epic of gilgamesh


  • [49] Alternatively, it has been suggested that “its purpose, though crudely handled, is to explain to Gilgamesh (and the reader) the various fates of the dead in the Afterlife”
    and in “an awkward attempt to bring closure”,[50] it both connects the Gilgamesh of the epic with the Gilgamesh who is the King of the Netherworld,[51] and is “a dramatic capstone whereby the twelve-tablet epic ends on one and the same theme,
    that of “seeing” (= understanding, discovery, etc.

  • The older version begins with the words “Surpassing all other kings”, while the Standard Babylonian version has “He who saw the deep”, “deep” referring to the mysteries of
    the information brought back by Gilgamesh from his meeting with Uta-Napishti (Utnapishtim) about Ea, the fountain of wisdom.

  • It is possible, however, as has been pointed out, that the Chaldean inscription, if genuine, may be regarded as a confirmation of the statement that there are various traditions
    of the deluge apart from the Biblical one, which is perhaps legendary like the rest The New York Times, front page, 1872[15] Enkidu, Gilgamesh’s friend.

  • The text on the Old Babylonian Meissner fragment (the larger surviving fragment of the Sippar tablet) has been used to reconstruct possible earlier forms of the Epic of Gilgamesh,
    and it has been suggested that a “prior form of the story – earlier even than that preserved on the Old Babylonian fragment – may well have ended with Siduri sending Gilgamesh back to Uruk…” and “Utnapistim was not originally part of the

  • Tablet two[edit] Fragment of Tablet II of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Sulaymaniyah Museum, Iraq Shamhat brings Enkidu to the shepherds’ camp, where he is introduced to a human
    diet and becomes the night watchman.

  • [5][6] Nevertheless, because of his great building projects, his account of Siduri’s advice, and what the immortal man Utnapishtim told him about the Great Flood, Gilgamesh’s
    fame survived well after his death, with expanding interest in his story.

  • Tell Harmal tablets[edit] Fragments from two different versions/tablets tell how Enkidu interprets one of Gilgamesh’s dreams on the way to the Forest of Cedar, and their conversation
    when entering the forest.

  • [11][30] Gilgamesh was given knowledge of how to worship the gods, why death was ordained for human beings, what makes a good king, and how to live a good life.

  • Gilgamesh, two-thirds god and one-third man, is oppressing his people, who cry out to the gods for help.

  • In those days, in those far-off days, otherwise known as Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld, is the source for the Akkadian translation included as tablet XII in the Standard
    Babylonian version, telling of Enkidu’s journey to the Netherworld.

  • “[36] One difference between the Greek epic poems and Gilgamesh would be the fact that the Greek heroes acted in the context of war, while Gilgamesh acted in isolation (with
    the exception of Enkidu’s brief existence) – and could equal Heracles.

  • For when the gods created man, they let death be his share, and life withheld in their own hands”.

  • The first half of the story discusses Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and Enkidu, a wild man created by the gods to stop Gilgamesh from oppressing the people of Uruk.

  • The envoys of Akka has no corresponding episode in the epic, but the themes of whether to show mercy to captives, and counsel from the city elders, also occur in the Standard
    Babylonian version of the Humbaba story.

  • He tells him his story, but when he asks for his help, Urshanabi informs him that he has just destroyed the objects that can help them cross the Waters of Death, which are
    deadly to the touch.

  • [39] It is also made explicit that Gilgamesh rose to the rank of an “ancient wise man” (antedeluvian).

  • British Museum George Smith transliterated and read the “Babylonian Flood Story” of Tablet XI Gilgamesh observes that Utnapishtim seems no different from himself, and asks
    him how he obtained his immortality.

  • In the second half of the epic, distress over Enkidu’s death causes Gilgamesh to undertake a long and perilous journey to discover the secret of eternal life.

  • “[38] Lins Brandão 2019 recognizes that the prologue of “He who Saw the Abyss” recalls the inspiration of the Greek Muses, even though there is no god’s assistance here.

  • [48] The contents of this last tablet are inconsistent with previous ones: Enkidu is still alive, despite having died earlier in the epic.

  • Tablet seven[edit] In Enkidu’s dream, the gods decide that one of the heroes must die because they killed Humbaba and Gugalanna.

  • [33] It bears little relation to the well-crafted 11-tablet epic; the lines at the beginning of the first tablet are quoted at the end of the 11th tablet, giving it circularity
    and finality.

  • [40] Lins Brandão continues, noting how the poem would have been “put on a stele” (“narû”), that at first “narû” could be seen as the genre of the poem,[40] taking into consideration
    that the reader (or scribe) would have to pass the text on,[41] without omitting or adding anything.

  • [14][27] One impact that Sin-liqe-unninni brought to the work was to bring the issue of mortality to the foreground, thus making it possible for the character to move from
    being an “adventurer to a wise man.

  • [20] The fragment read “He who saw all, who was the foundation of the land, who knew (everything), was wise in all matters: Gilgamesh.

  • “[52] Gilgamesh complains to Enkidu that various of his possessions (the tablet is unclear exactly what – different translations include a drum and a ball) have fallen into
    the underworld.

  • Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh that at the bottom of the sea there lives a boxthorn-like plant that will make him young again.

  • Gilgamesh, meanwhile, has been having dreams about the imminent arrival of a beloved new companion and asks his mother, Ninsun, to help interpret these dreams.

  • In a second dream, however, he sees himself being taken captive to the Netherworld by a terrifying Angel of Death.

  • [16] The central character of Gilgamesh was initially reintroduced to the world as “Izdubar”, before the cuneiform logographs in his name could be pronounced accurately.

  • There, trapped by Huwawa, Gilgamesh tricks him (with Enkidu’s assistance in one of the versions) into giving up his auras, thus losing his power.

  • Genre[edit] Main article: Epic poetry When it was discovered in the 19th century, the story of Gilgamesh was classified as a Greek epic, a genre known in Europe, even though
    it predates the Greek culture that spawned epics,[34] specifically, when Herodotus referred to the works of Homer in this way.

  • After a short discussion, Sur-sunabu asks him to carve 300 oars so that they may cross the waters of death without needing the “stone ones”.

  • Finally, after a lament that he could not meet a heroic death in battle, he dies.

  • Tablet eight[edit] Gilgamesh delivers a lament for Enkidu, in which he calls upon mountains, forests, fields, rivers, wild animals, and all of Uruk to mourn for his friend.

  • After six days and seven nights (or two weeks, according to more recent scholarship[44]) of lovemaking and teaching Enkidu about the ways of civilization, she takes Enkidu
    to a shepherd’s camp to learn how to be civilized.

  • Together, they make a six-day journey to the legendary Cedar Forest, where they plan to slay the Guardian, Humbaba the Terrible, and cut down the sacred Cedar.

  • His mother explains that they mean that a new companion will soon arrive at Uruk.

  • [11] Analysis of the Old Babylonian text has been used to reconstruct possible earlier forms of the epic.

  • [46][32] The main point seems to be that when Enlil granted eternal life it was a unique gift.

  • He comes across a tunnel, which no man has ever entered, guarded by two scorpion monsters, who appear to be a married couple.

  • Anu states that if he gives her the Bull of Heaven, Uruk will face 7 years of famine.

  • Tablet three[edit] The elders give Gilgamesh advice for his journey.

  • Some of the names of the main characters in these poems differ slightly from later Akkadian names; for example, “Bilgamesh” is written instead of “Gilgamesh”, and there are
    some differences in the underlying stories such as the fact that Enkidu is Gilgamesh’s servant in the Sumerian version: 1.

  • For the young men (the tablet is damaged at this point) it is conjectured that Gilgamesh exhausts them through games, tests of strength, or perhaps forced labour on building

  • Tablet 12 is a near copy of an earlier Sumerian tale, a prequel, in which Gilgamesh sends Enkidu to retrieve some objects of his from the Underworld, and he returns in the
    form of a spirit to relate the nature of the Underworld to Gilgamesh.

  • [1] These independent stories were later used as source material for a combined epic in Akkadian.

  • When Gilgamesh attempts to visit the wedding chamber, Enkidu blocks his way, and they fight.

  • [25][26] Versions From the diverse sources found, two main versions of the epic have been partially reconstructed: the Standard Babylonian version, or He who saw the deep,
    and the Old Babylonian version, or Surpassing all other kings.

  • “[21] The discovery of artifacts (c. 2600 BC) associated with Enmebaragesi of Kish, mentioned in the legends as the father of one of Gilgamesh’s adversaries, has lent credibility
    to the historical existence of Gilgamesh.

  • Utnapishtim explains that the gods decided to send a great flood.

  • [37] Considering how the text would be viewed from the standpoint of its time is tricky, as George Smith acknowledges that there is no “Sumerian or Akkadian word for myth
    or heroic narrative, just as there is no ancient recognition of poetic narrative as a genre.

  • It is also the main source of information for the Sumerian creation myth and the story of “Inanna and the Huluppu Tree”.

  • Tablet four[edit] The second dream of Gilgamesh on the journey to the Forest of Cedar.

  • The great wild bull is lying down, a poem about Gilgamesh’s death, burial and consecration as a semigod, reigning and giving judgement over the dead.

  • Because of this, its lack of integration with the other tablets, and the fact that it is almost a copy of an earlier version, it has been referred to as an ‘inorganic appendage’
    to the epic.

  • Despite similarities between his dream figures and earlier descriptions of Humbaba, Enkidu interprets these dreams as good omens, and denies that the frightening images represent
    the forest guardian.

  • After dreaming of how the gods decide his fate after death, Gilgamesh takes counsel, prepares his funeral and offers gifts to the gods.

  • The story of Utnapishtim, the hero of the flood myth, can also be found in the Babylonian epic of Atra-Hasis.

  • Gilgamesh, who is seeking to overcome death, cannot even conquer sleep.

  • There is, however, extensive use of parallelism across sets of two or three adjacent lines, much like in the Hebrew Psalms.

  • The earliest Sumerian poems are now generally considered to be distinct stories, rather than parts of a single epic.

  • [42] The prologue also implies that Gilgamesh narrated his story to a copyist, thus being a kind of “autobiography in third person”.

  • [63] Later influence Relationship to the Bible[edit] Various themes, plot elements, and characters in the Hebrew Bible correlate with the Epic of Gilgamesh – notably, the
    accounts of the Garden of Eden, the advice from Ecclesiastes, and the Genesis flood narrative.

  • Gilgamesh tells his mother Ninsun about two dreams he had.

  • The first surviving version of this combined epic, known as the “Old Babylonian” version, dates back to the 18th century BC and is titled after its incipit, “Surpassing All
    Other Kings”.

  • [44] The two heroes cut down many cedars, including a gigantic tree that Enkidu plans to fashion into a gate for the temple of Enlil.

  • When they reach the island where Utnapishtim lives, Gilgamesh recounts his story, asking him for his help.

  • Gilgamesh proposes a journey to the Cedar Forest to slay the monstrous demi-god Humbaba in order to gain fame and renown.

  • The trapper tells the sun-god Shamash about the man, and it is arranged for Enkidu to be seduced by Shamhat, a temple prostitute, his first step towards being tamed.

  • He offers to make Gilgamesh king of the forest, to cut the trees for him, and to be his slave.

  • Among the few survivors of the Great Flood, Utnapishtim and his wife are the only humans to have been granted immortality by the gods.

  • Old Babylonian versions[edit] This version of the epic, called in some fragments Surpassing all other kings, is composed of tablets and fragments from diverse origins and
    states of conservation.


Works Cited

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I will feed some and put the plant to the test!'”
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2. The
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Jeffrey H. (1982). The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-7805-7.
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Autêntica. p. 320. ISBN 978-85-513-0283-5.
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/53807034@N05/5578760521/’]


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