Gilgamesh (First written in 2100
BC, 1300 years before the Iliad
and the Odyssey) is a flood myth
that has a lot of the myth
elements as well as the hero
This image of Gilgamesh comes from Assyria. It shows Gilgamesh subduing a lion, a
common pose for the great warrior-king. His long hair and beard also show his
strength, as well as his physical perfection.
This image of Gilgamesh and Enkidu by modern-day artist Neil Dalrymple is
inspired by ancient images of the two friends; notice Enkidu is part-animal,
and smaller than the king whom he loves and serves.
Enkidu and the Priestess
The pattern of wholeness traced in the first two
tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh is the
following: Enkidu is the one capable to tame
the, but only if he could transcend his
wilderness without and within. To help Enkidu
reach out for the Transcendent, a young
priestess named Shamhat of the temple of
Inanna/Ishtar is called. Her Task is to initiate
the wild Enkidu into his Higher Self, to tame the
beast within to find the man without, a man who
is both divine and very human, the healed
version of Gilgamesh the king.
The Priestess continued
They meet, Shamhat and Enkidu, in the forest and for six
days and seven nights, as the planets and the stars
travelled the skies, they shared all fleshly and spiritual
delights. A world of touch, tastes, senses and experiences
exploded around them as they shared the pleasures of
body, mind, heart and spirit. So much they learnt with
each other, they taught each other. On the seventh day,
Enkidu realizes that although the forest, the wild beasts
were dear to him beyond measure, somehow he needed
more than to eat, bask in the sun or sleep.
Then Shamhat tells him of Uruk and Gilgamesh,
someone who could be his equal in all respects, perfect
in strength. Enkidu decides to go to Uruk. Before they
reach Uruk, Enkidu learns to eat and drink from the
table the fruits of men´s labors on earth, and is taken to
the place of the sheepfold, a probable allusion to the
rites of the Sacred King as Shepherd of the Land,
capable of defending the herds and land against all
predators and beasts.
The beauty and terror of the greatest of Sumerian goddesses come through in this
ancient statue. Ishtar was at once lovely and terrible, seducing many great men and
then killing them. Her unearthly white skin and glowing red eyes warn those who might
answer her as she beckons with her right hand.
Humbaba's demonic face was a popular subject for sculptors; this ancient
Assyrian representation follows the usual practice of depicting the creature's
face as one swirling line.
Siduri: Alewife or Goddess?
Siduri, the veiled barmaid, is a traditional figure
in Mesopotamian mythology and poetry, and in
the Hurrian language her name means “young
woman.” The goddess of wine-making and
beer brewing, she is usually considered a
manifestation of Ishtar. Her warmth and
kindness to Gilgamesh throughout this episode
are notable, since he treated Ishtar with such
contempt in Uruk.
This modern-day recreation of a great walled city on a river gives us a sense of the
beauty and power of Gilgamesh's city of Uruk. The continuing interest in ancient
Sumeria is proof that his city did indeed grant Gilgamesh immortality.
Read Rosenberg: pp: 459-477
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