History (Gods and Men Supplement)

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The Creation of the World and Religious History[edit]

The History of the world in the Time of Gods and Men is varied depending on what region you look at. While each empire has it's own gods and relgion, only two of them seem to have concrete creation myths: The Mycenaeans and the Egyptians.

Mycenaean Creation Tales[edit]

The most comprehensive guide to the Mycenaean's creation stories was a great man by the name of Hesiod, who compiled the various regional beliefs into one, organized structure. There were three ages: The Age of Gods, the Age of Gods and Mortals, and the Age of Heroes.

The Age of Gods[edit]

Hesiod begins with Chaos, a yawning nothingness. Out of the void emerged Eurynome, Gê or Gaia (the Earth) and some other primary divine beings: Eros (Love), the Abyss (the Tartarus), and the Erebus. Without male assistance, Gaia gave birth to Oranos (the Sky) who then fertilized her. From that union were born first the Titans—six males: Coeus, Crius, Cronus, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Oceanus; and six females: Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Rhea, Theia, Themis, and Tethys. After Cronus was born, Gaia and Oranos decreed no more Titans were to be born. They were followed by the one-eyed Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires or Hundred-Handed Ones. Cronus ("the wily, youngest and most terrible of Gaia's children") castrated his father and became the ruler of the gods with his sister-wife Rhea as his consort, and the other Titans became his court

A motif of father-against-son conflict was repeated when Cronus was confronted by his son, Zeus. Because Cronus had betrayed his father, he feared that his offspring would do the same, and so each time Rhea gave birth, he snatched up the child and ate it. Rhea hated this and tricked him by hiding Zeus and wrapping a stone in a baby's blanket, which Cronus ate. When Zeus was grown, he fed his father a drugged drink which caused Cronus to vomit, throwing up Rhea's other children and the stone, which had been sitting in Cronus' stomach all along. Then Zeus challenged Cronus to war for the kingship of the gods. At last, with the help of the Cyclopes (whom Zeus freed from Tartarus), Zeus and his siblings were victorious, while Cronus and the Titans were hurled down to imprisonment in Tartarus.

Zeus was plagued by the same concern and, after a prophecy that the offspring of his first wife, Metis, would give birth to a god "greater than he"—Zeus swallowed her. She was already pregnant with Athene, however, and they made him miserable until Athene burst forth from his head—fully-grown and dressed for war.

Age of Gods and Mortals[edit]

In the Age of Gods and Mortals was a brief period where the gods walked and moved freely among the mortal folk. Two things often happened in this period: Love and punishment. Love between mortals and gods rarely worked out, but it is the punishment that was the most interesting part.

These tales often deal with the appropriation or invention of some important cultural artifact, as when Prometheus steals fire from the gods, when Tantalus steals nectar and ambrosia from Zeus' table and gives it to his own subjects—revealing to them the secrets of the gods, when Prometheus or Lycaon invents sacrifice, when Demeter teaches agriculture and the Mysteries to Triptolemus, or when Marsyas invents the aulos and enters into a musical contest with Apollo. An anonymous papyrus fragment, dated to the third century, vividly portrays Dionysus' punishment of the king of Thrace, Lycurgus, whose recognition of the new god came too late, resulting in horrific penalties that extended into the afterlife. This age also deals with the seasons, and with the tale of Pandora's box.

The Age of Heroes[edit]

The Age of Heroes is the most expansive period, where divine intervention still occurs but is usually very limited. This is the era the Mycenaeans believe themselves to be in now. The dawn of the Age of Heroes was the Twelve Great Labors of Heracles. Three major military events occur(which, depending on what the DM has in mind, may have already happened): The Argonautic expedition, the Theban War, and the Trojan War. The events of the Odyssey also take place during this period.

Egyptian Creation Stories[edit]

The different creation myths have some elements in common. They all hold that the world arose out of the lifeless waters of chaos, called Nu. They also include a pyramid-shaped mound, called the benben, which was the first thing to emerge from the waters. The sun is also closely associated with creation, and it was said to have first risen from the mound, as the general sun-god Ra. There were many versions of the sun's emergence, and it was said to have emerged directly from the mound or from a lotus flower that grew from the mound, in the form of a heron, falcon, scarab beetle, or human child.

The rest of the creation tales vary from city to city and are often competing.

Hermopolis[edit]

The creation myth promulgated in the city of Hermopolis focused on the nature of the universe before the creation of the world. The inherent qualities of the primeval waters were represented by a set of eight gods, called the Ogdoad. The god Nu and his female counterpart Naunet represented the inert primeval water itself; Huh and his counterpart Hauhet represented the water's infinite extent; Kuk and Kauket personified the darkness present within it; and Amun and Amaunet represented its hidden and unknowable nature, in contrast to the tangible world of the living. Because the primeval waters were themselves part of the creation process, the deities representing them could be seen as creator gods. According to the tale, the eight gods were originally divided into male and female groups. Because they dwelt within the water, they were symbolically depicted as aquatic creatures: the males were represented as frogs, and the females were represented as snakes. These two groups eventually converged, resulting in a great upheaval, which produced the pyramidal mound. From it emerged the sun, which rose into the sky to light the world.

Heliopolis[edit]

In Heliopolis, the creation was attributed to Atum, a deity closely associated with Ra, who was said to have existed in the waters of Nu as an inert potential being. Atum was a self-engendered god, the source of all the elements and forces in the world, and the Heliopolitan myth described the process by which he "evolved" from a single being into this multiplicity of elements. The process began when Atum appeared on the mound and gave rise the air god Shu and his sister Tefnut, whose existence represented the emergence of an empty space amid the waters. To explain how Atum did this, the myth uses the metaphor of masturbation, with the hand he used in this act representing the female principle inherent within him. He is also said to have to have "sneezed" and"spat" to produce Shu and Tefnut, a metaphor that arose from puns on their names. Next, Shu and Tefnut coupled to produce the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut, who defined the limits of the world. Geb and Nut in turn gave rise to four children, who represented the forces of life: Osiris, god of fertility and regeneration; Isis, goddess of motherhood; Set, the god of male sexuality; and Nephthys, the female complement of Set. The myth thus represented the process by which life was made possible. These nine gods were grouped together theologically as the Ennead, but the eight lesser gods, and all other things in the world, were ultimately seen as extensions of Atum.

Memphis[edit]

The Memphite version of creation centered on Ptah, who was the patron god of craftsmen. As such, he represented the craftsman's ability to envision a finished product, and shape raw materials to create that product. The Memphite theology said that Ptah created the world in a similar way. The ideas developed within Ptah's heart (regarded by the Egyptians as the seat of human thought) were given form when he named them with his tongue. By speaking these names, Ptah produced the gods and all other things.

The Memphite creation myth coexisted with that of Heliopolis, as Ptah's creative thought and speech were believed to have caused the formation of Atum and the Ennead. Ptah was also associated with Tatjenen, the god who personified the pyramidal mound.

Thebes[edit]

Theban theology claimed that Amun was not merely a member of the Ogdoad, but the hidden force behind all things. In this view, Amun existed separately from the created world, and was the first creator; one Theban myth likened Amun's act of creation to the call of a goose, which broke the stillness of the primeval waters and caused the Ogdoad and Ennead to form. Because Amun was separate from the world, his true nature was concealed even from the other gods. At the same time, however, because he was the ultimate source of creation, all the gods, including the other creators, were in fact merely aspects of Amun. Because of this belief, Amun eventually became the supreme god of the Egyptian pantheon.

IMPORTANT: The Thebes of Upper Egypt is not to be confused with Thebes, the Mycenaean city-state.

Human History[edit]

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