July 09, 2007


Gilgamesh, represented here by the rooster Stewpot, was a mighty ruler in Uruk.

If it's midsummer and you need a guiding theme to fill up a week's worth of blogging in an unpredictable world, there's just one clear choice--duh!--The Epic of Gilgamesh, of course. It is, after all, one of the earliest written stories in human history, even though it was only discovered in the 19th century. It could also be considered the first (literary) tragedy.

It has been a fairly long time since El Cabrero went on a weeklong mythological tear, and Sumerian/Mesopotamian mythology would be a Goat Rope first. We proceed...

As far as I can surmise, the basic theme of the epic is that, as Dirty Harry once said, "A man's got to know his limitations." It's a lesson we all have to learn.

Though written much later, it seems to refer to a possibly real ruler of the Mesopotamian kingdom of Uruk in what is now Iraq in the 3rd millennium BC. Gilgamesh was undoubtedly an alpha male, as we can see from the opening lines of the epic:

I will proclaim to the world the deeds of Gilgamesh. This was the man to whom all things were known; this was the king who knew the countries of the world. He was wise, he saw mysteries and knew secret things, he brought us a tale of the days before the flood. He went on a long journey, was weary, worn-out with labour, returning he rested, he engraved on a stone the whole story.

The story goes that he was the son of Queen Ninsun and King Lugulbanda and was 2/3rds god and 1/3 human. The arithmetic is never explained.

Gilgamesh was also kind of a pain to his subjects, rock and rolling all night and partying every day. His subjects began to complain:

Gilgamesh sounds the tocsin for his amusement, his arrogance has no bounds by day or night. No son is left with his father, for Gilgamesh takes them all, even the children; yet the king should be a shepherd to his people. His lust leaves no virgin to his lover, neither the warrior's daughter nor the wife of the noble; yet this is the shepherd of the city, wise, comely, and resolute.

They pray to the gods to think of some way of keeping Gilgamesh occupied and the gods respond by creating a companion for him, the wild and hairy man Enkidu, who lives with beasts in the forest and eats grass. Gilgamesh was destined to "love him like a woman"--not that there's anything wrong with that.

Unlike Gilgamesh, who is a founder of civilization, Enkidu is a child of nature, innocent of both culture and sexuality. A trapper who has seen him in the wild goes to Gilgamesh for advice on how to domesticate him. He prescribes the charms of woman. An unnamed sacred prostitute is sent to the (literal) watering hole where Enkidu hangs out.

Of that funky stuff which was the subject of 1970s song, Enkidu could not get enough. He treads the primrose path of dalliance with her nonstop for six days and seven nights, which would make him something of a prodigy. One hopes they kept themselves hydrated...

After that tryst, Enkidu loses his wilderness mojo. The wild beasts run from him and he can't keep up with them. It really IS always something, isn't it? The woman tells him:

You are wise, Enkidu, and now you have become like a god. Why do you want to run wild with the beasts in the hills? Come with me. I will take you to strong-walled Uruk...there Gilgamesh lives, who is very strong, and like a wild bull he lords it over men.

So they head to the big city for the next phase of the epic, about which more tomorrow.

COGITO ERGO BLOG.Goat Rope was recently nominated a "Thinking Blog" by the masterful blog of all things West Virginian Lincoln Walks at Midnight. Considering the source, I take that as quite a compliment--Thanks!

There's a cool little graphic that comes with it but El Cabrero can't think well enough to make it show up here. As part of the deal, I need to nominate five blogs that make me think, but I need to think about that some more.

LABOR JOINS THE FIGHT FOR GREEN JOBS. According to Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers union,

We need to put an end to the lies, the myths, the hysteria, that say you can have either a clean environment or good jobs. You can have both, or you have neither.

For more on high road approaches to economic growth and sustainable energy, click here.

HIGH ROAD LOW ROAD. On a related theme, here's an op-ed by yours truly on the choices facing WV as we try to build a better future.

THIS IS WHAT I'M SCREAMING. One fairly easy step that can be taken to get WV on the high road is making high speed internet available throughout the state. Here's a step in the right direction in Charleston. And you know what?--they didn't have to eliminate minimum wage or mine safety laws to do it.



Juanuchis said...

I'm hanging intently on the Gilgamesh Saga. One of my faves. (Apropos of nothing, I was a Latin and Spanish major in college.)

As to the internet issue, please don't get me started! Granted, we chose to live in the sticks, where the only thing going is sucky-yet-expensive satellite. DSL isn't arriving anytime soon, and goodness knows, the cable companies FIGHT to NOT have us.

Grump, grump, grumpity grump. May I have some cheese with my whine?

Juanuchis said...

Also, cogent commentary in the Gazette. I shall have to see "Creating West Virginia".

I will be curious, though, to see how the Immigration issue fits. West Virginia now doesn't have much of an issue with immigrants, but they're coming (my husband is one).


El Cabrero said...

Hola Juanuchis,
I still owe you a commentary on Jesus after you tagged me. I need to think about that one. It's kind of hard since the challenge was to say 5 thing I like about Jesus--when as far as I can see there's nothing not to like.

Re Gilgamesh: there are some things there that hold up pretty well.

Re: fast internet. If we could work on that while where trying to figure out everything else in WV, that would be a plus. I'm pleased to say DSL finally came to Goat Rope Farm. Before that, it took about an hour to load a gratuitous animal picture.

Immigration. That will definitely be a growing issue here, although to a lesser extent than in most of the U.S. Yo no se...