Epic of Gilgamesh

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Epic of Gilgamesh

. Mesopotamia, current day Iraq, derived its name from words meaning, "the land between the rivers," which refers to the Tigris and Euphrates. This land was inhabited during the fourth millennium B.C.E. and throughout time transcended into political and military organizations. The significance of these cultures revolved around important warrior figures and their impact on society. The most important figure that will be discussed is the protagonist from The Epic of Gilgamesh. Many consider it to be the greatest literary composition written in cuneiform Akkadian around 2150 BC. This epic portrays the life of the great warrior, Gilgamesh. It chronicles how his victories, both militaristic and internal, ultimately determined his superiority. This relates to the ancient Mesopotamian society in many ways, including the role of warriors and the dual nature of Gilgamesh.

It is evident from the beginning of the Epic of Gilgamesh how vital of a role warrior's played in ancient Mesopotamian society. Warriors were considered top of the social hierarchy. All other authoritative figures were considered subordinate. Uruk's inhabitants deemed Gilgamesh as their superior: "There is nobody among the kings of teeming humanity who can compare with him…Belet-ili designed the shape of his body, made his form perfect…In Uruk the Sheepfold he would walk about, show himself superior, his head held high like a wild bull." 2 Gilgamesh epitomizes the ideal hero in the eyes of his society through admirable physical strength, bodily perfection, and bravery. This admiration directly pertains to ancient Mesopotamia and the earliest Sumerian governments. For instance, "When crises arose, assemblies yielded the...

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...t was revealed long after Gilgamesh's death that he was actually considered a god. This helps explain his fear towards death. Gilgamesh wanted to physically be a great warrior until the end of time opposed to just another historic memory. Although it was not actually death he was afraid of, Gilgamesh feared the obliteration of his glory and honor.

In conclusion, the values from ancient Mesopotamian culture correlate to those in The Epic of Gilgamesh. The role of warriors show many similarities, including strength, bravery, and hubris. Furthermore, Gilgamesh compares with historic figures by expressing a dual nature. One may present a façade to hide one's faults, but no hero is infallible. Above all, it is learned how important heroes in Mesopotamia were, despite their imperfections, for in the eyes of their community, they were recognized like demigods.
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