Gilgamesh, Genesis & Metamorphosis all have stories of a creation, a fall & a flood. What are major similarities & differences?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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"Gilgemesh," "Genesis" and "Metamorphoses" all have several elements in common; these include a creation story, a story of a fall, and a flood.  Among these similarities, there are also distinct differences.

In terms of similarities with the creation story, "Genesis," "Gilgemesh" and "Metamorphoses" present the creation story of the world coming out of chaos, as land and water separate. "Genesis" and "Metamorphoses" state that man was created in God's image. Humans are brought into being with "Genesis" and"Metamorphoses."

Distinctly different, "Genesis" has Adam and Eve. In "Gilgemesh" mankind is already in existence when the story begins (Gilgamesh is part man, part god), but the gods do create Enkidu to thwart Gilgamesh's harsh treatment of mankind (though Enkidu is not the first man), and in "Metamorphoses," no specific human is mentioned until mankind is to be punished by the flood.

In terms of the fall, "Genesis" has the fall of man, as Adam and Eve are tempted by the serpent in the Garden of Eden; besides being cast out of the garden, ultimately they will die. In "Gilgemesh", there is a some similarity in that Enkidu is like Adam and Eve, living in harmony with the animals, is tempted and seduced (but by a prostitute), leaves the garden, and ultimately dies because of the temptation of the prostitute.

In contrast, Ovid's depiction of the fall, refers to Icarus' fall. This is when Daedalus and his son, attempt to flee captivity from King Minos. Icarus ignores his father's warnings about going too hight, flies too close to the sun, his wax wings melt, and he "falls" to his death.

There are clear similarities between the three "accounts" of the flood. In "Genesis," the flood is sent to destroy most of humanity because of their moral degradation. Humans and animals are put onto the ark (a very large boat) and saved; the flood lasts forty days and forty nights.  This cataclysmic event brings about the second creation of mankind.

In Ovid's "Metamorphoses," we are presented with the first human in his collection of stories, a man who is a sinner. Jupiter states that Lycaon is one example of the overall depravity of the entire human race, and the flood is a punishment of mankind.

In "Gilgemesh," there is also a flood story.  In this version, the gods agree to destroy mankind with a flood, and all are under oath not to share this secret with anyone. "But Ea (one of the gods that created humanity) came to Utnapishtim's house and told the secret to the walls of Utnapishtim's house" which didn't break the oath, technically. Ea tells the walls to build an enormous boat and bring all kinds of animals aboard. Utnapishtim does so, also collecting riches, and boards the boat. In this version, the flood only last about a week.

Based upon the story presented in "Genesis," there are differences with the other flood stories. In "Metamorphoses," there is no talk of an ark, or saving humans or animals. In "Gilgemesh," Utnapishtim does not take people aboard with him.

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