Sample Literature Essays on Classical Mythology

Classical Mythology Essay

In the contemporary society, various myths have been postulated by diverse cultures across the globe. As we all know, man is a social being that also has the obligation of being submissive to various prompts of deities. The myths brought forward by different communities and cultures makes it imperative for man understands more about their environment. The tales mainly give a narration to the empirical issues which man doesn’t seem to understand where they emanated. Additionally, it should be noted that most of the myths shape the way of thinking of the various members of the community and the rules and regulations that affect the community as well (Van Beek, 5). This paper looks into the cultural myths postulated by the Dogon people of Mali in the West Africa. We would dwell mainly on the creation stories and the tale about the inception and the existence of God and the ancestral spirits that form quite a significant aspect of their beliefs. Additionally, we would relate the various instances of the myths that would resemble some of the myths brought out in the discussions in class. It is important to note as well that the reasoning and how the myths here shaped the community is very critical because it will unveil to us the ties and considerable placement of the male and the female gender in the community of Dogon.

The Dogon people of Mali believe in Nommo who is a mythical ancestral spirit. The Nommo is regularly described to be fish-like creatures. These creatures were referred to as the masters of the waters. The myth around this creature is that the god of the sky, Amma created it as the first creature on earth. After the initial creation, it experienced series of transformation where it later turned into four twins. Even as they were living together, one of the twins went against the societal order as was stipulated by the god of the sky (Amma Douny, 8). To bring back the universal societal order of his creation, Amma went ahead to sacrifice the one of the generations of the Nommo. He did this by dismembering and scattering the body of the twin throughout the earth. The scattering of the body parts is perceived by the Dogon as an advent of the spread of the famous Binu shrines throughout the kingdom of Dogon. It is believed that at every point where the each body part fell, there was an erection of the Binu shrine (Van Beek, 13).

It is also believed that The Nommos fell from the sky in a container accompanied by bonfire and thunder. After descending, the creatures dove into the stream through a basin of water. The Dogon prodigies state that the creatures required watery surroundings on which to subsist. According to the legend related to Dieterlen and Griaule: “The Nommo separated his body amongst men to provide for them; that is the reason why it is also connoted that as the earth “had inebriated of his cadaver,” the Nommo also accentuated men drink. He devoted all his life principles to individuals.” The creatures are also thought to be the source of the first Hogan (Amma Douny, 12).

This myth is a reminiscence of the creation story in the Bible where the beginning human being to be created God and had a punishment of laboring for the rest of their lives.  Additionally, it comes out clearly that the notion of procreation of the Nommo is quite a resemblance of the mandate God gave to the Adam and Eve to go into the world and procreate.  It should be noted again that in both the two sets of myths, there is the mention of the spiritual deity who has supernatural powers. In the Bible, God is seen as the supreme Deity while in the myth of Dogon persons of Mali; the god of the sky is seen to be the deity that these communities embrace. The transcending effect of this notion is that most of the man’s activity is dictated by the supreme God who is above all (Amma Douny, 11). The primary meaning of this myth postulated by the Dogon people is that it provides the ground for which the origin of the Dogon people. Man is a social being born to worship a supreme being. With the inception of the Nommo and the god of the sky, this myth is quite significance in bringing this community to a tentative stance of worship.  Additionally, it gives the community the attitude to believe in different cultural norms and understands the ways of the land to enrich their African culture (Van Beek, 16).

In a nutshell, the myth of Nommo of the Dogon people of Mali is a masterpiece of how the spiritual network of shrines of worship emanated. It also gives the culture it authentic meanings by bringing on board the advent of the god of the sky who is seen at the supreme deity.  This myth has a direct reminiscence on the creation story of the Bible. The Dogon people of Mali like this myth since it accentuates the very existence of shrines where they worship their god of the sky.


Works Cited

Dickerson-Putman, Jeanette, and Judith K. Brown. Women Among Women: Anthropological Perspectives on Female Age Hierarchies. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. Print.

Douny, Laurence. A praxeological approach to Dogon material culture. Diss. University College London (University of London), 2007.

Douny, Laurence. Living in a landscape of scarcity: materiality and cosmology in West Africa. Vol. 63. Left Coast Press, 2014.

Van Beek, W. E. A. “Becoming Human In Dogon, Mali.” Coming Into Existence: Birth And Metaphors Of Birth, Edited With An Introduction By Göran Aijmer 1992: 47–70, 154–159. Web. 11 May 2016.


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