Monday, January 16, 2012

A Man Was Speaking

It would have died, had it not scented food. A man was speaking, and the beast was drawn to his words.
They smelled so good that it could not help itself.
- The Unwritten #32.5
by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Despite what you may think from looking at that panel, this is not The Unwritten's version of Adam and Eve. No, it's the The Unwritten's version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Utnapishtim is recounting to Gilgamesh the origin of Abaddon (or Leviathan), the beast they are now hunting down. According to the story, the creature feeds off of words and was about to perish until it encountered man.

This is one of the great things about the combination of words and pictures in graphic literature. The text alone makes no reference or allusion to Adam and Eve. But the picture juxtaposed with the text certainly brings to mind the biblical story: a naked man and woman walking in a lush wilderness or garden are ominously stalked by a devious serpent.

I honestly like that this version of Gilgamesh meanders so easily into biblical stories. Of course, this brief visual allusion isn't the only similarity this issue has with the Bible. Both Genesis and the Epic of Gilgamesh detail a great, global deluge and the survivors of that catastrophic flood.

But what does this mean? Maybe these early mythologies borrowed from one another. The flood myth shows up in nearly all mythologies. I can see how it could be passed around and adapted by cultures throughout the world. Or maybe it's an archetype inherent in the stories that humans tell, like a plot or scenario that crops up all the time. Kind of like the idea of an orphan that grows up to do great things, like, say, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Batman, Superman, etc.

Or maybe it actually happened. Maybe there was a worldwide flood and those that survived remembered it in their own stories in their own way. I honestly don't know. I may believe a certain way, but I can't know that one is correct over the other. But the point is that no mythology or religion developed in a vacuum. We've borrowed, shared, and adapted stories all throughout history. That doesn't make the stories any less true. In fact, it might make them even more true as they become more adept at impacting a specific culture or people.

Looks like again I'll have to conclude wondering if I just committed a heresy of some sort. Oh well.

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