Lost Knowledge

The Flood of Gilgamesh: An Apocalyptic Legend from Ancient Mesopotamia

The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest epic poems in human history, dating back to ancient Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) around 2100 BCE. The poem tells the story of Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, and his journey to find eternal life in the face of an impending flood that threatens to destroy the world.

The story begins with Gilgamesh, who is two-thirds god and one-third man, ruling the city of Uruk with tyranny and hubris. The people of Uruk pray to the gods to send them a companion who can challenge Gilgamesh and help him become a better king. The gods answer their prayers by creating Enkidu, a wild man who lives in the wilderness with the animals.

After a series of adventures together, Gilgamesh and Enkidu become friends and embark on a journey to the Cedar Forest to defeat the demon Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven, both of whom are sent by the gods to test Gilgameshs worthiness. After their victories, the goddess Ishtar, who is infatuated with Gilgamesh, proposes marriage to him, but he rejects her.

In revenge, Ishtar appeals to her father, the god Anu, to release the Bull of Heaven to destroy Uruk. Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the bull, but Enkidu dies as punishment for the gods. Gilgamesh, devastated by the death of his friend, sets out on a journey to find Utnapishtim, the survivor of a great flood sent by the gods to destroy the world and the only one who has been granted eternal life.

Gilgamesh faces many challenges on his journey and eventually reaches Utnapishtim, who tells him the story of the flood and how he was able to survive it and achieve immortality. Utnapishtim reveals that immortality is not for mere mortals like Gilgamesh and that he should be content with the time he has on earth.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a powerful and timeless story that explores the themes of mortality, the search for eternal life, and the fear of an impending apocalypse. It also serves as a reminder that no matter how powerful and great we may be, we are still human and must accept our mortality. The story of Gilgameshs journey is not just an ancient Mesopotamian myth but still resonates with people today as it speaks to universal human anxieties and desires.

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