Great Flood

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Great Flood

 

in the mythology of a number of peoples “god’s punishment” sent upon humanity or on all living things on earth. The first mention of the myth of the great flood, which dates from the first half of the second millennium B.C., is to be found among the Sumerian: righteous Ziusudra, who is saved in a large ship, is the only one to survive the flood sent by the gods to destroy “the seed of the human race.” In the Akkadian epic about Gilgamesh (from the middle of the second millennium B.C.), Utnapishtim, saving himself from the flood, takes “the seed of every living thing” with him in the ship that he built on the advice of the god Ea. In the fragments of another Akkadian epic, the Atrahasis epic, the sending of the flood is motivated by the fact that the noise of the human multitudes disturbs the sleep of Enlil, the god of air. According to the Hebrew myth (Old Testament), the great flood is sent because of grave sins and obliterates “every living thing from the face of the earth” except the righteous Noah and his family and a pair “of every kind of flesh”—seven pairs of clean animals, seven pairs of unclean animals, and seven pairs of birds. They are saved in an ark built by Noah in accordance with divine command. The variants of the Near Eastern myth about the great flood probably reflect in mythologized form an immense inundation that occurred in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys at the beginning of the third millennium B.C. The biblical myth of the great flood became the basis for the Muslim and Mandaean variants. A number of scholars believe that the ancient Greek myth of the great flood has its genesis in Mesopotamia. Analogous myths also exist in Chinese and Mayan myths. An analogy of the great flood myth is the ancient Iranian myth of a severe cold and inundation after the 1,000-year rule of King Yima.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
The great accessions and unions of kingdoms, do likewise stir up wars; for when a state grows to an over-power, it is like a great flood, that will be sure to overflow.
I felt assured now of what it was, and from the bottom of my heart I pitied this last feeble rill from the great flood of humanity.
One tributary stream, in the great flood of gas which illuminates London, tracks its parent source to Works established in this locality.
He came down in a special train on Tuesday night - the night of the great flood - and his train was wrecked at Wymondham.
The panes streamed with rain, and the short street he looked down into lay wet and empty, as if swept clear suddenly by a great flood. It was a very trying day, choked in raw fog to begin with, and now drowned in cold rain.
The Tullivers had lived on this spot for generations, and he had sat listening on a low stool on winter evenings while his father talked of the old half-timbered mill that had been there before the last great floods which damaged it so that his grandfather pulled it down and built the new one.
"Listen to this," he said after a few minutes, and he read several pages descriptive of a great flooded tropical forest being navigated by boys on a raft.
Subsequently to the drought of 1827 to 1832, a very rainy season followed which caused great floods. Hence it is almost certain that some thousands of the skeletons were buried by the deposits of the very next year.
Sometimes we saw little towns or castles on the top of steep hills such as we see in old missals; sometimes we ran by rivers and streams which seemed from the wide stony margin on each side of them to be subject ot great floods. It takes a lot of water, and running strong, to sweep the outside edge of a river clear.
Queen Eleanor sat in her royal bower, through the open casements of which poured the sweet yellow sunshine in great floods of golden light.
Some terrible catastrophe allegedly took place just over 12,000 years ago at the time of the Great Flood.