Assignment On Gilgamesh

624 words - 3 pages

With such an interesting storyline and well developed characters, how could one not want to keep the Epic of Gilgamesh in circulation? But it was not just lore, it effectively taught the outlook of Sumerian culture and instilled morals. This epic brings a historical insight into how Gilgamesh lived and ruled through his actions as a king. The simple fact of its ability to teach, explain history, and outline religious beliefs remains a very practical tool for the Babylonians to use and pass down to future generations. There are many factors why the Epic of Gilgamesh became sacred literature.One such reason why Gilgamesh has survived is due to its accurate account of the gods and the beliefs that made them so crucial to these ancient people. A fine example of this is shown in the line, "I am going to that country, O Shamash, I am going; my hands supplicate, so let it be well with my soul and bring me back to the quay of Uruk"(72) Here is accurately portrayed how Shamash was related to Gilgamesh and acted on his behalf. This document provides a vivid account of the overall religious theme to which the Sumerians belonged. Through this story, the keepers of the text could easily depict the gods and their roles in the Sumerian society.Another reason for this story's sanction by the Babylonians is that it provides historical documentation of the actual king, Gilgamesh. Since the Babylonians were able to see his creations and his incredible skill in building in the story, they realized that this was a great man. These walls provided verification of his existence and showed that this king was a very powerful man, yet the Babylonians kept Gilgamesh for the fact that they could gloat over their conquest of this society. Consequently, they may tell the story to the children of the civilization and instill a sense of pride in their culture.Yet another reason why they kept this story is its ability to teach lessons in an entertaining way. The story could have been used as a methodical approach to educate the children of the society about morality and divine powers. Since this story contains a great deal of action and presents the ideals held similarly by the Babylonian people, it facilitates an entertaining way for the children to learn about values. The lesson that Gilgamesh learns when Enkidu dies, "O my brother, so dear as you are to me, brother, yet they will take me from you."(89), is one that sheds light on the common beliefs of humans being mortal and the gods immortal. This account provides a better understanding on man's true mortality.The Epic of Gilgamesh in itself is an incredible story. It holds so many of the ideals of the Sumerians, that it is such an effective way of showing those principles to others. I believe that since the story is entertaining and filled with mysterious characters, it is a wonderful way of spreading their culture. I also find it as a good source for their religious beliefs and their history as a civilization. From this story, I can compare their standards to those of my own or other religions. In my opinion, this epic is one of the most valuable stories and was considered the same by the Babylonians, hence making it a sacred text.Works CitedSandars, N.K. ed. and trans. The Epic Of Gilgamesh. New York: Penguin, 1972.


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