Gilgamesh artwork
Ancient History Encyclopedia

Gilgamesh

  • 16:22
  • November 30th 2020

Gilgamesh written by Joshua J. Mark and narrated by DW Draffin: https://ancient.eu/gilgamesh/

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Gilgamesh is the semi-mythic King of Uruk in Mesopotamia best known from The Epic of Gilgamesh (written c. 2150 - 1400 BCE) the great Sumerian/Babylonian poetic work which pre-dates Homer’s writing by 1500 years and, therefore, stands as the oldest piece of epic world literature.


The motif of the quest for the meaning of life is first fully explored in Gilgamesh as the hero-king leaves his kingdom following the death of his best friend, Enkidu, to find the mystical figure Utnapishtim and gain eternal life. Gilgamesh's fear of death is actually a fear of meaninglessness and, although he fails to win immortality, the quest itself gives his life meaning. This theme has been explored by writers and philosophers from antiquity up to the present day.

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