Ms. Marootian Comparative Global Mythology The Epic of Gilgamesh: Socratic Seminar Questions to Consider Seminar Date: 10/17 Place and Space: 1. Why does the epic begin by calling attention to the walls of Uruk? 2. Whatever the Epic of Gilgamesh had to say to people in its own time and place, what sorts of things do you think it has to say to audiences that read the story today? Or, if it is irrelevant, why? Immortality and Mortality: 1. 2. 3. 4. Does Gilgamesh ultimately find consolation for his grief? Explain. Do you think people in modern day society cope with the idea of mortality better? Why or why not? How would you characterize the relationship of humans to divine beings in The Epic of Gilgamesh? What characteristics are described as "godlike"? What qualities (if any) divide humans from gods and goddesses? Ms. Marootian Comparative Global Mythology 5. 6. Describe the relationships among the different gods. Do all the gods have equal power or is there some sort of hierarchy? Explain. What role does the journey into the underworld play in the story? What does Gilgamesh learn about death and immortality from Utnapishtim? Would you like to have the kind of immortality that Utnapishtim possesses? Does death give meaning to life? Role of Women: 1. One of the most intriguing characters in the Epic is the woman who causes Enkidu's transformation from natural man to civilized man. Describe this woman and suggest what her role might indicate about the process of becoming civilized, or the role of women in early Mesopotamian cultures? 2. How can females be seen as both creators and destroyers? 3. Even though the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu is central to the text, there are a number of female characters. These include Shamhat (the "harlot"), Rimat-Ninsun (the wild cow goddess, Gilgamesh’s mother), Ishtar, the Scorpion-man’s sife, Siduri (the tavern keeper), Utnapishtim’s wife. How are these women portrayed? What notions about the "nature" of women are embodied in the text? Beasts and Monsters: 1. Describe the significance of the "raging bull" images and its different uses. To what characters or figures is it usually applied? What does it represent? Ms. Marootian Comparative Global Mythology 2. Why do Enkidu and Gilgamesh go to the Cedar Forest and fight Humbaba? How does this episode help both to develop the characters and to move the plot along? 3. What is the significance of Humbaba trying to avoid death too? Political Ideals: 1. What clues does the Epic of Gilgamesh present about the political values of early Mesopotamian society? 2. Is Gilgamesh a good king or a bad king? What qualities define good kings? 3. What qualities define “good” politicians today? 4. Are those qualities learned as skills or life-lessons, or are they inherited or "natural" qualities? Enkidu & Gilgamesh: 1. Does Enkidu fulfill his “original purpose?” Why or why not? 2. Do friends have that kind of power still today? Can friends transform? 3. Why do you suppose that Gilgamesh is presented as 1/3 human and 2/3 god while Enkidu is presented as a sort of half human and half animal before he is tamed? 4. What does it mean to be a human in this story? 5. Is Gilgamesh a “hero?” Why or why not?