Comparison of the Sumerian Gods and the Greek Pantheon

Decent Essays
November 6, 2013
Comparison of the Sumerian Gods and the Greek Pantheon The Sumerian civilization existed an estimated three thousand years prior to the Greeks (Powell p. 60). Although very little is actually known about the Sumerian culture, archaeologists have unearthed ancient artifacts and clay tablets containing cuneiform writing that have given historians bits and pieces of the stories that were told during that time (Powell pg. 63 Figure 7.3). While the Sumerian empire ended thousands of years before the Greek civilization began, there are striking similarities between the Sumerian gods and the Greek pantheon, as well as a few differences. First of all, there is a substantial amount of resemblance between
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Each of the Sumerian cities had a premier god that was worshipped above the others. Although the sky god was the supreme god, it was not the most worshipped in all cities. This premier god tied to the successes of the city as well as its fortunes, and was even thought to protect the city from harm. The deity would be worshipped in a tall pyramid (also known as a ziggurat), which was built in the center of the city, often on a hill or platform. This is identical to how the Greeks would build temples in honor of their city’s major deity. For example, the Parthenos (Temple of Athena) in Athens was where the Greek god Athena was worshipped. According to Greek mythology, Athena and another god Poseidon were in competition to see who would gain control over Athens. Poseidon gave Athens the gift of a spring, and Athena gave the city the olive. Unfortunately for Poseidon, he was the god of the seas and his springs were salty and not very useful for the people of Athens. However, the olive was very useful as it provided food and oil. The olive became the main export of the city, and thus Athena was heavily worshipped in Athens. Although the stories from the two cultures were similar in many ways, there were a few noticeable differences. A big difference is the absence of a parallel for the Greek god Hades. The closest thing to the Sumerians was the goddess Ereshkigal whom was more reminiscent of Persephone than Hades. Another inequality was the Sumerian god Enki.
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