The Epic of Gilgamesh

Character List

Buy Study Guide

Gilgamesh

The protagonist of the story and the King of Uruk. He is credited with having built the city walls of Uruk to protect its people. In most translations, he is described as being one-third man and two-thirds god. His mother is Ninsun, a goddess. His father is Lugalbanda, a past King of Uruk.

Enkidu

A wild man who becomes Gilgamesh's best friend. After being visited by Shamhat, the prostitute, Enkidu is civilized and leaves the animal world behind to journey with Shamhat to Uruk. Enkidu accompanies Gilgamesh to defeat Humbaba before he passes away. Gilgamesh journeys to the Underworld to try to bring Enkidu back to life.

Shamhat

A temple prostitute sent by Gilgamesh to civilize Enkidu. Shamhat seduces Enkidu and he sleeps with her for six days and seven nights. She brings him back to Uruk with her where he first encounters Gilgamesh.

Ninsun

Gilgamesh's mother and a goddess. She prays for Gilgamesh and Enkidu before they embark to fight Humbaba in the cedar forest.

Humbaba/Huwawa

The Guardian of the cedar forest. Humbaba is defeated and killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu.

Ishtar/Irnini

Goddess of Love, Fertility, and War, and daughter of Anu. Ishtar sends the Bull of Heaven to attack Gilgamesh after he spurns her advances.

Anu

The father of the Sumerian Gods. Ishtar appeals to him for help after Gilgamesh spurns her advances.

Urshanabi

The boatman who takes Gilgamesh over the waters of the dead to see Utnapishtim.

Utnapishtim

Instructed by Ea to build a boat before the flood that destroyed the city of Shurrupak. Utnapishtim is granted immortality for his role. Gilgamesh seeks him out after Enkidu's death. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh of the flood and tells him where to find a magic plant that can grant immortality.

The Bull of Heaven

Referred to in some translations as "Gugalanna," the Bull of Heaven was sent to punish Gilgamesh for rejecting Ishtar's sexual advances. Gilgamesh and Enkidu slay the Bull of Heaven and insult Ishtar.

Siduri

A barmaid and alewife that Gilgamesh encounters on his journey into the Underworld. Siduri resides in a cottage by the sea. She discourages Gilgamesh on his pursuit for immortality but ultimately directs him to the boatman Urshanabi.

Enlil

The storm god, wind god, and god of destiny.

Lugalbanda

The father of Gilgamesh, a great hero king of Uruk.

Aruru/Mammetum

The mother goddess who established life and death.

Nergal

Lord of the underworld.

Ninurta

The god of war, chaos, and silence.

Shamash

The god of light and the sun, he aids Enkidu and Gilgamesh in their fight with Humbaba.

Sin

The god of the moon.

Sumuqan

The god of cattle.