Gilgamesh's "second self and faithful companion. Arruru fashions Enkidu out of clay in the image of Anu. Enkidu is a "wild," primitive, or uncivilized man who has both the hardened physique and virtue of Ninurta, the god of war; the long hair of Ninursa, goddess of corn; and the hairy body of Samuqan, god of cattle. Enkidu runs freely with the animals and lives in the wilderness until he meets a Trapper, whose snares Enkidu has destroyed, at a well. The Trapper's father suggests that the Trapper bring a woman to appease the wild man sexually. After a courtesan initiates Enkidu into the ways of civilization, Enkidu is taken to Uruk, where the populace looks to him to deliver them from the abuses of the king. Having foretold Enkidu's arrival in a dream, Gilgamesh postpones his marriage to Ishtar, goddess of love, and meets Enkidu in the streets, where they fight. After a fierce struggle, Gilgamesh finally throws Enkidu but finds him a worthy opponent. The two become inseparable companions from that point on. Enkidu accompanies Gllgamesh on Gilgamesh's greatest quests: to the Forest of the Cedars to slay Humbaba and to Uruk to defeat the Bull of Heaven. After Enkidu and Gilgamesh kill Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven, Enkidu has a dream in which a council of the gods decrees that one of the two companions must die. Enkidu awakens, falls ill, and eventually dies. Seeing his own mortality in the death of his friend, Gilgamesh begins another series of adventures, this time...
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The protagonist or main character of the Epic of Gilgamesh. An historical figure who ruled Uruk around 2700 B.C., Gilgamesh is the child of Lugulbanda, a divine king, and Ninsun, and in the Epic's famous words, "Two thirds they made him god and one third man" (1. 61). Gilgamesh is the semi-divine king of Uruk; the special charge of Shamash, the sun god; sometime consort of Ishtar, goddess of love; and builder of the mighty city of Uruk and its great temple Eanna. Originally the subject of at least five ancient Sumerian myths, Gilgamesh becomes the main character in a Babylonian revision of those earlier stories. In later myths he is a judge of the underworld and is sometimes called its king.
The Epic of Gilgamesh narrates the transformation of Gilgamesh from a selfish and thoughtless young ruler into a wise and well-loved king and reveals Gilgamesh's gradual understanding of his own mortality. Seeing that Gilgamesh mistreats his people, the gods create a companion for him, a "second self" (1.62), who will be his equal. This companion is Enkidu, the civilized "wild man" with whom Gilgamesh forms a powerful bond after defeating him in a wrestling match. The companions share extraordinary heroic experiences. Gilgamesh's first adventure is to defeat evil Humbaba, the guardian of the Cedar Forest, and capture the mighty cedars for his city. After a fierce struggle, and with Enkidu's encouragement, Gilgamesh kills the giant Humbaba. Soon...
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Favored by the god Ea, Utnapishtim is warned of Enlil's plan to destroy humanity through a flood. Utnapishtim, at Ea's command, builds a huge square boat, seven decks high and one-hundred twenty cubits per side, in seven days. He seals it with pitch, stores away supplies, and ''loaded into her all that I had of gold and of living things, my family, my kin, the beasts of the field both wild and tame, and all the craftsmen" (1. 109). He rides out the six-day storm and then sets three birds free—a dove, a swallow, and a raven. When the raven does not return, he knows the crisis is over and he offers a sacrifice to the gods. In restitution for his thoughtless punishment of humanity, Enlil blesses Utnapishtim and his wife, grants them immortality, and places them "in the distance at the mouth of the rivers" (1. 113). Thus, the once-mortal Utnapishtim, now called Utnapishtim the "faraway" or Utnapishtim the "distant," becomes immortal and the object of Gilgamesh's final quest.
After Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh seeks Utnapishtim for the secret of eternal life. As a test, Utnapishtim challenges Gilgamesh to remain awake for seven days and nights, which Gilgamesh cannot do. So, Utnapishtim gives Gilgamesh the location of a secret plant, ''The Old Men Are Young Again'' (1. 116), which will bring those who eat it back to their youthful state, and sends him home to Uruk. While Gilgamesh is resting at a well during the return trip, a serpent steals the flower, sheds...
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The storm god, who endows Gilgamesh with courage at his birth.
Wife of Anu, the sky god or god of the heavens, and mother of Ishtar. Ishtar complains to her parents Anu and Antum when Gilgamesh refuses her offer of marriage and describes how she has abused her previous lovers.
God of the firmament, the patron god of Uruk, husband of Antun, and father of Ishtar. The Epic of Gilgamesh opens with a description of "the temple of blessed Eanna for the god of the firmament Anu'' (1. 61). Gilgamesh calls a meteor that falls in his dream portending Enkidu's arrival "the stuff of Anu" (1.66).
Gods of the underworld or the seven judges of hell. Their sacred dwellings are in the Forest of Cedars guarded by Humbaba. They also appear in Utnapishtim's account of the great flood as forerunners of the storm.
The fresh or sweet waters beneath the earth, governed by Ea.
Bull of Heaven
A legendary beast, the personification of seven years of drought unleashed upon Uruk by Ishtar in response to Gilgamesh's refusal to marry her. In one of their epic battles, Gilgamesh and Enkidu defeat the Bull of Heaven, who represents famine and natural disaster.
Probably a temple courtesan in the cult of Ishtar at the great temple Eanna. The Courtesan is the woman Gilgamesh sends back with the...
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