relationship between the gods and the rulers of the ancient kingdoms of the Near East
choose ONLY ONE of the following pieces to EXAMINE the relationship between the gods and the rulers of the ancient kingdoms of the Near East.
Read the inserts (The Piety of Gudea) and (Hammurabi’s Laws) as a starting point, and find additional examples of artworks, objects, sculpture or structures from other cultures of the era to support your example of the relationship between god and ruler and ruler to his people. Can you think of how this is the same or different than the perceived relationship between our leaders and role of religion in ruling in societies today.
Image 2-17 “Gudea standing, holding an overflowing water jar from the Temple of Geshtinanna Girsu” Iraq 2100 BCE (above)
Image 2-18 “Stele with law code of Hammurabi 1780BCE” (above)
Make sure to let the readers know which piece you plan to discuss by either posting “Gudea” or Hammurabi” in the title.
Important!**Please note the instructions below and in the syllabus about discussion forums role in this class and on your overall grade. The discussion forum grading rubric is also available in the “information” tab. Review the rubric for the specific grading breakdown. In short, you will be graded on thoughtfulness, analysis, accuracy, creativity, and coherence of your first response. Feel free to cite other sources to support the argument you are making. For every thread, you are expected to contribute at least two times. The initial response (to the question that I have posted) will count the most towards your grade but I will look for evidence of areas that are weak in the first in your secondary responses (responses to peer comments).
When people began to settle in the land between the tigris and euphrates river, they began to build structures such as temples that still stand today. This period also was known for the first record of writing to be recorded. Some other types of arts that they created were also used to portray their rulers and their gods. Most of these took the form of a statue. One statue that still stands today is Gudea standing, holding an overflowing water jar from the temple of Geshtinanna Girusu (Kleiner, 2013). This statue can be found in present day Iraq and is believed to be created in 2100 BCE. This statue is considered one of the most prominent figures of the Neo-Sumerian age. It is said that the ruler Gudea wanted to be considered a messenger for the people from the gods. On the statue there is writing that can be found which is said to be a message for the gods of the land. This statue also is very detailed compared to the art that was found in the neolithic age. For example, the eyes have become more widened because during this period, a lot of the artists believed that wider eyes would show that they were focusing on the gods. As mentioned before, this statue also has the first recorded writing on it. This writing was said to have messages for the gods from the ruler. In the statue, Gudea is holding a jar that contains overflowing water. Since Gudea was considered as the messenger for the gods, the overflowing water is supposed to represent the idea that he is bring prosperity for his people from the gods. This is one of the many statues that shows how the art was more focused on how the people wanted to be connected with the gods through their art. Another statue of Gudea which conveys a similar message of greeting and prayer is the Seated Statue of Gudea found at http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/59.2, which reinforces the faith and reverence the Sumerian people had for god.
This jar-bearing statue is the third in the Piety of Gudea series — a series of statues used by Gudea in order to build or revive the great temple of Lagash, which is said to invite people from around the world. He wanted to have his statue put over there following the end of Akkadian rulers to which he did not swear allegiance and rather supported the view of the king as an agent of the gods on the earth that he himself wanted to become. He rather wanted to depict the Sumerian spirit of the ruler as if the divine wanted the rule to rule the people. This put him at war with the Akkadian — the reason that the devotion and piety are very much reflected from the Gudea series of statues that he wanted to depict. Kleiner has stated that these muscular arms, broad chest and heavy face demonstrate the power and strength that Gudea wanted his people to learn about and obey him (Kleiner, 2008, pp. 43). Even his eyes are said to have been fixed on gods to demand their mercy and help. It is because the people have always been in search of some superpower in order to satisfy their soul. Therefore, the kings were considered divine representative which Gudea sensed at that time. He knew that the people must rally around a person if he wants to stay in power. Therefore, he created the superpower of the gods in order to make people follow him who is with them but near to the gods who wanted him to be in power. Therefore, he got chiseled his statuses to be placed at Lagash so that the people could obey him and rally around him in opposition to Akkad (Kalyanaraman n.d.).
Kleiner is of the view that this specific portrait is different from others as it also shows a jar from which water overflows in two different ways like making streams coming down. It is a specific point of the Mesopotamian art that the gods and the goddesses often hold “similar overflowing vessels” that means they would be able to bring prosperity to their subjects (Kleiner, 2008, pp. 43). This status is a symbol that as the king is the representative of the divine power or the superpower on the earth, he is responsible for the prosperity of the people or his subjects. This could also be only the gods or the people near god could think about the welfare of the people or have a life-giving source (Kleiner, 2008).