The Epic of Gilgamesh Study Guide

The Epic of Gilgamesh Study Guide

Original title:
Shūtur eli sharrī
May 4th 2006 by Penguin Books Limited (first published -1750)
ISBN 0141026286 (ISBN13: 9780141026282)

“The Epic of Gilgamesh” is worth reading just because it’s the oldest story the humanity has produced. Originating in Mesopotamia, the poem brought together five classic legends about Sumarian king Uruk. Despite typical poems meant to glorify the empire and its emperor for the sake of keeping the order in place, “The Epic of Gilgamesh” has a much broader meaning.

From the beginning of times people used to look for meaning of life. In particular, they wanted to have somebody who understands them and shares common values, vision and goals. Not every ancient literary creation focused on this hunt, but “The Epic of Gilgamesh” managed to combine the epic descriptions of great war victories with human pursuit of happiness.

Gilgamesh was a remarkable man, a real ruler with strength that went beyond human abilities. His kingdom was on the rise and people loved him. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t have an adviser or companion – a true friend who would make his life meaningful.

Another moral of the story is that a true respect and connection emerge when strong characters face each other. Gilgamesh develops appreciation and friendship for Enkidu after they almost kill each other in a battle. And when he lost his friend, he put all his talents into trying to find eternal life.

It might be fictional, but this epic poem doesn’t discover a secret recipe of eternal life. In the end the story settles upon the fact that even though humans aren’t meant to live forever, our legacy does. We live and grow based on the discovered knowledge of the previous generations and concern for the wellbeing of the future ones.

Overall, it’s a great text about two great men who were partly Gods, partly human. Their creation and life is full of adventures: from fighting the dragons and getting lost in the cedar forests to standing up to goddesses and searching for eternity.

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