In Genesis, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Iliad, the relationship between the gods, nature, and humanity is highly complicated, with the gods typically ranked as the most powerful, although the power balance between nature and human beings depends on the source of the literature. That being said, in all of the writings, the gods have a tendency of coming to nature’s defense when humans disrespect it, thus implying a more fluid distribution of power in the hierarchy.
The Bible famously opens with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, which encompasses essentially all aspects of non-living nature. When God then goes on create the vegetation, animals, and “man in [His] image, after [His] likeness”, all aspects of nature, as well as humanity, now owe their existence to divine powers. This places him as having the most power out of all, as he is their creator. Humans’ authority over nature is plainly stated, as well, since God gives them an order to “fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth”. Genesis, thus, provides the most basic structure of power: God, man, nature.
In the Epic of Gligamesh, the gods’ authority is assumed from their power over the fates of nature and men. For example, the god Anu places “the Bull of Heaven’s nose-rope he placed in her [Ishtar’s] hands”. Ishtar, Anu’s divine daughter, is then able to use the constellation to fight Gilgamesh, and when the bull is killed by the human king and his friend, Enkidu, the Gods decide to “let / one of them die!”. Having the ability govern nature’s actions and put an end to a human’s life is highly indicative of their power. That being sa...
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...mesh and Enkidu, they argue, “These, because they slew / the Bull of Heaven, and slew Humbaba that [guarded] the mountains / dense-[wooded] with cedar…between these two [let / one of them die!]”. Once more, in Homer’s Iliad, when Achilles pollutes the rivers Xanthos and Scamander with the bodies of Trojans and refuses to bring the fighting back to the plains, “the great god would not let him be, but rose on him / in a darkening edge of water, minded to stop the labour
/ of brilliant Achilleus” and successfully defeats Achilles. In each of these examples, human beings are capable of somehow harming or disrespecting nature, but when they act on these capabilities, divine powers respond with harsh punishment. As such, even though human beings might be more powerful than nature on their abilities, the gods’ influence can change this dynamic should they desire to do so.
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- In Genesis, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Iliad, the relationship between the gods, nature, and humanity is highly complicated, with the gods typically ranked as the most powerful, although the power balance between nature and human beings depends on the source of the literature. That being said, in all of the writings, the gods have a tendency of coming to nature’s defense when humans disrespect it, thus implying a more fluid distribution of power in the hierarchy. The Bible famously opens with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, which encompasses essentially all aspects of non-living nature.... [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, Iliad, Achilles, Ishtar]
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