Indo European Myth 2: #1

Describe and compare how the cosmos is created through sacrifice in two different IE cultures. (150 words min. each culture)

In Norse culture, which is what I am most accustomed to these days, there is the creation story of Ymir the giant.  The story starts with fire and ice from Niflheim and Muspellheim.  The cataclysmic meeting of the two is what birthed Ymir.  The frost had thawed into a cow named Audhumla, from whence came four rivers of milk that fed the giant Ymir.  Audhumla licked the salty ice blocks and within the first few days she licked away enough ice to reveal a whole man named Buri.  From there, Buri begat Bor, who married Bestla the daughter of a giant named Bolthorn, and they had three sons.  Ymir was slain by Bor’s sons, Odinn, Vili, and Ve as the first sacrifice.  From this he was carried to Ginnungagap and the world was created through his slain body. His blood formed the seas, lakes, and oceans, his flesh formed the earth, and his bones created the mountains, rocks, and pebbles.  Lastly, his skull created teh sky and was set over the earth with four sides, and each corner was placed a dwarf (Lincoln, 128).

(Word Count: 182)

By comparison in the Greek culture, which I also have a slight affinity towards, Homer shows the development of the cosmology through Gaia (the earth) giving birth to Ouranos (the heavens), and between them they birth the Titans.  Among the titans is Okeanos and Kronos, who were treated poorly by Ouranos (their father).  Because of this poor treatment, Gaia conspires with Kronos to dispose of their father, and they do this through emasculation.  Ouranos’s genitals fall into the sea and the foam produced Aphrodite (Puhvel, 27).

Now that the power of Ouranos is gone, he is dethroned by Kronos his son and he is sort of “set to pasture” at this point.  From here, Kronos marries his sister, Rhea and lives in fear that he will have the same fate as his father.  Kronos starts to eat his own children because of that fear, which coerces Zeus (who is saved by a trick and grows up in secret) to rise up against Kronos and overthrow him.  However, again we do not have a death in the creation story, it is a “put to pasture” type influence where Kronos is retired to the Happy isles and Zeus takes over.

(Word Count: 196)

So while in the Greek lore there is not a death within the creation of the worlds, there is a dismemberment of Ouranos, like you see in the Norse myth with Ymir, in which the dismemberment is then use to help create something to advance the world.  The two major types of sacrificial creation myths across a lot of indo-european cultures seems to be a succession of power, such as in the Greek or Hittite myths, or an actual physical death such as Ymir in the Norse culture, and the death of Remus from Romulus in Roman culture.   Both types of creation myths are the end of something that is taken apart and then used to create something new.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *