Essay by tesibaby15 March 2004

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With such an interesting storyline and well developed characters, how could one not want to keep the Epic of Gilgamesh in circulation? But it was not just lore, it effectively taught the outlook of Sumerian culture and instilled morals. This epic brings a historical insight into how Gilgamesh lived and ruled through his actions as a king. The simple fact of its ability to teach, explain history, and outline religious beliefs remains a very practical tool for the Babylonians to use and pass down to future generations. There are many factors why the Epic of Gilgamesh became sacred literature.

One such reason why Gilgamesh has survived is due to its accurate account of the gods and the beliefs that made them so crucial to these ancient people. A fine example of this is shown in the line, "I am going to that country, O Shamash, I am going; my hands supplicate, so let it be well with my soul and bring me back to the quay of Uruk"(72) Here is accurately portrayed how Shamash was related to Gilgamesh and acted on his behalf.

This document provides a vivid account of the overall religious theme to which the Sumerians belonged. Through this story, the keepers of the text could easily depict the gods and their roles in the Sumerian society.

Another reason for this story's sanction by the Babylonians is that it provides historical documentation of the actual king, Gilgamesh. Since the Babylonians were able to see his creations and his incredible skill in building in the story, they realized that this was a great man. These walls provided verification of his existence and showed that this king was a very powerful man, yet the Babylonians kept Gilgamesh for the fact that they could gloat over their conquest of this society.