The Epic of Gilgamesh
1/16/2013 1:55:00 PM
Connection of lit to environment
-Natural disasters/pressures on peoples’ continuation/rebuilding of lives
Nomads >> Civilization (establish identities)
Gilgamesh is about the community – historical & magical
How it is built
Gilgamesh is real and so is Uruk
Specific historical background:
3 millennium BCE
The writers: How do they present the story of Gilgamesh?
They don’t make him a “nice” and “admirable” man
You have someone you know as a hero – do you want to make him perfect?
Do flaws make G more relatable?
(13) “I will proclaim to the world the deeds of Gilgamesh”
Acadian – no afterlife
So your reputation matters – what do people think/remember after your
“Beautiful, strong, physical/mentally remarkable” – “2/3s they made him
god and one third man”
Mixture of divine/human – what is advantageous and what is made difficult?
Built great city of Uruk
(I – 13) “G sounds the tocsin for his amusement…comely, and resolute.”
He is said to be amazing but his actions/personality contradict
Is that how you built up the image of a hero?
How do we come to have any respect/admiration for G?
Arrogant – important definition of G
Good news: He has no equal Bad news: He uses everyone else as an object
He has no responsibility
*Shepherd simile – how he should be treating his people
Power is about the strength you have
Arrogance – how do you use that strength
Could you be powerful like G and yet be – kind, responsible, protective,
Enkidu is there to teach G something
Wild, crazy, hangs out with the beasts, vegetarian, nomad, “rough…innocent
of mankind” (14), *unsocial, outside of society
E seduced, put in a relationship w/harlot, breaks natural connection with the
E was lonely too – “one would understand his heart”
Bottom pg 15 – “He loved him with the love of a woman” – explore it
Can either be homosexual (erotic love)
Or maybe it was comparing his love – G loved E more than he could love
The Soldier and his Weapon
(16) – Dream about an axe (what E is like) – protector, defines who I am
After they beat each other up, they go out for adventure
Journey #1 – Forest Journey
Enkidue – “Know who you are and know also who you are not” (17) –
everlasting life is not for you to grasp, know what you can/can’t do
Cedar – used for beams in construction, longest straightest kind of wood you
Society – deforestation problem
Helps explain phenomenon – relationship btw ethics & nature, do we have
Bad idea to destroy Humbaba because they could destroy the forest Humbaba characteristics
Breathes fire, ground trembles – Earthquakes & Volcanoes
Humbaba represents the natural forces that need to be overcome for a city
to be built like they were aiming for
(22) “Who is this that have violated my woods?” – overstepping of what’s
proper and allowed
(23) What’s your opinion of Enkidu on this page?
Enkidu – “you don’t know this monster & that is why you are not afraid. I
who know him, I am terrified.”
Does this make him a coward? Is his being scared more admirable?
What’s practical, desirable, admirable?
Humbaba calls Enkidu a “hireling”/direspects, weak – then Enkidu says “Kill
Ishtar propositions G (25)
G – “Why should I?... I have many reasons not to.”
Am I going to be treated like the rest of your boys?
I goes to Anu (dad) & Antum (mom), wants to send down the bull of heaven
Women & need for revenge
Consequence if sent (drought/famine – is there enough food for the people?)
Important – does G take in account the people, the idea of I being a
Importance of dreams – interpret & foreshadow
E – falls ill in a society where being sick isn’t admirable; dying in battle is
While sick, E takes responsibility for what he’s done wrong
(28) – “it was I who cut down the cedar… and now see what has become of
me” – the disease is a cause-effect of these events
*Vampire – first, oldest reference to that
As E imagines what happens to not just him but everybody when they die
Description of what it’s like to be dead
For E, it’s like being a vampire Based on what you think about the afterlife, how does it influence how you
(29) Irkalla: E’s personal hell
“There is the house…”
The idea where you become a shell with no consciousness when you die –
persisting, existing, without really living.
Nothing to count on except my reputation, and I got it wrong (E_)
“I must die in shame” *IN SHAME bothers him (29)
Culturally – the woman weeping/mourning at the funeral
G, the boy, does the mourning here – takes on the woman’s role
Trying to fix the thing that E messed up by saying E was a great man
(30) “Bitterly moaning like a woman mourning/ I weep for my brother”
Metaphor – axe, hand’s strength, sword, shield
But each one of those objects is on G’s body and secures G’s life from
Top (31) – What does G still need to learn? Why, if he cares so much about
another human, are we not done yet? What’s missing?
What is the thing that makes us human?
Gilgamesh’s vulnerability – sleeping
What do we have in common? (international artists album)
We all have children, we all sing lullabies
If there’s a parent somewhere, a friend somewhere singing a lullaby then it
means we have something very much in