Comparison between Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative and Atra-Hasis Epic

The thesis of this essay compares Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative with the Atrahasis Epic. This thesis suggests that Gilgamesh: a Verse Narrative is similar to Atrahasis in terms of plot and characters. Both stories explain the stories of flood and creation. The characters for the two epic stories also included the same gods such as Enlil, Enki, and Anu. These gods were personified by both epic stories so that each god performs certain functions.

In Gilgamesh, the main character was Gilgamesh who was a king in Mesopotamia. The flood involved in Gilgamesh was brought about by Enlil who ruled the earth. In Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim was saved from the floods when Ea told him to build a boat. Similarly, in the epic Atrahasis the Atrahasis was warned by Enki, the god of freshwater ocean. In both cases, the gods who warned the two survivors from the floods were the gods of the water. Ironically, Enlil wanted to destroy human kind using floods that involve water. Perhaps the gods of the water understood about water so they were able to save humankind from being destroyed using water. This shows that the gods of water in the two epic stories are able to save human beings from floods brought about by the god of the earth.

It is also clear that the gods in the two epic stories do not agree with each other. When Enlil sought to destroy humankind using flood in the Gilgamesh: a Verse Narrative, other gods including EA opposed him, and in fact he decided to save Utnapishtim. This indicates that the gods were not in agreement. The god of earth disagreed with the god of water and other gods including the god of war and love. Similarly, in Atrahasis the god of water (Enki) disagreed with the god of earth (Enlil) when he destroyed humankind, and he decided to save Atrahasis by forewarning him several times. In Atrahasis, Enlil decided to destroy humankind after they made a lot of noise that disturbed him (Paris, 2010). He did so using plague first, then famine, then drought and finally by flood. Enlil in the epic Gilgamesh also destroyed humankind with flood. This indicates that the two stories consider floods as the main modes of punishing people, the way God did when he saved Noah from floods.

Both Atrahasis Epic and Gilgamesh epic are parallel with biblical stories including the story of Noah and the Ark, creation, and the story of Adam and Eve. Enki gave Atrahasis a warning seven days before the floods and advised him to build a boat. Ea also advised Utnapishtim to build a boat. Atrahasis finished the boat and assembled animals, his possessions and birds (Holt and Winston, inc., 2007). This is similar to the biblical story of Noah, and the epic story Gilgamesh. In Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim was instructed to build a boat to save himself from the floods and become immortal. This means that the Mesopotamian history was mainly involved with punishing people through floods because the two epic stories as well as the biblical story of Noah revolve around the same story involving punishment by floods, and one person being saved through a boat.

In conclusion, Gilgamesh: a Verse Narrative is similar to Atrahasis in terms of plot and characters. The plot of the two stories involves creation by the gods, floods and interaction of human beings with gods. The characters are gods for both epic stories, and in each case the god of the earth sought to destroy humankind while the god of the water alongside other gods disagreed with the actions of the god of the earth. In both cases, the God of the water told one of the main characters to build a boat to avoid destruction by floods from the god of the earth. In Gilgamesh, Ea warned Utnapishtim of the coming floods and advised him to build a boat while in Atrahasis Enki warned Atrahasis of the impending floods, and advised him to build a boat.


References list

Foster, B.R. (2001). The Epic of Gilgamesh. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

George, A.R. (2003). The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Holt, R. and Winston, inc. (2007). The Holt reader [to accompany] Elements of literature, Sixth    course. Princeton, N.J: Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.

Jacobsen, T., & Abusch, I. T. (2002). Riches hidden in secret places: Ancient Near Eastern            studies in memory of Thorkild Jacobsen. Winona Lake, Ind: Eisenbrauns.

Mason, H. (1970). Gilgamesh: A verse narrative. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Mitchell, S. (2004). Gilgamesh: A New English Version. New York: Free Press.

Paris, S. (2010). Atrahasis. Huntington Beach: Shell Education

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B. Economics & Finance, B/ED, Writer, Educator with experience of 12 years in research and writing.

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