Textbook Leftovers

Posts Tagged ‘interpretation of dreams

Part 2 of Gilgamesh picks up without interlude after the fight and conciliation of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. One assumes that time has passed, because they seem to have developed a deep friendship. Gilgamesh has a dream and Enkidu interprets it. Gilgamesh’s dream enforces the gods’ desires for him to rule Uruk (mandate of heaven), but that he is not destined to acquire everlasting life. The phrasing in this translation seems to imply that maybe some people are given this destiny. Finally, Gilgamesh is encouraged to not abuse his power.

More time seems to pass, and Enkidu has a complaint. All play and no work has made him unhappy and weak. In answer to this, Gilgamesh decides that now is a good time to head to the Country of the Living, also called the Land of Cedars. My assumption is that this is a poetic name for Lebanon, well known in ancient times for their cedar forests.

Gilgamesh waxes eloquent about his ambitions to attack and destroy Humbaba, a gigantic creature who guards the Forest. Enkidu has misgivings (he’s terrified, actually), and Gilgamesh insists. Their frank discussion serves as an example of friendship – two men honestly offering viewpoints and discussing them. Gilgamesh eventually “wins” the discussion (although really it seems like Enkidu gives in). Read the rest of this entry »

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If I’d been randomly choosing a place to begin an adventure through world literature, I could hardly have chosen a better outset than Gilgamesh.

Reaching all the way back to practically the dawn of civilization, the historical Gilgamesh was king of Uruk (in modern-day southern Iraq, on the Euphrates) in about 2700 BC. That’s about 5000 years ago. The epic narrative of his exploits was in development for thousands of years in the oral tradition, and was luckily recorded on clay tablets before the entire thing was lost to the sands of time. It remained lost until around 1870 AD when it was accidentally rediscovered by archaeologists.

Due to the length of this narrative, I’ll be dealing with it in segments. Today, we confront the Prologue and Part One.

The narrative begins with praise to what seems to be a bad king (I hesitate to call him evil, but he’s painted in pretty harsh colors). His people call out to the gods in their oppression, and the gods confer amongst themselves. They decide that man is not meant to be alone, and they create a soulmate for him: “…now create his equal; let it be as like him as his own reflection, his second self, stormy heart for stormy heart. Let them contend together and leave Uruk in quiet.” Read the rest of this entry »