Study Guide for Gilgameshcomp

Study Guide for Gilgamesh
You should know the following
Gilgamesh – hero of the epic; King of
Enkidu – Gilgamesh’s friend; a wild
man whom the gods created from clay
Humbaba – giant whom Enlil appointed
to guard the cedar forest and who is
killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu
Ishtar – goddess of the storehouse, love,
war, and the morning and evening star;
sometimes called the Queen of Heaven
Ea – also known as Enki – god of
drinkable waters, fertility, artists and
artisans, usually a god who acts
favorably toward humans
Enlil – god of the storm and wind as
both a life-giving and destructive force
Bull of Heaven – a symbol of draught
and famine; this creature was sent by
Anu in revenge for Gilgamesh’s insult to
Ishtar, his daughter
Utnapishtim – survivor of a flood sent
by the gods to destroy humanity;
granted immortality. Gilgamesh’s
ancestor and a former King of
Irkalla (Ereshkigal) – goddess and
queen of the Underworld; sister of
Ishtar and Shamash
Shamash - also known as Utu, god of
the Sun, justice, and law; brother of
You should also know the following
Hubris – an act of excessive pride;
usually insulting to the gods or
goddesses; an example is Gilgamesh
rejecting and insulting Ishtar
Epic – a long story, often told in verse,
discussing heroes and gods
Epic Hero – represents the ideal of a
culture, often part divine, has an
unusual birth, often of high status or
importance, possesses remarkable
Anti-hero or ironic hero – a hero who
lacks many of the qualities traditionally
associated with a hero; often rejects or
fails at the heroic quest
Heroic Quest - This quest is often
made up of several steps
the fall from a state of innocence
to a state of experience
the hero undertakes a task or
test to prove himself
often accompanied by an alter
ego or double, who may die in place
of the hero
goes on a quest or journey to
find or achieve something
may have a descent into death or
often ends with the nostos or
Cuneiform – the language in which
Gilgamesh was originally written,
consisting of pictographs, often written
on clay
Mesopotamia – the setting of
Gilgamesh; the name means the land
between the two rivers; present day Iraq
and parts of Syria.
Study the culture quest worksheet to
understand how this epic is a reflection
of the culture from which it comes.
You will have an essay question dealing
with this topic.