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Definition of epic
Epic: Long narrative poem showing adventures of Gilgamesh and shows the thinking of the Sumerian society. Originated as oral stories.
Epic Hero: Goes through many adventures like fighting Humbaba, the Bull of Heaven, and going on the quest for immortality which shows his strength of character in the challenging world; later he comes back home after reaching manhood.
Representing things using symbols like death being inevitable like when the magic flower was taken by the snake
Sixteen ways Gilgamesh is an epic hero
Hero is of obscure/ mysterious origin
hero is called upon to make a journey or quest
Hero has a goal
Hero is neither a fool nor invincible
Hero's way is not always direct or clear to him
Hero's way is full of dangers, temptations, and loneliness
Hero often has friends, servants, or guides as company
Hero has a mentor or mentors
Hero descends into darkness
Hero is not the same after finishing the quest
What hero seeks is often a symbol of what he finds
Hero suffers a wound
Hero is a male(yes)
Hero has special weapon (Axe)
Hero is essentially noble and good
Hero is human (1/3)
Values of the civilization that created this work
Pessimistic about the after life that is why they want to do as much as they can while alive. Just like Gilgamesh built the wall around Uruk
History of the text itself (Be specific)
Written on 12 clay tablets in cuneiform as a group of poems and comes from Ancient Sumeria
Gilgamesh was a real king that reigned over Uruk
Most complete version of Gilgamesh found in Ninevah in Ashurbanapal's library
Not totally complete story
Ishtar placed hers in the sky as a promise that the gods would never destroy the world with a flood again
Her lapis lazuli necklace
How the abyss in this epic fits the abyss definition
The abyss was a time where Gilgamesh was hopeless and grief stricken due to the loss of Enkidu. This fits the definition of abyss, because this is when he goes through great grief.
Long narrative poem about the deeds of a hero who represents the values of his society
The Epic of Gilgamesh
Archetypes in the epic
Hunting Group of Companions: Enkidu
Threshold Guardians: Half scorpion half human
Mentor: Utnapishtim, Urshanabi, Siduri,
The dreams and the significance of the dreams
Dream where Gilgy saw a meteor fall and the people of Uruk loved it and so did Gilgy. Ninsun (mother) claimed it his brother, foreshadows Enkidu's arrival.
Enkidu dreams about the afterlife and how miserable it is. This foreshadows his death.
Dream with lions being killed symbolizes killing of Ishtar and because Ishtar is goddess of nature he kills nature; meaning he rejects death.
The gods and what roles they play in the epic
Ishtar: Throws herself at GIlgamesh and gets rejected so sends Bull of Heaven for Gilgamesh. The killing of the Bull of Heaven leads to Enkidu getting killed by a sickness
Shamash: Main god who is sun god. Helps Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill Humbaba
Anu: Father of Ishtar lets the Bull of Heaven loose
Siduri: Goddess of wine gives advice to Gilgamesh to enjoy his life but then tells him where to find Utnapishtim
Urshanabi: Ferryman leads Gilgy to Utnapishtim and to the magicflower
How the hero's journey cycle fits this work
Call to action: death of Enkidu
Threshold Guardians: Scorpion man and his mate on Mashu Mountain
Mentor: Urshanabi, Utnapishtim, Enkidu, Shamash, Siduri
Trials and Challenges( quest only)
Mashu Mountain, Water of death, Fear, Sleep, Serpent
Abyss: Serpent takes flower of youth
Transformation: Arrogant king to wise king who cares about his subjects
Return: Goes back to Uruk
The advice and other help his mentors give Gilgamesh
Siduri tells him to live the life he has to the best of his ability and so does Utnapishtim.
Utnapishtim tells him where to find magic flower
Urshanabi leads him to the places he needs to reach
How this epic is similar to Star Wars
Both Luke Skywalker and Gilgamesh have mysterious birth circumstances
They go through a quest that means something to them
They have mentors to guide them through their challenge
They both end up with better judgement and are more mature
What is Gilgamesh's attitude toward death before his battle with Humbaba? What is Enkidu's attitude toward the battle?
Before the fight with Humbaba Gilgamesh was arrogant and conceited. He was only interested in power and challenges, didn't believe death was a real consequence.This was shown when he made his citizens construct a wall around his kingdom which would make sure his name was remembered throughout time. Enkidu's attitude towards battle is the willingness to think about his actions before carrying them out. He understands who he is able to defeat and who he is not, like when he informed Gilgamesh of the strength of Humbaba.
Who helps Gilgamesh in the battle? In your opinion, does that make him less heroic?
In battle, Gilgamesh is helped by Enkidu and Shamash the wind god. The help that Gilgamesh is given in battle makes him look less heroic in my eyes. This is because the strength, wisdom, and cunning needed to defeat the demon alone would show better character than just praying to a God to do most of the work.
What do you think Humbaba does when he "loosed his glory on them"?
I think that Humbaba breaths, or has control over fire when he "loosed his glory on them" in the passage.
Why is Ishtar angry? What does she do because of this anger?
Ishtar is angry because Gilgamesh insults her when she asks for him to marry her. He does so by recounting the state of her former lovers, who were turned into animals with ill fate. For this reason along with her not truly loving her lovers, he declines her offer. Due to her anger with Gilgamesh, Ishtar goes to her father Anu and persuades him into releasing the Bull of Heaven on Gilgamesh.
Enkidu has a vivid dream of the afterlife. What does he describe?
Enkidu describes a sombre-faced man-bird with a vampire face, lions foot, and hands that were eagles talons. Also he described the people there to be ditting in darkness where the food was dust and clay was meat.
What event might be foreshadowed by the dream of Enkidu?
The death of Enkidu might be foreshadowed by his dream of the afterlife.
Gilgamesh has a "call to action." What causes him to embark on a quest?
Gilgamesh's "call to action" for embarking on this quest, was the death of his loyal friend Enkidu.
Interpret on a symbolic level Gilgamesh's dream about the lions.
Lions are the symbol of Ishtar in Mesopotamian religion, and Gilgamesh's killing of the lions symbolizes the killing of Ishtar; also, due to Ishtar being the goddess of nature, Gilgamesh is rejecting death, by getting rid of nature.
What literary device is used about Gilgamesh's passage through the Mashu Mountain? How does this device relate to the oral tradition, the method by which this tale was originally related?
Repetition is used in the passage pertaining to the Mashu Mountains. This literary device relates to the oral tradition through which the epic was first spread, because it emphasizes the travel through the mountains as an important event.
Explain the symbolism of the journey through the mountains and the passage out of the mountain. Relate this to the heroic cycle.
The journey through the mountains symbolizes solitude. This is because after Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh felt alone in the world. In the epic it says, "he [Gilgamesh] could see nothing ahead and nothing behind him." This quote shows that the utter loneliness Gilgamesh was in after Enkidu's death was inescapable, and there was no one to guide him through his loss. The journey through the mountains is a part of the (Threshold) abyss in the Hero's Journey, where Gilgamesh is (tested) reborn. The passage out of the mountains is a symbolic representation of (passing the test)rebirth in the Hero's Journey. It shows Gilgamesh entering a new world filled with light.
Summarize the advice of Siduri. Can a man like Gilgamesh find pleasure in following her advice? Why?
Siduri told Gilgamesh that the fate of man is to die, because with life comes death. She also told him to use the time he has on the Earth to cherish what he has and not worry about what he can't control. A man like Gilgamesh can't take pleasure in following this advice, because he is driven by the fear of death, like Enkidu's, to not share the same fate as all humans do. This drives him to search for immortality.
Summarize the advice of Utnapishtim.
Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh that nothing lasts forever, and all must come to an end.
Why did the gods visit the flood on the people? How does this relate to the Mesopotamian mindset?
The gods visited the flood on the people, because the human population had become immense and they started to become a nuisance. This relates to the Mesopotamian mindset, because it portrays the belief that Mesopotamians believe that their gods are looking for a way to hurt their worshippers.
How and why did Utnapishtim survive? What is unique about him?
Utnapishtim survived, by building a boat that would hold "the seed of all living creatures" like Ea told him to do in a dream. He survived, because he followed Ea's instructions. Utnapishtim is unique, because he is the only mortal given immortality by the gods.
What is the double meaning of the story Ea says Utnapishtim should tell the people?
The double meaning to the story Ea told Utnapishtim to tell his people for the reason he was building his boat, was that Enlil was wrathful towards Utnapishtim, and that is why he didn't want to walk on land or in the city; however, Enlil was wrathful towards all of mankind and the "rain down abundance" meant it would rain in copious amounts.
Explain the reaction of the gods to the storm they caused. What does Ishtar do? Relate this to the story of Noah.
The reaction of the gods to the storm they cause, was regret. Ishtar comes to Utnapishtim and swears by the lapis lazuli on her necklace, that she won't forget this day after the flood. In the story of Noah, God was grieved just as Ishtar said she would never forget the day.
How and why did Utnapishtim and his wife test Gilgamesh? Explain the symbolic significance of this incident; specifically, what is the symbolism of the bread and of Gilgamesh's inability to stay awake?
Utnapishtim and his wife test Gilgamesh by challenging him to stay awake six days and seven nights so that he may have a reason for the gods to give him immortality. The importance of this incident, is that is shows that death is necessary to life, because death is like sleep and only through death can there be life which is rebirth. It also shows that just like the decay of the bread, humans decay. The symbol of the seven loaves of bread was the slow decay of life as days pass. The symbol of Gilgamesh not being able to stay awake was death and rebirth.
Interpret Gilgamesh's visit to the washing place on a symbolic level.
Gilgamesh's visit to the washing place, was like the renewal of his determination in his search for immortality.
What quality do the clothes Gilgamesh puts on after he washes have? Why is this ironic considering what Gilgamesh is seeking?
The clothes Gilgamesh puts on do not age until he reaches his city. This is ironic considering Gilgamesh is seeking immortality, where he will never age.
Explain the symbolism of the flower and the snake. What is the connection between the magic of the flower and the shedding of the snake's skin?
The flower symbolizes immortality and the snake symbolizes life. The relationship between the shedding of the snake skin and the magic flower is that due to the immortality given by the flower when eaten, rebirth takes place. This rebirth is shown in the form of the snake shedding its skin
To what use did Gilgamesh intend to put the magic flower? What does this say about his character?
Gilgamesh intended to allow the old men of Uruk to eat the flower so that they may regain their lost youth; then eat it himself so that he may do the same. This shows that Gilgamesh is not simply passionate in gaining immortality for himself, but is able to share his wealth so to speak.
What does Gilgamesh learn on his journey? Relate this to the heroic cycle.
On his journey to find immortality, Gilgamesh learns that he has to come to terms with the fact that he is one third man; thus meaning he will die and instead of fretting over changing the unchangeable, he must enjoy what time he has on the Earth. This relates to the heroic cycle, because when he returns home to Uruk he has changed into accepting the fact that death is imminent.
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