Sunday, September 2, 2007

Comparative Storytelling IV: Produced by Flood

This is the current conclusion to my four-part rant considering three slightly different - but very much the same - stories we've been told and have shared alike. If you haven't already, please read parts I, II, and III.

"History"

The world after Eden became increasingly wicked, and God had to put a stop to this. So he told Noah to build a ship large enough to fit himself, his wife, his three sons, their three wives, and every species of land animals and birds, in either pairs or seven pairs for kosher animals. Noah tried to warn everybody, but to no avail, so only those who rode in Noah’s Ark survived the Flood.

After the water drained from the land, the Ark settled on Mt. Ararat, in the Caucasus region. The six human survivors and all their animals soon descended the mountain. Noah built a vineyard, grew grapes, made wine, and got drunk. His three sons, with their wives, repopulated the Earth.

As the Silver Age and the Bronze Age progressed, humans became increasingly wicked, due to Pandora’s box. Zeus had to put this to an end by sending a great Flood to kill all of mankind. Prometheus, who was chained and suffering on Mt. Caucasus, warned his son Deucalion about the coming flood. So Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha fled to Mt. Parnassus, or they rode a boat that eventually settled on Parnassus, when the Flood came.

In the end, only the peaks of Parnassus and Olympus survived the Flood. Deucalion and Pyrrha were the only two humans left on Earth. Interpreting a riddle from the goddess Athena, the couple threw rocks behind them as they descended the mountain. The rocks became human beings, and that’s how Deucalion and Pyrrha repopulated the Earth. Also, their biological son Hellen became the forefather of all Greeks.

In Daniel Quinn’s books, Ishmael in particular, the totalitarian agriculturalist settlers of the Fertile Crescent came from a land slightly to the north of the Crescent – the Caucasus region. These original Caucasians (whoa, heavy implication here!) went to war against the nomadic herders and foragers of the region as the Agricultural Revolution began. As was stated previously, the cultural children of Cain the Farmer have populated nearly the entire world, save only a few pockets of Eden.

If you want further context, read Ishmael and its sequels. Read Malthus. Read the Bible (without the blinders of dogma). Read every other holy book. Read Brave New World. Read as many of the contradicting Greco-Roman myths as possible, then go to the stories of other peoples East, West, North, and South. Read all the other flood myths, like Utnapishtim in the Epic of Gilgamesh. (And I’ll try to do the same.)

Anyway, it was a fantastic exercise – for me, anyway – to find several similarities among several cultural, historical, and ideological stories. I want to close this four-part series with something clever, something that incorporates the clause and live in the hands of the gods.

Unfortunately, oftentimes things aren’t that neat in real life.

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