answer the questions in word



(ca. 1900-250 B.C.E.)

Trans. N. K. Sandars

Things to Consider:

  • Maps of Mesopotamia

  • Conventions of Epic Poetry (see pp. 36)

    • Oral tradition: repetition of key words and phrases, monologues

    • Focus on National Hero

    • Intervention of Gods in Human Affairs

    • Motifs:

      • Mourning for a friend

      • Return after challenging adventures

      • God’s council and preferences

  • Relationship between Gods and Humans, Gods and Gods

  • Glory and Immortality

  • Role of Enkidu, in life and death

  • The Flood

  • Position of Women in Society

  • Dreams

  • See discussion of some secondary sources

** Homework Questions ** (See 2nd

and 3rd

Sets of Q’s


Background Questions:

(Norton Introduction):


  • Where is/was Uruk?

  • On what material(s) do the oldest existing versions of the story of Gilgamesh exist?

  • When did the historical Gilgamesh likely rule?


  • What is the etymology of the word “epic”? To what does the term refer?

  • What are some of the characteristics of Greek epics? Which of these characteristics does



  • In what way, according to the editors, does


    differ from the Homeric epic tradition?


  • When and how did the


    epic disappear?

  • When, where, and by whom was the


    epic rediscovered?





“The Birth of Epic Poetry”

  • What, according to the text, are some of the major concerns and themes of the




  • Describe
    the relationship between gods and kings in the Sumerian world and what
    Gilgamesh does in the epic to perform his part in the relationship.

Other Discussion Questions:

(Norton Introduction):


  • In what language were the earliest versions of the epic written?


  • What is cuneiform?

  • Where is Mesopotamia?

  • What is a millennium?

  • When, where, and by whom was the definitive revision of the epic written?





  • What, according to the introduction, characterized the Mesopotamian gods?

  • What, according to the introduction, was the relationship between Mesopotamian kings and the gods?


  • Describe the Mesopotamian cosmos.


“The Lady of Heaven”

  • Describe Inana/Ishtar/Astarte.


  • Describe the relationship of the earthly king and Inana.

Chapter One (pge #s refer to pdf):


  • What kind of king is Gilgamesh? Explain.


  • Explain Gilgamesh’s dreams.


  • Why does Enkidu fight Gilgamesh? Explain.

Chapter Two:


  • Why do Enkidu and Gilgamesh decide to fight Humbaba? Explain.

Chapter Three:


  • Why does Gilgamesh refuse Ishtar’s

    offer of marriage?


  • Why do Enkidu and Gilgamesh kill the Bull of Heaven?


  • Why must Enkidu die?


  • What is the significance of Enkidu’s dream?


  • Why does Enkidu believe he will die in shame?

Other Discussion Questions:

Chapter One:


  • Why do the animals run from Enkidu after he sleeps with Shamhat?

Chapter Two:


  • Who is Shamash? Why does Ninsun offer him sacrifices?


  • Explain Gilgamesh’s dreams.


  • Why does Enkidu tell Gilgamesh to ignore Humbaba’s pleas for mercy?

Chapter Three:


  • Who is Ishullanu? How does he respond to Ishtar’s offer of love?


  • Explain the curses Enkidu pronounces.


  • Why does take back his curse of Shamhat?


  • Why does Enkidu believe that Aruru has cursed him?


  • What is the significance of Gilgamesh’s plan to put on a lion’s skin?

** Homework Questions, pt. 2 **

Chapter Four



  • Who is Utnapishtim? Why has Gilgamesh sought him?


  • Explain Gilgamesh’s interactions with the Man-Scorpion.


  • Explain Gilgamesh’s interaction with Siduri.


  • Why does Gilgamesh attack Urshanabi’s boat?

Chapter Five:


  • How does Utnapishtim’s story compare to Noah’s?

    (See News Story


Chapter Six:



  • What is Gilgamesh’s first test? How does he do? Why?

  • Why does Utnapishtim banish Urshanabi?


  • Where does he get the plant that restores youth? What happens to it?

Chapter Seven:


  • What is the final “moral” to this story?

Additional (More in-depth) Questions (Respond to 5 for credit):

  • Does Gilgamesh ultimately find Consolation for his Grief? Explain.

  • How would you characterize the relationship of humans to divine beings in

    The Epic of Gilgamesh

    What characteristics are described as “god-like”? What qualities (if
    any) divide humans from gods and goddesses? Is an intermediate status
    possible, and what are its limits?

  • Describe the
    relationships among the different gods. Do all the gods have equal
    power or is there some sort of hierarchy? Explain.

  • One
    of the most intriguing characters in the Epic is the woman who causes
    Enkidu’s transformation from natural man to civilized man. Describe this
    woman and suggest what her role might indicate about the process of
    becoming civilized, or the role of women in early Mesopotamian cultures?

  • What clues does the

    Epic of Gilgamesh

    present about the political values of early Mesopotamian society? Is
    Gilgamesh a good king or a bad king? What qualities define good kings?
    Are those qualities learned as skills or life-lessons, or are they
    inherited or “natural” qualities?

  • Describe the
    significance of the “raging bull” images and its different uses. To what
    characters or figures is it usually applied? What does it represent?

  • Does Enkidu fulfill his original purpose? Explain.
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