The Epic of Gilgamesh - Robert B. Fitzpatrick, PLLC

Myths, Legends, and Tales
Your teacher: Robert Fitzpatrick
Robert B Fitzpatrick, Teacher
Call your teacher: Bob
Email address:
[email protected]
Class starts at 4:00 pm
Room #305
Expected to be in your
seats on time
Class Rules
No talking among yourselves
If you want to speak, raise your hand, and wait to be
called on
Everyone has a folder with your name on it- you are to
bring this folder to every class- DO NOT LOSE IT
If you need to go to the bathroom- the sign is…..
Rules Continued…..
Only one person at a time to go to the bathroom
No food is allowed, except for the school snack
No cell phones, ipods, or other electronics
Respect everyone
No shoving, pushing, fighting etc…
Remember, the most important
thing is to have fun!
The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Southernmost part of
Sumerian civilization dominated
Mesopotamia from around 5000
It produced the oldest- known
It also produced the world’s first
cities by 3000 B.C.
Around 2334 B.C, King Sargon
of Akkad in Northern
Mesopotamia united both the
north and the south.
Fertile Crescent
The Fertile Crescent has
been described as “the
cradle of western
Great civilizations arose in
the Fertile Crescent,
including the Sumerians,
The two rivers that
fertilize the crescent are
the Tigris and Euphrates.
When Gilgamesh Lived
Now, when Gilgamesh
lived, it was thousands of
years before the rise of the
Greeks, the Roman
empire, Alexander The
Great and the Persian
Name of Event
Date of Event
Persepolis is built
5th-6th centuries B.C. (B.C.E.)
Greeks defeat Darius at Marathon
490 B.C.
Persians defeated in a sea battle at Salamis
480 B.C.
Xerxes assassinated
465 B.C.
Alexander the Great age 20, becomes king of
336 B.C.
Alexander The Great age 32, died in
323 B.C.
Constantinople declared to be 2nd capital of
Roman Empire
330 A.D. (C.E.)
Rome falls to the Visigoths
410 A.D.
Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire.
Greeks Defeat Darius at Marathon
The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 B.C. during the
first Persian Invasion of Greece.
Persians Defeated in a Sea
Battle at Salamis
The Battle of Salamis was fought between an Alliance
of Greek city-states and the Persian Empire in 480 B.C.
Xerxes is Assassinated
In 465 B.C. Xerxes of Persia was assassinated by
Artabanus, the commander of the royal bodyguard.
Alexander the Great
Alexander III of
Macedon, also known as
Alexander the Great,
was King of the Greek
state of Macedon.
Alexander The Great
created one of the largest
empires in ancient
history, stretching from
the Ionian Sea to the
was the capital of
the Byzantine and
Ottoman Empires.
Throughout most
of the Middle
was Europe’s
largest and
wealthiest city.
Rome Falls to the Visigoths
In 410 A.D. Rome was conquered for the first time in
almost 800 years.
So, Where Did Gilgamesh Live?
In Mesopotamia.
What is that?
Mesopotamia is a Greek
word meaning ‘between
the rivers’ It is that area
between the Tigris and
Euphrates Rivers.
Notice that these rivers
are in what is now called
the Middle East, and flow
through Iraq, emptying
into the Persian Gulf.
Discovery of the Epic
Before there were wordprocessors, typewriters,
printing presses, papyrus –
even before there was an
alphabet, the Ancients in
Mesopotamia wrote on clay
tablets made out of mud
baked in the sun called
Cuneiforms on which they
carved pictographs. They
had no alphabet. So, they
used symbols. To the right,
here are some examples.
Archaeologists have
discovered cuneiform
tablets all over
A cuneiform tablet can be
seen at the University of
The Archeological Dig at Nineveh
In 1857, an archeologist
named Austen Henry Layard
had a dig going at Nineveh
which is across the Tigris
River from the present-day
city of Mosul in Iraq.
Nineveh was watered by two
tributaries of the Tigris, the
Great and Little Zab Rivers.
It was the seat of power of
the Assyrian Empire which
ruled over a huge area from
North Africa to Persia
between the 9th and 7th
centuries B.C.E.
Assyrian Empire
The Greatest Assyrian king
was Sargon who ruled from
722 B.C. to 705 B.C. For
our purposes, The Greatest
Assyrian king was
Assurbanipal who became
king in 669 B.C. This king
acquired a huge library of
more than 25,000
cuneiforms, which were
discovered by the British
archeologist Austen Henry
George Smith
Most of the cuneiform
discovered by Layard were
transported to London
where they remain to this
very day in the British
Museum. Now, initially no
one knew how to read them,
and many tried without
success. Then, George
Smith, a low-level employee
of the museum who had no
formal training, deciphered
how to read the cuneiforms.
The Twelve Tablets
Once it was discovered how
to read the cuneiforms, it
was discovered that there
were twelve tablets that told
the epic of Gilgamesh.
The tablets were written
around 1100 B.C./B.C.E. by
the Babylonian scribe and
scholar, Sin-lege-unninni, the
Homer of this story.
Here is the story that they
The Story of a Great King:
Once upon a time, long,
long ago there lived a great
king named Gilgamesh
Now, Gilgamesh was no
ordinary king. He was 2/3
immortal god and 1/3
ordinary mortal human.
This is his story.
He was the son of a semidivine father, Lugalbanda,
and the goddess, Ninsun. As
we said, he lived a long,
long time ago – estimated
around 2650 B.C.E. Now,
how long ago is that? And,
what does B.C.E. mean?
Gilgamesh Was King of Erech
It is said that he reigned
for 120 years.
He was of super-human
size and strength.
Erech ( Uruk)
Gilgamesh and Hercules
Some have speculated that
the Greek myth of
Heracles (Hercules) was
derived from the Epic of
B.C.E. and B.E. – What Do
They Stand For?
B.C.E stands for Before the
Common Era, and C.E.
stands for the Common Era.
This method is not the
exclusive calendaring method.
B.C. stands for “Before
Christ.” A.D. stands for Anno
Domini, and refers to time
after the birth of Christ.
Part of the world, countries
like Saudi Arabia and Iran,
use an entirely different
calendar called the Hijri.
Above: an Assyrian Calendar
Allons Enfants de la Patrie…
After the French
Revolution, France, for a
time, used the Revolution
Calendar. (See slide)
French Revolutionary Calendar
Name of the Month
Dates on our calendar
Latin, vindemia - vintage
Sept 22 - Oct 21
Brume - mist
Oct 22 – Nov 20
frimas - frost
Nov 21- Dec 20
Latin, nivosus - snow
Dec 21 – Jan 19
Latin, rainy
Jan 20 – Feb 18
Latin, ventosus - windy
Feb 19 – Mar 20
Latin, germen - bud
Mar 21 – Apr 19
Latin, florens - flowery
Apr 20 – May 19
Pré - meadow
May 20 – June 18
Latin, messis - harvest
June 19 – July 18
Greek, therme - heat
July 19 – Aug 17
Latin, fructus - fruit
Aug 18 – Sept 16
Sept 17 – Sept 21
B.C.E. Continued
Now we count B.C.E. from the highest number descending
to 1, being the year in which Jesus Christ allegedly was
believed to be born. The year zero does not exist.
And, from one we count time in ascending dates and it is
called A.D.
So, the year after 2650 B.C.E. is 2649 B.C.E, and so on
until you get to one. Once you get to one B.C.E., the next
year is 1 C.E. and so on.
B.C.E. Trivia Question
So, 2650 B.C.E. would be
a total of how many years
2650 B.C.E./B.C.
2011 C.E./A.D.
The Kings of
Mesopotamia had square
beards woven into
Sumerian King - Lists
On cuneiforms, there was
found the Sumerian King –
Lists, and Gilgamesh is listed
as the fifth king of the first
dynasty of Uruk (Erech in
Greek; Warka in Arabic).
He was an arrogant king
who abused the people
The people prayed to the
gods to create another
creature equal in strength to
Creation of Enkidu
The goddess Aruru
created from a lump of
clay, Enkidu.
Enkidu, while human,
lived like a wild beast and
possessed immense
strength, just like
The Taming of Enkidu
Gilgamesh sends a woman
to tame Enkidu, and she
She convinces Enkidu to
clean himself up and
come live in Uruk.
He agrees to come.
The Wrestling Match
When Gilgamesh and
Enkidu meet, they have a
wrestling match as a trial
of strength.
Neither man can win,
neither can best the other
it is….. a draw. And, they
become great friends.
Realizing that they are
equals, King Gilgamesh
and Enkidu become great
friends and boon
And, King Gilgamesh
stops abusing the people
of Uruk.
The Cedar Forests
Mesopotamia has virtually
no trees and therefore to
find wood, one had to
travel to the forests closer to
the Mediterranean.
In the Amanus mountain
range, there are cedar
forests. Mt. Saphon is there,
some 20 miles north of Ras
The forests are guarded by a
monster, Humbaba,
sometimes called Huwawa.
Gilgamesh and Enkidu
attack and slay the firebreathing giant, Humbaba.
Humbaba, sometimes called
Huwawa, guarded the cedar
They cut off Humbaba’s
The cedar forests were the
home of Ishtar, the Queen
of Heaven.
Ishtar’s Revenge
Ishtar falls in love with
Gilgamesh, but he rejects
Ishtar then begs Anu, the
sky god for revenge.
Anu creates a bull that
ravages the kingdom, and
eventually Enkidu and
Gilgamesh kill the bull.
The Bull of Heaven
Anu creates the Bull of
Heaven which descends
upon Uruk.
There is a famine for
seven years.
Eventually, Enkidu and
Gilgamesh kill the Bull.
They cut out its heart and
offer it to the sun god
The Death of Enkidu
The gods then decide that Enkidu must die, and he does die
from a fever that lasts twelve days.
Why Twelve Days?
Scholars believe that
twelve days was used
because it is the basis of
mathematics, which is
called the sexagesimal
The Search for Immortality
When Enkidu dies,
Gilgamesh begins to fear that
he too will die, and he brings
to search for immortality.
Only one human has been
made immortal, Utnapishtim.
The Mountain of Mashu and
the Scorpion-Man
Gilgamesh goes on a journey to find Ut-napishtim, and gets to
the foot of the mountains called Mashu, which is guarded by a
scorpion-man and his wife.
Gilgamesh Arrives at the Waters
of Death
The water of death are
guarded by the goddess
Siduri tries to convince
Gilgamesh from
attempting to cross the
waters of death, and
thusly to enjoy life.
He gets across the waters
with the help of
The Story of the Flood
When Gilgamesh crosses the river, he comes to the home of Ut-napishtim, and
he tells him the story of the flood. Ut-napishtim is known as the “Babylonian
The Quest for Immortality
Ut-napishtim tells
Gilgamesh that the gods
have reserved
immortality for
themselves and death is
the lot of mankind.
The Magic Plant
But he then tells him of a
plant at the bottom of the sea
that provides immortality.
Gilgamesh swims to the
bottom and gets the plant and
heads back to Uruk.
On his way back, he stops to
bathe in a stream.
While he is bathing, a snake
swallows the plant, and
sloughes off it’s old skin.
Good King Gilgamesh
Once Gilgamesh realized
that he could not achieve
eternal life, he decided to
achieve immortality by
leading a good life and
being a good king.
For the remainder of his
life, he devoted himself to
his people and to the city
of Uruk.
The Walls of Uruk
One of the cuneiforms
describes the walls of
Uruk that King
Gilgamesh built as being
“the like of which no
king, no man, will ever
He decorated the walls
with lapus luzili.
Lapus Luzili
This precious stone,
which is intensely blue,
decorates many of the
temples found by
archeologists in
This precious stone was
mined in the mountains
of Northern Afghanistan,
near Badakhshan,
thousands of miles away.
Lazurite is a mineral
found in lapus luzili.
Lazurite was used to make
paint by well-known
artists of the Renaissance.
The Death of Gilgamesh
When Gilgamesh dies,
the people divert the
waters of the river and
bury him under the
Summary of The Epic of
The End

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