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HS101 textual analysis

The Epic of Gilgamesh, ca. 2700 BCE One significant story waswritten down on stone tablets in Mesopotamia: the Epic ofGilgamesh. As you read this description, consider what this storytells us about history and the people who heard and retold thestory to each other. Six days and seven nights Came the wind andflood, the storm flattening the land. When the seventh day arrived,the storm was pounding, The flood was a war struggling with itselflike a woman writhing [in labor]. The sea calmed, fell still, thewhirlwind (and) flood stopped up. I looked around all day longquiet had set in And all the human beings had turned to clay! Theterrain was as flat as a roof. I opened a vent and fresh air(daylight!) fell upon the side of my nose. I fell to my knees andsat weeping, Tears streaming down the side of my nose. I lookedaround for coastlines in the expanse of the sea, And at twelveleagues there emerged a region (of land). On Mt. Nimush the boatlodged firm, Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing no sway. One dayand a second Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing no sway. A thirdday, a fourth, Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing no sway. A fifthday, a sixth, Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing no sway. When aseventh day arrived I sent forth a dove and released it. The dovewent off, but came back to me; No perch was visible so it circledback to me. I sent forth a swallow and released it. The swallowwent off, but came back to me; No perch was visible so it circledback to me. I sent forth a raven and released it. The raven wentoff, and saw the waters slither back. It eats, it scratches, itbobs, but does not circle back to me. Then I sent out everything inall directions and sacrificed a sheep. I offered incense in frontof the mountain-ziggurat. Seven and seven cult vessels I put inplace, And into the fire (or: into their bowls) underneath I pouredreeds, cedar, and myrtle. The gods smelled the savor, And collectedlike flies over a sacrifice. Just then Beletili arrived. She liftedup the large beads which Anu had made for his enjoyment. ‘You gods,as surely as I shall not forget this lapis lazuli around my neck,May I be mindful of these days, and never forget them! The gods maycome to the incense offering, But Enlil may not come to the incenseoffering, Because without considering he brought about the FloodAnd consigned my people to annihilation.’ The Epic of Gilgamesh.(n.d.). The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet XI, The Story of the Flood.Retrieved from http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/mesopotamian/gilgamesh/tab11.htmIn this text, we learn about the relationship between mankind andgods. We see references to women and childbirth. We see the fear ofMother Nature in a time when storms and floods were sudden andunexpected. Weather was a complete unknown. We also read about thecomplete despair of a man caught in a flooded sea. In hisdesperation, he sacrifices a goat to appease the gods. Then thegods act like children in a candy shop, or animals who find treats:they gather around the sacrificial sheep “like flies.” That isstriking behavior considering our modern idea of powerful gods andgoddesses. This story may or may not have happened; it could be thestory of a real flood, or it could be a lesson or fable to teachobedience to the gods. We have little way of knowing how true thestory is. What we can know is what it tells us about the people whoheard it, accepted it, and told it to others around them.Questions: What can we guess about the gods in this religion, basedon this story? How do believers in this religion take control ofevents around them? Write at least 150 words considering this poemand what we can try to figure out about the historical society thatproduced it.

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