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Divine Roles Across Culture

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Divine Roles Across Cultures

Part I

Select one common divine role that recurs in world mythology.

Possible options of divine roles include the following: father or mother divinities, divinities of war, home or hearth divinities, divinities of love, divinities of wisdom, divinities of medicine or health, divinities of the wind, divinities of agriculture, divinities of the sky, ruler of all the gods, and so on.

Identify the role in the title of your table.

Select two myths, each from a different culture, in which the divine role appears. Identify the divinity names and cultures in columns A and B.

Complete the table by answering each of the five questions for both selected divinities.

|Title: |Column A |Column B |
| |Divinity Name: Zeus |Divinity Name: Odin |
| |Culture of Origin: Greece |Culture of Origin: Norse |
|How is this divinity portrayed? Describe the |Zeus is the ruler of the Olympian gods and ruler|Odin is the ruler of all gods. He lives in|
|divinity’s role within the myth. |of all men. Zeus is the god of justice and is |the underworld called Valhalla where half |
| |very merciful. He protects the weak and |of all the dead warriors gather after |
| |punishes the wicked and is married to Hera, the |death. Odin sits on his throne viewing the|
| |goddess of the earth even though he is the god |entire world. Odin is the god of wisdom, |
| |of rain. He is also the lord of the sky, cloud,|magic, and poetry and is the wisest of all |
| |rain, thunder, light, winds, and all other |of the gods. Odin has the power to |
| |atmospheric phenomena. |transform into whatever he wants from |
| | |serpent to fish, smoke to fire, however, he|
| | |gave one of his eyes to be able to have |
| | |this power. He is all powerful. |
|Is the divinity male or female? What function |Zeus is a male god. He is the ruler of all gods.|Odin is a powerful male god with knowledge |
|does this gender play? |He is most powerful. In the Greek society is |of all things. It was important that he be|
| |was imperative that the gods were male. |of the male gender in the Scandinavian |
| | |Viking Society for survival. |
|What are the divinity’s attributes, such as |Zeus is the last born son of Cronus and Rhea of |Odin is a “good” god. Because his |
|divine powers or characteristics? What objects|the Titans. Zeus was the only child that was |grandfather Ymir was extremely cruel Odin |
|does the divinity possess, such as a weapon or|saved from Cronus biting of the head off. Rhea |and the other gods plotted against him and |
|animal, that assist him or her? |hid him in a cave so that he would be saved. |killed Ymir. Odin and his brothers then |
| |When Zeus grew up he made Cronus throw up his |made all things from the body parts of |
| |siblings and then the joined him in fighting to |Ymir. Odin and his brothers come to an |
| |gain control of the universe. After Zeus gained|agreement that he is the most powerful. |
| |control of the universe he imprisoned them in |Ymir’s sisters however, are extremely upset|
| |the underworld and then split up the universe |at the death of their brother and cause |
| |between himself and his brothers Hades and |problems for all the people. |
| |Poseidon. Zeus took the sky and Hades took the | |
| |underworld. Poseidon got the seas and all other| |
| |waters. Zeus is the ruler of all divinities | |
| |however; he is equivalent to a womanizer because| |
| |he keeps having affairs. | |
|Within the myth of origin, how does this |Zeus is the cloud gatherer and the rain god. He|Odin had knowledge and power over all |
|divinity compare with other divinities? How |uses his lightning bolt to punish those who lie |things present, past and future. Odin can |
|does this divinity interact with or compare to|or break oaths or displeases him in any way. |transform himself into anything he wants |
|divinities of the same gender and to | |such as fire, animal, etc. Odin has two |
|divinities of the opposite gender? | |ravens that go out each day and return each|
| | |night with their news of the world. Odin |
| | |has a magical horse and spear that helps |
| | |him accomplish his goals. |
|Identify one character from contemporary |Zeus is like a prosecutor. They are there to |Odin has a wicked side to him which can |
|culture that shares characteristics of each |protect those who are not always able to protect|cause him to make erratic choices and abuse|
|divinity and explain why you chose each |themselves and also those who are afraid to |his power much like many of our leaders |
|character. What real-life ideals does this |stand up for themselves from those they love who|today. I believe that they start out with |
|divine role represent? How attainable are |hurt then but are too blind to see the hurt. |good intentions however, let the power and |
|these ideals? |I believe that we are able to come full circle |knowledge go to their head. |
| |in that we have so many safeguards in place that| |
| |it is not left to one man alone. | |

Part II

Write a 150- to 350-word short essay addressing the following: Why do so many cultures have divinities in similar roles?

I have really learned a lot with this subject matter. I never knew the differences and similarities that there are with the different cultural beliefs. I also never knew that a lot of what we believe in and the core of who we are came from some of the weirdest beliefs. I really have struggled with some of the belief systems that were told many thousands of years ago of how we became on the earth because it is not what I believe or have been taught. I have really had to step back and look at things with an open mind and let myself believe that there is more than one answer to things and that we can believe in many different aspects of things depending on the way we are raised and that there is more than one way to look at things. I think that there are so many similar roles because we take a little from each belief and add our own beliefs to it and pass it on from generation to generation with a few changes each time. That is how we have come so far from the beginning of time and the differences we have had over the years.


Rosenberg, D. (2006). World mythology: An anthology of great myths and epics (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: McGraw Hill.

Leonard, S., & McClure, M. (2004). Myth & knowing: An introduction to world mythology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.…...

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