Ch12Gilgamesh

Ch12Gilgamesh - Classics 10: Chapter 12: Spring 2011...

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Classics 10: Chapter 12: Spring 2011 Gilgamesh: Introduction to Heroic Myth I. Legend as Heroic Myth II. The Epic of Gilgamesh III. Gilgamesh and Heroic Myth
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Getting Your Exam Back • One last time: if you would like your exam back, or if you would like to review what you missed, contact Jennifer ( jdevereaux@ucdavis.edu ) • The second and third exams will have the same format and type of questions, so do you best to learn how to prepare for the exam
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I. Legend as Heroic Myth • As divine myth is analogous to theoretical science, so legend is analogous to history • “What happened in the human past?” • Central characters and stories are those of great human heroes – The gods play a role, but they are not center stage – Poseidon curses Odysseus for blinding the Cyclops, but Odysseus still has to get home
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Legend • These are not the acts of ordinary human beings, but they are still human • Legends take place on earth in the remote past and were thought by the Greeks to be real human events – The Greeks’ main interest was not in historical accuracy but in the human drama of the events (e.g., the Trojan War) – Likely some historical truth behind the myths
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Heroes and Hero Cults • What is a “Hero”? – Homer: noble-born male who is alive (birth) – Later: noble figure from the distant past (merit) • Rise of “hero-cults” in Dark / Archaic Ages – Festival sites with reenactments? – Great deeds as examples for future generations? – Stimuli to record heroic/legendary myth? • Cult sites around great funeral mounds (e.g. Achilles at Troy)
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II. The Epic of Gilgamesh • Earliest known account of mythical hero • Probably began as oral story, but was written down very early (ca. 1800 BCE?) – At least 600 years older than Homer’s epics • Likely influenced Greek heroic myth – Similar themes and motifs, extensive commerce makes trade in ideas also likely • Something of an archetype of heroic myth – Whole list of standard motifs present
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The Epic of Gilgamesh • Gilgamesh likely a historical king of the Sumerian city of Uruk around 2600 BCE – Famously well built city walls and fortress • He was the subject of a whole series of stories and adventures written all across Mesopotamia – No other figure so popular or widespread • Fragments of these stories still survive in Sumerian, Akkadian, and Hittite cuneiform tablets (over a span of 1000 years!)
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The Text of the Epic of Gilgamesh • Most complete account in 12 tablets excavated from the Assyrian city of
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This note was uploaded on 05/22/2011 for the course CLA 10 taught by Professor Traill during the Spring '08 term at UC Davis.

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Ch12Gilgamesh - Classics 10: Chapter 12: Spring 2011...

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