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 sharp

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 script

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 civilization.”

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

Persepolis is built

Greeks defeat Darius at Marathon

Persians defeated in a sea battle at Salamis

Date of Event

5 th -6 th centuries B.C. (B.C.E.)

490 B.C.

480 B.C.

Xerxes assassinated

Alexander the Great age 20, becomes king of


465 B.C.

336 B.C.

Alexander The Great age 32, died in


323 B.C.

Constantinople declared to be 2 nd

Roman Empire capital of 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



Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine and

Ottoman Empires.

Throughout most of the Middle


Constantinople 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 9 th centuries B.C.E.

and 7 th

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 tell:

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















Latin, vindemia - vintage

Brume - mist frimas - frost

Latin, nivosus - snow

Latin, rainy

Latin, ventosus - windy

Latin, germen - bud

Latin, florens - flowery

Pré - meadow

Latin, messis - harvest

Greek, therme - heat

Latin, fructus - fruit

Dates on our calendar

Sept 22 - Oct 21

Oct 22 – Nov 20

Nov 21- Dec 20

Dec 21 – Jan 19

Jan 20 – Feb 18

Feb 19 – Mar 20

Mar 21 – Apr 19

Apr 20 – May 19

May 20 – June 18

June 19 – July 18

July 19 – Aug 17

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 ago?

2650 B.C.E./B.C.


2011 C.E./A.D.


The Kings of

Mesopotamia had square beards woven into dreadlocks.

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 does.

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 companions.

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 forests.

They cut off Humbaba’s head.

The cedar forests were the home of Ishtar, the Queen of Heaven.

Ishtar’s Revenge

Ishtar falls in love with

Gilgamesh, but he rejects her.

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

Mesopotamian mathematics, which is called the sexagesimal system.

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 build.”

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 water.

Summary of The Epic of


The End

Study collections