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The Epic of Gilgamesh

By 28 marca 2020No Comments

The epic of king Gilgamesh is perhaps the most ancient piece of literature available to the modern reader today. Those writings are fascinating. They are the highlights of today's post on the wall of weird.

The epic of Gilgamesh consists of a series of five sumerian poems featuring the king of the ancient megacity of Uruk situated in today's Irak just east of the Euphrates river. Back in 27th century before the coming of Jesus Christ, king Gilgamesh's city of Uruk was home to some 50 000 to 80 000 people making it the largest city of the time.

Gilgamesh, the hero of these stories is described as "supreme over other kings, lordly in appearance, a goring wild bull". The story attributes to king Gilgamesh's superhuman strength and courage. According to the story, nobody dared to challenge the supremacy of the great Gilgamesh until one day, Enkidu, described as the offspring of the mountains, finally made his appearance in the city of Uruk. The combat between Gilgamesh and Enkidu was violent and ended almost in a tie. Never has Gilgamesh found such a worthy opponent. As a result, Gilgamesh and Enkidu became the best of friends and comrads in arms.

Together, the two great heroes decide to seek greater fame and renown by facing and defeating a powerful demigod named Umbaba. They succeed in killing Umbaba and return victorious to celebrate. This victory against such a powerful foe greatly increase their fame and the renown. As a result, the beautiful goddess Ishtar falls in love with Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh, on the other hand, rejects the advances of the goddess because of her mistreatment of previous lovers. As a punishement for this rejection, the goddess releases the bull of heaven upon the earth which causes great devastation among the people. Gilgamesh and his companion prepare once again for battle and manage to slay the beast.

However, the death of the bull of heaven and the demigod Umbaba does not go unpunished. The gods decide to kill Gilgamesh's companion Enkidu as retribution for the bull of heaven. Gilgamesh is devastated by the timely death of his friend and starts on a quest to find immortality. The story has a tragic ending because king Gilgamesh does not manage to obtain the coveted immortality. Death turns out to be an adversary the great king cannot defeat.

What's interesting about the epic of Gilgamesh is the fact that many elements of its plot are very similar to the ancient biblical accounts in the Torah. Both the Bible and the epics of Gilgamesh speak about a first man created by God from the dust of the earth, about a snake stealing immortality from man and about a universal flood wiping out the entire human population.

It is widely believed among scholars that the Torah and the epics of Gilgamesh are intimately lied together.

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