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history paper - Alexandra Williams Steneck History 181...

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Alexandra Williams Steneck History 181 March 7 th , 2007 Comparing Mythological and Factual Sources in Understanding History Civilizations have long used literature to reflect the times that they live in. However, can literature be used as an accurate record of history, or are factual documents such as legal codes and official histories more accurate? After reading The Epic of Gilgamesh and analyzing primary source documents such as Herodotus’s history of the Persian Empire and Al-Mawardi’s account of religious and political organization in the Middle East, both accounts seem incomplete. While The Epic of Gilgamesh offered a good general overview of Persian civilization, the fact that it was based on mythology make its accuracy entirely disputable. However, the historical accounts offered a more accurate, though less complete, picture of civilizations. Though the official histories were written by historians, they failed to include the day-to-day realities of life from the times they wrote about. However, The Epic of Gilgamesh was not much better, as most people in 2000 th century BCE Persia were not involved with the affairs of gods and goddesses. In understanding the political climate of the times, the official histories provided more insight into what was going on and were easier to understand. The Epic of Gilgamesh was written in around the third millennium BCE, on big stone tablets found in the library of King Assurbanipal. It told the tale of Gilgamesh, a king who was two-thirds god, one third man. His subjects complained that he was too harsh a ruler, so the gods
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created Enkidu, a wild forest dweller who was worthy rival to Gilgamesh. He was tamed by the prostitute Shamhat, and Gilgamesh and Enkidu ended up getting along and traveld to the Cedar Forest to kill a monster, Humbaba. They succeeded in their mission, however, before he died, Humbaba cursed them, saying that one of them would die for this. Gilgamesh and Humbaba also killed the Bull of Heaven, sent down by the goddess Ishtar to punish Gilgamesh for rejecting her
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This note was uploaded on 04/28/2008 for the course HIST 182 taught by Professor Greene during the Spring '08 term at Ohio State.

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history paper - Alexandra Williams Steneck History 181...

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