The Epic of Gilgamesh Questions and Answers

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What does The Epic of Gilgamesh reveal to us about Mesopotamian culture and religion?

Aspects of Mesopotamian culture and religion that The Epic of Gilgamesh reveals are that Mesopotamian peoples were polytheistic, believed that the gods interacted with humans in ways such as executing justice and producing offspring with them, and lived in a stratified and sophisticated society.

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One thing that The Epic of Gilgamesh tells us about ancient Mesopotamian society is the god-like status it accorded to kings. Gilgamesh isn't just the ruler of Uruk; he is two-thirds god and one-third man. This divine nature gives him the right to rule over his people however he pleases. Such vast untrammeled power is wide open to abuse, and Gilgamesh abuses his power by terrorizing his people, especially young women, who are regularly violated by their monstrous king.

But because Gilgamesh is two-thirds god, no one dares to challenge his reign of terror. It's only when the gods themselves intervene, by creating Enkidu, that Gilgamesh is finally forced to change his ways. This tells us a lot about Mesopotamian society and its values. People instinctively look to the gods, rather than their rulers, to right wrongs. Kings can be good, bad, or indifferent, but only the gods can bring about justice in the long-term, through directly intervening in human affairs.

Such a passive mindset explains...

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