Bronze Age Mesopotamia Leadership and the Epic of Gilgamesh

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The Epic of Gilgamesh

Bronze Age Mesopotamia had a distinct culture and tradition; their rich cultural heritage was passed down by some incredible fictitious and non-fictitious writings like the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’. There are many inferences that can be made about Bronze Age Mesopotamia by reading the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’. It’s clear from this document that the dichotomy between a tyrannical and a just leader existed in the society where the leaders were expected to be courageous, bold and adventurous. The importance of the role of religion on leadership cannot be overlooked and religion seemed to mingle with and govern the lives of the leaders.

One of the most powerful deductions that can be made about Bronze Age Mesopotamia is the constant struggle between a tyrannical ruler and a just ruler. In fact one can go as far as claiming that the entire document highlights the need for a leader who rules well over his people. In the end of the tale we see Gilgamesh, a tyrannical barbaric ruler, repent by pledging to become someone who loves the people he rules (Kovacs). This shows that perhaps corrupt tyrants who thrived at the expense of the common people marred the Bronze Age Mesopotamia.

Similarly another key deduction on leadership is the apparent divine mandate to rule. The Persian Empire is known to have solidified the ‘divine mandate to rule’ and it seems that the Bronze Age Mesopotamia wasn’t too far off from the same notion. In the story we see Gilgamesh as a ‘hero’ mandated by the Gods to rule and after he displeases the Gods we see the birth of another ‘hero’ once again mandated by Gods to challenge Gilgamesh (Kovacs). This intricate relationship between heroes and Gods is something that seems to be a key feature of leadership as no ordinary person could simply become a leader. The Bronze Age Mesopotamian society had somewhat unique expectation from their leaders. The most important expectation dealt with courage and strength, which is to clear...
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