What does the Epic of Gilgamesh say about the relationship between humanity and the divine?

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In the Epic of Gilgamesh, humanity and the divine are inextricably intertwined. The gods repeatedly intervene in the lives of men when their actions make them angry, and Gilgamesh himself is part divine. What is more, the gods are associated with physical places and people, for whom they act as patrons. Shamash is Gilgamesh's patron, for example, and Anu takes care of the town of Uruk.

The gods, like those in Greek mythology, are constantly scheming and plotting against each other, and people are often the unwitting victims, caught up in these mighty struggles. Likewise, they often hold humans collectively responsible for the offenses of just one person. When Gilgamesh spurns the goddess Ishtar's amorous advances, for example, she persuades her parents to unleash a divine bull on Uruk. 

In addition, the famous Flood itself, noted for its similarity to the Noahic story from the Old Testament, is the result of wrathful gods, angry, essentially, that mankind is too loud and clamorous. Only Utnapishtim, warned ahead of time by the goddess Ea to "take up into [a] boat the seed of all living creatures," survives with his family. Utnapishtim is rewarded with immortality for his exertions. The relationship between mortals and gods, therefore, is often contentious, and those who have not been chosen as favorites by the deities are condemned to suffer.



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