Summary of the Epic of Gilgamesh, philosophical problems, analysis
All nationalities have their heroes. In ancient Mesopotamia such a celebrated hero was King Gilgamesh - warlike and wise, seeking immortality. Found signs with letters that tell about him, perhaps, are the very first monument of literary craftsmanship.
Who is Gilgamesh?
The legend of Gilgamesh is also pricelesssource of knowledge about the beliefs of the Sumerians. In ancient Mesopotamia, Tsar Uruk (strong and developed at that time populated city-kingdom) was cruel in his youth Gilgamesh. He was strong, stubborn, and did not respect the gods. His power was so superior to the power of the earthly man that he could overcome the bull or lion with one hand, as did the biblical hero Samson. He could go to another side of the world to perpetuate his name; and swim across the sea of Death, to give people the hope of an immortal life on earth.
Most likely, after his death, the peoplehighly exalted in the legends of his king, that he called him two-thirds god, and only one-third - man. He attained such veneration through an inordinate thirst to find the gods and demand eternal life. It is this story that describes the Babylonian legend of Gilgamesh.
This legend about a hero who has learned many troubles in wanderings, is analyzed by philosophers and theologians, in the hope of finding answers to eternal questions about life and death that the Sumerians probably knew.
Friend of Gilgemes - Enkidu
Another main hero of the epic - a strong Enkidu,who came from the gods to kill Gilgamesh. So cruelly the king of Uruk treated the people, that people prayed the supreme goddess to create an opponent for his king, so that the young warrior had much to do with young fervor and militant force.
And created the goddess of the Sumer at the request of the sufferinghalf-beast and half-man. And he received the name of Enkidu - the son of Enki. He came to fight and defeat Gilgamesh. But when he failed to defeat the opponent in a duel, Enkidu and Gilgamesh resigned themselves to the fact that their mighty forces are the same. Subsequently, Gilgemesh became the best friend of Enkidu. And Gilgamesh even brought him to his mother, the goddess Ninsun, so that she blessed the half-beast as a brother to her son.
Together with Enkidu, the hero went to the land of cedars. Apparently, the country of cedars was called modern Lebanon. There they killed the guard of the cedar forest - Humbaba, for which Enki's son suffered.
According to legend, he died of a disease 12heavy days instead of Gilgamesh himself. The tsar bitterly mourned for his close friend. But Gilgamesh himself was destined to continue his journey on earth. A brief account of the epic about Gilgamesh gives an idea of how greatly changed the friendship with this being of the irreverent of the gods of Gilgamesh. And after the death of this hero, the king was radically transformed again.
Tablets with legends
Scientists of all countries are interested in the question of wherean epic about Gilgamesh was created. The epic was written on clay tablets. There is a suggestion that a legend is written somewhere in the 22nd century. BC. Twelve tablets with cuneiform texts were discovered at the end of the 19th century. The very first of them (the one that tells about the flood) was found during the excavations of the library of the ancient Assyrian king Shurbanipalla. At that time the city of Nineveh was at this place. And now it is the territory of present-day Iraq.
And then the explorer George Smith recoveredSearch for other tables on the territory of the Ancient Sumer. In total there are 12 songs in the epic, each of which has 3,000 verse lines of text. Now all these clay tablets are kept in the English museum of world history.
Later, after the death of D. Smith, other tablets were found and deciphered. The Sumerian "Epic of Gilgamesh" was found in Syriac, Akkadian and 2 other ancient languages.
Who wrote the epic: versions
Who wrote the poem, Assyriologist scientists are unknown. The legend of a hero who can bear the most terrible burdens for the sake of a higher goal is Sumer's most valuable book. Some legends say that Gilgamesh himself, after his arrival from unknown countries, undertook to write with a chisel on clay about his adventures, so that their ancestors did not forget about them. But this is an unlikely version. A man who possessed the artist's thinking and artistic style could write the poem, he who believed in the power of the word, and not of the weapon.
Someone in the people who possessed a clear literarytalent, united all the scattered legends in a single story and wrote it in the form of a poem. This poem about Gilgamesh, which has survived to this day, is considered to be the first literary work.
A brief summary of the epic about Gilgamesh
The poem about Gilgamesh begins with the description of that,as a young and eccentric king conquered Uruk and refused to obey the king of the city Kish Agge. Together with the young warriors, he defends his kingdom, orders to build a stone wall around the city. This is the first mention of Gilgamesh. Further in the myth is told about Gilgamesh and the tree huluppu (willow planted on the bank of the Euphrates by the gods), in the trunk of which the demoness Lilith was hiding. And at the root of a tree planted by the gods, a huge snake burrowed. Gilgamesh is shown here as a brave defender who did not allow to destroy a mighty tree, beloved by the Assyrian goddess of love Inanna.
When the goddess of fertility Ishtar (Isis of the Greeks)appreciated the courage of the young king, she ordered him to become her husband. But Gilgamesh refused, for which the gods sent to the land of a formidable and huge bull, eager to destroy the hero. Gilgamesh, along with a faithful and hardy friend, overcome the bull, as well as the giant Humbaba.
And the king's mother, when he conceived a campaign, wasextremely anxious and asked not to go into battle against Humbaba. But still Gilgamesh did not listen to anyone, but decided everything himself. Together with a friend they defeat the giant guarding the cedar forest. They cut down all the trees, uproot the huge roots. Friends did not use these trees either for construction or for anything else. Cedars have in the epic only some sacred meaning.
Then, for killing a giant and cutting down the sacredforests of the gods kill Enkidu. He died of an unexplored illness. Despite all pleas, the gods did not have mercy on the half-star. Thus tells the Sumerian epic about Gilgamesh.
Gilgamesh puts on a rag and goes toan unknown path, in order to find true knowledge of what death is, and to entice the higher forces of eternal life. He crossed the waters of death, was not afraid to come to another of its banks, where Utnapishtim lived. He told Gilgamesh about the flower that grows on the bottom of the sea of Death. Only one who tears off a wonderful flower, can prolong his life, but still not forever. Gilgamesh binds heavy stones to strong legs, and rushes into the sea.
He managed to find a flower. However, on his way home he plunges into a cool pond, and leaves the flower on the shore unattended. And at this time the snake steals a flower, in the eyes of the hero becoming younger. And Gilgamesh returned home, defeated by his defeat. After all, he never allowed himself to lose. Here is a brief summary of the epic about Gilgamesh.
The Biblical Flood in the Legend of the Ancient Sumer
The first ruler of the city of Uruk existedcertainly. The myth of Gilgamesh is not exactly an invention. However, after thousands of years, the image of a real person and fiction merged so that it is not possible to divide these images today.
The poem about Gilgamesh contains a detailed story aboutThe Flood. Walking along the path that is open to only one Sun, Gilgamesh comes for answers to his questions to the kingdom of Utnapishtim - one among immortal people. The prefect of Utnapishtim, who knew all the secrets, told him about a terrible flood in ancient times and built by the ship of salvation. The prototype of the predecessor Utnapishtim is the Old Testament Noah. Whence the Sumerians know this story about the Biblical flood, it is incomprehensible. But according to biblical legends, Noah really lived more than 600 years, and could be considered immortal for representatives of other nations.
Found in lands that were previouslyAssyrian "The Legend of Gilgamesh, about all who saw" - a discovery of unprecedented importance, as it provides food for thought. This legend is compared in meaning with the "Book of the Dead" by the Egyptian people and even the Bible.
The main idea of the poem
The idea of the poem is not new. Transformation of the character of the hero is inherent in many old legends. For such studies, the epic about Gilgamesh is especially valuable. An analysis of the beliefs of the Sumerians, their perceptions of life and gods, their notions of what life is like after death - all this continues to be investigated up to now.
What is the main idea traced in the legend? As a result of his wanderings, Gilgamesh does not get what he was looking for. At the end of the legend, as the myth of Gilgamesh describes, the flower of immortality turns out to be in a cunning snake. But the spiritual life in the hero of the epic is born. From now on, he believes that immortality is possible.
The summary of the epic about Gilgamesh is notis subject to strict logical exposition. Therefore, there is no way to trace consistently how the hero developed, what his interests were. But the legend says that Gilgamesh aspired to fame like no one else. Therefore, he goes to a dangerous battle with the giant Humbaba, from whom the hero is saved only by a request to the god Shamash of his mother-goddess. God Shamash raises the wind, gazing the giants, and so helps the heroes in their victory. But Gilgamesh needs glory again. He goes further. Goes into the waters of death.
Yet at the end of the poem the king attains peace of mind,when he sees almost ready walls around the kingdom of Uruk. His heart rejoiced. The hero of the epic discovers the wisdom of being, which says of the infinity of the soul, working for the sake of others. Gilgamesh feels relieved - he was able to do something for future generations.
He listened to the advice of the gods that he was given to him in the garden: a man is mortal by nature, and one must appreciate his short life, be able to rejoice in what is given.
Analysis of some of the philosophical problems raised in the epic
Heir to the throne and the hero in so ancientsource, as a poem about Gilgamesh, passes through various tests and is transformed. If in the beginning the king appears in the image of an unbridled, willful and cruel youth, then after the death of the Enkidu he is already capable of heartfelt deep sorrow for a friend.
For the first time realizing the futility of existence,fearing the death of the body, the hero of the poem turns to the gods to learn the secrets of life and death. From now on, Gilgamesh can not just rule his people, he wants to know about the mystery of death. His soul comes to utter despair: how could the irrepressible power and energy in Enkid's body be lost? This fire of the soul leads the hero farther from his native land, gives strength to overcome unprecedented difficulties. This is how the epic of Gilgamesh is interpreted. The philosophical problems of being and non-being are also illuminated in these verses. Especially in the passage that says about the lost flower, supposedly giving the coveted immortality. This flower is clearly a philosophical symbol.
A more profound interpretation of this epic isthe transformation of the spirit. Gilgamesh from a man of the earth turns into a man of heaven. The image of Enkidu can be interpreted as the animal instincts of the king himself. And fighting with it means fighting with oneself. Ultimately, the king of Uruk conquers his lower principle, acquires the knowledge and qualities of the nature of the creature by two-thirds of the divine.
Comparison of the epic about Gilgamesh with the "Book of the Dead" by the Egyptians
A vivid allusion can be found in the history of the transitionGilgamesh through the waters of the dead with the help of Charon. Charon in Egyptian mythology is a deep, skinny old man who transports the deceased from the mortal world to another world and gets paid for it.
Also, the tale of Gilgamesh mentions that,what is the world of the dead according to the beliefs of the Assyrians. This is a dysfunctional abode where water does not flow, no plants grow. And people pay for all the deeds only during their lifetime. And his life is known to be short and meaningless: "Only the gods with the Sun will last forever, and man - his years are numbered ..."
The Egyptian "Book of the Dead" - papyrus, whererecorded a variety of spells. The second section of the book is devoted to how the souls fall into the underworld. But if Osiris decided that the soul did more good, she was released and allowed to be happy.
Gilgamesh after communicating with the gods sendback to his world. He goes to bathe, puts on clean clothes, and though he loses the flower of life, is in his native Uruk renewed, blessed with blessing.
Epic in the translation of Dyakonov
Russian orientalist I.M.Dyakonov in 1961 began to translate the epic. In his work, the translator relied on the already ready translation of V.K. Shileika. The epic about Gilgamesh turned out to be the most accurate. He worked a lot of ancient materials, and by this time it was already known to the scientific world that the prototype of the hero still existed.
This is a valuable literary and historical document -the epic of Gilgamesh. Translation Dyakonov reissued in 1973 and again already in 2006. His translation is the skill of philological genius, multiplied by the value of an ancient legend, a historical monument. Therefore, all those who have already read and appreciated the Babylonian legend, the tale of Gilgamesh, the reviews of the book have left remarkable ones.