THE IDEA OF MYTH: An Example
: `Enuma Elish' the Babylonian Creation story (written before 2000 B.C.)
(Powell, Chapter 4, pp. 101-105.)
- (a) A Structuralist Point-of-view (bipolar opposites):
- one vs. many
- rest vs. activity
- undifferentiated vs. personalized
- old gods vs. young gods
- suspension in water (plasma) vs. sedimentation (precipitation)
- (b) Points being made by the story:
- (1) The war between young and old is part of the structure of the universe.
- (2) Heaven is organized into a `Council of the Gods'.
- (3) The gods agree to select/appoint/install a King of the Gods.
- (4) King = warrior, leader, lawmaker, judge. Elected, but his authority is absolute (like the Pope).
- (5) Kingship comes down from heaven. It is good by definition.
- (6) Models for society existed before human society existed.
- (7) Myth as ritual: Story was recited (dramatised?) annually, on 4th day of the 10-day New Year Festival. The Universe was magically recreated and repowered each September by these rites.
- (8) Myth as politics: Do not disobey the King: do not question structures of society.
May 25, 2009 3:09 PM
John Paul Adams, CSUN