The Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient Mesopotamian epic poem, is one of the earliest known works of literature, dating back to around 2100 BCE. The epic follows the adventures of Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, and his companion Enkidu. The narrative explores themes of friendship, mortality, and love as a motivating force. 

Set in the city of Uruk in ancient Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), the epic is a blend of myth, legend, and historical elements. The story begins with the exploits of the wild man Enkidu, who is tamed by a temple prostitute and introduced to civilization. Enkidu becomes friends with Gilgamesh, and together they embark on a series of heroic quests. However, tragedy strikes when Enkidu dies, prompting Gilgamesh to grieve and search for the secret of eternal life. The epic seeks to answer the question, “What is the meaning of life when everyone must die?”

Published on clay tablets and written in cuneiform script, The Epic of Gilgamesh provides valuable insights into the beliefs, culture, and worldview of ancient Mesopotamia. Its themes and motifs have influenced subsequent literary works, and the epic itself has been translated into numerous languages.

Explore the full poem summary, an in-depth character analysis of Enkidu, and explanations of important quotes from The Epic of Gilgamesh.

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