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  1. The Epic of Gilgamesh is often said to be a classic story about the struggle between wilderness and civilization. How so? How does the poem begin? Is the poet proud of city life? What was his attitude toward civilization? Was he ever critical of it?
  2. Why is Gilgamesh a heroic figure? If a hero, why was he oppressive at the beginning? What were his crimes? How did the gods seek to punish Gilgamesh?
  3. How was Enkidu tamed? What role did the harlot play? What exactly was a harlot in ancient Mesopotamia?
  4. How are we to understand the activities of Gilgamesh and Enkidu within the context of this broader theme of the efforts of agricultural peoples to tame the environment?
  5. What roles do the gods and goddesses play in the story? Shamash? Ishtar? Why did Gilgamesh reject Ishtar? What happened to people in the afterlife?
  6. Why did Gilgamesh decide to find Utanapishtim? What did he learn?
  7. If we were to use this text as a source for understanding early agriculture and herding, what would we learn? What kinds of foods does the text mention? What kinds of offerings are made to the divinities? What does it reveal about the finer side of civilization? The acquisition of resources? (wood, metals, precious stones, etc.) In what ways does the text reveal the social, political and religious stratification that comes with complex civilization?
  8. If myth expresses a society’s highest ideals and greatest fears, what do we learn of the values of Mesopotamian society?
  9. The early Hebrew peoples were also of Mesopotamian origin. Do you notice any parallels to Biblical accounts?

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