Monday, July 20, 2009

Readaloud: Gilgamesh

Yesterday we finished reading the story of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest written stories ever discovered. It's a beautifully written adaptation that covers many of his adventures, including befriending Enkidu, the wild man, slaying the Bull of Heaven, meeting the now-immortal man who survived the great flood, and finding (and losing) a special plant that makes men young again.

The story of the flood bears a startling resemblance to the story of the flood in the torah - details included the ark being built and covered in pitch, bringing the animals aboard to save a pair of each species, releasing a bird that came back because it did not find land, releasing another bird that did not come back because it did find dry land, and a rainbow appearing as a sign from their gods. The parallels were quite startling, and the timeline easily jives with torah.

In the end—after all of his adventures that were spurred on by the loss of his dear friend Enkidu, seeking happiness in the far-flung corners of the earth, and not finding it—he returns home. He is transformed and realizes that everything he has sought was right there all along. And he learns that for humans, immortality is granted to us through our deeds on earth, and through our children.

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