Saturday, January 2, 2010

one



Gilgamesh

I figured I'd start with the first recorded story. I guess when I thought about Gilgamesh as an epic, my usual understanding of epics caused me to think that it'd be... longer and more convoluted.


It's the age-old story of demigod-tyrant-meets-nature-demigod, they discover they're similar, they try to kill each other, they decide to become best friends, the tyrant decides to kill some evil monster while the nature guy doesn't want to but goes along with it anyway, they kill it, the nature guy dies of his injuries, and the tyrant goes on an epic quest to bring nature guy back to life. He fails, and the story ends.


The series of events has some big logical gaps that, to be charitable, are likely because they discovered the cuneiform tablets and had to piece together parts of the story. What was most interesting to me is the modern metaphors that still reverberate 5000 years later.


"I have seen death as a total stranger sees another person's world or as a freak sees whom the gods created when they were drunk on too much wine"

"Like those old people who forget their listeners have not lived through their past with them mentioning names that no one knows"


It's somehow comforting to know that writers (or oral storytellers) that long ago had a sense of humor about religion, and that younger people still thought old folks rambled on.

The bits about the scorpion people, prostitutes ruining nature men for their animal friends, evil gods, Bulls of Heaven... I suppose they haven't stood the test of time as well. But they were interesting.

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