It’s Good To Know: Gilgamesh, the original hero

Often credited by historians as being one of the first literary works, the Epic of Gilgamesh depicts the Sumerian legends and poems about the mythological hero-king Gilgamesh.

The fifth king of Uruk (30 km east of nowadays As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq), he ruled circa 2600 BC. In fact, the modern name Iraq is thought to be derived from the name Uruk.

As the story goes, his mother was Ninsun, a goddess. So Gilgamesh is described as two-thirds god and one-third human. According to Mesopotamian mythology, Gilgamesh is credited with having superhuman strength who built a great city wall to defend his people from external threats.

In his great work The New Penguin History of the World, the late J.M. Roberts tells us of him:

Gilgamesh was a real person, ruling Uruk. He became also the first individual and hero in world literature, appearing in other poems, too. His is the first name which must appear in this book.

Over 4600 years after he roamed between the then fertile swamps of the Tigris and Euphrates delta, I wonder what believers of the mainstream religions of today think of where the souls of Gilgamesh’s contemporaries went.

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