Ch12Gilgamesh

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

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Classics 10: Chapter 12: Fall 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 Nathan( nwhill@ucdavis.edu ) The second and third exams will have the same format and type of questions, so best way to learn how to prepare for the next 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, siege of Thebes) 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 (circa 2100 BCE?) More than a 1,000 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 2700 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 Nineveh, city destroyed in 7th C BCE Story pieced together from all the evidence in the different languages and
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Ch12Gilgamesh - Classics 10: Chapter 12: Fall 2011...

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