The Epic of Gilgamesh



Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Gilgamesh makes teaching easy.

The Epic of Gilgamesh Characters


Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, is rumored to be the strongest man in the world. He is at first an arrogant and harsh ruler, but his friendship with Enkidu and Enkidu’s ensuing death show Gilgamesh that… read analysis of Gilgamesh


Enkidu is a bold and strong man who was made by the gods to be Gilgamesh’s equal in strength. Living in the wild, Enkidu has a simple life and lives at peace with the… read analysis of Enkidu


Ishtar is a god of fertility, love, sex, and beauty. Brash and proud, she is enraged when Gilgamesh rejects her marriage proposal. She threatens to release the dead into the world of the living if… read analysis of Ishtar


Utnapishtim is a simple and devout man. He listened to the dream in which Ea told him to build a great ship before the flood, and spent a great deal of time and effort… read analysis of Utnapishtim


As he is presented in the epic, Enlil is a proud and impulsive god. Irritated by the noisiness of human cities, he convinces the other gods that mankind should be destroyed by a floodread analysis of Enlil
Get the entire Gilgamesh LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Epic of Gilgamesh PDF


Before the great flood, the god Ea tells Utnapishtim to build an enormous boat to preserve mankind. Ea is also the god who criticizes Enlil for sending the flood as an excessive punishment for… read analysis of Ea
Minor Characters
A goddess of fertility and creation. Aruru creates Enkidu out of water and clay.
The Trapper
The Trapper lives a simple life trying to capture wild animals. After finding that Enkidu has been destroying his traps, he is intrigued by such a strong and wild man.
The Trapper’s Father
The trapper’s father provides the Trapper with advice. He seems to understand the true relationship between civilization and nature, explaining that once Enkidu sleeps with Shamhat, the wild animals will reject Enkidu.
Shamhat is a temple prostitute. By sleeping with Enkidu, she begins the process of bringing him into civilization.
Ninsun is a goddess and Gilgamesh’s mother. She helps her son and Enkidu on their quest by praying to Shamash.
Humbaba is an ogre-like giant assigned by Enlil to guard the Cedar Forest. Once defeated by Enkidu and Gilgamesh, Humbaba begs for his life and offers to serve them, but they kill Humbaba anyway.
Anu is the lord of the gods, and a god of the sky and heavens. He is more sensible than his daughter Ishtar, who asks him to release the Bull of Heaven, but he gives in when she threatens him.
Shamash, the sun god, is a major alley on Gilgamesh’s quest. Gilgamesh and Enkidu often pay him homage, and he appears generally as a benevolent deity.
Siduri lives in the Garden of the Gods. She is a deity, and produces ale that is sold in the underworld. Wary of Gilgamesh’s quest, she cautions him not to try to cross the sea to meet Utnapishtim.
Urshanabi is the ferryman who takes Gilgamesh across the sea to visit Utnapishtim. For bringing Gilgamesh there, Utnapishtim banishes Urshanabi permanently from his land.
Utnapishtim’s Wife
Along with her husband, Utnapishtim’s wife survived the flood and was granted immortality. More helpful and generous than her husband, she tells Gilgamesh about the plant that restores youth growing from the bottom of the sea.