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Epic Of Gilgamesh

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The Epic of Gilgamesh

Heroes have existed throughout the history of man. The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem of a king in ancient Babylon. The story revolves around Gilgamesh the King of Uruk and his companion Enkidu. Gilgamesh was the 5th king of the Acadian city Uruk around 2,750BCE. The epic was written on twelve tablets found in the ruins of an ancient city called Ninevah in modern day Iraq. The city of Ninevah has been dated back to 668-627BCE, but the story of Gilgamesh has been discovered to be dated back as far as 2,700BCE. The story was first translated by A.H. Layard in 1839. There have been many controversies over the translations throughout the years. Despite the controversies the Epic of Gilgamesh is a story for the ages.

The story starts with an introduction to the King of Uruk, Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is introduced as strong and beautiful person. Being two thirds god and one third human he is matched by no one. Gilgamesh is portrayed as a harsh ruler that constantly oppresses his people. The people of Uruk pray to the god Anu, for help in solving the problem they face day to day under the rule of Gilgamesh. Anu responds with the creation of a man named Enkidu. Enkidu started his life as a "wild man", living in the forest among the beasts. Enkidu was enticed by a harlot that brought him from the forest and showed him the life of man. Meanwhile Gilgamesh has multiple dreams that are interpreted by his mother, relating to coming forth of Enkidu.

Enkidu's transition from the forest to living in the city with a Shepard learns of Gilgamesh's way of treating his people. Gilgamesh comes to the home of a new bride to claim his right to be the first to sleep with her. Enkidu stands in Gilgamesh's way protecting the bride. Gilgamesh and Enkidu begin to fight furiously until Gilgamesh gets the upper hand and Enkidu surrenders. The two embrace and thus begins their devoted friendship. Inseparable, the two grow bored of the life around them and come to a decision to take an adventure.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu set forth to the Cedar Forest to cut down the trees and destroy the guardian Humbaba. Enkidu is opposed to the idea because he knew of Humbaba from his days of living in the wild. Against the will of the cities elders and Enkidu, Gilgamesh and Enkidu undertake the journey to the Cedar Forest. During their journey, Gilgamesh is plagued with many dreams that Enkidu interprets as the ultimate demise of Humbaba. These interpretations aid in Gilgamesh's confidence of the forth coming battle with Humbaba. When the two come upon the Cedar Forest entrance it is Enkidu that loses his confidence and Gilgamesh convinces him that if they stand together they can achieve victory. Together the heroes enter the forest and begin to cut down the trees. Humbaba becomes aware of this and comes "roaring up" on them and tries to scare them off. Humbaba is aware of Gilgamesh's status as a king and begins taunting him for taking orders from a "nobody". Enkidu's words fill Gilgamesh with enrage and the two battle Humbaba. Gilgamesh beheads Humbaba, and before he dies speaks a curse upon Enkidu.

The two heroes return to the city Uruk bearing a wealth of regal garments. Gilgamesh and Enkidu's journey and stories of slaying the beast Humbaba sweep the land giving them fame. This fame attracts the interest of the goddess Ishtar. Ishtar is the daughter of the sky god Anu. Her infatuations prompt her to ask Gilgamesh to be her husband. Gilgamesh insultingly refuses the proposal. Ishtar takes this denial harshly. Ishtar asks her father for use of the Bull of Heaven to seek revenge on Gilgamesh and his city. Ishtar's request is granted and the Bull of Heaven is unleashed upon Uruk, killing many people in its path to the heroes. Once again Gilgamesh and Enkidu work together to slay the mighty beast of the gods.

After the battle with the Bull of Heaven, Enkidu falls ill and begins a series of dreams. A priest interprets these dreams to having been singled out by the gods for vengeance.



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