Textbook Leftovers

Posts Tagged ‘mandate of heaven

Maybe it’s just me, but when I think of “Egyptian religion” (admittedly not something I think of on a daily basis), I think of a multitude of strange gods with animal heads. And that neat-looking eye that supposedly symbolizes Ra. And Stargate.  So when I turned to the section of Egyptian religious poetry, I was expecting something decidedly polytheistic and foreign to me.

I was very wrong. These selections of poetry are monotheistic in the extreme – my Judeo-Christian-raised brain kept flashing to Psalms, that’s how monotheistic it was. The introduction indicates that this exclusive worship of the sun god was later viewed as heretical, so this is clearly not a representative sample of the religion of Egypt, but it was nonetheless surprising to me. Clearly, I have much to learn. Read the rest of this entry »

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Part 2 of Gilgamesh picks up without interlude after the fight and conciliation of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. One assumes that time has passed, because they seem to have developed a deep friendship. Gilgamesh has a dream and Enkidu interprets it. Gilgamesh’s dream enforces the gods’ desires for him to rule Uruk (mandate of heaven), but that he is not destined to acquire everlasting life. The phrasing in this translation seems to imply that maybe some people are given this destiny. Finally, Gilgamesh is encouraged to not abuse his power.

More time seems to pass, and Enkidu has a complaint. All play and no work has made him unhappy and weak. In answer to this, Gilgamesh decides that now is a good time to head to the Country of the Living, also called the Land of Cedars. My assumption is that this is a poetic name for Lebanon, well known in ancient times for their cedar forests.

Gilgamesh waxes eloquent about his ambitions to attack and destroy Humbaba, a gigantic creature who guards the Forest. Enkidu has misgivings (he’s terrified, actually), and Gilgamesh insists. Their frank discussion serves as an example of friendship – two men honestly offering viewpoints and discussing them. Gilgamesh eventually “wins” the discussion (although really it seems like Enkidu gives in). Read the rest of this entry »