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Amanda Bailey
AP World History Chapters 2-6 Questions

Chapter 2 Questions

1) What does the Epic of Gilgamesh tell us about the culture in which it emerged?

The Epic of Gilgamesh tells us Gilgamesh and the recount of the adventures of the hero and his good friend Enkidu profoundly influenced the culture. Gilgamesh was the fifth king of the city-state Uruk and ruled 2750 B.C.E for 126 years according to semi-legendary sources. He led Uruk in its conflicts with Kish, a nearby city that was the principal rival of Uruk. He was also an important figure in Mesopotamian mythology, legends, and folklore. Gilgamesh was the main figure of a cycle of stories known as Epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh and his close friend Enkidu became of such fame as they killed an evil monster, saved Uruk from a ravaging bull, and matched wits with the gods. Enkidu offended the gods and was sentenced death. Gilgamesh was deeply affected him and he went for a search for eternal life. He found a magical plant that can confer immortality, but a serpent took it away. It left Gilgamesh realizing that death is the fate of all human beings. These stories focused on the themes friendship, ambition, loyalty, fear of death, and longing for immortality. In doing so, they reflected interest and concerns of complex, urban-based society that had recently emerged in Mesopotamia. And the experiences of Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu explored relations between humans and gods, and the meaning of life and death. The stories had spread widely and they were reflections of moral issues. Because of this productive agricultural economics supported development of the world’s first complex societies. Large numbers of people lived in cities and extended social, political, economic, and cultural influence over big regions.

3) What were the underlying principles of Hammurabi’s code of laws and what does the law code tell us about the kind of society that existed in Mesopotamia at the time?

The underlying principles of Hammurabi’s code of laws are Hammurabi’s established high standards of behavioral and stern punishments for violators. The laws prescribed death penalties for murder, fraud, false accusations, theft, failure to obey royal orders, adultery, sheltering of runaway slaves, and incest. Hammurabi wanted to maintain his empire and keep it in peace. He provided a code of law in doing so, as he developed a more efficient government and empire. He also proclaimed that “…. gods had chosen him to promote welfare of people…to cause justice to prevail land, to destroy wicked and evil….”. The code also relied on the principle of social status and lex talionis, the “law of retaliation”. Lex talionis is where offenders suffered punishments resembling their violations. Like an eye for an eye. For example, that if a noble destroyed an eye or broken a bone of another noble would have his own eye destroyed or broken. But if a noble destroyed an eye or broken a bone of a commoner, the noble only had to pay a fine or silver.

The law code tells us that the kind of society that existed in Mesopotamia at the time merely needed organization. Mainly, because peoples of Mesopotamia needed direction and high standards to live in a peaceful society. The Mesopotamian population grew enormously, and having suck a powerful king rein the territories he controlled, may have been many of the other reasons why he had set laws. Though local judges did not always follow the laws of Hammurabi, they frequently relied on their own judgment on deciding cases....
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