July 10, 2007


Caption: Enkidu, friend of Gilgamesh, was a hairy guy.

Welcome to Goat Rope's Fun With the Epic of Gilgamesh Week. If this is your first visit, please click on yesterday's post.

This epic, which may well be the earliest intact written story in human history, is kind of fun and the overall theme of having to deal with human limitations and mortality is still with us and probably always will be.

To briefly recap, Gilgamesh was the semi-divine king of Uruk in modern day Iraq. He was pretty high maintenance and his subjects prayed to the gods to give him a companion to keep him busy. They complied with the wild man Enkidu, whose origin is disussed yesterday.

After his sexual initiation with a sacred prostitute, Enkidu loses his wildness and goes to the big city of Uruk to meet Gilgamesh. Enkidu "longed for a comrade, for one who would understand his heart."

When they get to Uruk, he and the woman are wed. When Gilgamesh, predictably, comes for his droit de seigneur, Enkidu meets him in the street and they begin to wrestle. Eventually Gilgamesh wins with a throw what sounds to El Cabrero like judo's uki otoshi (that was a free bonus for all you martial artists out there).

It was love at first grapple. Gilgamesh and Enkidu become best buddies in the Mother of All Guy Crushes.

Of course, manly men need manly things to do. Gilgamesh proposes going to the wilderness to kill the monster Humbaba. Knowing that he is mortal, he hopes to achieve a kind of immortal memory of himself through heroic deeds. Enkidu, who knew the latter in his wilderness days, demurs, saying he's One Bad Dude:

His teeth are dragon's fangs, his countenance is like a lion, his charge is the rushing of the flood, with his look he crushes alike the trees of the forest and the reeds in the swamp.

Gilgamesh prevails, and they set off on their wilderness journey with incredible arms at an incredible pace. They win the help of the sun god Shamash, who give winds to help in the fight.

After getting the worst of it, Humbaba bugs for mercy. Gilgamesh is inclined to give it, but Enkidu persuades him to kill the monster.

This is probably not a good thing. It enrages the elemental god Enlil and it's pretty clear somebody will have to pay...

More next time.

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A GIANT SLOTH. There are people in the Amazon who talk about a giant, hairy, foul-smelling creature, but does one such still exist? Is it Enkidu? Here's what the NY Times has to say...

AND SPEAKING OF WEIRD LIFE FORMS, here's something from the same source about how some scientists are saying that the search for extraterrestrial life should include the search for "weird life" not based on DNA or the kinds of chemical components known on earth. I say the life on Goat Rope Farm is weird enough for me.

HOW RIGHT WING ARE WE, ANYWAY? For years, we've been fed the dogma that the U.S. public is foam-at-the-mouth-howl-at-the-moon reactionary. The reality is that this is not the case. For details, click here.


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