As a matter of fact, the ancient texts are relevant even for the modern world. It seems that ancient people have known something that is hidden from today’s society. Ideas that are outlined in the ancient texts contain actual information, a unique philosophy that should be taken into consideration and discussed. The primary purpose of the paper is to provide an in-depth analysis of five ancient works, namely:
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- Genesis (chapters 1-3 and 6-8);
- Oration on the Dignity of Man by Pico Della Mirandola;
- Epic of Gilgamesh, (The Coming of Enkidu);
- Theseus and the Minotaur.
The analysis is needed in order to understand the significance of the texts and to get deeper involved in the question regarding the importance of this works for modern society.
First and foremost, it is essential to discuss the first chapters of Genesis as they provide a better understanding regarding the creation of the world and the theory of free will. Genesis explains how the world was created and makes an accent that a human being was shaped in the likeness of God:
Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and overall the creatures that move along the ground (Oden 1:26).
Genesis has a significant meaning for the modern world as it explains the place the human being has in the world. People should not forget that they close to God, and should maintain this connection in order to reach happiness.
The next text that is closely related to Genesis and inspired the Italian philosopher, Pico Della Mirandola, is considered to be the Oration on the Dignity of Man.
Based on the ancient idea that highlights that a man is a microcosm, man is the center of the universe, Pico Della Mirandola linked these ideas with the Christian doctrine of man’s creation. Pico changed the fundamental principles of Genesis (the person is created in the image and likeness of God) and finds out that the man himself is a free creator of his own nature. According to the philosopher, this ability is the exclusive privilege of the person. The philosopher points out that a human being should appreciate the greatness of the universe, God’s creation, and improve according to the vertical hierarchical structure upon all the mortal creatures. God did not provide a person with the objective, and thus everyone should determine their own path:
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We have given you, O Adam, no visage proper to yourself, nor endowment properly your own, in order that whatever place, whatever form, whatever gifts you may, with premeditation, select, these same you may have and possess through your own judgment and decision (Mirandola 3).
The significance of this work for modern people is the idea that a human being can achieve everything, every human shape his own path and destiny. It is significantly important to understand this idea especially in the modern and digital era of globalization when it becomes even more difficult to find its own place in life and not to fade in the technological world.
The chapters 6-8 of Genesis are centered on the story of a flood. God decided to punish people for their sins, and almost all people died because of it. The ancient society used to be aggressive, cruel, had a lack of faith, violated laws, were killing animals, and thus, God came to the conclusion that society should be punished (Finkel 44). The flood destroyed the society and gave the second chance for the survived ones.
It is worth noting that modern laws are based on the fundamental principles and moral norms described in the Bible. Thus, this work is significant for modern times because it shows that not appropriate lifestyle and actions can consequently lead to inevitable consequences. The Story of the Flood describes the suffering of people for their sins (Finkel 45). However, God provided people with a chance to start a new life.
Epic of Gilgamesh is considered to be one of the greatest poems in the history of the world literature, and perhaps the most remarkable literary work of Mesopotamia, as it is the story of a man and his fate (Shabandar 62). The story is not centered on many local gods and goddesses. In contrast to these gods, Gilgamesh, king of Uruk is considered to be the figure that is a human, although he is god on two-thirds and a person for one-third.
The deification of the hero proves that he is the ruler of Uruk. His fate is similar to the fate of modern people in the sense that he was just like all the members of the society, doomed to suffering and death as this is a human inheritance. In fact, he was the first tragic (one might say existential) hero of approximately the same scale, who can be found in the works of the Greek dramatists who worked for 1500 years later.
The Coming of Enkidu is centered on the description of a creature that was similar to gods, however, close to the animals (Shabandar 62). After Enkidu had tried human life, animals did not accept him, and thus, he started to behave like a human being. Although the animals rejected him, it is worth noting that Enkidu received wisdom. The story is relevant for modern people in order to understand the meaning of their life and change their attitude to it.
As for Theseus and the Minotaur, it should be noted that this myth reveals the story of Minotaur’s creation, who was a combination of a human being and a bull. The labyrinth was created for the creature to live there. Minotaur ate 14 girls and boys every year. When Theseus learned it, he decided to kill Minotaur and managed to do it because Ariadne, the Minos’s daughter, fell in love and helped him. After the victory, Ariadne and Theseus decided to come back together (Yomtov and Smith 12). However, the gods did not want it to happen and sent a curse. Theseus forgot about his promise to the father and forgot to change black sail. When Theseus’s father saw black sails, he thought that his son died, and killed himself.
In conclusion, it should be pointed out that ancient texts are relevant to modern people. The philosophy and wisdom that is part of the ancient works can help people to re-thing some concepts and understand the true meaning and sense of life. Ideas and philosophy that is described in the works impress with its significance.
Finkel, Irving. The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2014. Print.
Mirandola, Giovanni Pico Della. Oration on the Dignity of Man: A New Translation and Commentary. New York: Cambridge UP, 2012. Print.
Oden, Thomas. Genesis 1-11. London: Routledge, 2014. Print.
Shabandar, Sumaya. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Berkshire: Garnet, 2011. Print.
Yomtov, Nelson, and Todd Smith. Theseus and the Minotaur. Minneapolis: Stone Arch, 2009. Print.