The Epic of Gilgamesh

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The Epic of Gilgamesh Prologue Summary & Analysis

The epic begins with the words “I will proclaim to the world the deeds of Gilgamesh.” The narrator tells of Gilgamesh’s wide experience of the world and of his returning from a long and tiring quest with the story written on tablets.
Like many epics and quest narratives, the outside world, beyond the city, is where true challenges and transformations take place. The ultimate meaning of the quest is in bringing back what was learned to share with civilization.
Heroism in Nature vs. Comfort in the City Theme Icon
Gilgamesh was created by the gods with strength, beauty, and courage. He was two-thirds god, and only one-third man. As ruler of Uruk, he built the city’s great walls and temples. The narrator praises the walls.
By revealing that Gilgamesh is part man and part god, the epic introduces us to Gilgamesh’s unwillingness to accept his place in the universe as a mortal, while also building up arguably the first “epic hero” in history.
Civilization and the Fall from Innocence Theme Icon
Heroism in Nature vs. Comfort in the City Theme Icon
Pride and the Gods Theme Icon