In the inaugural episode of Literary Tales we lay out the premise of the podcast and begin a two-part examination of the oldest work of extent literature: The Epic of Gilgamesh. Journeying through the epic we come to realize that the work contains the consciousness of the early human struggle for civilization. In this lecture, we discuss Gilgamesh as the archetypal “Hero-King” of Hegelian anthropology; the epic’s context in the Neolithic Revolution; Humbaba as representative of the conquest of nature; and the agrarian pivot away from hunter-gatherer to finding a “plant of life.”

The Fertile Crescent, ca. Neolithic Revolution; the historical backdrop to the Epic of Gilgamesh.
The reconstructed Ziggurat at Ur, modern day Iraq. Structures like these would have been the dominant feature of any ancient Mesopotamian city. The Ziggurat served cultic, religious, and political functions; not to mention imposing visual propaganda and power over the environment and people.

 

A Syrian/Assyrian stone relief depicting two warriors battling a monster. Many archaeologists believe this stone relief depicts Gilgamesh and Enkidu killing the monster Humbaba as depicted in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
An illustration of what ancient Mesopotamian agrarian society may have been like. Note the Ziggurat in the left foreground.
A stone relief depicting a Mesopotamian hunter or warrior killing lions. The Neolithic revolution brought a tremendous change in man’s relationship with nature; once preyed upon, man now became the conqueror of nature. This reality is likely the basis of the story of Humbaba in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

2 Comments »

  1. I totally love this. Lately I’ve been pondering The transition from “non-consciousness”, to human consciousness.
    I love the epic of Gilgamesh and I love how you kind of approach it as like a interphase, a kind of a transitional period between the civilized and not civilized emerging humanity.
    I think about this period of time but even prior to it say, in those shadowy times when just pieces and parts of consciousness just floated around in areas of perception, perhaps before writing. And actually, I kind of get from your cock your essay on this, which I feel like I’ve read or heard before, these glimpses into that shadow he past.
    Similarly Beowulf.

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