Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky), and father of the storm-god Teshub. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”), and by the Ugaritians with El.
In Greek mythology, Cronus was the leader and youngest of the first generation of Titans, the divine descendants of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus.
The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five (or more) Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and then the present (Iron), which is a period of decline, sometimes followed by the Leaden Age.
By extension “Golden Age” denotes a period of primordial peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity. During this age peace and harmony prevailed, people did not have to work to feed themselves, for the earth provided food in abundance. They lived to a very old age with a youthful appearance, eventually dying peacefully, with spirits living on as “guardians”.
Plato in Cratylus (397 e) recounts the golden race of humans who came first. He clarifies that Hesiod did not mean literally made of gold, but good and noble.
There are analogous concepts in the religious and philosophical traditions of the South Asian subcontinent. Similar beliefs occur in the ancient Middle East and throughout the ancient world, as well.
In classical Greek mythology the Golden Age was presided over by the leading Titan Cronus. In some version of the myth Astraea also ruled. She lived with men until the end of the Silver Age, but in the Bronze Age, when men became violent and greedy, fled to the stars, where she appears as the constellation Virgo, holding the scales of Justice, or Libra.
According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador.
European pastoral literary tradition often depicted nymphs and shepherds as living a life of rustic innocence and peace, set in Arcadia, a region of Greece that was the abode and center of worship of their tutelary deity, goat-footed Pan, who dwelt among them.
Cronus was usually depicted with a harpe, scythe or a sickle, which was the instrument he used to castrate and depose Uranus, his father. Cronus was also identified in classical antiquity with the Roman deity Saturn (“sowing”).
In Athens, on the twelfth day of the Attic month of Hekatombaion, a festival called Kronia was held in honour of Cronus to celebrate the harvest, suggesting that, as a result of his association with the virtuous Golden Age, Cronus continued to preside as a patron of harvest.
Saturn was the first god of the Capitol, known since the most ancient times as Saturnius Mons, and was seen as a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation. In later developments he came to be also a god of time. Saturn the planet and Saturday are both named after the god.
Saturn’s reign was depicted as a Golden Age of plenty and peace. The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum housed the state treasury. In December, he was celebrated at what is perhaps the most famous of the Roman festivals, the Saturnalia, a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and revelry.
Enlil is the god of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). He was known as the inventor of the mattock (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and helped plants to grow.
Enlil was the chief deity listed and written about in Sumerian religion, and later in Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian), Hittite, Canaanite and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets.
As Enlil was the only god who could reach An, the god of heaven, he held sway over the other gods who were assigned tasks by his agent and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship.
Among the titles accorded to him are “king of lands”, “king of heaven and earth”, and “father of the gods”. Enlil was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic”. His sacred number name was 50.
Anu (in Akkadian; Sumerian: An, from An “sky, heaven”) is the earliest attested Sky Father deity. In Sumerian religion, he was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions. He existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth.
An was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the Royal Tiara. The logogram 60 is also a learned writing for Anu. When Enlil rose to equal or surpass An in authority, the functions of the two deities came to some extent to overlap.
An was also sometimes equated with Amurru, and, in Seleucid Uruk, with Enmešara and Dumuzi. Enmesarra is an underworld god of the law. Described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal.
Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation. Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built over a cave that was originally a shrine to Adonis-Tammuz.
Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.
Baldr (also Balder, Baldur) is a god in Norse mythology, who is given a central role in the mythology. Despite this his precise function is rather disputed. He is often interpreted as the god of love, peace, forgiveness, justice, light or purity, but was not directly attested as a god of such. Baldr does not come back to life because not all living creatures shed tears for him, and his death then leads to the “doom of the gods”.
Enlil is associated with the ancient city of Nippur, sometimes referred to as the cult city of Enlil. At a very early period prior to 3000 BC, Nippur had become the centre of a political district of considerable extent.
Grouped around the main sanctuary, there arose temples and chapels to the gods and goddesses who formed his court, so that Ekur became the name for an entire sacred precinct in the city of Nippur.
The name “mountain house” suggests a lofty structure and was perhaps the designation originally of the staged tower at Nippur, built in imitation of a mountain, with the sacred shrine of the god on the top. It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer.
His temple was named Ekur, “House of the Mountain.” Such was the sanctity acquired by this edifice that Babylonian and Assyrian rulers, down to the latest days, vied with one another to embellish and restore Enlil’s seat of worship. Eventually, the name Ekur became the designation of a temple in general.
The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil’s divine laws are issued. The ethics and moral values of the site are extolled in myths, which Samuel Noah Kramer suggested would have made it the most ethically-oriented in the entire ancient Near East. Its rituals are also described as: “banquets and feasts are celebrated from sunrise to sunset” with “festivals, overflowing with milk and cream, are alluring of plan and full of rejoicing”.
In mythology, the Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. It is also known as Duranki and one of its structures is known as the Kiur (“great place”) and another one is known as Enamtila.
A hymn to Nanna illustrates the close relationship between temples, houses and mountains. “In your house on high, in your beloved house, I will come to live, O Nanna, up above in your cedar perfumed mountain”. This was carried-on into later tradition in the Bible by the prophet Micah who envisions “the mountain of the temple of Yahweh”.
Enlil was also known as the god of weather. According to the Sumerians, Enlil requested the creation of a slave race, but then got tired of their noise and tried to kill them by sending a flood.
A mortal known as Utnapishtim survived the flood through the help of another god, Enki, originally patron god of the city of Eridu, and he was made immortal by Enlil after Enlil’s initial fury had subsided.
According to Sumerian mythology, Enki also assisted humanity to survive the Deluge designed to kill them. In the later Legend of Atrahasis, Enlil, the king of the gods, sets out to eliminate humanity, whose noise is disturbing his rest. He successively sends drought, famine and plague to eliminate humanity, but Enki thwarts his half-brother’s plans by teaching Atrahasis how to counter these threats.
Each time, Atrahasis asks the population to abandon worship of all gods, except the one responsible for the calamity, and this seems to shame them into relenting. Humans, however, proliferate a fourth time. Enraged, Enlil convenes a Council of Deities and gets them to promise not to tell humankind that he plans their total annihilation.
Enki does not tell Atrahasis directly, but speaks to him in secret via a reed wall. He instructs Atrahasis to build a boat in order to rescue his family and other living creatures from the coming deluge. After the seven-day Deluge, the flood hero frees a swallow, a raven and a dove in an effort to find if the flood waters have receded.
Upon landing, a sacrifice is made to the gods. Enlil is angry his will has been thwarted yet again, and Enki is named as the culprit. Enki explains that Enlil is unfair to punish the guiltless, and the gods institute measures to ensure that humanity does not become too populous in the future.
The other flood myths with many similarities to the Sumerian story are the story of the Dravidian king Manu in the Matsya Purana, Utnapishtim episode in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Genesis flood narrative found in the Bible. The ancient Greeks have two similar myths from a later date: The Deucalion and Zeus’ flooding of the world in Book I of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
The main temple to Enki is called E-abzu, meaning “abzu temple” (also E-en-gur-a, meaning “house of the subterranean waters”), a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline at Eridu.
The pool of the Abzu at the front of his temple was adopted also at the temple to Nanna (Akkadian Sin) the Moon, at Ur, and spread from there throughout the Middle East. It is believed to remain today as the sacred pool at Mosques, or as the holy water font in Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches.
Enki was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. His image is a double-helix snake, or the Caduceus, sometimes confused with the Rod of Asclepius used to symbolize medicine. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp.
The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”. The Sumerian En is translated as a title equivalent to “lord” and was originally a title given to the High Priest. Ki means “earth”, but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”.
His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the Zodiacal constellation Capricornus. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.
Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number. He was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus).
In Germanic mythology, Odin (from Old Norse Óðinn) is a widely revered god. In Norse mythology, from which stems most of our information about the god, Odin is associated with healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, battle, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet, and is the husband of the goddess Frigg.
Odin has been a frequent subject of study in Germanic studies and numerous theories surround the god. Some of these focus on Odin’s particular relation to other figures, such as that Freyja’s husband Óðr appears to be something of an etymological doublet of the god, whereas Odin’s wife Frigg is in many ways similar to Freyja, and that Odin has a particular relation to the figure of Loki.
The name Wednesday is derived from Old English Wōdnesdæg and Middle English Wednesdei, “day of Woden”, ultimately a calque of dies Mercurii “day of Mercury”.
In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. In Old Icelandic translations of Classical mythology the Roman god Saturn’s name is glossed as “Njörðr.”
Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by either Skaði or his unnamed Vanir sister, lives in Nóatún (Old Norse “ship-enclosure”), described in the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning as located “in heaven”. and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.
According to the Book of Genesis, Noah and his three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth survived the Flood aboard the Ark, along with their wives. When Noah’s family left the Ark, God made a covenant with them (Genesis 9:8–10) and all the animals they had aboard the Ark that He would never again destroy the Earth with a flood, and He set the rainbow in the sky as a symbol of the covenant.
The account in Genesis 9 had earlier referred only to a requirement for the eating of meat (Genesis 9:2–4) (that the animal must be dead before the meat is removed) and the prohibition and punishment of murder (Genesis 9:5–6), but according to the Talmud this covenant included all of the Seven Laws of Noah.
Therefore, the B’nei Noah – all humans, as descendants of Noah – are subject to the Noahide laws. (Later, God established a separate and more detailed covenant with the Israelite people at Mount Sinai.)