Epic of Gilgamesh | Ancient Mesopotamia

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The Epic of Gilgamesh is arguably the most significant and well-known piece of Sumerian literature. Although the story is about an epic hero akin to Hercules from Greek mythology, Gilgamesh is probably a genuine Sumerian ruler who ruled over the city of Uruk.

Who was the author?

Although the story itself is about Sumerian people and mythology, it was originally written down by a Babylonian scribe somewhere around the year 2000 BC. The scribe was probably only telling his own version of a much older tale.

The Story

Gilgamesh is the subject of several different versions and poetry. Here is a summary of the stories’ primary plots:

The narrative opens with a description of King Gilgamesh of Uruk, the greatest and most powerful man in the world. Gilgamesh is a hybrid of human and deity. In battle, he could overpower any foe and even move mountains.

Gilgamesh eventually grows bored and begins to abuse the Urukians. As a result, the gods determine that Gilgamesh requires a challenge. They send him a rival in the form of Enkidu, a rogue. In their conflict, Enkidu and Gilgamesh are unable to defeat one another. They eventually learn to respect one another and quit fighting. They grow to be close friends.

Enkidu and Gilgamesh decide to embark on a joint journey. They journey to the Cedar Forest in the hopes of facing the terrifying monster Humbaba. They did not first notice Humbaba, but once they began down cedar trees, Humbaba became visible. Humbaba was killed after Gilgamesh used the powerful winds to imprison him. They then felled several cedar trees and returned to Uruk with the priceless logs.

Later on in the narrative, the two heroes slay the Bull of Heaven, another monster. The gods, however, determine that one of them must perish because they are furious. Enkidu is chosen, and he soon passes away.

Gilgamesh mourns Enkidu’s passing and is greatly upset. He makes the decision to look out the key to eternal life since he is likewise concerned about passing away eventually. He embarks on numerous adventures. He encounters Utnapishtim, who had prevented a massive flood from destroying the world. Gilgamesh eventually discovers that everyone dies.

Facts About the Gilgamesh Epic

The language of the Babylonians at the time it was written was Akkadian.

George Smith, an anthropologist, translated the tale for the first time in 1872.

Numerous Gilgamesh-related tablets have been found at the renowned Assyrian library in the ancient city of Nineveh.

The goddess Ninsun was Gilgamesh’s mother. He was claimed to have inherited both his beauty and his bravery from the storm god Adad and the sun god Shamash.

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