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In mythology the male and female principles exist as a reflection of the relationship between the sexes in a society. In Mesopotamian myths, Inanna represents both love and war, and acts as the “Queen of Heaven”, while simultaneously representing the matriarchal way of Mesopotamian culture; conversely, Zeus is a strong Greek model for patriarchal rule and the strength of the male principle over a more diminished female sense of power.

In Mesopotamian myths, Inanna is both compassionate and vengeful as she represents both war and love simultaneously. Inanna is the Queen of the Living, although attempts to take over the underworld by either controlling the dead, or freeing them. This act shows Inanna’s adventurous side, as well as her daring heroinism. Inanna is both bold and strong. Also, Inanna is married to Dumuzi, who is the Shepherd God. Since the wife in a family is queen of all mortals, and her husband is a simple shepherd, the female principle is asserted in Mesopotamian myths. While traveling to the underworld, Inanna sneaks in by tricking the gatekeeper with a clever ruse, which portrays females as deceitful and crafty as well as cunning and intelligent. Furthermore, when Inanna must be rescued from the underworld, Enki, God of the Earth, creates two creatures (kurgarra and kalaturra) from the dirt beneath his fingernails, they are specifically noted as sexless. This lack of identity in characters that ultimately free the Queen of the Heavens shows that sex is not an all important matter in Mesopotamian culture.

On the other hand, in Greek myths, Zeus represents a strong male principle. Throughout Greek myths, Zeus is having babies with gods and mortals alike, and asserting his male principle. In Theognis and Hesiod it says, “Hail Daughters of Zeus, give me sweet song”. Note that the daughters of Zeus are not specifically noted, therefore are less important, thus the male principle is acutely noted within Greek mythology. In every other line of a Greek myth you can find a praise for Zeus, for every time that Zeus is mentioned, (in a biblical fashion) he is praised by such words as he who “thunders in the heavens”, and his “craft is everlasting”. In Greek myths, Zeus represents the strong male principle, and therefore the dominant sex in the culture.

The role of males and females in a society can be discerned by studying the roles of male and female deities in myths of the culture.

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