Gilgamesh And The Sumerian Culture

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The cultural milieu of the Sumerians influences various aspects of the Mesopotamia civilization. Within the unification of religious beliefs and cultural elements, Sumerians introduce the oldest piece of literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh, to the literary world. The volume documents king Gilgamesh’s quest for redemption during unanticipated obstacles and internal struggles. Through cultural impacts of the ancient civilization, Gilgamesh embodies the Sumerians’ connection with gods, journeys of exploration, and their fear of death into the epic.

The Sumerians dedicate their studies to voyages and journeys as they created the earliest trade network over both land and sea. The geographical advantage of locating in the middle of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers allows the Sumerians to efficiently transport goods. Merchants trade gold and lapis lazuli by boats, sailing up and down the river to various ports. Within the inspiration drawn from the Sumerian civilization, the epic conveys the essential component of traveling into the storyline development. Gilgamesh travels a great distance with Enkidu to kill the monster Humbaba and searches for divinity. The journeys of Gilgamesh reflect the well-developed navigation skills of the ancient Sumerians and their voyages.

The gods of the Sumerian culture play vital roles in the epic. The citizens of Uruk plead with Anu, the God of Heaven, to restrain Gilgamesh’s tyrannical actions, indicating gods as the protectors of all individuals. Though, Gilgamesh and Enkidu display the consequences of disobeying the gods when they killed the Bull of Heaven, which leads to Enkidu’s death. The epic unveils the respect and fears the Sumerians possess for the gods. Sumerians built many temples known as the ziggurats, as they pray and strengthen the connection with the gods.

The fear of death is a never-ending conflict for humankind. However, the self-preservation that is built upon the natural incentive of fear can restrict people from corrupt actions. The code of Hammurabi exercises that fear to create obedience among the citizens. Sumerians builder under the rule of Hammurabi’s code fears for their survival; therefore, they work extra precisely to avoid mistakes and punishments. Similar to the ideology of Hammurabi, Gilgamesh’s transformation happened when he is forced to confront his fatality. Gilgamesh begins to resist sinful actions and temptations in fears of death. The Sumerians’ perception of death influences how Gilgamesh seeks salvation and immortality. The excessive emotions tormenting Gilgamesh exemplifies the internal struggle of Sumerians who challenges mortality.

The historical environment that contributes to The Epic of Gilgamesh portrays the daily life of the Sumerian society. From the prosperous trade system to a valuable relationship with gods, Sumerians’ cultural background produces Gilgamesh, a person who displays his fear of death and strives to seek eternity.

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