In die Skriflig
On-line version ISSN 2305-0853
Print version ISSN 1018-6441
FITZGERALD, John T.. Cosmologies of the ancient Mediterranean world. In Skriflig (Online) [online]. 2013, vol.47, n.2, pp.64-70. ISSN 2305-0853.
Cosmology is concerned with the order of the universe and seeks to provide an account, not only of that order, but also of the mind or reason behind it. In antiquity, the cosmos was usually understood religiously, such that the cosmologies of the ancient Mediterranean world were either religious in nature or constituted a reaction to a religiously conceived understanding of the structures of the universe. The oldest form in which ancient cosmologies occur is myth, which, owing to its elasticity as a form, enabled them to be appropriated, adapted and used by different groups. In addition, different cosmologies co-existed within the same ancient culture, each having an authoritative status. This article provides an introductory overview of these cosmological myths and argues that a comparative approach is the most fruitful way to study them. Emphasis is given to certain prominent cosmological topics, including theogony (the genesis of the divine) or the relationship of the divine to the cosmos, cosmogony (the genesis of the cosmos), and anthropogony (the origin of humans within the cosmos). Although these myths vary greatly in terms of content and how they envision the origin of the cosmos, many of them depict death as part of the structure of the universe.