Ancient Flood Stories Comparison Essay
While most people have heard about the Hebrew flood story with Noah and his Arc, many do not know that there are two other flood stories in other cultures that are very similar in nature. All of these flood stories contain strikingly similar plots about a god who is angry and wipes out everyone in a flood, except a few lucky survivors who escape via some sort of boat. These two other stories are the Sumerian and Greek flood stories, and the similarities these stories share are quite shocking.
The Sumerian flood story in the Epic of Gilgamesh, written on stone tablets in cuneiform, is one of the oldest writings on earth. The gods in this story get angry because “The uproar of mankind is intolerable and sleep is no longer possible by reason of the babel. ” (Pearson 28). In other words, the Gods are upset because humans are too noisy. The gods agreed to exterminate mankind by flood because of this. Though one god, Ea, tells Utnapishtim to tear down his house and build a boat and take animals aboard.
Utnapishtim and his family board the boat for six days and six nights, and at the end he and his wife are rewarded with immortality. The Hebrew flood story is very similar to this. God is angry in this story because his people are wicked (Genesis 6-9). God punishes man by sending out a flood to kill all living things. However, God saves Noah and his family. He tells Noah to build an ark, and that he must bring two of every animal onboard with him. It proceeded to rain for forty days and forty nights.
After the rain stopped, Noah sent a dove out to see if it was still wet. The dove would come back, as it could not find a dry place to land. After sending it out many times, the dove finally did not come back and it was dry. God then told Noah’s sons to be fertile and to reproduce, and from them humanity branched out. Also similar to the other two stories is the Greek flood myth. Like the Hebrew story, the Gods were angry because mankind was wicked. Jupiter decided to send out a flood to kill all, except Deucalion and Pyrrha, Promethus’ son and Epimetheus’ daughter.
These two people were saved by being placed into a wooden chest. After nine days and nine nights, they landed on Mount Parnassus, where they were safe. All of these stories have differences and common archetypes. In the Greek story, there is a wooden chest rather than an actual boat like the other stories. Also, the only things that are in this wooden chest are two humans, and not any animals like the other two stories. On the other hand, there are many common archetypes. In both the Sumerian and Greek flood stories, the boat lands on a mountain.
In the Sumerian and Hebrew stories, there is a releasing of a bird to see if the land is dry. In all of the stories, the flood is caused by a deity (or deities) because they are angry with the way humans are acting. Finally, the main archetype in these stories is that human life is able to be preserved and carried on because the god(s) decide to save a select few humans and put them on some sort of boat. Overall, these stories are very similar and it is very interesting to think about how three different cultures have very closely related flood stories.