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Essay about The Epic of Gilgamesh

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It is difficult for us to correctly analyze a piece of literature from a time before the development of writing or language. This recorded piece truly identifies what it means to be a part of Sumerian culture and is not only daunting, but insightful. “For there is nothing eternal on Earth.” I perceive this quote spoken by Utnapishtim not as words recorded in history but inhabited in time.
In terms of Sumerian culture, it’s easy for our perception of their belief to be misinterpreted. Especially when we look at the way religion is so controversial to this day. Religion played a vital role in their culture as it does in modern society. In “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” we found a story primarily based around the establishment of the city of Erech; A city run by a tyrant that not only prayed to heaven, but also worshipped the gods. Heaven set Gilgamesh on his throne. This was a time when gods were perceived as human, and female goddesses were thought to have created the human race from clay. Death and Religion go hand-in-hand in this story because of the role the gods play. Only gods can escape death in a battle and in existence. We later find from Utnapishtim that, “When men draw up a contract they set a term. (…) Time and seasons are appointed for all.” In early Mesopotamia, it’s important to understand that civilization lived under prophecy, believed in faith, accepted hardship, and sought sanctity. These mortals live in a world where sacrifices are made and rituals are performed when they implore aid or support from the gods. For instance when a bull is sent down from heaven, that means a 7 year famine lies ahead on Earth. So, religion is not as controversial as today’s culture, but in retrospect it was just as important to remain h...


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...r the ocean of death. Food and clothing was to their use as well as ours today, and garments, crowns, and robes were available such that they were in the Renaissance Era. I also noticed that a festival was held where tinkling cymbals and flutes were played and the city of Erech was dressed in festive throngs, so it’s fair to make the assumption that the Sumerians did not all live like cavemen. There were just some more fortunate than others.
Overall, Sumerian culture seemed very medieval, but was also a time where we see cavemen transition to civilization. It seems to me that Mesopotamian literature, glorifies kings as servants of or descendants of the gods. Ultimately, the story describes the existential struggles of a Mesopotamian ruler who must conciliate himself to his mortality and find meaning in his life despite his awareness of the inevitability of death.



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