Epic of Gilgamesh

From the lectures and readings, know the following:
    Anu and Ishtar
    Ninsun and priest of Kullab
    Aruru and Anu
    Land of Cedars
    Enlil and Humbaba
    Bull of Heaven
    Ereshkigal (Irkalla)
    Utnapishtim, whom they call the Faraway
    "The Old Men Are Young Again"
Study Questions
1. In what ways is the Epic of Gilgamesh a myth? In what ways is it legend? In what ways is it folktale?

2. Gilgamesh is said to be two thirds divine and one third human. How does he exhibit both qualities within his character? Would you say that he is in some ways typical or paradigmatic for the rest of the human race?

3. Examine Enkidu's transformation from living with the animals to living in the city. What steps does he go through? How does he react to his transformation? Could one say that Enkidu is paradigmatic of humanity?

4. Some say that the transformation that Enkidu undergoes is paralleled by a metamorphosis that Gilgamesh goes through after Enkidu's death, only in reverse; that is, Gilgamesh sheds the trappings of the city and becomes part of nature. Do you agree or disagree? If you agree, why is it significant that Gilgamesh experiences this transformation?

5. What is the relationship between human and the divine in this poem? What motivates the gods' actions toward humans? How do they relate with each other? How do these gods compare with the gods we have seen in other works so far?

6. Male friendship is an important component in both the Iliad and Gilgamesh. Compare the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus to the one between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. How is friendship enacted in each work? How does male friendship in these works compare with male-male friendship today?

7. What role do women (e.g., the harlot, Ishtar, Siduri, wife of Utnapishtim) play in Gilgamesh? What power do they have? How do they compare with women in the Iliad?

Return to CLA 1-216-97 home page

Last Update: 29 July 1999
Site Maintainer: classical_studies@cornellcollege.edu
Athletics Library Classical Studies Program Cornell College Home Page About Cornell Admissions Academics Alumni Campus Life Offices News Home Search Site Map Directory