Stephanie Dalley Writing Styles in Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others

Stephanie Dalley
This Study Guide consists of approximately 33 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Myths from Mesopotamia.
This section contains 599 words
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Perspective

The perspective of these myths alters with each story. In most cases, the tale is told from a third-person perspective, as a witness to the actions of the gods. The narrator rarely appears to be a first-hand witness of the proceedings, but appears instead to be retelling a tale that has been told to him. Since history now shows a tradition of oral storytelling among the people of Mesopotamia, this method works well to transfer the oral story to written dialog. In a few rare cases, a tablet will appear written by the god or person of whom the tablet speaks, making portions of the tale nearly first-person. However, it is an unwritten assumption that those portions are merely written in first person view from a third party to elaborate the feelings and emotions of the gods. The biases of the narration are specific to the myth being told at the time, in that each myth is written as a tribute to a god, and thus, speaks about the greatness of each. These alterations of perspective help the reader to determine which god is speaking at certain times, and to whom. In terms of the introductions to the myths, the perspective is always third-person, which helps the author tell of the history and legend behind each myth. This perspective is vital, in that the narration is authoritative without being biased.

Tone

The tone of the myths alter as the plot of the story changes. In some cases, the tone is argumentative, which is often the case during the disagreements of the gods. In other areas, it is objective, as in the case with descriptions of tales not related to the narrator, such as the Decent of Ishtar. In areas such as Gilgamesh's outcry of affection for Enkidu and the gods' honorary speeches to Marduk, the tone becomes revering. In all cases, the tone helps the reader to discern what is occurring within the myth, and the intentions of the gods at the time. In terms of the introductions to the story, the tone is authoritative and helpful, without bias.

Structure

The structure of the book is that of a reference book, with many different sections that are vital to the understanding of the myths, but that are not part of the myths themselves. The book begins with Prefaces that explain how the myths have come to be known, and the difficulties in locating the tablets and translating them into complete stories. The List of Figures at the beginning of the book tells the location of two primary pieces of reference, those of the map and the character depiction. The map is vital to understanding where the myths originate from, and where in the area each myth is based. The character depiction helps readers to visualize the characters within the myths. The Sigla and Abbreviations section, which describes certain aspects of the text, are vital to an understanding of the text, and include notations for missing text, inserted words for better translation, areas of uncertainty, unknown words, and abbreviations for different versions of the texts. The Introduction explains the origin of the myths and places the text in a proper setting and explains the reasoning for the multiple versions of stories given within the book. Following the myths, the Glossary section gives a brief description of hundreds of gods, places, and things found within the myths. Finally, the Bibliography lists references for reader who wish to gain a better understanding of Mesopotamian myth. The myths themselves are varied in length. In all, the book is 342 pages in length.

This section contains 599 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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