33 Facts About Gilgamesh


Gilgamesh was a hero in ancient Mesopotamian mythology and the protagonist of the Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem written in Akkadian during the late 2nd millennium BC.

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Gilgamesh was possibly a historical king of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk, who was posthumously deified.

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Gilgamesh's gives him two unknown objects, a mikku and a pikku, which he loses.

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Gilgamesh repeatedly fails the trials set before him and returns home to Uruk, realizing that immortality is beyond his reach.

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The story of Gilgamesh's birth is described in an anecdote in On the Nature of Animals by the Greek writer Aelian .

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Aelian relates that Gilgamesh's grandfather kept his mother under guard to prevent her from becoming pregnant, because an oracle had told him that his grandson would overthrow him.

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Gilgamesh's became pregnant and the guards threw the child off a tower, but an eagle rescued him mid-fall and delivered him safely to an orchard, where the gardener raised him.

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Epic of Gilgamesh was rediscovered in the Library of Ashurbanipal in 1849.

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Gilgamesh remained mostly obscure until the mid-20th century, but, since the late 20th century, he has become an increasingly prominent figure in modern culture.

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An inscription, possibly belonging to a contemporary official under Gilgamesh, was discovered in the archaic texts at Ur; his name reads: "Gilgames is the one whom Utu has selected".

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Ur-lugal, the son of Gilgamesh, Made the Tummal pre-eminent, Brought Ninlil to the Tummal.

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Gilgamesh loses the pikku and mikku and asks who will retrieve them.

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The remaining portion of the poem is a dialogue in which Gilgamesh asks the shade of Enkidu questions about the Underworld.

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Gilgamesh became the hero par excellence of the ancient world—an adventurous, brave, but tragic figure symbolizing man's vain but endless drive for fame, glory, and immortality.

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The most complete surviving version of the Epic of Gilgamesh is recorded on a set of twelve clay tablets dating to the seventh century BC, found in the Library of Ashurbanipal in the Assyrian capital of Nineveh.

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Tablet VI begins with Gilgamesh returning to Uruk, where Ishtar comes to him and demands him to become her consort.

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Meanwhile, Gilgamesh holds a celebration over the Bull of Heaven's defeat.

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Tablets IX through XI relate how Gilgamesh, driven by grief and fear of his own mortality, travels a great distance and overcomes many obstacles to find the home of Utnapishtim, the sole survivor of the Great Flood, who was rewarded with immortality by the gods.

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Gilgamesh finds a beautiful garden by the sea in which he meets Siduri, the divine Alewife.

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At first, she tries to prevent Gilgamesh from entering the garden, but later she instead attempts to persuade him to accept death as inevitable and not journey beyond the waters.

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When Gilgamesh refuses to do this, she directs him to Urshanabi, the ferryman of the gods, who ferries Gilgamesh across the sea to Utnapishtim's homeland.

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When Gilgamesh finally arrives at Utnapishtim's home, Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh that, to become immortal, he must defy sleep.

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Gilgamesh fails to do this and falls asleep for seven days without waking.

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Gilgamesh takes the plant, but leaves it on the shore while swimming and a snake steals it, explaining why snakes are able to shed their skins.

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At the beginning of Tablet XII, Enkidu is still alive, despite having previously died in Tablet VII, and Gilgamesh is kind to Ishtar, despite the violent rivalry between them displayed in Tablet VI.

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One set of representations of Gilgamesh is found in scenes of two heroes fighting a demonic giant, certainly Humbaba.

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Epic of Gilgamesh exerted substantial influence on the Iliad and the Odyssey, two epic poems written in ancient Greek during the eighth century BC.

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Story of Gilgamesh's birth is not recorded in any extant Sumerian or Akkadian text, but a version of it is described in De Natura Animalium 12.

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Akkadian text of the Epic of Gilgamesh was first discovered in 1849 AD by the English archaeologist Austen Henry Layard in the Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh.

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The first translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh was produced in the early 1870s by George Smith, a scholar at the British Museum, who published the Flood story from Tablet XI in 1880 under the title The Chaldean Account of Genesis.

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Early interest in the Epic of Gilgamesh was almost exclusively on account of the flood story from Tablet XI.

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Gilgamesh concluded that Jensen and other Assyriologists like him had failed to understand the complexities of Old Testament scholarship and had confused scholars with "conspicuous mistakes and remarkable aberrations".

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In English-speaking countries, the prevailing scholarly interpretation during the early twentieth century was one originally proposed by Sir Henry Rawlinson, 1st Baronet, which held that Gilgamesh is a "solar hero", whose actions represent the movements of the sun, and that the twelve tablets of his epic represent the twelve signs of the Babylonian zodiac.

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