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Comparing Gods and Goddesses

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Comparing Gods and Goddesses HUM/105
June 15, 2011

Comparing Gods and Goddesses Myths are narrative stories that describe the creation of the world and how the first humans came into existence. According to Leonard and McClure (2004), human societies began as goddess-oriented and matrifocal (women-centered). Human societies evolved from primitive beginnings to a superior culture system of patriarchy (Leonard & McClure, 2004, p. 104). Although myths may differ from culture to culture, common elements and roles exist in each myth. In today’s society, myths and legends are fantasy-filled tales from ancient societies long gone. Therefore, Team A will describe the elements and functions of goddess myths, and compare two myths of the female divine from different cultures. Second, the team will describe the elements and functions of god myths, and compare two myths of the male divine from different cultures. Last, the team will summarize the elements and functions shared by both divines. According to the euhemerist Gimbutus, goddesses have three basic roles life, death, and regeneration (Leonard & McClure, 2004, p. 114). The goddesses of life are Mother Earth, nature, sea, and universe. These goddesses are nurturers and overseers of security and contentment, prosperity and growth, and creativity and artistry. The mother earth goddesses are creators of earth and universe, such as Gaia of the ancient Greeks, and Tellus of the Romans. These two Earth goddesses gave birth to the sky, mountains, sea, moon, and stars. Some goddesses of life protect the institutions of family and marriage, such as Greek Hera (marriage) and Hestia (hearth), whereas other goddesses of life exemplify law and order to human civilization, such as Greek Horae- Eunomia (law and order), Dike (justice), and Eirene (peace). The Goddesses of Life carries the elements of nurturing, birthing, clothing, protecting, and teaching. The goddesses of death are the Queens of the Underworld, and receive the spirits of the dead. According to Leonard and McClure (2004), the goddesses of death manipulate the elements of and laws of nature to either heal or harm. Persephone, known as the Queen of the Underworld, controls the elements of fertility and sterility. The goddesses of death were ancient wise women, witches, and mediums. These goddesses were revered and at times feared. They share the elements of light and life, illness and health, and prosperity and poverty, such as the Greek Moirae-Clotho (thread of life), Lachesis (measures life) and Atropos (snips life). The goddesses of regeneration appear as virgins and nymphs, objects of sexual desire, and the inspiration for everything beautiful. The goddesses of regeneration exemplify the elements of erotic power, allure, and fertilization. The goddesses also excite and inspire men. They control the seasons, tides, and celestial phases of nature. According to Leonard and McClure (2004), the goddesses of regeneration are the keepers of the cosmic clock that mark the elements of fertility and growth, and the seasons of sterility and death. The regeneration goddess also represents the elements of love, lust, and sex. The Goddesses that represent this group are Thallo (spring), Carpo (autumn), Savtri (sun), and the Horae Goddesses Eunomia (lawful order), Dike (justice), and Eirene (peace). The Greek goddess Athena is unlike any other goddess. She is the warrior goddess. Athena’s birth is strange, mysterious, and full of controversy. Athena was born out of the head of her father Zeus. The manner in which she was born was not an accident because Zeus would not allow Athena’s mother to give birth. Zeus feared the birth of Athena by her mother because he feared losing his position as king of the gods. Therefore, Zeus tricked Athena’s mother into allowing him to absorb her unborn child into his body. By absorbing the unborn child, he ensured that Athena could not equal his power. Although not as powerful as her father, Athena was a warrior from birth. She was a master at fighting and enjoyed it thoroughly. She would assist them in battle on numerous occasions. Legends speak of how she mysteriously helped her demigod brother, Perseus, in his quest to capture the head of Medusa. Athena is not just a warrior; she is also the goddess of wisdom. She uses her wisdom to teach her followers skills that will help them. Because of her willingness to help her followers, Athena is one of the most beloved goddesses. Unlike many other
Goddesses she did not participate in sexual acts and held great honor in her chastity. Athena was so proud of herself that she once blinded a man who viewed her nude. In contrast, the Egyptian Goddess Isis allegedly had a sexual relationship with her brother-husband, Osiris, since the two of them were in their mother’s womb. Unlike Athena, Isis is a passionate goddess. She displays her passion by performing acts such as reviving her husband on several occasions, although he eventually dies. Isis is the goddess of life, magic, motherhood, immortality, and several other important aspects of Egyptian culture. Possessing many responsibilities is the common trait among the beloved goddesses. Like Athena, Isis also taught her followers several skills. She taught the women of ancient Egypt domestic skills and passed her knowledge of healing throughout Egypt. Ancient art depicts Isis performing acts such as attending funerals, and nursing children. Such diverse roles in Isis’s character make her a beloved goddess even today. The elements and functions of Gods myths vary based on what types of religions and cultures the Gods derive from. As the goddesses discussed earlier, different gods possess different traits or roles. Whereas goddesses serve as elements of life, death, and regeneration, gods spring from the elements of earth, wind, fire, and water. From these elements the gods are born. For example, the secretion story of Aphrodite depicts her as being born when her father, Zeus, castrates his father, Kronos, and drops of blood fall from his severed genitals into the ocean. The mixture of blood with the ocean water created the beautiful goddess Aphrodite. Joining fire and frost created the cosmic mountain that rises from the sea and is another example of the elements combining in mythology. This is the “accidental joining of elements” (Leonard & McClure, 2004, p. 34). Although the myths of gods possess the elements of earth, wind, fire, and water, Leonard and McClure offer an additional explanation regarding the roles of the gods. According to Leonard and McClure (2004), “gods are not described in terms of their relation to the reproductive and seasonal cycles but in terms of the various sociopolitical roles that they fulfill” the societies (Myth and Knowing, p. 188). Like many myths, god myths provide a way for different cultures to explain natural occurrences, bind a religion, set examples for behavior, and in some cases control people. Bascom (1965) states, “Myths are prose narratives which, in the society in which they are told are considered to be truthful accounts of what happened in the remote past” (The Forms of Folklore: Prose Narratives, p. 4). According to Bascom, the myths of each culture give an account of the activities of the deities, such as their love affairs, relationships with family and friends, and their victories and defeats (Bascom, 1965). Gods such as the Greek god Poseidon and the Roman god Neptune share the element of water. Neptune, known as the patron of horseracing, was one of 12 original gods. His role in myth and lore inspired a dwarf planet to be named after him. Its deep blue gas cloud gave astronomers the impression of great oceans and seas. He was the son of Saturn and Reah, and the brother of Jupiter. When he reached maturity, he assisted his brother in expeditions, and he assigned him the seas and islands for his empire. During the water festival, Nepunalia uses human sacrifice to appease him. Represented as god of the sea, he is a significantly remarkable figure. He is described as possessing black or dark hair, garments of azure or sea green color, seated in a large shell drawn by sea horses or whales, trident in his hand, attended by the sea gods and goddesses with a long train of Tritons and sea nymphs. Just as the Romans worshipped Neptune, the Greeks worshipped Poseidon. Poseidon known as the god of the sea, horses, and earthquakes, reigns as one of the supreme gods atop Mount Olympus, although most of his time was in the ocean. Along with his brothers, Zeus and Hades, the three ruled the waters, underworld, and skies. Zeus became the ruler of the sky. Hades took his place as ruler of the underworld, and Poseidon controlled the waters of the world, both fresh and salt. He married Amphitirte, daughter of Nereus, who was the old man of the sea. As in the Roman myth of Neptune, Poseidon also required rituals of sacrifice. However, unlike Neptune, Poseidon’s sacrifice was not human. He placed a curse on the wife of King Minos. According to the Oracle Education Foundation (n.d.) website, “Minos had proved his divine right to rule Crete by calling on Poseidon to send a bull from the sea, which the King promised to sacrifice. Poseidon sent the bull, but Minos liked it too much to sacrifice it” (Poseidon, para. 10). Poseidon called on Aphrodite to make Minos’ wife fall in love with the bull. The result was the half man, half horse figure called Minotaur. Both myths share common themes. The gods could not have their way, and in acts of revenge, took their frustration out on the weaker of the gods and goddesses. If one looks closely at each myth, common themes and similarities vary across all cultures in mythological stories. Each tale spins a story with similar characters and circumstances. Whether speaking of the great goddesses that formed the universe, such as Gaia, or the god Neptune, who controlled the seas, it is hard to escape the feeling of power, comfort, and understanding that these myths provided to people. The belief in gods and goddesses in different cultures provide common lessons between them all. Like societies in the past, today people still lean on the tales of the male and female divinities for strength and insight into humanity’s origins. While the gods and goddesses of past societies may seem like folklore and old tales, no longer relevant to today’s society, they still prove to be important. As Stanley Kunitz once said, “Old myths, old gods, old heroes have never died. They are only sleeping at the bottom of our mind, waiting for a call. We have need for them. They represent the wisdom of our race.”

Bascom, W.R. (1965). The Forms of Folklore: Prose Narratives. Journal of American Folklore, 78, 3-20.
Leonard, S. & McClure, M. (2004). Myth and Knowing: An introduction to world mythology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Oracle Education Foundation. (n.d.). Think Quest. Retrieved on June 9, 2011 from…...

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...Comparing Oedipus and Othello For Oedipus and Othello “duty” should have their first priority. Othello’s duty was supposed to be the importance of his marriage, but he listened to Iago, ignored Desdemona, didn’t believe his own conscience, and his own heart. Oedipus’ duty was to defeat the Sphinx(which he does) free Thebes from heavy taxes(which he does) be a great king of Thebes and be a good husband, but instead he offends Creon, his brother-in-law and uncle; insults his friend, Tiresias the blind prophet; kills his father; and destroys Jocasta, his mother and his queen. Fatal flaws demolished the lives of both Oedipus and Othello. Othello was so proud of his honor and bravery that he didn’t recognize his violent temper and Iago’s mind tricks. Oedipus was so proud of his cleverness that he tried so hard to escape his own fate. With all that said, these were honestly just a couple of comparable traits between Oedipus and Othello. When looking for a great leader that would lead your city through anything and everything it is not hard to tell that both Oedipus and Othello could be those leaders. Both had great gifts in leadership. They stood up in what they believed in. Each held exceptional accomplishments and both possessed the ability to be an all-around leader. Othello was a respectable citizen who was usually known for his fighting or war success. He knew how and what the goal was to succeed. Not all leaders knew that. Oedipus was also somewhat the same. He,......

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