In The Beginning

Sample essay topic, essay writing: In The Beginning... - 990 words

In the Beginning..Aaron McKenzieEnglish 2301-AProfessor Spicer18 March 1997 'Where did man come from? Where did time begin? Who, or what, createdall things?' These are questions that mankind has sought to answer from thebeginning of existence as it is known today. Many stories and fables have beentold and passed down from generation to generation, yet two have survived thetest of time and criticism. The Biblical account in Genesis, probably writtenby Moses around 1500 B. C., and the story of creation and flood in Ovid'sMetamorphosis, written somewhere between 8 and 17 A. D., have weathered thecriticism and become the most famous. The Genesis account, however, may be themost prominent of the two accounts. Within these accounts, are manysimilarities, as well as differences, which make these two writings wellrespected, while holding their own in the literary world.

Though both accounts of the creation and flood are well respected ontheir own, when compared side to side, they are drastically different. Ovid'spurpose for writing the creation story is geared more towards explainingcreation as it happens, in his opinion, whereas the Bible stresses the fact thatthe God of the Hebrews is responsible for the world's existence today. Overall, Ovid is very detailed in explaining the formless mass, creation of the earth, waters and land metaphorically. The Biblical account seems to be more plain, simple, and organized; not spending time on intricate detail. There seems to beno specific time frame for creation in Ovid's writing, whereas, the Bible statesthat it takes God six days to complete His creation; resting on the seventh. InMetamorphoses, the creation story is seven stanzas, a compilation of eightylines

It takes Moses thirty - one verses of Old Testament history to completehis story of creation. There are a few discrepancies in detail as well. The water, in Ovid's,'[holds] up, [holds] in the land,' while, in Genesis, the land '[separates] thewaters from the waters' (549; 1:9). In Metamorphoses the air, land, light andwater (as humans know it) seems to form at one instant when 'God, or kindlierNature, [settles] all'(549). In Genesis however, light; heaven; land andvegetation; stars, sun and moon; fish; animals and man are created on separatedays.

Though these two writings are different in many respects, they arestrikingly similar as well. Both are great and beautiful poems that contiue tostand the test of time. They are also written for the purpose of explaining oranswering some question, whether that be who, what, or how time and existence, as it is known today, came to pass. Both poems give credit for creation to a supreme being or supernaturalbeings. Ovid states that 'the gods, who [make] the changes, will help me--or Ihope so--with a poem'(548).

Genesis 1:1 states, 'In the beginning God [creates]the heavens and the earth.' In both accounts, each describe a 'shapelessness' and the earth being'formless and void'(549;1:2). There is also 'no sun to light the universe,'(Ovid,549) so 'darkness [is] over the surface of the deep'(Genesis 1:2). There isalso water, but 'water, which no man [can] swim,' in both accounts(Ovid, 549).In Genesis, the 'Spirit of God [is] moving over the surface of the water,'before any of creation exists(1:2). Much like the stories of creation in the Bible and Metamorphoses, theaccounts of the flood in each are very similar while holding firmly to theirdifferences. Like the creation story in Metamorphoses, the flood story gives nospecific time frame for the length of the flood. However, Genesis gives adetailed time frame for this event. The rains last 'forty days and fortynights'(7:12). When the rain stops, 'the water [prevails] upon the earth forone hundred and fifty days'(7:24). After ten months, the mountain tops [become]visible(8:5).

At the end of one year, one month, and twenty - seven days, Noah, his family, and the various animals exit the ark(8:13-18). Another very obviousdifference is the descriptiveness in Ovid's story, whereas Moses simply explainsthat all are breathing creation dies, except for those set aside by God. The biggest difference between these two account comes in explainingexistence after the flood. In Metamorphoses, Deucalion and Pyrrha, the twosurvivors, throw stones over each of his and her shoulder. The stones thatDeucalion throw become men, and the ones that Pyrrha toss, turn into women(Ovid559). In Genesis all of the earth is populated by Noah, his wife, Shem, Ham, Japheth, along with their wives(9:1,7).

In Ovid's tale, the animals of theearth form, or evolve, from heat and water amongst the mud(559). The creaturesof the earth repopulate themselves in Genesis(8:17). Just as these stories have had their differences, they also sharefeatures and qualities. The flood, in each story, is sent upon mankind becauseof immorality and disobedience to God or the gods in which the subjects worship. It is also very strange that the deity, or deities, in control, decide todestroy mankind with flooding. In both accounts, only one family is 'chosen' or'spared' to continue existence of the human race.

In Metamorphoses it wasDeucalion and Phyrrha. And Noah's family is chosen by God in Genesis. Bothfamilies seem to be in a right standing with God, or the gods, when the floodoccurs. It is very interesting to notice that in both accounts, as soon as thefamilies are delivered safely from the flood, each worship and show reverence toGod, or the gods, in ultimate control(556; 8:20-22). Also, both accounts of theflood, give some explanation, though very different, for the survival of thehuman race and animal species.

As one can see, when comparing each of the accounts of the flood andcreation in Ovid's Metamorphoses and Genesis, there are some very similaractions or events that take place in each of these accounts, while separatingthemselves a great deal by putting emphasis on very different messages. It isbecause of these variations in writing and technique that each of these poemshave acquired and maintained the respect they truly deserve through many yearsof evaluation and criticism. Works CitedNew American Standard Bible. Nashville, TN: Broadman 1977.Ovid. Metamorphoses. The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Ed. MaynardMack. 5th edition.

New York: Norton 1987. 549-560.

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