Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Patriarchal and Hierarchical Development of Western Civilization Research Paper

The Patriarchal and Hierarchical Development of Western Civilization - Research Paper Example The earliest human civilizations emerged in the great river deltas of the world, where the land was fertile, water was plentiful, and the rivers provided a means of easy transport. It was the ability to create food surpluses, store them and transport them around the local area that prompted early societies to give up a nomadic hunter gatherer lifestyle, and develop solid buildings for permanent residence. This created the leisure time for experimentation and the practical need for the development of technologies. In Mesopotamia the first writing tablets appear to have been made, and they record many lists and commercial details relating to the trade in basic goods. The famous Epic of Gilgamesh tells the story of a famous ruler who started out behaving badly towards his subjects, and particularly women. He has a lot of power, partly because of his status as heir to the throne of Uruk, but partly also because â€Å"Two thirds of him is god, one-third of him is human† (Tablet 1). He is descended from a goddess, and the story tells of his interactions with both human and godly characters. Goddesses play a big part in the plot, since it is the goddess Aruru who creates the special friend Enkidu for Gilgamesh, and the goddess Ishtar openly taunts him and tries to tempt him into a relationship with her. Gilgamesh is at the mercy of these divine figures, and they largely determine the course of his life. Gilgamesh refuses the advances of Ishtar, showing great strength of character, but in the course of the epic he comes to learn the lessons that his mother and the other goddesses have made every effort to teach him: love for others is of much greater worth than riches, fame and power. The power of the female to bring forth life, and the danger of amorous entanglements, remain key motifs in the story, and they serve to tame the faults of the male, and to counterbalance his arrogance and immaturity. The ruler Gilgamesh at the end of the epic reflects on the massiv e architecture of his city’s walls which encloses the well-ordered community that thrives under the care of the goddess Ishtar: â€Å"is not even (the core of) the brick structure of kiln-fired brick, †¦ one league city, one league palm gardens, one league lowlands, the open area of the Ishtar temple, three leagues, and the open area of Uruk it encloses† (tablet XI). The moral of the tale is that he finally accepts that he must settle down as an administrator in a settled urban community, rather than a wanderer in search of amorous or other adventure. In contrast to this the female characters in The Iliad, which dates from more than a thousand years later, are little more than goods to be passed from one powerful male hero to another, sometimes more or less willingly in matrimony, and sometimes as the spoils of war. In The Iliad notions of power are very much the main theme (Sherman, 2003, p. 47) The women like Helen of Troy are trophies, and their function is mor e symbolic than as an active participant in society. Homer stresses the heroic deeds of the warriors, and his western society values possessions, cities, and conquering other peoples. The patriarchal line of descent is stressed through the frequent repetition of lists of names and titles such as this: â€Å"After Diomede same the Atreidae/Agamemnon and Menelaus and then/the two named Aias, jacketed with brawn/then came Idomeneus and his

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