The Gilgamesh Epic is one of the earliest works of literature discovered, dating back to the 18th century B.C. One copy was found the library of a 7th-century Assyrian king; however, many other sources exist, including Sumerian and Akkadian poems (keep in mind, though, that by the time those poems were written, the story of Gilgamesh had already reach the status of legend or myth). Our chief concern, of course, is how its pseudo-Biblical language overlaps much of the Genesis deluge account, as well as other folk flood narratives from around the world.
As you read the story, answer the following the questions below (bring your answers to discuss in class); then compose a short post comparing the epic to the Genesis account AS WELL AS to one other folk flood narrative.
1. According to the map (in the link), where is the city of Uruk?
2. Why was Enkidu created? Describe his character.
3. The epic contains explicit sexual material, and yet does not shy away from any “R-rated” scenes—even though these poems were regularly recited and performed in public. What does this indicate about Sumerian and Akkadian worldviews?
4. How does Gilgamesh treat his mother, Ninsun?
5. Why does Gilgamesh wish to fight with Humbaba, the guardian of the forest?
6. How does Enkidu support Gilgamesh along the way through the forest? Does this remind you of any other famous literary characters?
7. Why does Gilgamesh refuse to marry Ishtar? What happens as a result?
8. Why must Enkidu die? It is fair, and why?
9. How far must Gilgamesh travel through the mountain in total darkness?
10. Why did the gods decide to send a flood?
11. What does Utnapishtim give to Gilgamesh as a parting gift? What becomes of it, and what does it symbolize?
12. Ultimately, what becomes of Gilgamesh?