( Akkadian )
” ḫa-aa-iṭ kib-ra-a-ti muš-te -‘- ú ba-lá-ṭi “
( Italian )
« He who searched the borders of the world in a desperate search for eternal life. »
– taken from the classic Babylonian Epic of Gilgameš , I, 41
Gilgameš is a deity, or a deified hero, of the ancient Near East, who presents himself to us on 3 documentary levels:
- as divine ruler of Uruk on the Sumerian royal list, in the Sumerian language;
- as deity of the Mesopotamian religions in various hymns and inscriptions, composed both in Sumerian and Akkadian languages;
- as the main character of some Mesopotamian religious epics composed in Sumerian, Akkadian and other languages of the ancient Near East.
Its events are narrated in the first epic poem in the history of mankind that has come down to us, later called the Epic of Gilgameš (the classic Babylonian epic). The main nucleus dates back to ancient Sumerian mythological tales. The first structure of the Epic, which has come down to us in fragments, therefore belongs to Sumerian literature, while the most complete version known so far was engraved in the Akkadian language on 12 clay tablets that were found among the remains of the royal library in the palace of King Ashurbanipal, in Nineveh (in present-day Iraq), at the time the capital of the Assyrian Empire; this late redaction of the myth, attributed to the Kassite scribe and exorcist Sîn-lēqi-unninni, therefore presumably dates back to the 12th century BC.
Many authors have studied the text of the Epic in an attempt to explain the nature of Gilgamesh’s tyranny and his erratic behavior.
” The nature of Gilgamesh’s tyranny is not explained by the author, as it does not seem necessary to know more about the fact that he is a tyrant ” – Andrew George.
Unlike many theorists, this unconventional retelling of key parts of the Epic explores the idea that Gilgamesh was not seeking eternal life on Earth, as has been suggested, but was instead seeking means of transportation back to the home planet of the his mother goddess Ninsun. It tries to show that the epic explains how humans were created and how many afflictions that affect human beings, such as infertility, can be attributed to the “gods”.
In the hymn of lamentation for the death of King Ur-Nammu (founder of the third dynasty of Ur) he is referred to as an underworld deity.
It should be noted in fact that in the Akkadian, and therefore Assyrian and Babylonian religious literature, Gilgameš is always considered a deity of the Underworld.
Even in the most ancient Sumerian epics the name of Gilgameš is always accompanied by the determinative d ( Dingir ) which indicates precisely ” divinity “:
dgiš-bil-ga-mes ; dgi-il-ga-meš .
In the epics Gilgameš is, as we have already seen, the son of the goddess Ninsun and the god Lugalbanda (king of the city of Uruk); if it is considered 2/3 a god and 1/3 a man, it is due to the fact that for the ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Lugalbanda was a king who became a god .
To understand this epic, it is necessary to examine the legend of the birth of Gilgamesh and the main characters – who they were and where they came from. There were many Nephilim on Earth at that time. (Nephilim is translated as “ those who came from the heavens“). The Nephilim who had come to Earth from the sky above were space travelers who kept their rockets and spacecraft heavily guarded and hidden away from human activity. Gilgamesh’s mother, Ninsun (“wild cow of the fold”), was a goddess, a cousin of the god Enlil, the divine ruler on Earth, and her father an earthly priest. She had come from a planet in outer space and had arrived on a space trip as part of the group that had come to Earth to extract some minerals necessary for the survival of their planet. As a child on his mother’s lap, Gilgamesh would hear all the origins of his mother and all the divine blessings he would receive when he became king, as was his birthright.
The Sumerian royal list (in Sumerian: ” When royalty descended from heaven “) is a text in cuneiform composed between 2,100 and 1,800 BC with the aim of laying the traditional and political foundations for the unification of the territory of Sumer (southern Mesopotamia ). This text starts with the principle of “royalty” that descends from heaven to be assigned for the first time to the Sumerian city of Eridu where it remains for a total of 64,800 years, subsequently this principle is transferred to the city of Bad-Tibira for as many 108,000 years, then descending on the city of Larak for a further 28,800 years, then to Sippar for 21,000 years and finally to Šuruppak for 18,600 years: 5 cities, 8 kings listed in the list, for a total of 241,200 years of reign,when the god Enlil unleashes the universal flood destroying humanity. The god Enki, we know from other Mesopotamian epics, nevertheless saves a man, the Sumerian Noah: Ziusudra (Sumerian: Zi-u4-sud-ra, lit. “Life of prolonged days”), son of the last king of Šuruppak Ubara -Tutu. The Sumerian Royal List takes up its listing thus:
“ The flood obliterated everything;
after the deluge had obliterated everything,
when kingship came down from heaven,
kingship was in Kiš. “
(I Sumeri, Milan, Rizzoli, 2007, p.86)
In the rest of the list is mentioned “the divine Gilgameš” 5th king (after Meskiangašer, Enmenkar, the divine Lugalbanda and the divine Dumuzi) of the 1st dynasty of Uruk.
Thus the text:
« The divine Gilgameš
– his father is an unknown –
lord of Kullab,
reigned 126 years;
son of Gilgameš
reigned 30 years “
(Giovanni Pettinato, The Saga of Gilgameš, Milan, Mondadori, p. LXXIX)
In the Epic, Gilgamesh appears as a king of Uruk, tied in friendship to Enkidu, another very strong hero. The two fight for immortality, but it is still immortality in a heroic sense: the achievement of feats whose fame survives the short stay on this earth. Then Enkidu dies and grief-stricken Gilgamesh wants to bring him back to life. Thus the problem of immortality in a concrete sense arises, that is, of the struggle against death itself. He sets out in search of the only man who has been able to escape death: Utnapishtim, the only one who survived the flood (according to the Babylonian version). He finds it after adventures of all kinds and obtains from him only a substitute for immortality, a plant that has the power to rejuvenate. True immortality – Utnapishtim reveals to him – is only that of the gods. The magical plant will be kidnapped in Gilgamesh by a snake and the hero will be defeated by the inevitability of death, a typical human character. Gilgamesh’s stance towards death has traditionally made him a kind of judge of the dead.
There are a number of similarities between the accounts of the Anunnaki and the Nephilim mentioned in the Bible. First, the Anunnaki are chthonic deities, meaning they are associated with the underworld. Nephilim are fallen angels or demons. Second, the Anunnaki are the descendants of Anu (the god of the sky) and a female called Ki. It is not clear from mythology whether Kishe was human or a goddess, but we know that Ki has no cult or followers, so it can be assumed that she was a human female. This corresponds to the biblical account of the Nephilim being the offspring of the sons of God (the most direct interpretation is that these were angelic beings) and the daughters of men (Genesis 6: 1–4). So the Anunnaki are the descendants of the union of “divinity” and a hypothetical human female. The Nephilim are the descendants of the union of fallen angels and human women. Third, both the Bible and the Gilgamesh epic mention a global flood event. In the epic, the god Enki (or Ea) tells a man named Utnapishtim to build a large boat and put his relatives and pups in it. After 12 days, the boat stops on Mount Nisir. Send a dove, and then a swallow, to seek land, and then a raven, which does not return, proving that it was safe to land. Utnapishtim then frees the animals and makes a sacrifice to the gods. This story is extremely similar to the biblical story of Noah, which occurs immediately after the story of the Nephilim in Genesis (Genesis 6: 11—8: 20).
The Dead Sea Scrolls include a curious book called ” The Book of Giants “. This book delves into some of the topics discussed in Enochian literature. An incredibly interesting aspect of this book is that part of it is told from the perspective of Gilgamesh, who is himself a Giant or Nephilim. The mention of the Babylonian god / king who is the subject of the Gilgamesh epic is truly fascinating because of the similarities between the tale in the epic and that of the biblical works.
Gilgamesh in the epic is the last survivor of a huge flood ( presumably the universal flood also mentioned in the Bible ) that wiped out the world’s population.
It is claimed to be a hybrid of human beings and the god descended from the heavens.
Gilgamesh slept with all the women of his kingdom, perhaps to perpetuate his dying line of Nephilim . Furthermore, the connection with the historical King Gilgamesh supports the theory that the Nephilim were famous men and not physical giants. (there is a Gilgamesh myth that describes him as sixteen feet tall)
Gilgamesh became friends with Utnapishtim. In Sumerian poems he is a wise king and priest of Shurrupak; in Akkadian sources he is a citizen sage of Shurrupak. He is the son of Ubara-Tutu, and his name is usually translated as ” He who saw life “. He is the protégé of the god Ea, from whose connivance he survives the flood, with his family and with “the seed of all living creatures”. Subsequently he is brought by the gods to live forever at the “mouth of the rivers” and is given the epithet “Far”. His name means “he found life” (ie immortality). According to the Sumerians, he lives in Dilmun where the sun rises. He is the main character of the Flood story in the eleventh plate of the Gilgamesh epic. In a different version of this epic (such as the myth of Atrachasis for example) is called Atrachasis, “the exceptional sage”.
Dilmun, sometimes described as “the place where the sun rises” and “the land of the living”, is the scene of some versions of the Sumerian creation myth, and the place where the deified Sumerian hero of the flood, Ziusudra (Utnapishtim ), was brought by the gods to live forever.
Dilmun is also described in the epic story of Enki and Ninhursag as the place where Creation took place. Ninlil, the Sumerian goddess of the air and south wind, had her home in Dilmun.
Utnapishtim is commonly associated with Noah, however certain aspects of his life also align him with Enoch. In particular, having been brought by the Gods into their kingdom and having received immortality.
Utnapishtim is thought to be the same as the Sumerian figure Ziasudra.
The epic of Atrahasis provides additional information about the hero of the flood and deluge omitted in Gilgamesh XI and other versions of the flood story of the Ancient Near East. According to Atrahasis III ii.40-47 the hero of the flood was at a banquet when the storm and the flood began: “ He invited his people… to a banquet… He sent his family aboard. They ate and drank. But he (Atrahasis) was in and out. He couldn’t sit down, he couldn’t squat, because his heart was broken and he was throwing up gall. “
Atrahasis tablet III iv.6-9 clearly identifies the flood as a flood of the local river: “ Like dragonflies they [corpses] filled the river. Like a raft they moved to the edge [of the boat]. Like a raft they moved to the river bank “.
The historical proof of the existence of Gilgamesh is found in the inscriptions that attribute to him the construction of the great walls of Uruk (today’s Warka, Iraq) which, in history, are the tablets on which he records for the first time his great deeds and his search for the meaning of life. There are other references to him from well-known historical figures of his time such as King Enmebaragesi of Kish and, of course, the list of Sumerian kings and the legends that have grown up around his reign.
Nowadays, Gilgamesh is still spoken and written about. A German team of archaeologists claims to have discovered the tomb of Gilgamesh in April 2003.
Archaeological excavations, conducted through modern technology involving magnetization in and around the old Euphrates River bed, have revealed garden fences, specific buildings. and structures described in the Epic of Gilgamesh, including the tomb of the great king. According to legend, Gilgmesh was buried at the bottom of the Euphrates when the waters parted at his death.