Cosmic Creation Myths Across Cultures
June 20, 2012
Cosmic Creation Myths across Cultures
Myths vary a great deal from various cultures around the world. Although these myths differ, they all share one same common theme – a story based on creation. Myths from the Roman/Greek and Nordic cultures are no different. Both of these cultures believed in some form of creation that defined and shaped their world through cosmic occurrences or natural phenomenon, while sharing similarities and differences in the creators of the worlds and the steps these worlds were created.
Roman/Greek gods lived in various worlds. This mythological world was born out of ...view middle of the document...
Zeus also ruled over mortals. In fact, he created human beings in five generations – each generation worse than the one before. The first generation of humans to inhabit the earth was known as the gold race. These beings were pure in heart and lived without fear of punishment because they treated each other justly. The weather treated them favorably, producing abundant wild grains and fruit in an endless spring. They lived peacefully until they died, then Zeus created the second generation. The second generation or - the race of silver - was less virtuous. This generation was more juvenile than the previous generation and more selfish. Zeus grew angry with them and changed the weather into a four season year ranging from icy, cold winters to scorching summer heat. Food became less readily available and Zeus shortened their lifespan, sending their spirits to the Underworld when they died. The third generation was the race of bronze. This generation praised Ares, the god of war, and was cruel to each other, waging many wars. The fourth generation, known as the race of heroes, and was more noble than the silver and bronze generations. The fifth generation is the current generation on earth (Rosenberg, 2006).
The myths of Northern Europe, or Norse myths, reflect a physical environment that often threatened human survival. This was possibly because this region of Europe often had long winters and short harvest seasons. Gods of Norse mythology also lived in various worlds. Ginnungagap was known as the open void. In the southern part of Ginnungagap, a hot world formed named Muspelheim and was guarded by a giant with a flaming sword named Surt. In the north, an icy, foggy, cold world named Niflheim. As gods and humans began to populate Ginnungagap, the gods dwelled in Asgard and the humans resided in Midgard. Norse mythology also believed the sun and the moon moved across the sky because they were being chased by wolves (Rosenberg, 2006).
The creation of gods began when warm air from Muspelheim melted ice in Niflheim, producing a Frost Giant named Ymir. As Ymir secreted, he produced other Frost Giants with beads of sweat from his armpits. A cow, Audhumla (nourisher), also arose from the thaw and after licking a salty ice block for three days produced Buri. Buri had a son, Bor, who married the daughter of a giant, Bestla, and had three children: Odin, Vili, and Ve. The three brothers killed Ymir and used his body parts to create the world. The world was formed in this fashion:
“The three gods took the corpse of Ymir, carried it into the middle of Ginnungagap, and made the world from it. From his flesh, they molded the earth. From the blood that poured from his wounds, they made the salt sea and laid it around the earth. From his mighty bones they fashioned the mountains, and from his smaller bones,...