Epic of Gilgamesh

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:
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
How would you characterize the relationship of
humans to divine beings in The Epic of
What characteristics are described as "godlike"? What qualities (if any) divide humans
from gods and goddesses?
Ms. Marootian
Comparative Global Mythology
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
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
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?
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