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.
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.
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.
Gilgamesh's mother and a goddess. She prays for Gilgamesh and Enkidu before they embark to fight Humbaba in the cedar forest.
The Guardian of the cedar forest. Humbaba is defeated and killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu.
Goddess of Love, Fertility, and War, and daughter of Anu. Ishtar sends the Bull of Heaven to attack Gilgamesh after he spurns her advances.
The father of the Sumerian Gods. Ishtar appeals to him for help after Gilgamesh spurns her advances.
The boatman who takes Gilgamesh over the waters of the dead to see 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.
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.
The storm god, wind god, and god of destiny.
The father of Gilgamesh, a great hero king of Uruk.
The mother goddess who established life and death.
Lord of the underworld.
The god of war, chaos, and silence.
The god of light and the sun, he aids Enkidu and Gilgamesh in their fight with Humbaba.
The god of the moon.
The god of cattle.
The Epic of Gilgamesh Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Epic of Gilgamesh is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The major theme of the poem is that of mortality. Gilgamesh must learn the difficult lesson that, even as a king, he too must face the reality of his own death. On their way to the Cedar Forst to face Humbaba, Enkidu expresses his concerns about...
The Epic of Gilgamesh was written around 1200 BCE. That's older than ancient tales like Homer's Odyssey. Details about this period in time are pretty sketchy. Scholars think that Gilgamesh was some sort of king but that's about it. The story has...
Initially, we don't see many good points in Gilgamesh's character. He is selfish, tyrannical, abusive, and oppressive. Over time, his journey teaches him many lessons. He learns the value of friendship, the need for loyalty, and the necessity of...