The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Thousand and one Nights

Published: 2021-06-29 06:54:46
essay essay

Category: Book Reports

Type of paper: Essay

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Hey! We can write a custom essay for you.

All possible types of assignments. Written by academics

The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Thousand and One Nights are two chef-d'oeuvres of world literature that goes back to ancient times. The former originated in Mesopotamia in the Sumerian civilization and the latter was based on Persian and Indian tales that were translated in Arabic during the Mediaeval ages in the Abbasid Era. The writer of the two masterpieces are unknown, their origins are still debated and their meanings still unfolding. Despite the fact that these two masterpieces of ancient literature date back to two different historical and geographic areas, the two share some basic elements that portray the universality of world literature. The Epic of Gilgamesh was written in cuneiform script, a reason that explains its lack of popularity due to issues with translation and lack of knowledge of cuneiform languages compared to other literary works written in the same period such as the Odyssey of Homer. The Epic of Gilgamesh was based on historical facts proven by the fact that the name of the epic's protagonist, Gilgamesh, is also the fifth Sumerian king from the Erech dynasty (Hooke, 197).
The two chef-d'oeuvres are abundant in themes that relate to human nature and how they view their lives and identity with others. In my essay I will focus on the themes of love, justice and death in the two works by comparing them and scouring where they share resemblances and where they have differences. The first part will be devoted to some background facts about the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Thousand and One Nights. The second part will consider the theme of love and see the resemblance and difference in its portrayal, and then the third part will be devoted to the theme of death, mainly the quest to attain immortality and escape death. Eventually, the final part will ponder the theme of justice and its manifestation in the two masterpieces.

Contextualization of the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Thousand and One Nights
Although the two masterpieces belong to two different eras, they share many themes because their stories were about the universality of human nature. Obviously, the Epic of Gilgamesh was full of allusions to the pagan life in Mesopotamia during the Sumerian and then Babylonian civilization. Indeed, the prayers to the myriad gods of Mesopotamia show the pagan and idolatry life that surrounded the epic. Whereas, in The Thousand and One Nights, because it was written in the Medieval Ages of the East during the reign of Abbasids in Baghdad, the Persian and Indian stories were molded to fit the Islamic decorum and the breakup with heathen religions in the Middle East. For instance, there is no mention of Gods and Goddesses while there is a reference to the Quran and God as on entity in all the stories of Shahrazad. And as it is stated by Rofail Farag "The '1001 Nights' is indeed a mirror which reflects the social aspects of the Middle Ages." (202) Thus, when reading Gilgamesh, we read also the world views of the civilization that inhabited Mesopotamia and similarly the Thousand and One Nights reflects the religious traditions that are prevalent in the Middle East during the Mediaeval period.
In terms of the geographical setting of both masterpieces the two works were based altogether in Asia, the Epic of Gilgamesh from Mesopotamia particularly in the city of Uruk and Thousand and One Nights from Indochina but probably written in Islamic civilization during the Abbasid Era. In spite of the absence of any mention of paganism in the Thousand and One Nights, many elements that were banned in Islam were still portrayed in the work such as magic and promiscuity. Likewise, the Epic of Gilgamesh, even though it states the heathen life in Mesopatmai, alludes to many elements of monolithic religions that were mentioned in the Torah, the Bible and the Quran such as the survival of Utnapashtim from Enlil's flood which refers to Noah's survival from the flood. On top of that, the verse in tablet 6 "Let the widow of Uruk gather seven years of chaff," (Gilgamesh, 47) which refers to the Josephs explanation of the kings dream of the seven slim cows. Additionally, the snake that "caught the scent of the plant" (Gilgamesh, 81) alludes to the snake that persuaded Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. This religious symbolism that is portrayed in the epic shows the continuity of human nature and the link between ancient and monolithic religions. Mainly how did people in ancient times view natural disasters such as the flood that bear resemblance to modern calamities such as the tsunami that hit Indonesia in 2004 which was seen as an act of God' wrath by the Islamist party of Justice and Development (PJD). Correspondingly, Hurricane Katrina that hit Louisiana in 2005 was viewed by the Methodist church as an act of god's revenge on the sins committed blatantly in New Orleans such as gambling and abortion.
The Theme of Love
The theme of love is a focal theme in both chef-d'oeuvres of world literature. First and foremost, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the hero Gilgamesh always shows his love for his companion Enkidu, who was the reason why Gilgamesh went into his adventures and to cease abusing and killing his people. Gilgamesh describes his comrade as "My friend whom I so loved, who went with me through every hardship." (Gilgamesh, 65) The friendship love between Enkidu and Gilgamesh was a manifestation of the altruistic and kind nature of human beings, to the extent that even evil and villain men can be tamed and assuaged to become meek and humane. Just like the taming of the carnal and animal-like Enkidu by Shamhat the prostitute, who alludes to the Goddess of love and fertility Ishtar, to become a civilized man. The friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu is an epitome that symbolizes that change is a possibility in human nature. The seduction of Shamhat transformed Enkidu from the life of animals to the cultured life of ancient Mesopotamia; she is the one who introduced him to the shepherds that taught him how to behave like humans. (Gilgamesh, 21)

Gilgamesh would leave no girl to her mother
The warrior's daughters, the young man's wife
Goddesses kept hearing their plaints
Gilgamesh leaves no son to his father
Day and night he rampages fiercely (Gilgamesh , 15)

The friendship bond between Gilgamesh and Enkidu lead them to seek glory and adventure by going to the cedar forest to fight the monster Humbaba (Gilgamesh, 25). Ironically, the two friends' keenness to explore the world and Gilgamesh disobedience

Warning! This essay is not original. Get 100% unique essay within 45 seconds!


We can write your paper just for 11.99$

i want to copy...

This essay has been submitted by a student and contain not unique content

People also read