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The Epic of Gilgamesh

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The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Epic of Gilgamesh The story of Gilgamesh was one of the world’s first literary works but most importantly the very first epic. “An epic or heroic poem is a long narrative poem, on a serious subject [that was] written in a grand or elevated style, centered on a larger-than-life hero” (Lynch). Because it was only recited orally for many centuries it was forgotten and vanished until “it was recorded at Sumer in the late third millennium B.C.E” (Fiero 19). The story of Gilgamesh is about an arrogant ruler, who changes because of an immense love and friendship with his companion Enkidu, it is a story about the wisdom he acquires with his journeys, and the inevitability of death.
The story begins with the introduction of the two main characters, Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The love these friends will stumble upon for each other makes both of them change as individuals. From their initial encounter they will discard part of their own lives and give a piece of them to each other. Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk is described as two thirds god and one third human. The Gods bestowed upon him courage, strength and beauty. “In our first view of him, Gilgamesh is the epitome of a bad ruler: arrogant, oppressive and brutal” (Lawall 10). He has no consideration for the people in Uruk he forces labor upon them, kills their sons and rapes their daughters, leaving “neither the warrior’s daughter nor the wife of the noble” (Lawall 13). The people of Uruk soon get irritated with Gilgamesh’s ways and pray to the gods to make his equal so that he may see his own evil ways and ultimately change. Aruru, the goddess of creation then creates Enkidu, the second main character, as a counterpoint to Gilgamesh. Far different from Gilgamesh he still contains his strength. “His body was rough, he had long hair like a woman’s […] his body was covered with matted hair […] he was innocent of mankind” (Lawall 13). Gilgamesh is told of Enkidu and his immense strength and devises a plan to overpower him



Cited: Brown, Arthur A. "EAWC Essay: Storytelling, the Meaning of Life, and The Epic of Gilgamesh." Exploring Ancient World Cultures. 1996. Web. 20 July 2011. . "Definition of "hero"" Computing Services for Faculty & Staff. American Heritage Dictionary. Web. 20 July 2011. . Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition. 6th ed. Vol. 1. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Hooker, Richard. "Mesopotamia, Gilgamesh." Washington State University - Pullman, Washington. 1996. Web. 20 July 2011. . Lawall, Sarah N., and Maynard Mack. "Gilgamesh." The Norton Anthology of World Literature. New York: Norton, 2002. 12-41 Lynch, Jack. "Epic." Guide to Literary Terms. Web. 20 July 2011. .

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