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The Primal Man

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Emily Bristow

on 30 September 2013

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Transcript of The Primal Man

The Primal Man
The Question
Compare the Purusha myth to the Enuma elish

How are they the same and how different?

Pay particular attention to gender issues and the roles males and females play in these myths.
"When they divided the Man (Purusha), into how many parts did they apportion him? What do they call his mouth, his two arms and thighs and feet?
His mouth became the Brahmin (priests); his arms were made into the Warrior, his thighs the People, and from his feet the Servants were born
The moon was born from his mind; from his eye the sun was born. Indra (a warrior and storm god) and Agni (god of the sacrificial fire) came from his mouth, and from his vital breath the Wind was born.
From his navel the middle realm of space arose; from his head the sky evolved. From his two feet came the earth and the quarters of the sky from his ear. Thus they (the gods) set the world in order"
Enuma Elish
"When on high there was no heaven, no earth, no height, no depth, no name, when Abzu was alone, the sweet water the first begetter; and Tiamat the bitter water...

When sweet and bitter mingled together, no reed was plaited, no rushes muddied the water, the gods were nameless, natureless, futureless, then from Abzu and Tiamat in the waters gods were created,...

She made the worm, the Dragon, the Female Monster, the Great Lion, the Mad Dog, the Man Scoprion, the Howling Storm..."

A Babylonian myth
found in Christian, Judaism and Islam creation stories
Myth of Creation and of Violence
Marduk murders and disassembles Tiamat, the mother god and god of chaos. Marduk then creates the universe from her body
In his book "The Powers that be" Professor Wink states "In this myth, creation is an act of violence. Marduk murders and dismembers Tiamat, and from her cadaver creates the world. As the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur observes (The Symbolism of Evil, Harper Collins 1967), order is established by means of disorder. Chaos (symbolised by Tiamat) is prior to order (represented by Marduk, high god of Babylon). Evil precedes good. The gods themselves are violent." (Wink, 1998:45)
A Hindu Myth
In this myth the Ultimate Cosmic Spirit, Purusha, is dismembered by the gods in order to start creation
Purusha is viewed as a giant primeval man who has natural powers
He is known as ruler of immortality
O'Flahetry summarizes this myth then adds ". There were seven enclosing-sticks for him, and thrice seven fuel-sticks, when the gods, spreading the sacrifice, bound the Man as the sacrificial beast. With the sacrifice the gods sacrificed the sacrifice. These were the first rituallaws. (O’Flaherty, 1981: 30, 31).

Hero myths
Social class
Men superior
God Sacrifice
Social Classes

Human Sacrifice
Social Classes
Emuna elish
Gender Issues
Men are superior to women

Marduk overthrows Tiamat for power

Women were regarded lower than servants
Full transcript