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Myths of Destruction and (Re)Creation. Cosmic Cycle. Creation and Recreation Not Armaggedon (the end of the world) But a refinement of creation Ages of Humankind. Themes. Destruction by Flood Bible Ovid’s Metamorphoses Gilgamesh Destruction by Fire Prose Edda Rebirth.

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cosmic cycle
Cosmic Cycle
  • Creation and Recreation
  • Not Armaggedon (the end of the world)
  • But a refinement of creation
  • Ages of Humankind
  • Destruction by Flood
    • Bible
    • Ovid’s Metamorphoses
    • Gilgamesh
  • Destruction by Fire
    • Prose Edda
  • Rebirth
ea enki in epic of gilgamesh
Ea/Enkiin Epic of Gilgamesh

Clylinder seal impression showing the Mesopotamian "god of Wisdom," called Ea (Aya, Ayya or Enki) with two streams of water pouring forth from his shoulders. Ea warned the Mesopotamian Noah, Utnapishtim of Shuruppak of the coming Flood advising him to build himself an ark for his family and animals. On the 7th day of the Flood, the SEBITTU DAY, Ea rested with ALL the other gods, the Flood having destroyed mankind whose noise and clamor had earlier prevented the gods from resting by day or sleeping by night.

ages of man
Ages of Man
  • Hesiod. Works and Days (lines 156-201)
    • Gold Age of Cronus
    • Silver Age of Zeus
    • Bronze
    • Heroic
    • Iron
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses Book I
    • Gold
    • Silver
    • Bronze
    • Iron

The Aztec tradition of Five Suns also involves four previous ages.

Present world preceded by other cycles of creation and destruction.


Jaguar Sun (Nahui Ocelotl)

Wind Sun (Nahui Ehecatl)

Rain Sun (Nahui Quiahuitl)

Water Sun (Nahui Atl)

Earthquake Sun

hindu vedic yuga
Hindu-Vedic Yuga

The Hindu and Vedic writings (Manusmṛti or Manusmriti ) make reference to four age or Yuga:

Satya (Golden) 1,728,000 years

Treta (Silver) 1,296,000 years

Dwapara (Bronze) 864,000 years

and Kali (Iron) 432,000 years

Maha Yuga 4,032,000 years

1000 Maha Yugas = one day of Braham or 4.32 billion years.

greco roman flood
Greco-Roman Flood
  • No Flood in Hesiod
  • Only in Ovid’s Metamorphoses
  • Key Elements
    • Human Sin/Offence Against the Gods
    • Divine Anger/Retribution
    • Ark
    • “Adam and Eve” (Deucalion and Pyrrha)
    • Oracles
    • Metamorphoses
human offences in ovid lycaeon
Human Offences in Ovid: Lycaeon


Lycaeon tries to trick Juppiter into eating human flesh)


Juppiter destroys Lycaeon’s Palace

divine assembly
Divine Assembly

Johann Wilhelm Baur, Edition 1703) Ovid, Met. I, 167

political dimensions
Political Dimensions

Compare the Assembly of the Gods to the Roman Senate


Pyrrha and Deucalion, painted basin, Oraza Fontana or his workshop, 1565-71Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum.


Nicola Giolfino (Italian, 1476–1555)The Myth of Deucalion and Pyrrha, ca. 1550

Tempera on panel40 ½ x 57 ¾ in. (102.9 x 146.7 cm); frame: 50 ½ x 67 ¼ in. (128.3 x 170.8 cm)Samuel H. Kress Study Collection, 62.159

religious dimensions piety
Religious Dimensions: Piety

Deucalion and Pyrrha ask Themis for help.

(Johann Postumus, 1542) Ovid, Met. I, 375-380

tower of babel
Tower of Babel

Pieter Bruegel:

The Tower of Babel 1563

tower of babel genesis 11 1 9
Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)

Futile Human Attempt to become gods


cp. Tantalus

Aetiology of LANGUAGE

biblical flood
Biblical Flood

Key terms:

aetiological function of mythcovenantElohist writer Genesisimmanent godIsraelitesLeviathanMesopotamiaNephilimNoahPriestly writerrainbowTiamattranscendent godYahwist or Jehovist writer

biblical flood27
Biblical Flood
  • Key Elements
    • Human Sin/Offence Against the Gods
    • Divine Anger/Retribution
    • Ark
    • Covenant (rainbow)
    • Dietary Restrictions (eating meat)
noah and the flood
Noah and the Flood


Influence of

Babylonian Flood Story



From the Nuremburg Chronicle at Beloit College,

by Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514),

two by two
Two by Two

NOAH'S ARKby Edward Hicks (1780-1849 )

noah in the koran
Noah in the Koran

نوح Nūḥ (the Arabic form of Noah) is a prophet in the Qur'an.

Because the Qur'an is more poem than prose, references to Noah are scattered throughout the Qur'an, but no historical account of the entire Deluge is given. Generally speaking, the references in the Qur'an are consistent with Genesis and Islamic tradition generally accepts the Genesis account as historical. However, the degree of detail varies between the two accounts.

Generally, the Qur'anic account emphasizes Noah's preaching of the monotheism of God, and the ridicule heaped on him by idolators.

the koran surah hud 37 surat al mumenoon 23 26
The Koran(Surah Hud: 37) (Surat al-Mumenoon: 23-26)
    • We sent Nuh to his people: He said, “O my people! worship Allah! Ye have no other god but Him. Will ye not fear (Him)?”
    • The chiefs of the Unbelievers among his people said: “He is no more than a man like yourselves: his wish is to assert his superiority over you: if Allah had wished (to send messengers), He could have sent down angels; never did we hear such a thing (as he says), among our ancestors of old.”
    • (And some said): “He is only a man possessed: wait (and have patience) with him for a time.”
    • (Nuh) said: “O my Lord! help me: for that they accuse me of falsehood!”
  • God later instructed Nuh to build the ark:
    • But construct an Ark under Our eyes and Our inspiration, and address Me no (further) on behalf of those who are in sin: for they are about to be overwhelmed (in the Flood).
noah s other son
Noah’s Other Son
  • The Qur'anic account contains a detail not included in the Biblical account: a reference to another son who chose not to enter the ark:
    • So the Ark floated with them on the waves (towering) like mountains, and Nuh called out to his son, who had separated himself (from the rest): “O my son! embark with us, and be not with the unbelievers!” The son replied: “I will betake myself to some mountain: it will save me from the water.” Nuh said: “This day nothing can save, from the command of Allah, any but those on whom He hath mercy!” And the waves came between them, and the son was among those overwhelmed in the Flood. (Surah Hud: 42-43)
more on the islamic noah
More on the Islamic Noah

Also, the Qur'anic account lacks several details of the Genesis account, including the crime of disrespect by Noah's son Ham in mocking, rather than covering his father's nakedness (Genesis 9:22), and the resultant cursing of his grandson Canaan.

Some Muslims assert that the flood during Noah's time was a local event, in contrast to the Biblical account which asserts that it was global. They infer this from several Qur'anic verses. Other Muslims, however, hold that the flood was indeed global. The Qur'an is not explicit on the point, allowing for some variety of interpretation.


Key terms:

AesirAsgardBaldrBifrostEinherjarepithetGanglieriGarmGylfiFenrirFriggHeimdallHelHigh OneHoddmimir's Wood


Lif and LifthrasirLokiMidgard SerpentMimir's SpringMjollnirNaglfarOdinSurtThorTyrRagnarokVigridYggdrasil

Add: Muspell

Odin Fighting the Wolf Fenrir

ragnorok doom of the gods
Ragnorok“Doom of the Gods”

Signs and Portents

Assembly of the Enemies of the Good

The Gods Prepare

The Battle between Good and Evil

After the Battle—A Different Life

The Survivors

The New World and a New Order

comparative mythology
Comparative Mythology

Compare Germanic Biblical, Greco-Roman, and Babylonian Destruction Myths


Taking Action





The Disaster (Flood/Fire)

Gods’ Fear of Total Destruction

Gods’ Regret