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Epic of Gilgamesh

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Introduction The epic poem dubbed the Epic of Gilgamesh is perhaps the earliest surviving literature on the face of the planet. The poem came from Mesopotamia in its original cuneiform script comprising 12 tablets. The Epic of Gilgamesh is a chronicle detailing the classic adventures of Gilgamesh, a historic king of Uruk. Over the years, historians have eliminated the 12th tablet for alleged inconsistencies. The poem depicts a wide range of themes such as the inevitability of death, which is portrayed when Gilgamesh’s struggle to be young backfires. Other themes include the struggle between humanity and divine power, necessity of friendship, oppression, and the enduring struggle for power along with the conflict between the rulers and the ruled.
Relationship between the Ruler and the Ruled The conflict between rulers and their subjects is perhaps the most enduring historical trend known to humanity. As Machiavelli, Hobbes, Karl Marx and other realist theorist of power politics concur, this longstanding conflict manifests itself in terms of oppression and suppression where the ruling class seeks to dominate the masses financially, socially and politically. This trend is no more today as it was then. It is a reflection of survival for the fittest as envisioned in Darwin’s evolution theory (Foster 45). Looking at the epic of Gilgamesh, which was created at around 2500 BC, oppression emerges as one of the mainstream themes. This is portrayed in the eminence of the king, which symbolizes domination. As the King of Uruk, Gilgamesh was a tyrant who subjected his subjects to unbearable oppression. According to Stanford University Professor of Literature, Annabel Rutherford, women oppression came in the form of droit de seigneur, which is translated to mean ‘the King’s right to deflower young women on the night of their wedding.’ Likewise, the king subjected women...

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