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0riginally, Enkidu was part animal and part man. Discuss how the harlot transformed Enkidu into a human being by first seducing him and then luring him to civilization. Develop your ideas by referring to specific incidents in the story.
There are a number of dreams in the story of Gilgamesh. Pick a few and explain what roles they play in the story. Use specific examples from the story to support your ideas. You might want to look at the way Gilgamesh’s mother and Enkidu interpret Gilgamesh’s dreams.
Compare the characters of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Who was the more heroic? Why? Begin with an explanation of what YOU consider heroic and see if it is similar to what is considered heroic in the story. Support your argument with plenty of specific examples from the story.
Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s greatest adventures are against monstrous primary forces of nature: Humbaba and the Bull of the Sun, which are creatures of the gods. Discuss the role of monstrous creatures in Gilgamesh and pay attention to their close connections to the gods. Support your discussion with specific examples from the story.
After he lies dying, Enkidu curses the harlot, and then revokes his curse and blesses her. Do you think he was better off in his natural, animal state or as a civilized man? Support your opinion with specific examples from the story.
Underworlds are generally places of the dead, and/or of underground divinities. These places are dangerous and difficult for living persons to enter and hard to leave. There are actually TWO underworlds in the story of Gilgamesh: 1 – the underworld that Gilgamesh visits seeking immortality and 2 – the terrible underworld of death that Enkidu sees in a vision as he is dying. Examine each underworld closely and then try to explain why you think there are two such different “underworlds” in this ancient story. Use plenty of specific examples from both underworlds to support your ideas.
Both Gilgamesh and Enkidu slay Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven, yet the gods decide that Enkidu is the one who must die. Why? Support your argument with specific examples from the story, looking closely at the differences between gods and human beings.
Think about all of the various female characters in the story. Can you get any general ideas about the roles of women in ancient Sumeria from this? Explain, using examples from the text.
Review Utnapishtim’s story of the flood. What does Gilgamesh learn from this story about the nature of human beings and of the gods? Do you think there is a sense of divine justice for human beings here or not? Explain using specific examples from the story to support your ideas.
Although Gilgamesh wants to live forever, he cannot even stay awake for seven days, as Utnapishtim proves by having his wife bake seven loaves of bread while Gilgamesh sleeps. What is the point of this episode? What does Utnapishtim teach Gilgamesh about immortality? Would anyone really want this kind of immortality? Support your answers using specific examples from the story to support your ideas.
When Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh nearly goes mad with grief. He sits by the body until it begins to decay, he puts on the skins of animals (such as Enkidu probably once wore), and he searches the wilderness and the underworld for the secret of immortality. Do you think this is because of his love for Enkidu and his desire to bring him back, or do you think this is because Gilgamesh has finally recognized his own mortality and is terrified? Support your answer with specific examples from the text.
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