The Epic of Gilgamesh | Study Guide


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The Epic of Gilgamesh | Book Summaries

See Book Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • Millennia ago

    Gilgamesh oppresses Uruk, and the people cry out to the gods.

    Book 1
  • Soon after

    Aruru creates Enkidu, a wild man, and places him among the herds.

    Book 1
  • After some time

    Shamhat tames Enkidu, who travels to Uruk to challenge Gilgamesh.

    Book 2
  • At the wedding feast

    Enkidu and Gilgamesh wrestle, fight, and then become close friends.

    Book 2
  • After some time

    Gilgamesh persuades Enkidu to accompany him to the Cedar Forest to kill Humbaba.

    Book 3
  • On the way to the forest

    Enkidu interprets Gilgamesh's dreams to predict victory.

    Book 4
  • In the Cedar Forest

    Gilgamesh and Enkidu defeat Humbaba, who curses them before he dies.

    Book 5
  • After the battle

    Ishtar asks Gilgamesh to marry her, but he insults her instead.

    Book 6
  • Immediately afterward

    Ishtar unleashes the Bull of Heaven, but Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill it.

    Book 6
  • The next day

    A dream tells Enkidu he will die because he and the king offended the gods.

    Book 7
  • 12 days later

    Enkidu dies, and Gilgamesh, in his grief, won't allow the body to be buried.

    Book 8
  • About a week later

    Gilgamesh sets out, fearful of death, to find Utnapishtim, the immortal human.

    Book 9
  • Later

    Gilgamesh survives trials to arrive at Siduri's tavern but ignores her advice.

    Book 10
  • Soon after

    Urshanabi and Gilgamesh cross the ocean to hear Utnapishtim's story.

    Book 11
  • Seven days later

    Gilgamesh wakes up, having failed the test, and starts for home.

    Book 11
  • During the journey home

    Gilgamesh acquires and then loses the plant that restores youth.

    Book 11
  • At last

    Gilgamesh reaches Uruk and proudly shows Urshanabi its glories.

    Book 11

Book Summaries Chart

Book Summary
Prologue The narrator describes Gilgamesh as a man who "suffered all and accomplished all." Gilgamesh's journey allowed him to ex... Read More
Book 1 Continuing to set the stage, the narrator declares that Gilgamesh, a "wild bull of a man," was stronger, larger, and mor... Read More
Book 2 Enkidu dresses in one of Shamhat's robes, and she leads him to a shepherds' settlement. The shepherds marvel at his size... Read More
Book 3 After some time, Gilgamesh announces his plan to kill Humbaba to "drive out evil from the world." Humbaba is a monster t... Read More
Book 4 With their long strides and supernatural strength, the heroes walk 400 miles before stopping to eat and a thousand befor... Read More
Book 5 The towering, fragrant trees of the Cedar Forest stand before Gilgamesh and Enkidu, who can see the Cedar Mountain, home... Read More
Book 6 Home in Uruk, Gilgamesh bathes and dresses in fine clothing. When Ishtar, goddess of sexual love, sees his beauty, she's... Read More
Book 7 In Enkidu's dream, the gods meet in council to discuss how Enkidu and Gilgamesh have offended them by killing Humbaba an... Read More
Book 8 Gilgamesh sits by Enkidu's body, weeping, till dawn. He speaks of Enkidu's strange, brief life among the animals. Even t... Read More
Book 9 Gilgamesh is driven through the wilderness not only by grief for Enkidu but by fear of his own death, which now seems so... Read More
Book 10 Beyond the garden lies the ocean, where Siduri, goddess of wisdom and brewing, keeps her tavern. She's at work, her face... Read More
Book 11 Gilgamesh admits he expected Utnapishtim to look like a god and to have to fight him, but in fact, Utnapishtim looks lik... Read More
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