Epic of Gilgamesh - EHS Faculty Pages

World History & Geography I
Unit 2 – Mesopotamia
Literary Analysis: The Epic of Gilgamesh
Reading Introduction
The story begins with a description of two very different men in Mesopotamia.
Gilgamesh, king over the city of Uruk, is known for both his great deeds and cruel
treatment of his people. Enkidu is a wild man who lives among the animals as their
friend, which frightens the civilized Sumerians. So, a farmer sends a prostitute out to
seduce him, which completely weakens him. The animals will no longer dwell with him
as one of their own, so the woman convinces him to move into the city of Uruk. There,
he meets Gilgamesh and, after a spirited wrestling match, they become best friends. At
this point, Gilgamesh convinces Enkidu that they should try to kill Humbaba, the
demonic divine beast that guards the forest. After a brief journey and some restless
nights, they arrive at the edge of the forest.
Discussion Questions
What is this story really about?
What features of modern stories do you find in this narrative?
What aspects of Mesopotamian society are revealed in this reading?
What does the society who told this story have in common with ours today?