Composition of the Gilgamesh Epic (Great Events from History: The Ancient World, Prehistory-476)
Article abstract: The composition of the oldest surviving epic poem captured Sumerian myth and legend and provided significant comparisons with the later Old Testament.
Summary of Event
The Gilgamesh epic (translated into English as Gilgamesh Epic, 1917) is the oldest extant epic poem and Gilgamesh, legendary king of Uruk, the first literary hero in history. Apart from the similarity of the flood episode to the account given in Genesis 7 of the Bible, Gilgamesh is worthy of study because he reveals the typical pessimism and insecurity felt by man more than twelve hundred years before the time of the Greek poet Homer.
It has been proved by quotations discovered on early Sumerian tablets of the third millennium that parts of the epic existed then, but the main portion was probably composed around 2000 b.c.e. Episodes are written on a large number of cuneiform clay tablets of varying dates unearthed at various places in the Near East, but an almost complete version, consisting of twelve tablets of about three hundred lines each, comes from the library of Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria from 669 to c. 627 b.c.e. The simplicity and clarity of the tale indicates that it was probably designed for recitation rather than reading, and the Semitic parallelism of phrases is characteristic of the ancient epic style.
(The entire section is 1544 words.)
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