Gilgamesh Lecture Notes
Gilgamesh→ King and main hero of the story.
Enkidu→ Born in the wilderness, and is Gilgamesh’s other half.
Ishtar→ Main goddess (see notes below).
Shamash→ Main god (see notes below).
Utnapishtim→Asked Ea to build a “preserver of life” for the coming flood.
Ea→ god of mischief, intelligence, and water.
Akkadian→ Located in the area surrounding ancient Mesopotamia.
Ziggurat→ Large stepped pyramid, whose main purpose was a temple.
Cuneiform→ Earliest known way of writing on clay tablets.
Hierogamy→ Sexual marriage between a god and goddess (see notes below).
Uruk→Ancient Sumer city located by the Euphrates river (see notes below).
● Read the books and come to class.
● Gilgamesh was originally written on clay tablets using styluses.
● Epic→ Where you grasp the entire life of a people.
● The story of Gilgamesh was first re-constructed in 1850, up until that point the story was
● This story is important because it focuses on the hero aspect and an ultimate journey.
● Gilgamesh undertakes lamenting quests, so that he can find the meaning of life.
○ He returns with the knowledge of reconciliation, through his life changing
● Gilgamesh is the main hero.
○ ⅔ part god
■ Very obsessive, has a stormy heart, and nothing satisfies him.
○ ⅓ part human
■ Experiences love, grief, terror, and he knows that his death is inevitable.
● Ancient gods were not spiritual beings, they were very large, they could be killed, and
they were either male or female.
○ The only way to check the gods’power were the other gods.
● Enkidu is Gilgamesh’s light in the story and he makes Gilgamesh’s life precious.
● Uruk is the greatest city at the time.
○ While Gilgamesh did not build all of it, he did build The Keeping Place of Ishtar
and Shamash in the center of Uruk.
○ The city was enclosed by a wall, and it was surrounded by grasslands.
■ Walls made civilization possible.
● Business, art, memory, luxury, and beauty all take place in walls.
○ It had brutal weather.
○ There were very few resources to use as building materials.
■ Uses brickwork made out of mud that was hardened by the sun.
● Gilgamesh is the protector of the city Uruk, as king.
○ Luga→ Large man (King).
○ The hero of a story is often a king.
● In order to be civilized, you must have a god or temple to a god or gods in your city.
● Ishtar is the main goddess in the story Gilgamesh.
○ She is the goddess of sex, joy of life, love, fertility in the land, wild animals, and
humans, feminine power/psychology, war, harmony, and maturity. ■ Often times she was referred in the “Dance of Ishtar.”
■ Her purposes often are shown in opposite