Table of Contents Context Unlike the heroes of Greek or Celtic mythology, the hero of The Epic of Gilgamesh was an actual historical figure, a king who reigned over the Sumerian city-state of Uruk around b. Long after his death, people worshipped Gilgamesh, renowned as a warrior and builder and widely celebrated for his wisdom and judiciousness. Called Erech in the Bible, Uruk was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia. The historical King Gilgamesh probably raised its walls, which archaeologists have determined had a perimeter of six miles.
History[ edit ] Ancient Assyrian statue currently in the Louvrepossibly representing Gilgamesh Distinct sources exist from over a year timeframe. The earliest Sumerian poems are now generally considered to be distinct stories, rather than parts of a single epic.
Although several revised versions based on new discoveries have been published, the epic remains incomplete.
For the present the orthodox people are in great delight, and are very much prepossessed by the corroboration which it affords to Biblical history.
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 Timesfront page,  The Epic of Gilgamesh was discovered by Austen Henry LayardHormuzd Rassamand W.
The first modern translation was published in the early s by George Smith. The most definitive modern translation is a two-volume critical work by Andrew Georgepublished by Oxford University Press in A book review by the Cambridge scholar, Eleanor Robson, claims that George's is the most significant critical work on Gilgamesh in the last 70 years.
InStephen Mitchell supplied a controversial version that takes many liberties with the text and includes modernized allusions and commentary relating to the Iraq War of Five earlier Sumerian poems about Gilgamesh have been partially recovered, some with primitive versions of specific episodes in the Akkadian version, others with unrelated stories.
Standard Akkadian version[ edit ] The standard version was discovered by Hormuzd Rassam in the library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh in It was written in a dialect of Akkadian that was used for literary purposes.
This version was compiled by Sin-liqe-unninni sometime between and BC from earlier texts. The standard Akkadian version has different opening words, or incipitfrom the older version. The story of Utnapishtim, the hero of the flood mythcan also be found in the Babylonian Epic of Atrahasis.
The 12th tablet is a sequel to the original 11, and was probably added at a later date. It bears little relation to the well-crafted 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. 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.
Content of the standard version tablets[ edit ] This summary is based on Andrew George 's translation. Gilgamesh, two-thirds god and one-third man, is oppressing his people, who cry out to the gods for help.
For the young women of Uruk this oppression takes the form of a droit du seigneuror "lord's right", to sleep with brides on their wedding night. 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 projects.
The gods respond to the people's pleas by creating an equal to Gilgamesh who will be able to stop his oppression. This is the primitive man, Enkiduwho is covered in hair and lives in the wild with the animals.
He is spotted by a trapper, whose livelihood is being ruined because Enkidu is uprooting his traps. The trapper tells the sun-god Shamash about the man, and it is arranged for Enkidu to be seduced by Shamhata temple prostitutehis first step towards being tamed.
After six days and seven nights or two weeks, according to more recent scholarship  of lovemaking and teaching Enkidu about the ways of civilization, she takes Enkidu to a shepherd's camp to learn how to be civilized.
Gilgamesh, meanwhile, has been having dreams about the imminent arrival of a beloved new companion and asks his mother, Ninsunto help interpret these dreams. Tablet two[ edit ] Shamhat brings Enkidu to the shepherds' camp, where he is introduced to a human diet and becomes the night watchman.
Learning from a passing stranger about Gilgamesh's treatment of new brides, Enkidu is incensed and travels to Uruk to intervene at a wedding.
When Gilgamesh attempts to visit the wedding chamber, Enkidu blocks his way, and they fight. After a fierce battle, Enkidu acknowledges Gilgamesh's superior strength and they become friends.
Gilgamesh proposes a journey to the Cedar Forest to slay the monstrous demi-god Humbaba in order to gain fame and renown. Despite warnings from Enkidu and the council of elders, Gilgamesh is not deterred.
Tablet three[ edit ] The elders give Gilgamesh advice for his journey. Gilgamesh visits his mother, the goddess Ninsunwho seeks the support and protection of the sun-god Shamash for their adventure. Ninsun adopts Enkidu as her son, and Gilgamesh leaves instructions for the governance of Uruk in his absence.
Tablet four[ edit ] Gilgamesh and Enkidu journey to the Cedar Forest.The Epic of Gilgamesh Analysis Literary Devices in The Epic of Gilgamesh. Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory. Setting. This epic takes place in a region known as Mesopotamia—which is a Greek term meaning "between two rivers." Shockingly, Mesopotamia rests between two rivers: the Tigris and the Euphrates.
The Epic of . The Epic of Gilgamesh Questions and Answers. The Question and Answer section for The Epic of Gilgamesh is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel. A summary of Themes in 's The Epic of Gilgamesh. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of The Epic of Gilgamesh and what it means.
Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. The Epic was composed in the form of a poem.
The main figure is Gilgamesh, who actually may have been an historical person. The Sumerian King List shows Gilgamesh in the first dynasty of Uruk reigning for years. 11 This length of time is not a.
Jun 09, · The EPIC OF GILGAMESH is the earliest great work of literature that we know of, and was first written down by the Sumerians around B.C. . The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest surviving works of literature in the world and deeply influential.
It describes the archetypal "hero's .