Examining The Mythology Of Different Cultures English Literature Essay

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Mythology has developed over the years in different cultures and nations with similar origins having a different effect on everyone that live under it. In ancient Greece logos and mythos, meaning reasoning and myth, are two antithetic modes of thought. The former part contains everything that can be stated in national terms, all that attains to objective truth, and appears the same to all minds. The latter part contains all that concerns the imagination, all that cannot be subject to verification, but contains its truth in itself or, and this amounts to the same thing in powers of persuasion arising out of its own beauty. The Greek theory moves back and forth between these two poles of logos and mythos, and people have often found it amazing that the race considered the most rational of all races believed, and may even have invented, the most unbelievable stories. But it is pointless to wonder whether the Greeks believed in myths. A man named Phidias sculpted a statue of Zeus, it is beautiful, and he induced in the contemplative soul a sort of intuition of the divine through beauty. To that degree, and that degree only, the statue represented the god. Each individual could believe in them or doubt their veracity as he pleased. They were never articles of faith imposed on the people by a religious authority. The comic poets treated them with absolute disrespect; but, at a deeper level, every man had the right to modify these myths, and there was not one poet in the whole history of Hellenic literature who did not deal with the traditions of legend according to his whim, modifying them, adapting them, or giving them some particular moral significance. Mythology, being a fluid concept, free from the constraints of reason, is like the clay that Greek artists used as they pleased to model hundreds of different images. Ancient Egypt is the country most famous for its cults of gods and dead. This preoccupation is reflected in the number of temples, tombs, statues, and other works of art connected in one way or another with the local religion. The Egyptians were the most devout of men, for the whole atmosphere of their life were imbued with the presence of the divine. Even in modern times most of their sacred monuments still stand in the valley of the Nile, and precious bas-reliefs, statues and porphyry are carefully preserved in the world's museums. With such a wealth of material to hand, dating from different periods of Egyptian civilization, the student Egyptian religion would appear to be at a great advantage, and should have a clear and complete knowledge of its mythology and doctrines. But this is not the case, for although there are many monuments representing certain relatively recent periods, for earlier times they are rare, especially in some transition periods when beliefs were subject to important transformation. There is little material surviving from the earliest times, when the essential features of the religion were undoubtedly determined; although certain archeological remains from the end of prehistory have come down to us, they bear no inscriptions of the customs and beliefs of this period. The inscriptions that date from the first few dynasties are still fairly laconic, being limited in most cases to indication of names and titles. In very early times the territory that later became Egypt was divided into a series of principalities, each of which enjoyed complete antomony under the aegis of a particular god, who has his sanctuary there. In this remote past many local cults probably grew up, and these continued to be practiced in spite of political religious changes: the provinces or names of Egypt under the pharaohs, with their chief towns and tutelary gods, were later to provide a reminder of this former state of affairs. Greek Mythology has a very back and forth past, in the beginning there was only chaos. Then out of the void appeared Erebus, the unknowable place where death dwells, and Night. All else was empty, silent, endless, darkness. Then somehow Love was born bringing a start of order. From Love came Light and Day. Gaea, the earth appeared. Then Erebus slept with Night, who gave birth to Uranus, the heavens. Uranus became Gaea's mate covering her on all sides. Together they produced the three Cyclopes, the three Hecatoncheires, and twelve Titans. However, Uranus was a bad father and husband. He hated the Hecatoncheires. He imprisoned them by pushing them into hidden places of the earth, Gaea's womb. This angered Gaea and she plotted against Uranus. She made a flint sickle and tried to get her children to attack Uranus. All were too afraid except, the youngest Titans, Cronus. Gaea and Cronus set up and ambush of Uranus as he lay with Gaea at night. Cronus grabbed his father and castrated him, with the stone sickle, throwing the severed genitals into the ocean. The fate of Uranus is not clear. Either he died, withdrew from the earth, or exited himself to Italy. As he departed he promised that Cronus and the Titans would be punished. From his spilt blood came the Giants, the Ash Tree Nymphs, and the Erinnyes. From the sea foam where his genitals fell came Aphrodite. Cronus became the next ruler. He imprisoned the Cyclopes and Hecatoncheires in Tartarus. He married his sister Rhea, under his rule the Titans had many offspring. He ruled for many ages. However, Gaea and Uranus both had prophesied that he would be overthrown by a son. To avoid this Cronus swallowed each of his children as they were born. Rhea was angry at the treatment to the children and plotted against Cronus. When it came time to give birth to her sixth child, Rhea hid herself, and then she left the child to be raised by nymphs. To conceal her act she wrapped a stone in swaddling cloths and passed it off as the baby to Cronus, who swallowed it. This child was Zeus; he grew into a handsome youth on Crete. He consulted Metis on how to defeat Cronus. She prepared a drink for Cronus designed to make him vomit up the other children. Rhea convinced Cronus to accept his son and Zeus was allowed to return to Mount Olympus as Cronus's cupbearer. This gave Zeus the opportunity to slip Cronus the specially prepared drink. This worked as planned and the other five children were vomited up. Being gods they were unharmed. They were thankful to Zeus and made him their leader. Cronus was yet to be defeated. He and the Titans, except Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Oceanus fought to retain their power. Atlas became their leader in battle and it looked for some time as though they would win and put the young gods down. However, Zeus was cunning, he went down to Tartarus and freed the Cyclopes and the Hecatoncheires, Prometheus joined Zeus as well. He returned to battle with his new allies. The Cyclopes provided Zeus with lightning bolts for weapons. The Hecatoncheires he set an ambush armed with boulders. With the time right, Zeus retreated drawing the Titans into the Hecatoncheires's ambush. The Hecatoncheires rained down hundreds of boulders with such a fury the Titans thought the mountain were falling on them. They broke and ran giving Zeus victory. Zeus exiled the Titans who had fought against time into Tartarus. Except for Atlas, who was singled out for the special punishment of holding the world on his shoulders. However, even after this victory Zeus was not safe. Gaea angry that he children had been imprisoned gave birth to a last offspring, Typhoeus. Typhoeus was so fearsome that most of the gods fled. However, Zeus faced the monster and flinging his lightning bolts was able to kill it. Typhoeus was buried under Mount Etna in Sicily. Much later a final challenge to Zeus rule was made by the Giants. They went so far as to attempt to invade Mount Olympus, piling mountain upon mountain in an effort to reach the top. But, the gods had grown strong and with help of Hercules the Giants were subdued or killed.(J.M. Hunt). Ancient Egypt has had many pharaohs over time one of them was Amenhotep III. He ruled at a time when Egypt was in no great danger. Times were prosperous due to trading and when production and life along the Nile River had flourished. Unlike other Pharaohs conquering other kingdoms was not an issue. Construction was the main focus since times were abundant and no real great danger was evident. He enlarged many cities and constructed many temples. He built the temple Malkata located on the Western shores of Thebes and the southern part of Medinet Habu. This site was dedicated to housing and also official chambers. His greatest and most famous structure was the temple of Amun which is known by its ruins and remains a popular tourist attraction today.

Managing to keep the throne for a long 39 years, Amenhotep III died of an unknown disease. He died at the age of 50. He left behind his favorite wife who would later move with her son Akhenaton as well as many other wives. Although not known for was on conquering, he left behind great monuments and temples and grand statues that would begin to tell of an upcoming change, "The Amarna Period". Orpheus was a great man of many talents. He was born of the muse Calliope and Morpheus, the god of dreams. Since his mother was the muse of song and epic poetry, she taught him just that. He was once recognized by Apollo who gave him a golden lyre. He played the lyre on many journeys. One such journey was that of Jason and the Argonauts. When they passed the land of the Sirens, he played his songs so overwhelmingly that he blocked out the Sirens' songs. This young man was married to the beautiful nymph Eurydice. It had been only minutes since they were married when she and the bridesmaids walked into the forest. She was bitten a poisonous serpent bit her. She immediately died. Orpheus mourned for many days until he made up his mind that there was absolutely no way he could live without her. He decided to go into the Underworld and ask Hades and his beautiful queen Persephone to have Eurydice back. So he followed through with his plan. He went to the underworld, he charmed the three-headed beast, Cerberus and the moat Ferrier until he finally came to Hades and Persephone's eye she began to beg Hades to let Orpheus take his young wife back, Hades was also touched by his determination. He decided to let him have her back on one condition, he could not look at her until they reached the living world. Unfortunately, he turned back and she faded away into the darkness. After that he tried to ask the underworld god and goddess but they would not listen. He didn't have to wait for his death in misery for long because a group called Bacchae, a group of women cult followers of the god Bacchus, attacked him and he killed him. Thus his misery ended, he joined his wife in the Underworld. Phaeton was very inquiring. His father was Apollo and his mother was the nymph Clymene. . One day Epaphos, his schoolmate, made fun of him saying his father was a god. In embarrassment he told his mother and begged for her to give him proof. She told him to go to his father and ask him himself if he was his child. And so he did. He traveled to far away India where the regions of the sun were. He stepped into the place of the sun, but he couldn't go far because the sun was so bright he had to shield his eyes. He asked his father if his mother spoke the truth. Apollo said she did and to prove it he would grant Phaeton one request. Phaeton asked immediately to be able drive the sun chariot for one day. Apollo shook his head and said he could fulfill any request but that. But he had sworn so he had to let him drive the chariot. On the day of his departure Apollo reminded him to not go too high as to burn the heavens, but not too low. But he did not listen very well because he was excited. He went too low and the hills caught fire. As the earth was burning, she cried to Zeus to make the child stop. Zeus immediately grabbed one of his thunderbolts and struck the chariot, killing Phaeton. The fire lasted for years until if finally wore out. Kastor and Polyduekes were very close. They were twin brothers. Their father was Zeus and their mother, a mortal named Leda. Polyduekes was a great boxer and Kastor was a soldier and he could tame horses. These two were known as the Heavenly Twins. Many years they entered the Olympic games and they won. These two were part of the Argonauts. But after they returned they got into a fight with two other men. Kastor, who was mortal, died. Pollux begged his father Zeus that he may kill himself to be with his twin, for he was immortal. Even though Zeus could not change this fact he promised that they would be together. They spent alternate days in the underworld. And Zeus raised their images to the sky. So Kastor and Polyduekes became the twin stars that make up the constellation Gemini. Niobe was the successful Queen of Thebes. She was born of the god Tantalus. Although this fair maiden's beauty and wealth was great, it gained no importance against her most prized gift, her fourteen children. She had seven handsome young man and seven beautiful girls. Niobe's downfall began when the people of her kingdom started to worship Leto. She told her people that she was much more important than Leto because Leto had only two children. Leto heard these words and called upon her two children, Apollo and Artimes. She told them about Niobe's cruel words. So her two faithful children decided to defend their mother. They saw Niobe's seven sons and before they could even scream they were felled by the children's arrows. Niobe came out and screamed at the sight of her dead sons. She yelled to Leto that she was still better for she had seven daughters. But before she could even start to grieve for her sons, her seven daughters were dead.

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