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Siduri is the tavern keeper who at first bars her door
to Gilgamesh and then shares her sensuous, worldly wisdom with him,
advising him to cherish the pleasures of this world. Though
she tries to dissuade him from his quest, she tells him how to find
Urshanabi the boatman, without whose help he’d surely fail. The
goddess of wine-making and brewing, Siduri is only one of several
sexually ripe, nurturing women who appear in this most explicitly
homoerotic tale. The male characters may take these females for
granted, but they nevertheless play an essential role. The temple
prostitute Shamhat domesticates Enkidu. Utnapishtim’s unnamed wife
softens her husband toward Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh’s mother Ninsun
adopts Enkidu as her son, not only endorsing his friendship to Gilgamesh
but also making him Gilgamesh’s brother. Ishtar herself, fickle
and dangerously mercurial as she is as the goddess of war and love,
nevertheless weeps bitterly to see how the deluge that she had helped
to bring about ravaged her human children. As loudly as it celebrates
male bonding and the masculine virtues of physical prowess, The
Epic of Gilgamesh doesn’t forget to pay its respects to feminine
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Epic of Gilgamesh!