The Popol Vuh is the Mayan story of creation. The Mayans believe that Hero Twins Xbalanqué and Hunahpú created them. It provides a narrative that accounts for the creation of all living beings in the world. Like the biblical creation story, Animals were first related, and then human beings. While the Popol Vuh is interesting for it’s insight into the ancient Mayan people, it is also interesting in it’s context of other mythical stories which emerged from other cultures after they had grown to the size of a full-blown civilization. One of the most important stories of any people is how they came to exist. Looking at the Popol Vuh, The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Odyssey, it is clear that people of these traditions saw their gods on a much closer realm than do religions in our modern cultures. In these stories, religion and culture are interwoven so that it is difficult to distinguish one from the other.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the hero is a king named Gilgamesh. The narrator says that he is one-third human and the remainder divine. He processed the strength of a god. The epic of Gilgamesh has a creation and destruction story that involves a great flood when the gods of Gilgamesh decide to destroy all humans. People within this story interact with gods as other characters. These people had a different conception of the divine as modern cultures, and people moved and communicated with gods. The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic tale surrounding the protagonist king, Gilgamesh. The people in this culture believed that it was the king’s responsibility to treat them fairly. They are unhappy with the him, and they appeal to a higher power, the goddess of creation, which creates a foil, Enkidu, for Gilgamesh. A good person in this story is someone who keeps
The Odyssey contains a similar understanding of the interactivity of men and gods. While the Odyssey does not contain the Greek creation story, it does contain the reference to it. The Greeks believed that the Gods created man and that Prometheus had given him, unbeknownst to the other gods, fire, which symbolizes a technology. Throughout the course of this story, gods are here to help and harm the hero Odysseus. The gods it seems have created human beings for their entertainment, but there are times when the gods are jealous of these creations because they possess a fleeting appreciation of things that divine beings do not.
This theme of humans not always acting in accord with the will of the gods plays an important role in the Popol Vuh. In the first story of the first part of the book, the gods do create earthly beings. They create them because they want to be adored and obey, but the gods fail to create creatures on earth, which act in this way. Humans not only interact with gods but can wield power over them. Hanahpu and Xbalanque can kill the godly being Vacub and his two sons.
What all these stories show is a much more literal understanding of religion. In our modern cultures religions are often removed from everyday life. But in these stories characters are friend or enemies to gods. They are a much more present part of the culture, people and everyday life.
"The Birth-mark - Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)." The Birth-mark - Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864). N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2014. <http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/nhawthorne/bl-nhaw-birth.htm>.