be the reason to why Zeus and Enlil were so highly regarded in...
Bibliography: Powell, Barry B. “The Development of Classical Myth.” Classical Myth. 7th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012. 60-65. Print.
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