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Word Count: 928
Epic poetry one of the earliest forms of literature beganas an oral narration describing a series of mythical or historic events Eventually these stories were written down and read aloud to an audience Although the Epic of Gilgamesh was composed approximately fifteen hundred years prior to the Iliad the heroes of both epics possess strikingly similar characteristics Indeed Gilgamesh and Achilles as epic heroes exemplify godlike qualities great personal power and fierce pride and loyalty The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the greatest pieces of literature from the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia known to modern scholars It was found among ruins in Ninevah in the form of twelve large tablets dating from 2000 BC This heroic poem is named for its hero Gilgamesh a tyrannical Babylonian king who ruled the city of Uruk According to the myth the gods responded to prayers and sent a wild brutish man Enkidu to challenge Gilgamesh to a wrestling match When the contest ends neither is victorious and the two become friends They journey together and share many adventures On an expedition to the west they confront an evil monster Humbaba Enkidu slays Humbaba and in return the gods take Enkidus life Gilgamesh the mighty hero is then transformed into Gilgamesh the broken mortal The pursuit of immortality leads Gilgamesh into further adventures The most famous is his encounter with Utnapishtim an ancient hero who had survived a tragic flood His tale recounted in the epic bears many resemblances to the biblical story of the flood Gilgamesh following Utnapishtims advice finds a plant capable of rendering him immortal only to have it stolen by a snake while he sleeps exhausted from his quest On this note the epic ends Gilgameshs search for immortality ends in vain however his accounts were written on the walls of his great city The tale of Gilgamesh is interesting because it addresses many of humanitys eternal questions including the meaning of friendship
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