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Gilgamesh. Essay

952 words - 4 pages

1"The Epic of Gilgamesh" was written around four-thousand years ago and is the earliest piece of western literature found to date. It originates from the first western civilization known as Mesopotamia. It was originally written on clay tablets and provides us a great window to the past to help us understand Mesopotamian religion, politics, and traditional roles of men and women.Mesopotamian government was one that was controlled exclusively by a lugal. The lugal was said to be in direct relation with the gods. The gods communicated their wants through the lugal who would in turn relate them to his people. In this way, no one could question the lugals choices. The lugal also had other responsibilities such as leading a war and beautifying the city for the gods. In the epic, Gilgamesh is the lugal of the city of Uruk. He has built great walls around the city. "In Uruk, he built walls, a great rampart..."1 He does not, however, take good care of his people. The people of Uruk declare "Gilgamesh sounds the tocsin for his amusement, his arrogance has no bounds by day or night. No son is left with his father, for Gilgamesh takes them all, even the children; yet the king should be a shepherd to his people. His lust leaves no virgin to her lover..."2 In this passage, the citizens of Uruk describe why they are upset with Gilgamesh and why they pray to the gods to send another with the same attributes. Gilgamesh is portrayed as a killer and a rapists.Mesopotamia was in the geographical area that is today called Iraq. The name we call it, "Mesopotamia," is actually Greek for "between two rivers." The2two rivers were the Tigris and the Euphrates.3 The land of Mesopotamia was scarce and lacked good building materials. They built their houses out of dried mud. To the north however, was a large forest that was protected by a god called Humbaba. In the story, Gilgamesh and Enkidu are the only ones brave enough to fight him and take his timber.The Mesopotamians believed that everyone who died, went to hell. In "The Epic of Gilgamesh", Enkidu describes a dream about the "under"world: "The heavens roared, and earth rumbled back an answer; between them stood I before an awful being (Devil)...the house whose people sit in darkness; dust is their food and clay is their meat...all those who once wore kingly crowns and ruled the days of old."4 In this passage Enkidu sees "hell" and tells of people he sees. Even kings are there with their crowns that mean nothing. This is what makes Gilgamesh realize, he too will die and go to this horrible place. The heavens were reserved for gods and goddesses with everlasting life. They lived hard lives and were rarely happy due to constantly worrying of the gods moods. If the river flooded, and wiped out all of their crops...

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