Analysis Of ' The Epic Of Gilgamesh '

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Voltaire once wrote, “There certainly is no useful or entertaining history but the history of the day. All ancient histories, as one of our wits has observed, are only fables that men have agreed to admit as true…1” No other genre is more appropriate to Voltaire’s quote than the epic. Epics in media are presented with high stakes, memorable heroes, and thought-provoking messages. They originated in preliterate societies and among the first epics is the ancient Mesopotamian poem called “The Epic of Gilgamesh”. Written during the Third Dynasty of Ur, “Gilgamesh” tells the adventures of the eponymous king as he befriends an intended rival created by a goddess, slays monsters, and embarks a personal and perilous quest for eternal life. The poem is widely considered the first great work in literature and it continues to inspire more epics to this day. But what is it that makes this masterpiece an epic? “The Epic of Gilgamesh” follows the basic conventions of the classic epic genre, such as legendary heroes, supernatural involvement, and stylistic writing.
An epic is a “long narrative poem in elevated style recounting the deeds of a legendary or historical hero.” 2 The foretold legendary hero is often one of great stature who demonstrates incredible acts of superhuman strength and undergoes a powerful transformation. Table I of the poem opens by illustrating deeds of Gilgamesh as he constructs the walls of Uruk and his characteristics. The semi-mythical king is introduced as an

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