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The story of Prometheus / Amirani

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 16, 2013

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Gibil in Sumerian mythology is the god of fire, variously of the son of An and Ki, An and Shala or of Ishkur and Shala. He later developed into the Akkadian god Gerra, the Babylonian and Akkadian god of fire.

In some versions of the Enûma Eliš Gibil is said to maintain the sharp point of weapons, have broad wisdom, and that his mind is “so vast that all the gods, all of them, cannot fathom it”. Some versions state Gibil, as lord of the fire and the forge, also possesses wisdom of metallurgy.

Nusku was the name of the light and fire-god in Babylonia and Assyria, indistinguishable from Girra – formerly Gibil. Nusku is the symbol of the heavenly as well as of the terrestrial fire. As the former he is the son of Anu, the god of heaven, but he is likewise associated with Enlil of Nippur as the god of the earth and regarded as his first-born son.

A centre of his cult in Assyria was in Harran, where, because of the predominance of the moon-cult, he is viewed as the son of the moongod Sin, though Nusku was with Enlil when Sin wasn’t born yet, and Enlil hadn’t married Ninlil – Sin’s mother.

Nusku is by the side of Ea, the god of water, the great purifier. It is he, therefore, who is called upon to cleanse the sick and suffering from disease, which, induced by the demons, was looked upon as a species of impurity affecting the body.

The fire-god is also viewed as the patron of the arts and the god of civilization in general, because of the natural association of all human progress with the discovery and use of fire. As among other nations, the fire-god was in the third instance looked upon as the protector of the family. He becomes the mediator between humanity and the gods, since it is through the fire on the altar that the offering is brought into the presence of the gods.

While temples and sanctuaries to Nusku-Girru are found in Babylonia and Assyria, he is worshipped more in symbolical form than the other gods.

For the very reason that his presence is common and universal he is not localized to the same extent as his fellow-deities, and, while always enumerated in a list of the great gods, his place in the systematized pantheon is more or less vague.

The conceptions connected with Nusku are of distinctly popular origin, as is shown by his prominence in incantations, which represent the popular element in the cult, and it is significant that in the astro-theological system of the Babylonian priests Nusku-Girru is not assigned to any particular place in the heavens.

In Greek mythology, Prometheus, known for his intelligence and as a champion of mankind, is a Titan, culture hero, and trickster figure who is credited with the creation of man from clay, and who defies the gods and gives fire to humanity, an act that enabled progress and civilization, a theme that recurs in many world mythologies.

According to some versions of the story, Prometheus thought the gods were being cruel to withhold fire so that they could keep those little humans warm, cook their food and keep wild animals from eating them up, so he disobeyed the Olympian injunction. And according to some stories, Prometheus brought more than fire to humans – he taught them writing, mathematics and craft.

This made Zeus, king of the gods, cross, because fire was one of the gods’ secrets, along with lightning and thunder and stuff. The punishment of Prometheus as a consequence of the theft is a major theme of his mythology, and is a popular subject of both ancient and modern art. Zeus, king of the Olympian gods, sentenced the Titan to eternal torment for his transgression.

The immortal Prometheus, in eternal punishment, was bound to a rock, in the Caucasus, Kazbek Mountain, a dormant stratovolcano and one of the major mountains of the Caucasus located in the Kazbegi District of Georgia and North Ossetia (Russia), where each day an eagle, the emblem of Zeus, was sent to feed on his liver, which would then grow back to be eaten again the next day due to his immortality.

It is the third highest mountain in Georgia (after Mount Shkhara and Janga) and the seventh highest peak in the Caucasus Mountains. The summit lies directly to the west of the town of Stepantsminda and is the most prominent geographic feature of the area. Mt. Kazbek is the highest peak of Eastern Georgia. The name in Georgian, Mkinvartsveri, translates to “glacier”. The Vainakh name Bashlam translated as Molten Mount.

Haplogroup J-M172 is found mainly in the Fertile Crescent, the Caucasus, Anatolia, the Balkans, Italy, the Mediterranean littoral, and the Iranian plateau. The highest reported frequency of J-M172 ever was 87.4%, among Ingush in Malgobek.

J-M172 – Associated with Mediterranean, South Caucasian and Fertile Crescent populations, with its peaks at 87.4% in Ingushetia and 72% in Georgia’s Kazbegi region (near Mount Kazbek). In the North Caucasus, the largest frequencies are those of Nakh peoples (Chechens (56.7%) and Ingush (88.8%).

Other notable values were found among North Caucasian Turkic peoples (Kumyks (25%) and Balkars(24%). It is notable that according to both Nasidze’s study in 2004 and then a later study on Dagestani peoples by Yunusbaev in 2006, J-M172 suddenly collapses as one enters the territory of non-Nakh Northeast Caucasian peoples, dropping to very low values among Dagestani peoples.

The overwhelming bulk of Chechen J-M172 is of the subclade J-M67), of which the highest frequencies by far are found among Nakh peoples- Chechens were 55.2% according to the Balanovsky study, while Ingush were 87.4%.

The location of the imprisonment of Amirani later became the site of an Orthodox hermitage located in a cave called “Betlemi” (Bethlehem) at around the 4000 meter level. According to legends, this cave housed many sacred relics, including Abraham’s tent and the manger of the infant Jesus.

In ancient Greece, the liver was thought to be the seat of human emotions. The liver is also a regenerative organ. In some stories, Prometheus is freed at last by the Greek hero Heracles (Hercules), which slays the eagle and frees Prometheus from his chains because he needed his cunning mind to help him steal apples from the Gardens of the Hesperides.

The precise region of origin for haplogroup J-M172 remains a topic of discussion. However, at least within a European context, Anatolia and the Aegean seem to be source regions, with Hg J2 having perhaps arisen in the Levant (Di Giacomo 2004) / Middle East (Semino 2004) with the development of agriculture.

As to the timing of its spread into Europe, Di Giacomo points to events which post-date the Neolithic, in particular the demographic floruit associated with the rise of the Ancient Greek world.

Semino et al. derived older age estimates for overall J2 (having used the Zhivitovksy method c.f. Di Giacomo), postulating its initial spread with Neolithic farmers from the Near East.

However, its subclade distribution, showing localized peaks in the Southern Balkans, southern Italy, north/ central Italy and the Caucasus, does not conform to a single ‘wave-of-advance’ scenario, betraying a number of still poorly understood post-Neolithic processes which created its current pattern. Like Di Giacomo, the Bronze Age southern Balkans was suggested to have been an important vector of spread.

In Georgian mythology, Amirani is a culture hero who challenged the chief god, and like Prometheus was chained on the Caucasian mountains where birds would eat his organs.

In Georgian mythology, Amirani is a hero, the son of the goddess Dali, a Caucasian goddess of the hunt, and a mortal hunter, but he was removed prematurely from her womb and raised by a hunter Sulkalmah and his wife Darejan, alongside the latter’s two natural sons Badri and Usup.

According to the Svan version, the hunter’s wife learned about her husband’s affair with Dali and killed her by cutting her hair while she was asleep.

At Dali’s death, the hunter extracted from her womb a boy whom he called Amirani. The child had marks of his semi-divine origins with symbols of the Sun and the Moon on his shoulder-blades and a golden tooth.

Georgian myths describe the rise of the titan Amirani, who fights devis (ogres), challenges the gods, kidnaps Kamar (the daughter of gods), and teaches metallurgy to humans.

Together with Badri and Usup, Amirani fought evil spirits and defeated a three-headed giant whose several heads metamorphosed into snakes. Amirani battles with dragons. He is swallowed by the Black Dragon. Amirani cuts the dragon’s belly and comes out.

While battling other evil spirits in his search for a bride, his two mortal brothers were killed, and Amirani attempted suicide, but discovered to his dismay that he returned to life. Thereafter, Amirani abandoned his search for a bride, and empowered by the highest God, Ghmerti (later the name of the Christian deity), he took on another giant, and then Ghmerti himself.

In response for this insolence, Ghmerti punished him in three stages: he fastened Amirani to a post driven deep in the earth; second, Ghmerti buried him in chains under a mountain pass, which formed a cave-like dome over him; and third, for one night each year, the mountain opened to reveal Amirani suspended in air where a human attempted in vain to release him, and the mountain closed again in consequence of the excessive talk of a woman.

As in the myth Amirani defies God by introducing to the human kind the use of metal, and just like with Prometheus, the gods (in some versions, Jesus Christ) punish him by chaining him on a cliff in the Caucasus Mountains (or an iron pole) with his cursed dog Kursha, where the titan continues to defy the gods and struggles to break the chains. Similar to the Prometheus myth, an eagle eats his liver in the day, but it heals itself every night.

Amirani’s loyal dog, meantime, licks the chain to thin it out, but every year, on Thursday or in some versions the day before Christmas, the gods send smiths to repair it. In some versions, every seven years the cave where Amirani is chained can be seen in the Caucasus.

In some parts of Caucasian Iberia, the alternative account as reflected in the Greek myth, in which the hero is attacked daily by an eagle sent by the deity, was for a long time commemorated by the destruction of eagles nests, as the enemies of Amirani. The Svan version of the myth represents Amirani’s story most precisely and clearly.

Various versions of the myth reveal a process through which the myth was transformed over time, but scholars agree that this folk epic about Amirani must have been formed in the third millennium BCE, and later went through numerous transformation, the most important of them being morphing pagan and Christian elements after the spread of Christianity.

The myth could have been assimilated by the Greek colonists or travelers and embodied in the corpus of the famous Greek myth of Prometheus. In the Georgian literature and culture, Amirani is often used as a symbol of the Georgian nation, its ordeals and struggle for survival.

In another of his myths, Prometheus establishes the form of animal sacrifice practiced in ancient Greek religion. Evidence of a cult to Prometheus himself is not widespread. He was a focus of religious activity mainly at Athens, where he was linked to Athena and Hephaestus, other Greek deities of creative skills and technology.

In the Western classical tradition, Prometheus became a figure who represented human striving, particularly the quest for scientific knowledge, and the risk of overreaching or unintended consequences.

The myth of Prometheus has been a favorite theme of Western art and literature in the post-renaissance and post-enlightenment tradition, and occasionally in works produced outside the West.

In particular, he was regarded in the Romantic era as embodying the lone genius whose efforts to improve human existence could also result in tragedy: Mary Shelley, for instance, gave The Modern Prometheus as the subtitle to her novel Frankenstein (1818).

Prometheus

Amirani – Wikipedia

Epic “Amirani” – Georgia: Past, Present, Future

Greek mythology

Georgian mythology

Armenian mythology

Ossetian mythology

Persian mythology

Vainakh mythology

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