theme of disasters that afflict the whole world at once, are common
features that is in many mythologies across many different cultures.
There is not one reason that can be applied to describe the reason
for this disaster, but in many cases, the disaster comes as a
form of punishment for human beings who have offended the gods
as a race, thus warranting such a harsh punishment.
famous story of such a disaster is that of Noah's Ark, where
Noah gathers two of every creature on earth, one male and one
female, who boards his ark to survive the great flood that God
sent to punish mankind for their sins.
from Noah's Ark is hardly unique. The Babylonian tale of its
cosmic disaster contains an equivalent of Noah's tale, where
Noah later attains immortality when the chaos passed. A more
comparable tale to that of Noah's comes from Greek Mythology.
Zeus sent a flood to earth when he found that humanity had grown
arrogant and complacent. The children of Prometheus had been
warned of this, and therefore managed to escape the flood by
building a boat. This idea is also repeated in the case of the
Indian myth, where the supreme god Vishnu appears to King Manu,
and advises him on the flood and what he may do about it.
it has not always been man's fault that the flood was sent upon
them. The Inca creator, Viracocha, first made man out of stone.
He was unhappy with the stone people, and decided to recreate
human beings. To do so, he sent a flood to drown the world,
and to start afresh with people made from clay.
ancient civilizations started on the fertile flood plains of
large rivers, which flooded regularly during monsoon seasons,
the people envisioned the global disaster to be in the form
of flooding that was so severe it covered the world to such
a depth that even trees and houses were completely submerged.
of the disaster is varied. In some myths, such as that of Andean
mythology, the world after the flood is much improved from that
before the flood. Greek mythology tells of a positive change
in Zeus' attitude towards humans after the flood. However, in
most mythologies, the world before and after the flood remains
tale of such disasters comes from a Malaysian myth, which tells
of the world being inverted from time to time, causing floods
to occur. The people believed that after the flood, the world
was remolded by the gods who would then recreate humans. In
this particular tale, the movement of the snake below the human
realm may also have caused such floods.
to repopulate the world again, an important theme is evoked:
that of rebirth, and recreation. After the flood, the children
of Prometheus proceeded to throw stones over their shoulders,
which turned into men and women, thus repopulating the earth.
In southern Chinese mythology, a girl and boy are saved from
the flood, safe inside a gourd. After the flood, the children
emerge, and they later give birth to a ball of flesh, which
they sliced into pieces. These pieces were blown all over the
world, effectively repopulating it.
of recreation of life on earth brings to mind the theme of creation,
where the survivor of the flood can be seen as the parent of
all mankind after the flood. The person may not have the same
status as that of a God who created man out of clay, but the
general ideas that run throughout both cases are strikingly
the only form of disasters that has been talked about has been
about floods, triggered off by unique events. However, there
are two more types of disasters that also occur in many mythologies:
the idea of cyclic creation and destruction, and the idea of
the world's end.
before, the supreme god Vishnu appeared before King Manu in
the form of a fish whom the king had saved. The fish thus advised
the King about the upcoming flood, and told him what to do.
To put the tale in perspective, it happened at the end of the
first age of man, or Yuga, as the Indians called it. The Indians
believed in an infinite number of continuous creations and destructions
as the creator god, Brahma, awoke and slept in a never-ending
of Mesoamerica also had a similar tale. Due to strife between
the gods, Jaguars had destroyed the world in its first age.
In the second age, the world was destroyed by a hurricane, in
the third age it was destroyed by fire, and in the fourth age
by a flood. We live in the fifth age where the world will be
destroyed by an earthquake. Each time, the world is recreated
and repopulated once again after a disaster.
cultures accounted for the end of the world as conclusively
as Norse Mythology, and however isolated, the tale of Ragnarok
has held the imagination of people all over the world, so much
that it has to be mentioned here.
is the end of the world for the Norse, who believed that the
giants would wage war against the gods. The gods will eventually
lose, and the world will finally be engulfed in flames. What
makes this so interesting is that the disaster itself was not
a product of any gods. The end of the world is covered more
comprehensively as a theme on its own.
disasters seldom actually signified the end of the world or
of humanity, but rather it represented some form of rebirth
and rejuvenation of the world. After each disaster, the world
was cleansed for the next age to come, or perhaps, in some cases,
it just was just another part of the endless cycle of creation
Versus Evil >>
Great Themes >
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