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Civilization-Gilgamesh Notes

Civilization characteristics

  • Advances in technology (writing although not all civilizations have to have writing because that means that there was a lot of non-civilizations)
  • Cities as administrative centers
  • Cities are groups of people which are sedentary and that means that they do not move. However, a group of shacks would not be a city.
  • Instead of having cities, it would be better to say that there are settled domiciles (a place in which people live).
  • A surplus of food?
  • The need more food so people can run the government and such
  • Arts
  • Governmental structure
  • Social Hierarchy
  • Differentiated workforce
  • Record keeping (oral, counters, abaci, writing, etc.)
  • Monumental building - textbook only
  • A monumental building would be a building that has meaning attached to it
  • Cultural identity
  • Trade
  • Currencies (anything that can be traded for anything else)

Economic system

  • An ability to communicate
    • As in speaking, language, some means of transmitting information
  • Religion of some form ?
  • Cultural identifier
  • It helps to bind people and groups together
  • You need to believe in something, not necessarily believe in religion
  • Ritual System

General Notes

  • We have a very positive association with civilization
  • If they are not civilized, then that person has a beard, not good in general (this is the connotation).
  • We have a positive connotation with civilization and they are like us and so we like them
  • Uncivilized means that there are not like us and that means that they must be bad because we are good
  • Civilization in an intellectual form is different then real life connotation
  • Occam's razor and Principle of Parsimony are the same thing
  • There is a fight between the natural and the civilized man and the civilized man barely wins. In the end, the civilized man wins barely. That means:
  • In each of us and in each of our cultures, there is a fight between civilized and the natural man
  • That could also mean that the civilized man is barely better than the natural man

Gilgamesh

  • Shamhat
  • Prostitute because she copulated with another man for six days and seven nights
  • Harlot is another work for prostitute
  • Shamhat is really a priestess of the goddess of Ishtar who is the goddess of sex and death and so she is an earth mother
  • Ishtar was worshipped via the sexual act
  • Hebrew - Asharoth
  • Asia Minor - Astarte/Oestre
  • Prostitute has a bad connotation but a priestess has a totally different connotation
  • Before we judge something, we have to go back to that time period so we can properly make a determination
  • We are always going to view things through a certain lens

Gilgamesh

  • Civilized man
  • Rapes 13 old girls
  • Sends 10 year old boys out to be arrow fodder so they can feel the right experiences
  • However, he has a certain connotation

Enkidu

  • Natural Man
  • Walks with the animals and talks with them too
  • Hunts with his claws and does not work for anything, everything is provided for him
  • He rescues animals from traps
  • In our eyes, gilgamesh should be more civilized but in reality Enkidu is really more civilized

Tablet 1

  • Character introduction

Tablet 2 and Onward

  • Enkidu and Gilgamesh have a huge fight in the end and Gilgamesh wins in the end of the last day at sunset but only barely
  • We are only only creature we know of that is sentient

Gilgamesh Discussion

  • Humbaba was the forest guardian
  • In the forest, they were all afraid of Humbaba
  • During the fight, one of the gods helped them by making storm
  • The bull of heaven is the bull of heaven
  • Enkidu wanted Gilgamesh to have fame and that way killing him maybe the gods would not notice
  • Gligamesh wants fame - he is not satisfied with being famous in his own city-state
  • Enkidu is very bloodthirsty - he wants Humbaba to die
  • Flour is used as a sacrifice to the sun god - it is ground wheat and so it is the pinnacle sacrifice of a civilization
  • They gave the sun god a sacrifice and so the sun god went along with their plans
  • Humbaba could be a shape shifter because there is a line that his face keeps changing
  • Enkidu kind of taught Gilgamesh and provokes him - he encourages Gilgamesh to kill Humababa
  • Humbaba knows when they get there because they start cutting down the trees in order to get his attention and since Humbaba is the embodiment of the forest, he knows this and their method works.
  • Lebonese cedar was prized for over 1000 years and it was shipped all over the world.
  • They killed someone by striking him hard in the neck and Gilgamesh's weapon was via an axe
  • They killed Humaba by chopping his head off and then they removed his internal organ
  • The entire thing is a metaphor for the destruction of the forests because Humaba represents a tree
  • At the end, they destroy the entire forest and when that happens, the soil turns bad and then it basically goes to sand.
  • They were not supposed to kill him, they were supposed to conquer him.
  • They were supposed to accept his offer of servitude - humanity is supposed to control nature. We are not supposed to destroy it like they destroyed Humaba
  • Even back then, they had an idea of the fact that forests had to be taken care of and that you could destroy them and that would be bad
  • The Mayan civilization vanished because they destroyed the soil and the forests around them because of the stucco and for their crops. Then, their cities were islands and that was not sustainable.
  • This culture says that the gods approve of us controlling nature. They do not approve of us destroying nature.
  • That means that when Gilgamesh and Eriku destroys the forest guardian, they are also killing themselves.
  • The Mayan cities were decorated with stucco and that requires a lot of wood
  • We do not actually know who struck the blow but Gilgamesh is the one that is actually holding the head
  • As soon as Enkidu hears about Gilgamesh, then he really wants to fight Gilgamesh
  • Gilgamesh then beats Enkidu but just barely and that is representative of the fight that is within us all as well

Journey

  • Stasis (most probably of the society - it is really hard to tell)
  • Disruption of Stasis
  • Enkidu's arrival is the disruption of stasis
  • Supernatural Aid
  • Enkidu as a companion
  • First threshold
  • Descent
  • Boon
  • Ascent
  • Final threshold
  • Dissemination

Additional Information

  • Gilgamesh and Enkidu started out as enemies and then were friends
  • One of them has to die because they did so many bad things and that is why one of them has to die
  • The gods get mad at shamash because he encouraged it but then he said that he did not want them to kill the forest guardian.
  • Every single culture that we can think of need a guide to move on to another realm (to cross that threshold)

Charon

  • In Gilgmesh, it has talons of an eagle and the paws of a lion (it also looks kind of like a human). His face was like an anzu (ravens). The eagle, lion, and *human are at the top of the food chain.
  • The anzu is associated with ravens because ravens are carrying birds and they eat the dead, kind of like vultures.
  • The scary creature grabs you by the hair and drags you down.
  • Enkidu changes into pray (dove - grows feathers).
  • The people in the underworld are all clothed in feathers and that is a motif.
  • A lot of cultures associate flight with the soul or with dying.
  • The ancient Egyptians represented the soul with the ka. The representation of the soul was a particular form of bird.
  • Flight is somehow superhuman or supernatural.
  • We are really clumsy when compared to a bird in flight
  • Da Vinci spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to build a flying machine (wings of bats, etc.).
  • We begin to associate flying with the afterlife or something that is otherworldly.
  • Afterlife
    • Gilgamesh
    • It had a lot of clay and dirt.
    • Humans are made of clay and earth because that is what the sumarians believed.
    • This means that we are eating our lives, our existence in the underworld
    • The Sumarians believed in the separation of body and soul
    • Everyone is at the same place (equal)
    • The priests, the commoners, everyone is at the same place and nobody is any better than anyone else.
    • It does not matter how good you were in life or how powerful or how wealthy, you are all going to the same unpleasant place.
    • The crowns are symbols of authority and they are just tossed to the side because they are useless down there
    • Ruled by the Queen of Darkness (Irkalla)
    • Everyone is slave to the gods
    • There is a dark depiction of the afterlife
    • There is no judgement or people or division of them in any way
  • Other
    • You are usually judged and have one type of book or something like that, something to cause a division that determines who goes where.
    • Heaven (please of reward)
    • Hell (place of punishment)
    • Purgatory (the belief that most people are not good enough to go to heaven but they are not evil either. Most people go here and they are purged of their sins here. After here, then you can go to heaven).
    • You never leave limbo so the purgatory is not limbo
    • Reincarnation
    • Pantheistic Dissolution (the idea that when you die, your consciousness dissolves with everything; that you become one with everything).
    • Christianity and Islam are the only real religions that have heaven and hell
    • The Torah does not say anything about the afterlife
    • Because the Torah does not say anything about the afterlife, everything is really interpretation at that point so nobody really knows at that point
    • Hell comes from fear
    • When we think of hell, we usually think of fire and things like that
    • Hell is associated with fire partly because fire kills you
    • Earlier cultures looked at fire as something that was good because you could cook with it and you could warm stuff up.
    • However, fire is also bad because it is hard to control and can do massive destruction
    • Fire could be like home and perhaps that would be like your eternal home
    • Perhaps we believed in hell and heaven because we like balance and hell and heaven gave us that balance
    • We want to believe that people who do bad things get punished eventually but perhaps not on earth. This probably yielded the idea of a place of punishment.
    • In Jerusalem, people were thrown into trash pits if they reject God and there was fire in the trash pits because the city was large. Basically, you were trash if you rejected God. Then, this metaphor became truth and hell literally became fire.
    • Judaism is the root faith (Islam, etc.)
    • The idea of Judaism of a Satan was only in Judaism for two or three hundred years or so
    • Enkidu gets mad that they made Enkidu human because the prostitute made him human and he wishes that he was an animal. This is because he is going to die As a human but he could have lived as an animal with the other animals. Enkidu's sole position in life was to take Gilgamesh and it worked
    • Gilgamesh is the one that is the one being tamed and yet he is the one that is supposed to be civilized as well
    • Enkidu regrets cutting down the tree
    • Utnapishtim became imortal and was the only person in history to do so

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