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Posts Tagged ‘Gilgamesh King of Uruk

Reply to the epic story of “Gilgamesh, King of Uruk”

You may refer to the link “Gilgamesh, King of Uruk” in note 1.

My comments on the replies are inserted between parenthesis.

There is this comment: “Lovely article, so many myths we subscribe to, all in an effort to provide humankind with some sort of moral guidance”

Other comments go as follow:

One: This sounds like an interesting book but you should really make it clearer that this is a novel, loosely based on the Epic of Gilgamesh, not the ancient story itself. You seem to be basing your historical analysis on the inventions of Mielke, rather than on the original text. (True, it is a story.  Do you know many who would read an epic story if not written in a novel form, describing emotions and feelings?  Homer and the later epic storytellers realized what it takes to get famous and well read.  Many religions are based on epic stories, and the religious celebrations are elaborated theaters, chanting, and dancing. )

Two:  The earliest versions of the epic date to around 4000 years ago – not 7000.  (4000 years before BC or 6000 years
since then? Still, the oldest so far, and by many millennial).

Three: The story about the bird, infant, and gardener is a later myth. There is nothing in the original story about the incident with the soldiers, the conversation with the temple girl, although in the epic there is a temple prostitute, the origin of the Sumerians who are widely credited by historians as being the most advanced ancient civilization, good people going to The Island of the Eternals after death: In Gilgamesh humans cannot escape death and all go to the underworld, or Gilgamesh seeking meditative detachment.

Four: There is no description of building activity in the epic, no mention of mercenaries, and Gilgamesh does not kill his friend Enkidu or “Ankido”.

Fifth:  There are definitely echoes of the Epic of Gilgamesh in Homer, and some stories in the book of Genesis, such as the flood myth and the story of Adam and Eve, seem to be based around earlier versions found in the epic of Gilgamesh.

Six: Dating the Tanakh (or the “Old Testament”) to 200 BCE is unjustified. It is likely to have achieved something very close to its final form during the period of the Babylonian exile or the subsequent Persian period (600 to 300 BCE). Older literary strata within the Tanakh may date back to around the tenth century BCE.  (These comments are part of the religious myths.  Hebrew was a verbal language, a slang of Aramaic, as the various “Arab” verbal languages, particular to large tribes.  Hebrew was transformed into a written language as Jews settled in Egypt, three centuries BC).

Seven:  I would also disagree that all of these stories and myths share the same perspective. For example, the tale of the civilization of primitive Enkidu by Shamhat in the epic of Gilgamesh is turned into a story about sin and loss in Genesis. This makes sense if we remember that Israel was conquered and taken into captivity by the civilization described in the epic. The historical situation of exile may also explain why the flood is sent in Genesis to punish wickedness and “violence”, whereas in the older Mesopotamian myth it is because the noise of their human slaves disturbs the peace of the gods. I would submit that a situation of oppression and forced exile had a major influence on the final shape and message of the Tanakh.  Such a situation and perhaps even the messages of hope and condemnation that arose from it are not irrelevant to the situation of the region today. (Lovely you made the connections of the reasons for differences in Epic stories:  There are particular interests in writing epic stories, and not necessarily regurgitating standard community behaviors of all times)

At the start of the Arabic/Islamic Empire, as the Capital was relocated to Damascus (Syria), the “Arabs” or more accurately the inhabitants of Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine (the current Levant or Near-East States) translated the Greek manuscripts before venturing on writing and disseminating their own culture and civilization.  If it were not for Syria, and the “Arabs”, the Greek culture would have vanished into oblivion.

I am wondering, why the western civilization insist on considering the Greek culture or civilization as the original source for their civilization?  The Greek plagiarized the antecedent cultures and civilizations (Aramaic and Persian), and refused to even translate the manuscripts of former militarily dominated civilizations.  The Greek Empire lasted for over seven centuries, and this Empire failed to translate anything!


Most ancient mythical story in 550 pages:  Who is Gilgamesh of Iraq?

German author, Thomas Milkeh, published the mythical story of “Gilgamesh, King of Uruk” in 550 pages, and 35 chapters, and a chronological list of names and historical events.  Nabil al Haffar translated the book into Arabic and was published by Cadmus.

Previous German archeologists and authors, Albert Shut and Wilhelm Soden, and Helmut Shmokel had published versions of the Gilgamesh story, a mythical grandiose account of the ancient Iraqi kingdoms of Sumer and Akkad…seven thousand years ago.

The gardener Chokalitoda of the town of Kish adopted the infant Gilgamesh. “The black bird of the storm, Amdod, deposited the infant, wrapped in cloth and in a reed basket, amid the trees”. Gilgamesh grew up to become a captain in the army of King Mbaraghezy of the city of Kish.

Gilgamesh occupied the rival city of Uruk and met with his mother Nin Son.  He forced-labored the inhabitants of Uruk to build a new defensive wall around the city and proclaimed himself King of Uruk.  Gilgamesh befriended the other hero Ankido.

While occupying the city of Uruk in the name of King Mbaraghezy, Gilgamesh was appalled by the savagery of soldiers and confronted them.  The leader of a group of soldiers, engaged in the massacre of unarmed people, said: “We are doing the mutilation for fun”.  In dawned on Gilgamesh that these soldiers were the mercenaries who were supposed to be defending Uruk:  They sided with the victor and were demonstrating loyalty to the new king by committing atrocities and more looting.

Gilgamesh is having this conversation with Paranam Tarra, the virgin girl serving the temple:

Gilgamesh: “What is the origin of Gods?”

Paranam Tarra: “Maybe from these Stars, to where they returned”

Gilgamesh: “What is the origin of the Sumer people?”

Paranam Tarra: “They came from the land of Milokha.  Over those eastern mountain chains”  This is an indication that there existed higher level civilizations outside the borders of Kish and Uruk, in Persia, Afghanistan, and India…

Gilgamesh: “Where is our destination when we die?”

Paranam Tarra: “The good people end up on the “Island of the Eternals” to serve the Man that the Gods extended eternity to Him.”

This is another dialogue between Gilgamesh and his close friend Ankido.  Gilgamesh ordered the construction of a new high fortification wall and Ankido have been observing the miseries endured by the citizens, resulting from the building process.  A titanic fight ensued between the two previous friends and this conversation:

Ankido: “Why this new wall?”

Gilgamesh: “Before engaging in a new war, I have to be capable of defending what I have.  Didn’t you realize that our walls are deteriorating and crumbling?  Don’t you realize that the Kings of Nipur, Laghash, and Shorobak are readying to plunder our wealth? Maybe my leaven is not ripe yet, but it is better to get a head start”

Ankido: “So far, you have been exercising your might on the weak”

Gigamesh: “You are wrong. I am preparing to defend my city against new waves of plunder, massacre, and looting from outside wrath.”

Ankido: “How could you claim to be defending the city from outside enemies when you are in the process of destroying it from the inside?”

Gilgamesh managed to overcome and kill Ankido and decided to travel to the Island of the Eternal to mourn his friend.  Gilgamesh had to overcome a series of obstacles in this arduous trip and is having a beer in a bar.  He is having this conversation with the girl attendant:

The bar attendant: “What is your destination?”

Gilgamesh: “I am heading to the Island of the Eternals”

The girl: “The Gods transferred feelings and emotions to mankind because they were unable to experience emotions.  The Eternals do not need emotions: They cannot suffer and they can live forever without this fear of dying. Mankind has to die because he can feel and suffer. ”

Gilgamesh was seeking a secluded island to learn detachment from people exigencies and unlimited wants and wishes.  He wanted to engage in introspection and get a handle on life and the universe.  He wanted to leave a few wisdom to posterity, in a calm and serene environment.

Isn’t what Homer undertook 4,000 years later?  Isn’t what a few Jews of Alexandria, 200 years BC, did by writing the Bible or the Old Testament?  A few learned Jews decided to re-write the history of a wretched community who was easing out of nomadic life into the learning stage.

All these mythical stories emulated one another:  Social behaviors are common in most communities; there is nothing new to add, except writing the stories in particular contexts of customs and traditions.  The sacred part of all these mythical accounts are the common denominator of mankind agitation as communities. What is most important in all these account are the frank and honest description of local customs, traditions, and social behaviors.

Note 1: A review of that book was done by Abd al Mahmoud in the Lebanese daily Al Nahar. It could be a most interesting read this summer.

Note 2:  It is very possible that this “Island of the Eternals” was the Island of Bahrain, a must stop destination for merchant ships to and from India and Iraq, and where “noble” princes from the neighboring kingdoms had vacation palaces.

Note 3: Empires vanish as demographics decreases steadily due to loss of hope for better future.  Consequently, empires hire cheap mercenaries for keeping control and the kingdom begins a non-reversible decline.  The Kingdom of Uruk was doomed because it hired mercenaries to defend its authority.




December 2022

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