What does the story of the flood in the epic of Gilgamesh tell you about ancient life in Mesopotamia? Would you expect the ancient Egyptians to tell a similar story?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first significant element of the story of the flood in the epic of Gilgamesh is that it occurs in the past, in an age before the "present" of Uruk in which Gilgamesh lives and Enkidu died. As is typical in most ancient epic, it attempts to account for human mortality as the fault of humanity, specifically actions by humans angering the gods who in response condemned humans not only to a limited lifespan but one involving toil and sorrow. The story shows a theocratic culture, in which the gods are not only anthropomorphic but interventionist, actively involved in every aspect of human life. The story also shows that the gods reward moral behavior and religious reverence and punish their opposites.

As Egypt had a similar close relationship between ruler and religion, one would expect a similar mythos of human fall, with mortality and suffering being due to human violation of divine commands and prerogatives.

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The Epic of Gilgamesh

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