The epic of Gilgamesh
The Epic of Gilgamesh is a potentially true story about a Sumerian king named Gilgamesh who ruled around 2600 BCE. One thing we learn from the story is the Sumerian value system as it relates to their leaders. Gilgamesh possessed qualities in which the Sumerians placed great value. He was a brave king, a wise king and a strong king, all traits that were important to the Sumerian people. He was also described as quite beautiful, which appeared to be important to the Sumerian people as well. It was also very fitting that the author portrayed him as part human and part god, since the Sumerians worshiped their kings as if they were deities instead of mortal men. The epic also shows many ways in which the Sumerians believed in balance. When Gilgamesh first began his rule he was a tyrant who ruled by force and took what he wanted with no regard for anyone else. He raped women and oppressed his subjects. In the story, the Gods sent Enkidu to balance King Gilgamesh, in what can be described as a good vs. evil scenario. A battle ensues upon their first meeting because Enkidu finds King Gilgamesh about to rape a woman. They fight and even though Gilgamesh wins the fight, it makes him befriend Enkidu. King Gilgamesh’s chracter is then tempered through Enkidu’s influence. Another example of the Sumerian concept of balance being prevalent in the society occurs in the beginning of the book. Enkidu is living in the wild and the city sends a prostitute out into the wild to bring Enkidu into civilization. The Sumerians believed women have a calming effect on the men of Sumer. They believed women had the ability to use their gentle nature and their sexual ways to create a balance for the masculinity of Sumerian men. This balance is reflected by two groups that were believed to have made up the early Sumerian people; the Semites and the Highlanders. The Semites, were a war-driven people led by men, while the Highlanders were a more peaceful people led...
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