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The Epic of Gilgamesh - Essay Example

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Student's Full Name & (Course Name or Number) Professor's Name: The Epic of Gilgamesh (a reading journal) 25 September 2012 (estimated word count = 995) Introduction The Epic of Gilgamesh is a very remarkable story of the ancient times, showing how the people of antiquity had dealt with the various issues that confronted them, such as life and death, struggles with Nature and the immortal question of how to attain immortality…
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The Epic of Gilgamesh
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Download file to see previous pages The epic, with its complex plot is acknowledged by historians and archaeologists as the oldest existing written story although it had been discovered and translated only relatively recently but it never fails to fascinate its readers with its many parallels to the biblical story of the Great Flood and that of Noah and his family. It is therefore not very far-fetched to assume that many parts of the biblical Noah got their origins and ideas from the Epic of Gilgamesh for its many similarities, barring mere coincidence, from the tale of Utnapishtim. What is even more remarkable is the story was based on an actual king named Gilgamesh. This paper explores this gem of world literature from the viewpoint of its importance in terms of its sophisticated moral lessons. Additionally, it will also discuss the universal questions that Man has been asking ever since, questions such as immortality, how to escape death itself, his place in the entire scheme of things in the cosmos, his relationship with his gods, with fellow human beings, governance and kingship. Moreover, the paper will likewise offer some hopefully useful insights into the immensity and scale of this grandiose tale. Discussion The epic is partly based on the real historical figure King Gilgamesh who ruled the kingdom of Uruk in ancient Sumeria at around 2700 B.C.E. (before current era, as historians now would like to date historical events rather than the usual B.C. or A.D. in order to avoid a bias towards Christianity and maintain neutrality towards all religions) but was written down in clay tablets only at around 2000 B.C.E. perhaps with an eye towards preservation of a story for posterity. Although it has historical basis as determined by rigorous historical research, it also contains so many embellishments to make the story more interesting to its intended audience and also partly to impart some important moral lessons, like biblical parables. The provenance of the epic story cannot be traced or ascribed to a single writer but it is rather the work of several authors, who added a portion of the story with each succeeding re-telling to a listening audience, perhaps by the high priests of Babylon. It was originally an oral composition recited by traveling storytellers, which may help to explain why there are so many parts of the story which are mere fragments although it is still offers some continuity. It can be found in the royal library of King Ashurbanipal, who ruled around 700 B.C.E. but still portions or other versions of the same epic were unearthed at different epochs in the time of the ancient city of Babylon, providing a rich ethnological source as well (Maier 377). The Epic of Gilgamesh can be taken in context, in the sense it was written at a time of history when rulers often invoked their right to rule over their subjects from some form of divine intervention or deriving their royal power from the gods. This theme is very recurrent in many historical periods, and this theme is also quite common even in the other areas of the world, where kings ruled either by force or some other means to retain political control such as invoking their authority with their supposed knowledge and wisdom, just like Gilgamesh. A key character, Enkidu, was introduced to the epic as counterbalance to Gilgamesh. A good question to ask might be: What ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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