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The Epic of Gilgamesh Study Guide Author: No single author but of Sumerian origin Written down by 21st century

B.C. Critics/Quotes: The return leaves much unexplained, it is like the breaking of a spell, when at the end of trouble and search and with a prize almost won, everything suddenly returns to ordinary and is jeeringly unsatisfying without tragedy or sense of catharsis. -argues that The Epic of Gilgamesh doesnt complete the tragic hero model It is today the finest surviving epic poem from any period until the appearance of Homers Iliad; and it is measurably older. Plot: RISING ACTION: Enkidu sent by the gods to humble the pompous Gilgamesh. Enkidu sent by the gods to humble the pompous Gilgamesh. Both become good friends Both go on journey so Gilgamesh can make a name for himself by slaying Humbaba. Gilgamesh is about to give mercy to Humbaba, but Enkidu convinces him to slay Hum. Gilgamesh deals three blows to the giant and Enkidu deals the final, fatal blow. Later, Enkidu has dream of being in the underworld for helping Gilgamesh kill Humbaba . (Enkidu's Dream - ED) CLIMAX: Enkidu dies. Gilgamesh wants to go to the underworld to save Enkidu but he needs immortality to do so; goes on quest to find immorality --> Utnapishtim. (ED) FALING ACTION: Gods wanted to destroy mankind b/c of noise: Enlil planned a flood. (The Flood - F) Ea warned Utnapishtim about flood and instructed him on how to build a boat. (F) Flood lasted six days six nights (F) Enlil angry with turnout but blessed him and his wife with immortality.(F) Utnapishtim put Gilgamesh to the test. He must stay awake for six days and six nights Gilgamesh falls asleep and Utnapishtim performs the bread test (one loaf for every day he sleeps) to avoid Gilgamesh from deceiving anyone about the time he slept. Gilgamesh fails Utnapishtim's test but Utnapishtim pities him and tells him about the flower of immortality Gilgamesh finds it but a serpent steals it while he is drinking from a pond. AT FIRST: Gilgamesh feels cheated out of something. Although Gilgamesh feels as though he did have immortality he comes to accept this. Readers realize that his immortality is not achieved literally but earned through his legend. Characters: Gilgamesh: King of Uruk, prideful, forthright, determined, 2/3 god; symbol of human virtues Enkidu:Gilgamesh's companion; sent by gods to humble Gilgamesh; dies for slaying of Humbaba Utnapishtim: king of Shurrupak; spared by one of the gods in great flooding of earth; gained immortality along w/wife Humbaba: giant who guards cedar forest; is struck down by Gilgamesh and killed by Enkidu

Symbols and Archetypes: The Bread Test: Symbolizes the aging of man to death. The bread test was performed to prove to Gilgamesh that death is equally necessary in the process of life as sleep; it was also done to prove to Gilgamesh that this feat was impossible for even someone of Gilgamesh's position. The Serpent: Symbolic of trickery, stealth, and evil. The Flower: rebirth, renewal; the flower has the ability to extend the youth of the person who uses it (not immortality). Immortality itself: Through the progression of the story, Gilgamesh is reminded of the brevity of life and begins to envy the Gods' immortality. His quest for immortality is set off by the unexpected death of his best friend, Enkidu; this ultimately brings him to question his own safety from death. The goal of his journey to Utnapishtim was to finally achieve the fulfilling immortal life. Gilgamesh was unable to do so through literal actions (such as obtaining the flower of life), but was able to do so as his actions and accomplishments in his life before death, lived on. Enkidu's Dream: Served as a premonition of death. Enkidu traveled into the underworld facing many of the challenges he had and would face with Gilgamesh, all leading up to his death.Quotes (in text): Study Guide Questions: 1. What is special about Gilgamesh? He is 2/3 god, 1/3 mortal 2. How do Gilgamesh and Enkidu differ in their willingness to fight and willingness to spare their opponent? What do these disagreements suggest about their different natures? How could the battle be considered archetypal? Gilgamesh more willing to spare Humbaba(represents human compassion and mercy) while Enkidu is determined to slay giant(represents less-civilized part of people) 3. How are the gods viewed? What is their function? How directly do they intervene in human affairs? Gods function as all-knowing and powerful immortals who control human fates at will. 4. How would you define the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu? What is important about friendship to them? Gilgamesh and Enkidu are close companions who want to make names for themselves. 5. Why does the flood happen? Why is Utnapishtim singled out to be saved? The god Enil decides to flood the earth because of the intolerability of humans and so Ea(god) warns Utnapishtim of it. Utnapishtim and his wife are the only ones to survive the flood and are granted immortality.