|0riginally, Enkidu was part animal and part man. Discuss how
the harlot transformed Enkidu into a human being by first seducing him and then luring him
to civilization. Develop your ideas by referring to specific incidents in the story.
|As he lies dying, Enkidu curses the harlot, and then revokes
his curse and blesses her. Do you think he was better off in his natural, animal, state,
or as a civilized man? Support your opinion with specific examples from the story.
|Underworlds are generally places of the dead, and/or of
underground divinities. These places are dangerous and difficult for living persons to
enter and hard to leave. Why does Gilgamesh go to the underworld, and what does he learn
there? Use specific examples from the story to support your main points.
|There are actually TWO underworlds in the story of
Gilgamesh: 1) the underworld that Gilgamesh visits seeking immortality
and 2) the terrible underworld of death that Enkidu sees in a vision as
he is dying. Examine each underworld closely and then try to explain why
you think there are two such different "underworlds" in this ancient
story. Do they have different purposes? Is one only for immortals? Use
plenty of specific examples from both underworlds to support your ideas.
|Both Gilgamesh and Enkidu slay Humbaba and the Bull of
Heaven, yet the gods decide that Enkidu is the one who must die. Why? Support your
argument with specific examples from the story, looking closely at the differences between
gods and human beings.
|There are a number of dreams in the story of Gilgamesh. List
them and then explain what roles they play in the story. Use specific examples from the
story to support your ideas. Be sure to look at the way Gilgamesh's mother
and Enkidu interpret Gilgamesh's
dreams. How is this different from the way people interpret dreams now?
|Compare the characters of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Who was the
more heroic? Why? Begin with an explanation of what YOU consider heroic and see if it is
similar to what is considered heroic in the story. Support your argument with
plenty of specific examples
from the story.
|Gilgamesh and Enkidu's greatest adventures are against
monstrous primary forces of nature: Humbaba and the Bull of the Sun, which are creatures
of the gods. Discuss the role of monstrous creatures in Gilgamesh
and pay attention to their close connections to the gods. Support your discussion
with specific examples from the story.
|Make a list of all of the female characters in
Gilgamesh. Write a
brief description of each and what she does in the story. Can you get any general ideas
about the roles of women in ancient Sumeria from this? Explain, using specific examples
from the story.
|Review Utnapishtim's story of the flood. What does Gilgamesh
learn from this story about the nature of human beings and of the gods? Do you think there
is a sense of divine justice for human beings here or not? Explain using specific examples
from the story to support your ideas.
|Although Gilgamesh wants to live forever, he cannot even
stay awake for seven days, as Utnapishtim proves by having his wife bake seven loaves of
bread while Gilgamesh sleeps. What is the point of this episode? What does Utnapishtim
teach Gilgamesh about immortality? Would anyone really want this kind of immortality?
Support your answers using specific examples from the story to support your ideas.
|When Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh nearly goes
mad with grief. He sits by the body until it begins to decay, he puts
on the skins of animals (such as Enkidu probably once wore), and he
searches the wilderness and the underworld for the secret of
immortality. Do you think this is because of his love for Enkidu and
his desire to bring him back, or do you think this is because
Gilgamesh has finally recognized his own mortality and is terrified?
Support your answer with specific examples from the text.
|Double Credit (if thoroughly done): Read
Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse. This modern (1927) German
novel tells the anguished story of a man (Harry Haller) who perceives
himself as part educated bourgeois man and part wolf. He longs for the
far away gods (embodied for him primarily in the immortal characters of
Goethe and Mozart), but he can get no happiness out of daily life
because of the intense conflict between his two selves. He must go on a
journey through fantasy and death in order to come to understand himself
and realize that there is really no conflict between his animal and
human natures. Your task is to compare/contrast this novel with the
story of the man/beast, the man/god, and the role of death in human life
in Gilgamesh. The concepts are remarkably similar in these
two stories thousands of years apart.