Epic of Gilgamesh

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Study Guide for The Epic of Gilgamesh
from Unit One: Ancient Worlds…
Assignment for excerpts from the Epic of Gilgamesh (text pages 16-33)

Vocabulary:
Immolation- offering or killing made as a sacrifice p.20
Succor – air or relief p.20
Somber – dark; gloomy p. 23
Incantation – chant p. 24
Ecstasy –great joy p.24
Teemed – was full of; swarmed p. 25
Babel – confusion of voices or sounds p. 25
Subsided – settled; lessened; died down p. 27

Questions:
“Prologue” and “The Battle With Humbaba”
1. What hints does the Prologue give about Gilgamesh’s quest? Gilgamesh will see mysteries, gain a knowledge of the world’s secrets, and go on a long tiring journey.

2. Why does the goddess Aruru create Enkidu? To curb his arrogance, to contend with the king and “absorb some of his energies

3. What is Gilgamesh predicting when he says that immolation and sacrifice are not yet for him? Gilgamesh is predicting he will not die in this battle.

4. What does Gilgamesh want Shamash to do? Gilgamesh wants Shamash to protect him and help him defeat Humbaba.

5. What do Gilgamesh’s calls to Shamash reveal about Gilgamesh’s limitations? Gilgamesh’ powers are limited, even though he is part god.

6. Which god helps Gilgamesh in the battle against Humbaba? Shamash, the sun god

7. What chief emotion does Humbaba feel? Humbaba feels fear.

8. How do the attitudes of Gilgamesh and Enkidu toward Humbaba differ? Gilgamesh feels sorry for him and wants to show Humbaba mercy, but Enkidu argues it would be a mistake because the monster will kill them.

9. What is the benefit of killing Humbaba? Gilgamesh can keep from being killed by Humbaba. Gilgamesh will gain glory and status.

10. What is the negative consequence of killing Humbaba? Gilgamesh angers the gods and especially the god Enlil, because he is the supporter of Enlil. Enlil could seek revenge.

“The Death of Enkidu”
11. Why does the Bull of Heaven come to threaten Uruk? …because Gilgamesh rejects the advances of the goddess Ishtar. She is a woman scorned.

12. What is Enkidu’s initial reaction to the dreams of his own death? His first reaction is anger. He thinks it’s unfair that he should pay a price because he protected Uruk from the Bull of Heaven.

13. According to Enkidu, what actions resulted in dreams about his own death? He thinks that his dreams are the result of his cutting down the cedar forest and killing Humbaba.

14. How effective a leader is Gilgamesh? He is effective because he is wise and courageous; he protects his people. He is less effective when he is absent too long or relies too much on his physical strength.

“The Story of the Flood”
15. Why does Ea whisper to Utnapishtim in a dream? He whispers because he has made an oath to the other gods not to warn mankind of the flood.

16. What arouses the ire and frustration of Enlil? The world is too full of people making so much noise that the gods cannot sleep. They’re upset with the confusion and chaos of mankind.

17. Why does Ea advise Utnapishtim to tell the others a half-truth? Ea wants to keep the flood secret. He doesn’t want the people alarmed at Utnaphishtim’s actions. Ea does not want the gods to know that he has broken his oath.

18. How long does the storm last? The storm lasts 6 days and 6 nights.

19. Summarize the reactions of the gods to the flood. The gods are upset and afraid of the flood. They don’t feel safe any longer.

20. What is different about the gods’ reaction to the flood from their earlier attitude toward destroying mankind? At first the gods weren’t worried about killing mankind, but now they are in fear for their own lives.

21. What does the reaction of the gods to the flood tell you about their powers? Their reaction reveals that they are not all-powerful and are limited; otherwise they would not be afraid.

22. What sacrifice does Utnapishtim make to the...
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