The Gilgamesh Epic
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The stories in the Epic of Gilgamesh often run parallel with those in the Bible. It speaks of the great flood, the deceitful snake, the awareness of good and evil. Humans are to be obedient to the gods (God), and religion is most certainly a part of everyday life in Gilgamesh's culture.
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The Wrath of the Gods
Gilgamesh expresses his jealousy towards the gods and the immortality they enjoy. He and Enkidu learn firsthand that incurring the wrath of the gods can have disastrous consequences. Rather than wise, omniscient beings, the gods in Gilgamesh are vengeful and easily angered. Gilgamesh and Enkidu first encounter this wrath after Gilgamesh rejects Ishtar’s advances. Ishtar immediately turns to her father, Anu, to send the Bull of Heaven to punish Gilgamesh. At first, Anu rejects Ishtar’s request but she threatens to raise the dead to devour the living. Anu is frightened by Ishtar’s threat and releases the Bull of Heaven to appease her. When Gilgamesh and Enkidu slay the Bull of Heaven, they further insult Ishtar by throwing the Bull’s hindquarters at her face. Enkidu later dreams that the gods have decided that he must die for these transgressions. After twelve days of suffering, he dies a painful death.
Utnapishtim also tells Gilgamesh the story of a great flood exacted on the people of Shurrupak. Ea informs Utnapishtim of the coming flood and instructs him to build a great boat and to stock that boat with all the creatures of the land. It is important to note that when Utnapishtim asks Ea about why the flood is coming and about what he should tell the people of Shurrupak, Ea has no specific answer for him, stating only that Enlil is angry. This suggests that the wrath of the gods can also be incurred without any obvious insult or explanation.
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