I'm supposed to write a short essay comparing excerpts of Book of the Dead and the Epic of Gilgamesh. I'm also supposed to write about whether any ideas in them relate to modern society. Here's a...

I'm supposed to write a short essay comparing excerpts of Book of the Dead and the Epic of Gilgamesh. I'm also supposed to write about whether any ideas in them relate to modern society. Here's a link to the assignment: https://docs.google.com/document/d/109cE1OWCOOw8diJ_UJStX_6B5PSDKa1gAHVJoVpuJSU/edit?usp=sharing

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A good strategy for your essay would be to focus on the idea of the relationship between power and justice and responsibility. 

In Gilgamesh, we see a king with absolute power. In addition to being a ruler, he is immensely strong and intelligent. Before the creation of Enkidu, he abused this power, mistreating his servants and the people of Uruk. The gods and his friend Enkidu gradually persuade him that becoming a good king is not just a matter of winning wars and erecting great monuments, but about charity and justice. In ancient Mesopotamian society, Gilgamesh and subsequent kings were believed to hold powers as almost stewards of the gods, responsible for carrying out divine charity and justice in the kingdoms they held at the gods' will. It was this ethical element that conferred legitimacy on kings. Your reading states:

The father of the gods has given you kingship,  ... He has given you unexampled supremacy over the people, victory in battle ... But do not abuse this power, deal justly with your servants in the palace, ...

Similarly, in the Book of the Dead, the deceased are judged on the basis of honesty, charity, and lawfulness, especially in the way they treat their inferiors, For example, one must attest to the goddess after death:

I have not defrauded the poor man of his goods.... I have caused no man to suffer. I have allowed no man to go hungry.

For your conclusion, you might discuss what sort of mechanisms ensure that the wealthy and powerful behave justly in modern society.

Read the study guide:
Gilgamesh

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