There are many characteristics that make societies unique. Ideas, beliefs, and
leadership, are just three characteristics that make up an individual society’s culture.
Mesopotamia and Egypt have their own unique ways of life; however they also have
many things in common. The greatest influence on theses two cultures is their
interactions between the gods and mankind. The following will demonstrate authority
between the gods, kings, and mankind.
The Mesopotamian society consisted of three classes: the elite, free subjects, and
the slaves. The elite class included the king and his officials, the royal family, and the
high priests. The free subjects were farmers, scribes, lesser merchants, and priests.
There were various ways that people became slaves. For example, one could be captured
in war or they could sell themselves for money. The ancient Egyptian society also has
different levels of classes. Peasants had constant farm labor and the scribes listened to
the constant demands of a king. The classes of these societies all revolved around the
highest of authorities, the gods. “I have spoken,” are three words that could constitute a
law in Egyptian society. The pharaoh held all authority in Egypt, and loved his
people like his children. He was considered a god by his people. He instructed
his people on important things like when to plant and harvest. Any disaster may
question the pharaoh’s legitimacy as a ruler and therefore threaten his dynasty. In
Mesopotamia, power was also a factor between gods, king-gods, and man. As shown in
The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh was a very powerful man but a very poor king.
Gilgamesh was considered godly by his people because he was two thirds god and one
third man. He tyrannized his people by exhausting his men in combat and claiming the
right to sleep with any woman before he