The primeval oceans and the architecture of memory: the evocation of ancient cosmogonies, voyages, and imaginaries

Isabel Almeida (CHAM (FCSH/UNL))
Helena Lopes (CHAM, NOVA FCSH, UAc)
Bloco 1, Sala 0.06
Start time:
13 July, 2017 at 9:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

In Antiquity, oceans were a strong motif in the cosmogonic conceptions, being, at same time, understood as the powerful forces that could destroy the creation. On the other hand, oceans also represented a domain to be crossed in order to reach marvellous lands, where fame and fortune awaited.

Long abstract:

In Antiquity, oceans represented the primeval substance from which all things came to exist. For the Mesopotamians (Namma for the Sumerian tradition, Tiamat and Apsû for the Akkadian one) and the Egyptians (Nun) these primordial oceans were divine. In the Biblical world, it was conceived as controlled by the single deity. Sometimes, the mass of water was metamorphosed into monsters (Tiamat, Leviathan), and other times perceived as a diluvial catastrophe. In both cases, the transformed aquatic element represented the chaotic forces that threaten the extremely craved Order, by the ancients. Simultaneously, oceans represented the possibility to find new worlds, real or imaginary, where paradisiacal and luxurious lands were waiting to be visited and tamed. Those ancient conceptions resisted the passage of time, persisting in the memory and imaginary of historical actors from later periods. Bearing this in mind, we invite scholars to present papers related to the mythical conceptions regarding ancient oceans and seas, in the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Biblical and Classical worlds; but also papers concerning the reception of these ideas in later times.