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Chapter 12

Notes for Chapter 12

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University of Toronto St. George
James Lynd

Chapter 12 - the main characters in legends are humans, sometimes with assistance by gods - ‘Narrate’ events of human past - In modern times a hero is someone who is brave and courageous and blah blah - In ancient greece a hero was used by homer to mean ‘noble’ or ‘well-born’ male, al- ways alive - Late the term was applied to noble figures from the distant past, all dead - The shift in meaning from Homeric Warrior to subject of myth and religious cult seems to have taken place hen the heroes of epic came to be worshiped as powers dwelling beneath the earth Tombs of Heroes - Cult places for worship of heroes were called heroa (singular = heroon) - Tombs normally had shape of enormous earthmounds heaped up to protect and mon- umentalize the grave of heroes - There are heroa to Achilles at Troy, Pelops at Olympia and Aeneas at Lavinium - They were specifically built in well known places to give the dead everlasting renown - > The trojan hero hector allows all the achaean heroes he slaughters to the enemy so they may build a sema (sign) near the hellespont,a witness for all who sail by - Religious cult and other activites performed at tombs during the Classical period rein- forced the belief of an earlier age of heroes - In early 5th century BC the Athenian Politician Cimon brought “home to athens’ fom Scyros the protective bones of a skeleton he took to be Theseus - > he established a cult to Theseus in the Athenian Agora - After his first victory over Persians Alex the Great made a pilgrimage to troy and ran three times naked around Achilles grave - >The half-mad Roman emperor Caracalla ordered the death of his close friend festus so he could reinact achilles mourning for his friend Particles - Sacrifice and offerings seem to appear in late iron age 800 BC - > inspired by the popularization of greek myth (the availability of the alphabet, epic po- ems, etc) Epic of Gilgamesh - not all cultures had heroic myth Chapter 12 - > egypt, rome, bible - Ancient mesopotamians had the story of the great king Gilgamesh: - myth probably dictated by illiterate poet, taken down by scribe - Was originally a scribal excursive meant to be read and studied by scribes - The parallels between meso myth and greek myth cannot just be a coincidence! - > many elements of greek myth are not greek in origin - > traveled from east to west through bilingual singers - - > there is good evidence that greeks and semitic seafarers intermarried in archaic pe- riod which could explain bilingualism and the transfer of stories - > may well serve as model for ‘hero’ - Gilgamesh was a real man who once ruled the sumerian city of Uruk - > biblical Erech - According to king lists he lived for 126 years about 2600 bcd - > strong example that legendary characters did live at one time. - Best remembered for building the city walls of Uruk - Fragments of his deeds survive recorded on Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite and other lan- guages and scripts - On twelve tablets from the library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh survives something like a connected tale, a version of the story may go back thousands years earlier - > the story had man separate episodes that a scribe named Sin-leqe-unnini - he signed his name - pieced together in the tablets to form a coherent narrative: Gilgamesh and Enkidu - Poem begins with summary of Gil’s career - Homer’s opening of the Odyssey seem to be similar - he was described as two thirds divine and one third mortal and was therefore destined to die. - He abused his royal power - Overcame every challenger - Slept with every virgin before her wedding night (The common royal male’s right to be first to have sex with any woman- BRAVEHEARTTTTTTTTTT) - At last people of Uruk could bear no more of his arrogance and begged gods for relief - Aurora, mother of the gods, pinched off a piece of clay and fashioned a rival to Gil- gamesh, someone who could temper his spirit. Chapter 12 - > creation was a primitive man who wore his hair like a woman named Encode - > his body was matted with hair and he lived in wild and did animal like things - One day a trapper saw Enkidu and reported it to Gil - > mentioned that he torn down his traps and released his game - Meanwhile in a dream gil learned about the coming of one who would be his best friend - > The trapper takes a whore to Enkidu's drinking whole and when she lays down naked and he approaches her, the beasts will reject him - So, for two days the traper and the whore wait beside the water whole. On the third day Enkidu came - She took off her clothes and for six days and seven nights they made love until he was satisfied and went back into the wild but things had changed: - > He could not run as fast - > he was wiser - The woman explained to him that he was now like a god and should follow her - > from shepherds he learned how to eat bread, drink wine, wear clothes - A report came from the city that on that night Gilgamesh was going to deflower a vir- gin, Enkidu leapt up and declared that he would challenge the tyrant - The two wrestled until at last Gil threw Enkidu down. - The two became life long friends - > True male companionship; the motif is significant component of greek heroe stories Gilgamesh and Humbaba - Gil proposed that he and Enkidu go together to the Land of the Living also called the Land of the Cedars, ruled over by the sun-god Shamash - sumerian tUu - Enkidu hesitated - he had already been there and feared Humbaba the guardian of the forest - Gil dismissed this - even if they perished their names would live on - They prepared themselves- took swords, axes and bows - After crossing seven mountains they came to the edge of the cedar forest, which ex- tended one thousand miles in every direction: - When Enkidu touched the gat of the forest his hand was paralyzed. Gil helped him to overcome his fear (?) - They entered the forest and traveled far - At night they had ominous dreams, for humbaba knew their presence Chapter 12 - When Gil took his ax and started to chop the forest Humbaba was angered and said ‘ who has come, who injured the trees that grow in my mountains? - Sun god urged Gil to attack Humbaba - Suddenly he was overcome with sleep and fell down as if dead - Enkidu couldn’t wake him - Then Gil came to himself, put on armor - Overcome, with tears in his eyes, Humbaba begged for his life and even took Gil by the had like a friend - Gil struck him on the neck with his sword and so did Enkidu and Humbaba fell down dead - They offered his head to Enlil but he was furious that they killed the guardian - Motif of broken taboo and divine retribution Gilgamesh and Ishtar - When they arrived back in Uruk the goddess Ishtar admired how handsome Gil was and said that if he only poured his seed into her she would give him great riches - He laughed and abused the gr
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