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The Epic of Gilgamesh

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What is the importance of the excerpts from The Epic of Gilgamesh?

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Aside from uncovering valuable information about the Mesopotamian civilization, The Epic of Gilgamesh is also important for its insight on human emotion and lessons about humanity.

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One of the main reasons why it's important to read The Epic of Gilgamesh, be it the entire poem or just excerpts from it, is that it is the oldest and most notable example of not just Ancient Mesopotamian literature, but literature in general; the epic poem is actually considered to be the oldest preserved written literary work as well as the first example of epic literature, with Gilgamesh is the first epic hero. The poem is also valuable to history, as it gives great insight into the Mesopotamian civilization and the Sumerian culture.

The epic poem tells the story of the various adventures of Gilgamesh, the powerful, ambitious, and selfish king of Uruk who is two-thirds god and one-third human, and Enkidu, Gilgamesh's closest friend and companion who is his equal in many ways. Once Gilgamesh loses Enkidu, however, he also loses all hope and allows grief to consume him, so he embarks on a journey to find immortality.

Thus, another important reason to read The Epic of Gilgamesh is its main message. The poem teaches the readers about the power of love and the importance of friendship and family, the importance of identity and self-discovery, the purpose of life, and the true meaning of immortality. On his quest to find immortality, Gilgamesh realizes that death is inevitable and that how we welcome it uncovers our true nature.

We must accept our mortality and our humanity and realize that the true purpose of life comes from within. The moment we try to control the process of life and disturb its natural course by unlocking the secret of immortality or eternity is the moment we lose ourselves and our way.

Gilgamesh's story may be mythical, but Gilgamesh as a character and his moral and emotional growth is relatable to all who have experienced love and loss as well as to those who seek meaning and try to discover themselves and define who they really are.

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