Episode 3 – Sumerians 3, Gilgamesh and the Taming of Enkidu

Today we begin the Epic of Gilgamesh, available on anchor.fm, spotify, and a growing number of other podcasting services. We begin with the majestic, 9 foot tall superhero’s biggest problem, he is getting bored and starting to harass the people of Uruk. The gods know that boys will be boys and what he really needs is a constructive outlet for all this energy, so they create Enkidu. We will also meet the head of the Temple of Ishtar, the prostitute priestess Shamhat, and we get an epic throwdown worthy of any modern action movie.

Nearly every representation of Gilgamesh I have seen from the ancient world shows him with a super goofy beard. Perhaps the best of ancient representations is from the Louvre, showing him towering over a defeated lion, perhaps Humbaba who will be his foe in the next episode.

The descriptions of the wedding feast in this episode are not present in the original, it is a bit of my own flourish. The original texts just say that there was a feast, but I could not resist the opportunity to incorporate another decidedly ancient text, the world’s oldest cookbook, containing the three recipies mentioned in the episode. Unfortunately, it is honestly pretty anachronistic, having come from around a thousand years after the estimated date of the story.  On the other hand, the same sorts of food would have been available in Gilgamesh’s day, so while cooking styles and fashions may have changed it is certainly plausible that he could have eaten these things. At the very least, it should give a sense of the flavors of ancient mesopotamia.

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