In many different texts such as “Gilgamesh” and “The Odyssey”, there is a relationship displayed between God and man or “the divine”. In these stories the gods are almost always close by. The gods in Gilgamesh are very similar to the humans in terms of appearance. Not only that but they behave similar as well.
They have emotions and feel things but also expect things of the humans. They want sacrifices and for the humans to obey them. In obeying and pleasing the gods however, the humans in return expect to be guided by the gods and kept safe.
This is because the humans see the gods as unconquerable, almighty, and immortal beings. Although being seen that way to the human’s, the gods have their weaknesses too. Despite the fact that there are gods in Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh himself is two thirds god and one third man. He too has unbelievable strength and does unbelievable things like killing the Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven. He is capable of doing things like the gods because he is like them to an extent. He too feels things such as sadness and grief when his friend Enkidu dies.
The gods play a part in the lives of man in this way too. For example, the gods agreed in council that either Gilgamesh or Enkidu must die for what they had done in killing the Bull of Heaven. In the end this resulted in Enkidu’s death. Gilgamesh like the gods, doesn’t only feel and have emotions but has a weakness as well. Gilgamesh’s weaknesses in this story are arrogance and pride. He displays this in challenging his future friend Enkidu to wrestle and beating him. He displays this again in killing the Humbaba, then cutting of the head of the beast and later celebrating by cutting down Cedar trees,.
. an entire forest of them! Nonetheless, both the gods and the humans need one another. In the Odyssey, the relationship shared with the gods and man are pretty much the same. Both stories have the humans and gods close to one another. The gods are there to help keeps the humans on the right track. They intervene a lot in the human’s lives and at times punish them for their wrongdoings.
Each god however has a different area that they are in control of. No other god had take hold of that area. In the story of Odysseus, the gods want him to be able to return back home but Poseidon, the god of the sea, does not. This is another example of how the gods intervene with the lives of man. Because Poseidon doesn’t want to help Odysseus, the gods can’t until he isn’t on Mt.Olympus. Once he is absent from Olympus, then the gods help Odysseus in getting home.
Poseidon is a great example of how god’s feel and have emotions in these stories. He is angry with Odysseus because he fooled his son Polyphemus, the one eyed cyclops, into believing his name was “nobody” then blinding him in order to escape being eaten. Odysseus at the time didn’t know this was Poseidon’s son but that didn’t stop Poseidon from being angry with him. Another relationship that can be seen in the Odyssey with man and god is that of Athena and Odysseus. Athena helps Odysseus throughout the story by doing things such as begging Zeus who is her father to allow her to help Odysseus get home. She talks her father into then sending Hermes to set Odysseus free from the Island of Calypso.
Athena not only helps Odysseus but helps his son Telemachus as well. She aids in the maturity that Telemachus goes through throughout the story which also involves him learning the responsibilities he has. The gods in both The Odyssey and Gilgamesh intervene a lot in the lives of man in one way or the other. In the Aeneid, to name another, the gods and man still share the same relationship as the first two stories listed above. The gods still determine and help with the destiny of man. In the Aeneid however, the gods can be considered irreplaceable because of the fact that, they determine the destiny of the humans.
In the Aeneid, you can find Aeneas drawing a lot of attention to himself from the gods because of who is mother is, goddess Venus. Venus in book 1 does her best in protecting her son even though she is also manipulative. Jupiter, is another one of the gods found in the story and he is the one in control.
The gods in the story tend to bring the humans into the problems they are having and either help or harm them. The humans are constantly being controlled by the gods through their actions. The gods again, intervene a lot in this story and one example could be when Aeolus, the god of the winds who aids Juno in book 1 by creating for the Trojans bad weather, does just that. Aeolus tries to cause damage and harm to the fleet of Aeneas. Going back to Venus and the protection of her son Aeneas, this can be an example of her caring or how gods can and do feel. Another could be the case of Juno.
Juno despises the Trojans in the Aeneid because of the “Golden Apple”. This was when a Trojan by the name of Paris picked the fairest woman there was out of Juno, Minerva and Venus where in which he chose Venus. She had then promised him “the most beautiful mortal woman, Helen.” The other reason Juno hated the Trojans was because it was heard that they were going to destroy Carthage which was her favorite city. In this, Juno’s anger is taken out on Aeneas. In polytheistic traditions such as Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid, it is plain to see that the relationships displayed between god and man is the same overall. In each story, the gods roles in the lives of the humans are the same. The gods look over the humans and try to guide them while also intervening in their lives in other ways as well.
In some cases the gods punish the humans for their acts but also protect them. One may ask though, what about monotheistic traditions? What about the relationship between the two in The Bible or The Koran? In The Bible, man and God are not equal. God made man inferior, less powerful and less knowledgeable than Himself. God created man and in Genesis 1:26 said “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” God gave humanity control of the Earth while he rules in Heaven.
Regardless, God does still play a part in man’s life. He is still prayed to by man and has to ability to work miracles in the lives of everyday people. In the Bible God says in Matthew 4:4 “Jesus answered, and said ‘It is written man should not live on bread alone but on every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’ “. In this Jesus says for man to read his word because his word is food for us, not only the food we eat but the food that feeds our spirit. God says in the Bible that he is our strength. Not only are those found in the Bible but so is the story of Adam and Eve. In their lives God had punished them for eating from the Tree of Knowledge. In this they were punished, first they were newly aware of their nakedness in a way where they were full of shame.
God does however give them garments to cover them but still does not allow them in the Garden of Eden after. He made their punishment one where Eve as well as the rest of the women in the future would have to deal with the pain of childbearing. Adam and the rest of the men in the future would have to work for their food and to provide for themselves. Another story is that of Noah and the Ark. Noah obeyed God in building the ark and saving the animals.
As a result, he got to live on a new looking earth and survive the flood. The relationship here always has consequences depending on how you live your live. One is supposed to follow the commandments God has set out for man. If man doesn’t listen to God, there will be a price to pay or lesson to learn from it. God is in control. In the Koran, God or Allah, is the provider and he is the one who gave man all of their capabilities. God gives man the things that they cannot create.
Man praises God and seeks guidance from him. Man submits himself to God but is given to freedom to reject. In the Koran,once man has submitted himself however, he must follow God. Allah is a different kind in comparison to man but is the creator. In the Koran, there are things that can’t physically be seen. The only one who can truly witness the reality of it is the Prophet who was “the heart of the world.
” All in all it is plain the see the difference in the roles and relationships of God and man in these books. In the first three stories, Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid, there are more than one god. There are several gods and goddesses in these stories because in Ancient Greek times, they believed in them so strongly. In the last 2 books, The Bible and the Koran, there is only one God present. This God is the God of all creation and placed so much higher than man himself.
However, there are some similarities between the five stories. Each one regardless of how many gods there are, believe that they intervene with their lives. Not only that but they protect man and are prayed to.