The Great Gilgamesh Summary

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The Great Gilgamesh Summary



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After a long and perilous journey, Gilgamesh arrives at the twin peaks of Mount Mashu at the end of the earth. He comes across a tunnel, which no man has ever entered, guarded by two scorpion monsters , who appear to be a married couple. The husband tries to dissuade Gilgamesh from passing, but the wife intervenes, expresses sympathy for Gilgamesh, and according to the poem's editor Benjamin Foster allows his passage. In complete darkness he follows the road for 12 "double hours", managing to complete the trip before the Sun catches up with him. He arrives at the Garden of the gods, a paradise full of jewel-laden trees. Gilgamesh meets alewife Siduri , who assumes that he is a murderer or thief because of his disheveled appearance. Gilgamesh tells her about the purpose of his journey.

She attempts to dissuade him from his quest, but sends him to Urshanabi the ferryman, who will help him cross the sea to Utnapishtim. Gilgamesh, out of spontaneous rage, destroys the stone charms that Urshanabi keeps with him. He tells him his story, but when he asks for his help, Urshanabi informs him that he has just destroyed the objects that can help them cross the Waters of Death, which are deadly to the touch. Urshanabi instructs Gilgamesh to cut down trees and fashion them into punting poles.

When they reach the island where Utnapishtim lives, Gilgamesh recounts his story, asking him for his help. Utnapishtim reprimands him, declaring that fighting the common fate of humans is futile and diminishes life's joys. Gilgamesh observes that Utnapishtim seems no different from himself, and asks him how he obtained his immortality. Utnapishtim explains that the gods decided to send a great flood. To save Utnapishtim the god Enki told him to build a boat. He gave him precise dimensions, and it was sealed with pitch and bitumen. His entire family went aboard together with his craftsmen and "all the animals of the field". A violent storm then arose which caused the terrified gods to retreat to the heavens. Ishtar lamented the wholesale destruction of humanity, and the other gods wept beside her.

The storm lasted six days and nights, after which "all the human beings turned to clay". Utnapishtim weeps when he sees the destruction. His boat lodges on a mountain, and he releases a dove, a swallow, and a raven. When the raven fails to return, he opens the ark and frees its inhabitants. Utnapishtim offers a sacrifice to the gods, who smell the sweet savor and gather around. Ishtar vows that just as she will never forget the brilliant necklace that hangs around her neck, she will always remember this time. When Enlil arrives, angry that there are survivors, she condemns him for instigating the flood. Enki also castigates him for sending a disproportionate punishment.

Enlil blesses Utnapishtim and his wife, and rewards them with eternal life. This account largely matches the flood story that concludes the Epic of Atra-Hasis. The main point seems to be that when Enlil granted eternal life it was a unique gift. As if to demonstrate this point, Utnapishtim challenges Gilgamesh to stay awake for six days and seven nights. Gilgamesh falls asleep, and Utnapishtim instructs his wife to bake a loaf of bread on each of the days he is asleep, so that he cannot deny his failure to keep awake.

Gilgamesh, who is seeking to overcome death, cannot even conquer sleep. After instructing Urshanabi, the ferryman, to wash Gilgamesh and clothe him in royal robes, they depart for Uruk. As they are leaving, Utnapishtim's wife asks her husband to offer a parting gift. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh that at the bottom of the sea there lives a boxthorn -like plant that will make him young again.

Gilgamesh, by binding stones to his feet so he can walk on the bottom, manages to obtain the plant. Gilgamesh proposes to investigate if the plant has the hypothesized rejuvenation ability by testing it on an old man once he returns to Uruk. Gilgamesh weeps at the futility of his efforts, because he has now lost all chance of immortality. He returns to Uruk, where the sight of its massive walls prompts him to praise this enduring work to Urshanabi. This tablet is mainly an Akkadian translation of an earlier Sumerian poem, "Gilgamesh and the Netherworld" also known as " Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld " and variants , although it has been suggested that it is derived from an unknown version of that story. Because of this, its lack of integration with the other tablets, and the fact that it is almost a copy of an earlier version, it has been referred to as an 'inorganic appendage' to the epic.

Gilgamesh complains to Enkidu that various of his possessions the tablet is unclear exactly what — different translations include a drum and a ball have fallen into the underworld. Enkidu offers to bring them back. Delighted, Gilgamesh tells Enkidu what he must and must not do in the underworld if he is to return. Enkidu does everything which he was told not to do.

The underworld keeps him. Gilgamesh prays to the gods to give him back his friend. Enlil and Suen don't reply, but Enki and Shamash decide to help. Shamash makes a crack in the earth, and Enkidu's ghost jumps out of it. The tablet ends with Gilgamesh questioning Enkidu about what he has seen in the underworld. This version of the epic, called in some fragments Surpassing all other kings , is composed of tablets and fragments from diverse origins and states of conservation. They are named after their current location or the place where they were found. Gilgamesh tells his mother Ninsun about two dreams he had. His mother explains that they mean that a new companion will soon arrive at Uruk.

In the meanwhile the wild Enkidu and the priestess here called Shamkatum have sex. She tames him in company of the shepherds by offering him bread and beer. Enkidu helps the shepherds by guarding the sheep. They travel to Uruk to confront Gilgamesh and stop his abuses. Enkidu and Gilgamesh battle but Gilgamesh breaks off the fight. Enkidu praises Gilgamesh. For reasons unknown the tablet is partially broken Enkidu is in a sad mood. In order to cheer him up Gilgamesh suggests going to the Pine Forest to cut down trees and kill Humbaba known here as Huwawa.

Enkidu protests, as he knows Huwawa and is aware of his power. Gilgamesh talks Enkidu into it with some words of encouragement, but Enkidu remains reluctant. They prepare, and call for the elders. The elders also protest, but after Gilgamesh talks to them, they agree to let him go. After Gilgamesh asks his god Shamash for protection, and both he and Enkidu equip themselves, they leave with the elders' blessing and counsel. After defeating Huwawa, Gilgamesh refrains from slaying him, and urges Enkidu to hunt Huwawa's "seven auras". Enkidu convinces him to smite their enemy. After killing Huwawa and the auras, they chop down part of the forest and discover the gods' secret abode.

The rest of the tablet is broken. The auras are not referred to in the Standard Babylonian version, but are in one of the Sumerian poems. Gilgamesh mourns the death of Enkidu wandering in his quest for immortality. Gilgamesh argues with Shamash about the futility of his quest. After a lacuna, Gilgamesh talks to Siduri about his quest and his journey to meet Utnapishtim here called Uta-na'ishtim.

Siduri attempts to dissuade Gilgamesh in his quest for immortality, urging him to be content with the simple pleasures of life. After a short discussion, Sur-sunabu asks him to carve oars so that they may cross the waters of death without needing the "stone ones". The rest of the tablet is missing. The text on the Old Babylonian Meissner fragment the larger surviving fragment of the Sippar tablet has been used to reconstruct possible earlier forms of the Epic of Gilgamesh , and it has been suggested that a "prior form of the story — earlier even than that preserved on the Old Babylonian fragment — may well have ended with Siduri sending Gilgamesh back to Uruk There are five extant Gilgamesh stories in the form of older poems in Sumerian.

Some of the names of the main characters in these poems differ slightly from later Akkadian names; for example, "Bilgamesh" is written instead of "Gilgamesh", and there are some differences in the underlying stories such as the fact that Enkidu is Gilgamesh's servant in the Sumerian version:. The first direct Arabic translation from the original tablets was published in the s by Iraqi archaeologist Taha Baqir. The definitive modern translation is a two-volume critical work by Andrew George , published by Oxford University Press in A book review by Cambridge scholar Eleanor Robson claims that George's is the most significant critical work on Gilgamesh in the last 70 years.

In , Stephen Mitchell supplied a controversial version that takes many liberties with the text and includes modernized allusions and commentary relating to the Iraq War of Various themes, plot elements, and characters in the Hebrew Bible correlate with the Epic of Gilgamesh — notably, the accounts of the Garden of Eden , the advice from Ecclesiastes , and the Genesis flood narrative. He is introduced to a woman who tempts him. In both stories the man accepts food from the woman, covers his nakedness, and must leave his former realm, unable to return.

The presence of a snake that steals a plant of immortality from the hero later in the epic is another point of similarity. Several scholars suggest direct borrowing of Siduri 's advice by the author of Ecclesiastes. A rare proverb about the strength of a triple-stranded rope, "a triple-stranded rope is not easily broken", is common to both books. Andrew George submits that the Genesis flood narrative matches that in Gilgamesh so closely that "few doubt" that it derives from a Mesopotamian account.

These stories then diverged in the retelling. He claims that the author uses elements from the description of Enkidu to paint a sarcastic and mocking portrait of the king of Babylon. Many characters in the Epic have mythical biblical parallels, most notably Ninti , the Sumerian goddess of life, was created from Enki 's rib to heal him after he had eaten forbidden flowers. It is suggested that this story served as the basis for the story of Eve created from Adam 's rib in the Book of Genesis. Hamori, in Echoes of Gilgamesh in the Jacob Story , also claims that the myth of Jacob and Esau is paralleled with the wrestling match between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Numerous scholars have drawn attention to various themes, episodes, and verses, indicating that the Epic of Gilgamesh had a substantial influence on both of the epic poems ascribed to Homer.

It is a work of adventure, but is no less a meditation on some fundamental issues of human existence. Theodore Ziolkowski , a scholar of modern literature, states, that "unlike most other figures from myth, literature, and history, Gilgamesh has established himself as an autonomous entity or simply a name, often independent of the epic context in which he originally became known. As analogous examples one might think, for instance, of the Minotaur or Frankenstein's monster. Starting in the late twentieth century, the Epic of Gilgamesh began to be read again in Iraq.

Scholars like Susan Ackerman and Wayne R. Dynes have noted that the language used to describe Gilgamesh's relationship with Enkidu seems to have homoerotic implications. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Gilgamesh disambiguation. Sumerian ruler and protagonist of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Possible representation of Gilgamesh as Master of Animals , grasping a lion in his left arm and snake in his right hand, in an Assyrian palace relief — BC , from Dur-Sharrukin , now held in the Louvre [1]. Story of Gilgamesh and Aga.

Story of " Gilgamesh and Agga ". Old Babylonian period, from southern Iraq. Sulaymaniyah Museum , Iraq. Main article: Epic of Gilgamesh. The ogre Humbaba , shown in this terracotta plaque from the Old Babylonian Period , [44] is one of the opponents fought by Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Ancient Mesopotamian terracotta relief c. In , the English Assyriologist George Smith left published a translation of Tablet XI of the Epic of Gilgamesh right , containing the Flood myth, [77] which attracted immediate scholarly attention and controversy due to its similarity to the Genesis flood narrative. Main article: Gilgamesh in the arts and popular culture.

His name translates roughly to mean "The Ancestor is a Young-man", [10] from Bil. Penguin Books. ISBN Democracy in Iraq: History, Politics, Discourse. The Epigraphic and Textual Data". San Diego. Oxford: Oxford University Press. OCLC Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. Archived from the original PDF on 22 May Retrieved 21 May Retrieved 18 March Ur excavations. ISSN JSTOR BBC News. Retrieved 12 October The Epic of Gilgamesh.

A 3rd ed. Rowman Altamira. An Introduction to the Study of Indian History. Popular Prakashan. The Orientalizing Revolution. The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic. Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, Volumes 1—2. Izdubar-Nimrod, eine altbabylonische Heldensage in German. Leipzig, Teubner. Hull, Alan McGlashan, and C. Princeton, N. J: Princeton University Press, , at Encyclopedia of Gay Histories and Cultures. Retrieved 19 March Encyclopedia of Homosexuality: Volume I. Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature. Retrieved 8 October Gmirkin, Russell E Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus. Foster, Benjamin R. Translated by Foster, Benjamin R. New York: W. Hammond, D. In Brod, H. Jackson, Danny Kovacs, Maureen Gallery trans. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Maier, John R. Suny Brockport Ebooks. Mitchell, Stephen Gilgamesh: A New English Version. New York: Free Press. Oberhuber, K. Das Gilgamesch-Epos. Darmstadt: Wege der Forschung. The Standard Babylonian, Epic of Gilgamesh. Pettinato, Giovanni He endures this terrible darkness for a full day. When he emerges on the other side, he is in a wondrous paradise. He sees a tavern by the sea and approaches it, frightening its owner, Siduri , with his appearance. Siduri allows him to enter the tavern after he explains his story and his intention to find Utnapishtim. Siduri tells Gilgamesh of Urshanabi , the boatman, who can ferry Gilgamesh across the Waters of Death to where Utnapishtim resides. Gilgamesh finds Urshanabi and the two set out to find Utnapishtim.

They reach a shore and Gilgamesh meets an old man. Gilgamesh explains that he wishes to attain immortality. The old man is Utnapishtim, who tells Gilgamesh that immortality is for the gods alone. Mortals must learn to accept death. He tells Gilgamesh the story of how he was granted immortality by the gods. He asks Gilgamesh what he has done to deserve this same gift. Gilgamesh finally leaves with Urshanabi to return to Uruk. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh of a magical plant at the bottom of the sea that can restore one's youth.

Gilgamesh descends into the waters and retrieves the plant. On his way back to Uruk, Gilgamesh stops to bathe in a spring, leaving the plant by the water. A serpent appears and steals the plant, leaving Gilgamesh weeping by the water's edge. He returns to Uruk with Urshanabi. Upon seeing the great city, Gilgamesh understands that it is his legacy, and that if he rules well, it will be his greatest legacy. Gilgamesh comes to understand that the most important thing in life is to have lived and loved well.

The Question and Answer section for The Epic of Gilgamesh is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel. How does Gilgamesh mirror Humbaba? Like Gilgamesh, Humbaba is a cunning warrior and fearless in battle. Humbaba is a great beast who lives in the Cedar Forest. This beast is very frightening, so Gilgamesh thinks it might make he and Enkidu famous if they kill it.

When they confront How would you compare and contrast Gilgamesh's voyage to the edge of the world with his earlier trip to the Cedar Forest? Write two paragraphs that analyze two points about why Gilgamesh is an epic hero. Be sure to use more than one example from the text to support each point. I'm sorry, this is a shoprt-answer forum designed for text specific questions.

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