Mythology, 5th April 2008

 
 

As June Peters explained, most societies and cultures have ancient myths to tell how the world began and humans came into being. The main characters in mythic stories are deities. Some deities are imagined personifications of natural phenomena, such as the sun, moon, sky, storms, water or climate change. Other deities personify human phenomena, such as love, war, wisdom, writing or health-care.

Mesopotamian mythology was written in both Sumerian and Akkadian, so deities had both a Sumerian name and an Akkadian name, as did cities. A variety of mythic traditions co-existed and evolved over 3000 years of successive Mesopotamian civilisations.

An authoritative, easy-to-read and very helpful guide to Mesopotamian mythology is Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia, an illustrated dictionary by Jeremy Black and Anthony Green, published by the University of Texas Press in 1992 and reprinted in 1998, price £12.99.

At the ZIPANG workshop on 5th April 2008, Badia Obaid told an episode of The Epic of Gilgamesh in Arabic. Gilgamesh, at the edge of the world in his wanderings after the death of his friend Enkidu, is advised to give up his quest for immortality by Shiduri, a divine ale-wife. ‘Care for the child who takes your hand,’ she tells him. ‘And keep your wife forever happy in your embrace.’

Two other trainee ZIPANG storytellers talked about their chosen apprenticeship stories. Muhamad Tawfiq Ali talked about The Poor Citizen of Nippur. Laura Collins talked about Etana.

Fran Hazelton told the story Ereshkigal and Nergal.

To conclude the workshop, harpist Tara Jaff played one of her own compositions.

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