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Epic of Gilgamesh
Transcript of Epic of Gilgamesh
Over the centuries, the area was conquered by several
different empires, namely the Akkadian Empire.
Through a process called
, the characteristics of the old and new gods became intertwined.
Epic of Gilgamesh
Resource: Trico Films
Uploaded by Elyssa Grant
Cuneiform, which means wedge-shaped, is one of the earliest forms of writing.
The Epic of Gilgamesh,
was an oral myth
4000 years ago.
It is one of the earliest myths, written in
, a non alphabetic writing, invented around 3000 B.C.E in lower Mesopotamia
The myth survived over the centuries because it was carved into soft clay tablets, then baked to harden. It was the first story ever written down.
While no longer considered an oral myth, the epic contains a mixture of Sumerian and Akkadian names for gods.
These myths are built over the course of centuries.
New cultures bring new religious or cultural beliefs
These myths change based on the ideas and beliefs of the conquering empire.
Humans were created to be servants to the gods.
Kings were viewed as
for divine messages.
They were responsible for bringing peace and prosperity to their subjects
It was believed that the gods were in control of everything
and were to be feared.
Their gods were anthropomorphic, controlling some aspect
They also believed that their gods lived in the statues, and
lived in the temples created for them.
Mesopotamian Religion cont...
The people believed that their duty in life was to serve the gods.
They were expected to find happiness within the status quo of their human existence, and not seek heroism.
In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh learns through all his trials, that being human is what makes him a hero.
People should not try and change their lives, because they already
serve a divine purpose.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: Dorothy in Kansas
Several operas in Turkish, Danish, Serbian, and Italian are based on the epic, as well as several plays and films
Gilgamesh is used in video games, anime, children's books, and even modern pop songs
The Hero's Journey
of the Quest
Gilgamesh proposes a plan, with Enkindu, to accomplish great things, he will defeat Humbaba, King of the Pine Forest, who serves Ellil
"I shall set to work
And cut down pines,
Ensure fame that will last forever."
The Epic of Gilgamesh
Refusal of the Quest
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
The Hero With a Thousand Faces
Meeting with the
The Ultimate Boon
In his quest for immortality, Gilgamesh finds a plant that will restore youth. But a snake steals it after he gets a hold of it.
"A snake smelt the fragrance of the plant.
It came up silently and carried off the plant."
Woman as the Temptress
Crossing the Threshold
Realizing he has lost the chance for immortality, Gilgamesh ends up returning to Uruk the same way he left, but with the trials he has experienced, he has come to accept his limitations as a human and appreciate what he has already accomplished.
"Inspect the foundation platform and scrutinize the brickwork!....
And that the Seven Counsellors must have laid its foundations!"
Mortality vs. Immortality
Nature vs. Culture
Human vs. God
Enkidu insists that Gilgamesh not embark on the quest. He tries to get the young men of Uruk to convince Gilgamesh not to go into the forest.
"Tell him not to go to the Pine Forest.
That journey is not to be undertaken."
"You will never find that life for
which you are looking. When the
gods created man they allotted to
him death, but life they retained in
their own keeping"
--Siduri to Gilgamesh
Ishtar approaches Gilgamesh after he
kills Humbaba and puts on his royal
robes and crown
Claude Levi-Strauss: Structural Theory
Myth is a mode of human communication.
The elements of myth take on significance only in their relation with each other
Parts of Gilgamesh are some of the best known stories of the Sumerian tradition: the flood, the tale of Ishtar's passion for Gilgamesh and his violent refusal of her, and the disposal of the Bull of Heaven.
There are several differences between the Sumerian and Akkadian versions. For example, Enkidu plays a less significant role in the Sumerian version
Nature and Culture: Enkidu and Gilgamesh (pg. 235)
At the beginning of the poem Enkidu represents Nature and Gilgamesh represents Culture, but we see this shift
When Enkidu encounters the harlot he moves toward Culture
When Gilgamesh misbehaves in the city, he moves towards Nature
When they become friends they meet in the middle
When they fight Humbaba, he represents Nature and they represent Culture
After Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh rejects culture completely. "His rejection of the world..is a rejection of death itself" (237)
Monomyth: Hero's Journey
You can be my husband and I can be your wife"
"Come to me, Gilgamesh, and be my lover!
Bestow on me the gift of your fruit!
In the end Gilgamesh realizes that the relationship between Nature and Culture is complex, and that Culture is not to blame for mortality, or at least that man cannot avoid them so there is no point in altering one's life because of them.