The Enuma elish is a Babylonian creation myth that tells the story of how the world was created and the struggle between the gods for supremacy. It is one of the oldest surviving works of literature from ancient Mesopotamia and was written in Akkadian on seven clay tablets. The name “Enuma elish” is derived from the opening words of the text, which mean “When on high”.
The story begins with the primordial waters of chaos and the god Apsu and goddess Tiamat, who represent the male and female principles of the universe. They give birth to a generation of younger gods who become noisy and disruptive, causing Apsu to plot their destruction. However, the god Ea learns of Apsu’s plan and kills him, causing Tiamat to seek revenge.
Tiamat creates an army of monsters and gods to battle against the younger gods, led by Marduk. After a fierce battle, Marduk kills Tiamat and uses her body to create the world, with her eyes becoming the sun and moon and her body forming the land and sky. Marduk becomes the supreme god and is praised by the other gods.
The Enuma Elish provides insight into the religious beliefs and mythology of ancient Mesopotamia, including the importance of the natural world and the power dynamics between gods. It has influenced later creation myths, including the biblical story of Genesis.
Codified myths are stories and belief systems that have been organized and structured into a set of rules, dogmas, and practices that are passed down from generation to generation. While codified myths can provide a sense of stability and continuity for a culture or society, there are also potential perils associated with this form of myth.
One of the perils of codified myth is that it can become rigid and inflexible over time. As the myth is passed down and codified, its meaning and relevance may become fixed and resistant to change. This can lead to a lack of adaptability to changing circumstances, which can be problematic in a world that is constantly evolving.
Another peril of codified myth is that it can become exclusionary and divisive. As the myth is codified, it can become more complex and exclusive, requiring a particular set of beliefs and practices to be accepted as part of the community. This can lead to the marginalization and exclusion of individuals or groups who do not conform to these beliefs and practices, which can be damaging to social cohesion and inclusivity.
Finally, codified myth can also be used as a tool of oppression and control. When a particular group or institution is responsible for codifying the myth, they may use it to justify their power and authority over others. This can lead to the manipulation and exploitation of individuals or groups, as well as the suppression of dissenting voices and ideas.
In summary, while codified myths can provide a sense of cultural stability and continuity, they can also become rigid, exclusionary, and oppressive over time. It is important to be mindful of these potential perils and work towards a more inclusive and adaptable mythic framework that promotes social cohesion and individual freedom.