What is the main theme of The Epic of Gilgamesh, and what is the historical background of Gilgamesh? Is it a believable story?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The main theme in The Epic of Gilgamesh is that wisdom and kindness are superior attainments to immortality, and immortality may symbolize all self-centered attainments such as strength and power. The story of Gilgamesh is founded on the life of an historical ruler in a kingdom called Uruk, near Sumeria, in circa 1600 B.C. The tales began as oral tales passed down from one highly trained and skillful story teller to the next generation of equally trained and skilled story tellers, who were considered the keepers of a culture's greatest historical figures and achievements.

Historians don't doubt the authenticity of Gilgamesh as an historical ruler, and the tales were first written down by Sumerian scribes in 2100 B.C. Though the standard opinion is that mythological figures such as gods and other immortals are untrue legends, there are those who believe stories of mythological gods represented true individuals and events, as propounded by Robin Lane Fox of Oxford University in Pagans and Christians (1987).

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kittythyme | Student, College Sophomore | (Level 1) eNoter

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You must throw away everything you value to gain immortality (including sleep apparently).

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robdyrdek23 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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that death is inevitable

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