Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Fate of Mankind; The Issue of My Friend

The Epic of Gilgamesh is almost always credited with being the oldest written story in the world.  It's a fantastic story, and if you've never read this - mankind's first piece of writing - I highly recommend it.

We've been studying ancient civilizations, so it's only appropriate that we take a peek inside Mesopotamia's most famous book - and their most famous super-hero.

Since the book was written in Cuneiform, it was written on clay tablets.  We only read a portion from Tablet 10, the translation of which comes from San Jose State University's webpage.  You can read what we read HERE.  It's only a page, and it will give you some context for this post.

In the portion we read today, Gilgamesh is afraid.  Gilgamesh - this EPIC warrior - is afraid.  Terrified.  The guy who challenged the gods.  The guy who killed Humbaba (the body-guard to the gods), the guy who killed the Bull of Heaven: he's afraid.  The text says his cheeks are emaciated, his expression is desolate and his features are haggard.  From fear.

We've all dealt with fear before.  Sometimes it's embarrassing, right?  I shared this picture with most of my students:

Most of us aren't as fearless as Gilgamesh.  Why is he afraid?  What is he scared of?  What is "the fate of mankind" that so terrifies him?  And why does it terrify him?  And if it's something that scares one such as Gilgamesh, is it something I should fear as well?

If you were in class today, you know your job: read and discuss the blog with an adult.  Tell them what we talked about in class.  What was it that Gilgamesh feared?  What was the fate of Enkidu, his friend?  Is it a legitimate fear?  Why or why not?  After your done discussing, write a short paragraph about your discussion.  Have the adult you discussed it with sign the paper, and turn it in tomorrow.

If you weren't in class, read the section of the story we read today: found here.  Then write me a paragraph telling me what it is Gilgamesh fears.  Give me 3 examples from the text that support your conclusion.  You don't have to do all this with your parents or an adult.  Just turn it in when you return to school.  

Not to show my hand too much, but this is what we'll be talking about tomorrow as well.  Part of the point I'm trying to get across (aside from teaching ancient texts from the civilizations we're studying) is the commonality humanity shares across both time and cultures.

The fears of Gilgamesh are the same as the Pharaohs.  The same as Emperor Qin, who drank the mercury and jade.  The same as Juan Ponce de Leon - or at least, the legend of him which says he was searching for the Fountain of Youth.  ...And it's the same as one of our newest heros: Augustus Waters.  This is one of the major themes of The Fault in Our Stars, right?  Raise your hand if you've read it.  The point is, maybe we're not so far removed from the Mesopotamians after all.


  1. The Epic of Gilgamesh An Animation by "staging shakespeare" it's a appropriate thing to show in class but alittle violent at parts but u can see for ur self.its luke by the way I just dident want to make an account

    1. Thanks Luke. I'll check it out.

    2. Here's the link, if anybody else wants to watch it: