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Divine Roles Across Cultures Essay Sample

Divine Roles Across Cultures Pages
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Part I

Select one common divine role that recurs in world mythology.

Possible options of divine roles include the following: father or mother divinities, divinities of war, home or hearth divinities, divinities of love, divinities of wisdom, divinities of medicine or health, divinities of the wind, divinities of agriculture, divinities of the sky, ruler of all the gods, and so on.

Identify the role in the title of your table.

Select two myths, each from a different culture, in which the divine role appears. Identify the divinity names and cultures in columns A and B.

Complete the table by answering each of the five questions for both selected divinities.

Title:
Column A
Divinity Name: Zeus
Culture of Origin: Greek
Column B
Divinity Name: Odin
Culture of Origin: Norse
1. How is this divinity portrayed? Describe the divinity’s role within the myth. Zeus is the ruler of all the Olympian gods and the master of all men. He is the lord of the sky, clouds and rain, thunder, lights, wind and all atmospheric phenomena. Zeus is the god of justice and he is merciful. He protects the weak and punishes the wicked. Although he is the god of rain he is married to Hera which is the goddess of the earth. Odin is the ruler of all the gods. He lives in Valhalla where half of all the dead warriors gather after death. He sits on his throne viewing the whole world. Odin is the god of wisdom, war, magic and poetry. He is the wisest of all the gods. However he gave one of his eyes for his power. Odin has the power to transform into whatever he wants. He can go from smoke to fire, from fish to serpent, he is the all-powerful. 2. Is the divinity male or female? What function does this gender play? Male, he is the ruler of all gods and is the most powerful amongst them. His character exhibits proper tribute of a patriarchal society such as that of the Greek one.

Male, Odin is the all-powerful and has incredible wisdom pertaining to everything. A female ruler over the gods would have been impossible and unacceptable in the patriarchal society like that of the Scandinavian Vikings. 3. What are the divinity’s attributes, such as divine powers or characteristics? What objects does the divinity possess, such as a weapon or animal, that assist him or her? Zeus is the cloud gatherer, and rain god. His weapon is a thunderbolt that he throws at anyone that displeases him. He will also punish those that break their oaths or tell untruths. Odin possess wisdom about all things past, present and future. He gains much of his power from his vast wisdom. Odin can transform himself into animals, fire, smoke, ect. Odin has a magical horse and spear that assist him accomplish his goals. Odin has two ravens, Hugin and Munin which fly out each day and return only at night with news of the world.

They gather this information for Odin to be informed and make decisions. 4. Within the myth of origin, how does this divinity compare with other divinities? How does this divinity interact with or compare to divinities of the same gender and to divinities of the opposite gender? Zeus is the last born son of Cronus and Rhea of the Titans. Cronus was cruel and swallowed his children after they were born. However, Rhea saved Zeus by hiding him in a cave. When Zeus was all grown up he forced Cronus to regurgitate his siblings. Then the other gods joined Zeus in fighting against his father and the Titans to gain control over the universe. After he defeated Cronus and the Titans, he imprisoned them in the underworld and split up the universe between himself and his brothers, Hades and Poseidon. He kept the sky for himself, gave Hades the underworld and Poseidon got the seas and all other waters.

Zeus was also appointed the supreme authority of the earth and Mt. Olympus. He is the ruler of all divinities on Mt. Olympus, both male and female. He is married to Hera, but he continually has affairs. Odin is a good god as opposed to his grandfather Ymir, whom in which was extremely cruel. Ymir was such a cruel god, Odin and the other gods could not tolerate it any longer and plotted against and killed him. Then Odin and his brothers made all things from the parts of Ymir’s body. Odin had positive interaction with his brothers and they all agreed he was the most powerful. His aunts, Ymir’s sisters were very upset over the death of their brother and constantly caused trouble for everyone. 5. Identify one character from contemporary culture that shares characteristics of each divinity and explain why you chose each character. What real-life ideals does this divine role represent?

How attainable are these ideals? Zeus can be compared to Superman in the sense that he is powerful, he protects the weak, and punishes the wicked. He is a human-like god in a sense he commits adultery, and is often to his wife Hera. The real life ideals represented by Zeus’s role, is one of a just and powerful character that gets justice against those that are bad and by protecting the good and weak. For Zeus being the god over all the Olympian gods it is quite easy to be powerful and just. In real life instance the justice system is the one to execute injustice through the law, the police and court system. This enables the victims that a sense of justice has been served. There is a wicked side to Odin. He can be erratic and at times abuse his power by causing or initiating wars. This has surfaced with many rulers throughout history. If Odin were to be compared to a contemporary cultural character, it would have to be that of a dictator like Fidel Castro. He came to power but with good intentions, only to abuse later on such as that of Hitler.

Part II

Write a 150- to 350-word short essay addressing the following: Why do so many cultures have divinities in similar roles?

After completing my reading, I found that mythology evolved in different cultures as a way to explain life and answer important questions pertaining to human existence. Questions such as how did the universe come to be? What really happens and where do we go when we die? Is there really a God or some higher power that created all of existence and what is in it? Surprisingly enough, most people already have an idea or a preconceived notion that may answer these questions. Do we ever really know who dictated the book on human behavior, what is acceptable and not acceptable. Survival, is it a given instinct or were there laws and instructions on how it should be and taught to the early residents of this world and passed on through time. In some cultures, some behaviors are viewed as evil or wrong, some exhibit leadership and power and other behavior may be considered cowardly or weak. We feel the weak should be protected and the wrong brought to justice, let the accused have the opportunity to prove their innocence.

In Greek mythology, Zeus became the supreme god by fighting against the Titans and Cronus to take over the universe. Zeus and his brothers won that battle. Zeus is a male god and ruler of all the gods on Olympus, he is the most powerful and exhibits proper character for patriarchal society in which he dwells, the Greek society. He not only has power over the sky, and all of earth’s happenings, but also serves as the god of justice and mercy. He brings about justice for those that are weak and powerless by punishing the wicked and wrong. In Israeli mythology, there is only one god that is all-powerful and also serves as the god of justice and mercy. Most cultures want to believe that their gods and goddesses are also over justice and mercy. Although, in many cultures and beliefs they all have the same questions, their answers or solutions may be different.

References

http://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Zeus/zeus.html

Leach, A. N. (1996). Norse mythology. Book Links, 6(2), 9.

Leonard. S., & McCLure. M. (2004). Myth & knowing: An introduction to world mythology. New York, NY:

McGraw-Hill

Phyllis, L. M., & Minkel, W. (2000). Greek mythology. School Library Journal, 46(10), 75-76. Retrieved

from http://search.proquest.com/docview/211710887?accountid=458

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