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Pezzoli-Olgiati, Daria (2005): Erkundungen von Gegenwelten. Zur Orientierungsleistung "mythischer" Reisen am Beispiel zweier mesopotamischer Texte. In: Numen: International Review for the History of Religions, Vol. 52, No. 2: pp. 226-254

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The present article focuses on the function of mythic journeys with regard to the problem of death and the transience of human life in two selected Mesopotamian literary sources: the Gilgamesh-Epic IX–XI and the Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld. The selected texts are analysed and compared from the perspective of a functionalist definition of religious symbol systems, with particular attention to the transformation involved in travelling through different cosmic regions. The structure of the journey, the characterisation of the different regions visited by the protagonist, and the changes provoked by the mythic travel evince similarities and differences in the strategies employed to produce a religious orientation dealing with the ineluctable limits of life.

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