Sunday, June 28, 2015
The Western World in 300 Events: Event 5 - The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Birth of Literature
Dating back to the 21st century BC the Epic of Gilgamesh is regarded as the first great work of literature. The poem is a product of Ancient Mesopotamia and consists of two halves that span twelve tablets. The first half tells the story of the wild beast Enkidu and his adventures with Gilgamesh. Part two details Gilgamesh’s jouney to find the secret of eternal life following the death of Enkidu. Included in the second part is the tale of Utnapishtim and the Great Flood which is believed to have served as the inspiration for the flood narrative in Genesis. The Gilgamesh epic has made its way into popular fiction and has clearly influenced both biblical and classic literature as well. It tells a similar story to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, has parallel advice similar to that of the Book of Ecclesiastes, eludes to a Nebuchadnezzar-type Babylonian king and has an uncanny similarity to the works of the Greek bard Homer.