The Differences in “Gilgamesh”, “Atrahasis” & “The Deucalion & Pyrrah in Ovid” Flood Myths
Myths have been around for thousands of years and they have been able to help man come up with explanations for events that otherwise there would be none. Myths are traditional stories passed down from generation to generation telling a story about some natural event and usually contain some sort of god. Flood myths are very common in explaining the beginning of time and usually symbolize the cleansing of man and contain a character who is in charge of saving the human race and repopulating the earth once the flood has receded.
The myths found in genesis, Gilgamesh, Atrahasis, and the Deucalion and Pyrrah in Ovid are flood myths telling a story about the cleansing and repopulation of man. Each story has a hero with the task to save man while receiving some sort of assistance to do so. Although these myths have some similarities they tell a story in their own unique way.
The first myth is the flood myth found in the Bible about Noah and the Arc. The story begins with god telling Noah that there is a great flood coming but that he is going to spare him and his family by having them get on an arc. God also tells Noah that a pair of each animal on the earth will be accompanying them on the arc. Noah receives this warning and assistance from God because he is the hero that will help repopulate the human race. Noah then spends years building the arc and preparing it for when the flood comes. When the flood came the rain lasted forty days and forty nights and Noah was on the arc for a year and a half, waiting for the flood waters to recede.
Noah spent that whole time caring for the animals and searching for a spot on the earth with dry land. When the flood waters finally receded God spoke to Noah and told him that he would never unleash a great flood again and sealed the covenant by putting a rainbow in the sky. God shows remorse after this due to the fact that he just destroyed humanity which is his creation. After Noah got off the arc he built an altar and offered up to God clean animals from the arc to give thanks.
Another myth that tells a similar story is the Gilgamesh flood myth. Anu, Enlil, Ninurta, Ennugi, and Ea were the gods behind the flood and there plan was secrete amongst them. Even though there plan was secrete Ea ends up telling Utnapishtim the plan to cause the flood through a reed wall, just like Ea told Atrahasis about the flood through a reed wall. Just like in the other myths the hero is told to build a boat by whatever means necessary and save humanity. The flood lasted six days and six nights. During the flood the gods weep and showed remorse for what they had just done.
After the flood Utnapishtim lands the boat on Mt. Nimush, and he then releases a dove a swallow which both come back to him. He then released a raven that does not come back to the boat. Utnapishtim then sacrificed a sheep to the gods. When the gods come down to the sacrifice, Enil is furious when he sees the boat. He blames Ea for allowing man to survive a flood. Ea tells Enil that the punishment was too harsh but that she was not the one who told Utnapishtim about the plan. Utnapishtim and his wife are then granted immortality and sent to live at the mouth of the rivers to repopulate the earth.
In Atrahasis the gods Enlil, Anu, and Ea are behind the flood. The gods originally intended the humans to be their workers but after some time they became upset with the humans as they became a disturbance to the gods. Ea does not like this plan and tells Atrahasis through a reed hut that a flood is coming. However Ea does not speak to Atrahasis directly, Atrahasis learns of the plan though a dream, unlike in Genesis when Noah speaks directly to God and in Gilgamesh with Utnapishtim.
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