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Epic Of Gilgamesh

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Good King, Bad Kind

Gilgamesh existed as one of the oldest known Sumerian rulers of all time and is accredited to many accomplishments. Legend has it that he created the first Sumerian civilization, constructing a city with many elaborate temples and immense walls. However, he has also been characterized as one of the cruelest and most self-centered rulers of all. Throughout the course of Gilgamesh's life he goes from being a womanizing, slave driving ruler to a negligent and stubborn king, who not even god-sent Enkidu could help transform into a better king.

At first, Gilgamesh is a controlling and arrogant king, who thinks only of himself. He constantly works the men, building enormous walls surrounding the entire kingdom and countless temples. He "leaves no virgin to her lover" (62) no matter who she was, young or old. Additionally, he takes away the children so that "no son is left with his father" (62). Gilgamesh treats his people with such disrespect that they begin to complain about him to the gods. When Anu, the god of firmament, hears the people's lamentations he goes to Aruru, the goddess of creation saying, "You made him, O Aruru, now create his equal" (62). The people and the gods felt that if Gilgamesh had someone equal to him in strength and power that they would compete together leaving the city of Uruk in peace. Therefore, in reply to the grievances of the gods and people Enkidu is sent down to earth.

Enkidu himself, though, could not even save Gilgamesh and his kingship. After Ishtar helped Enkidu become a human Enkidu travels to Uruk and challenges Gilgamesh to a battle. The two immediately become companions because Gilgamesh finally finds his match. They set off on an adventure to destroy the cedar forest and its guardian, Humbaba, all to be forever remembered. Gilgamesh appears to be improving his ways and not exasperating his people. However, Gilgamesh then takes his journey to be remembered one step too far and kills the bull of heaven. This infuriates the gods so greatly that they decide that one out of Gilgamesh and Enkidu must pay for their actions. The gods therefore bestow a deadly illness upon Enkidu, which brings about his death. Enkidu's death devastates Gilgamesh,



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