The story of the Gilgamesh is a brief description of how Mesopotamia underwent civilization. The book covers the journey, challenges and achievements and setbacks of the Mesopotamians in their quest for civilization. The meaning of civilization is brought clearly through the accomplishment of what most of the people felt were important to them; change in government, agriculture, worship, and much more. It is a story of a heroic journey of the civilization of people in the city of Mesopotamia, Uruk, Babylon, and Sumer among other cities. According to Gilgamesh story, civilization refers to the advancement of the human society in terms of culture, government, industry, and science. It is the progression of human society, moving out of the primitive societal values, to displaying moral values, a new development in science and technology, and industry as well wholesome change in human life. It is the improvement of the human life to better-living conditions. Therefore, being civilized means having a modernized society, governance, education systems just a few to mention. One becomes civilized when modernity has become the trend of the life in the human society and culture; has abandoned old traditional practices and uses science to grow the society.
The story of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest stories in the history of Mesopotamia. If fact, it is one of the oldest text in the history of humanity. It is a story that has influenced a lot of work such as the bible, Odyssey, and Edda. More and more stories regarding human civilization can be extracted from this story. Gilgamesh story is a record of the progress and the journey of the civilization of the people of Mesopotamia that include the transition from the tradition way of living to modernity. During this, time, Mesopotamia experienced a wave of change in its way of life. People started living in the city, improvement in education, religion and modernization of agriculture.
Struggle, War, and Peace
Gilgamesh was the ruler of the ancient city of Uruk. He is the person who saw Mesopotamians transform to civilization. Right from the beginning he believes he cannot die (he was two third god and one-third human) and, therefore, he feared nothing. He became a ruthless, immature, and a reckless leader who could not appreciate life as it was. During his rule, there was war and struggle all over the city. Gilgamesh was in disharmony with some gods. Cities quarreled over resources such as water and lands. Every city had its trained soldiers to protect its resources. However, after sometimes, the city became peaceful and, people lived friendly with one another.
The function and the role of the city
Mesopotamia has many cities that were the center of civilization. The state organization or leadership was based in the city. Uruk city was the core of the Mesopotamian civilization. Kings and rulers lived in the city for proper governance. However, every city was independent of one another. For instance, the city of Sumeria was run differently from the Uruk city. The globalization started right away from the city. The cities were the center of changes and they were divided into sections based on the gods and the goddess who ruled them. Every city housed a temple for worship. However, the same temples were used for receiving, storing and disbursing food.
The city was Uruk was identified with the Sumerian religion. This religion believed in the worship of nature, water, gods, and other supernatural beings that were believed to protect the ancients Mesopotamians. The people worshiped forces of nature as their gods. There was gods water, harvest, peace, rain, drought, famine and much more. The Sumerians understood that the universe comprised the earth, and the heaven. The gods of events were in the form of human beings and had human traits. They ate, married, drank and even could fight against each other (Maier 12). There were set rules of divine authority that each god had to follow and obey so as to keep the cosmos functioning. All cities in Mesopotamia had a temple of worship. In the quest for civilization, all these religious practices were abandoned. People adopted the modern ways of religion and forgot their traditions. The worship of gods came to an end, and the life was quite different compared to the olden days.
The concept of home
As depicted in Gilgamesh story, the family was the basic unit of the society and was highly valued. The Mesopotamian society was patriarchal. They advocated for nuclear families or monogamy marriages although the nobility was allowed to have concubines. Daughters were “purchased” from their fathers although the practice became out of fashion after 3000BC. The woman had power to do business, go anywhere she wanted but, of course, with permission from the husband. In the event that couple divorced, each party had to pay a set aside fine. The man or rather a husband could choose to divorce his wife if she was childless or barren. If the woman just decided to leave her husband, she was subject to punishment and penalties. The main purpose of marriage was to bring forth children. The boy child was preferred in most communities. The children had to show maximum respect and obedience to their parents. Home and family was the pivot of the Mesopotamian society. The funniest thing was the sale of children when one was in dire financial needs. Every member of the family, whether from the clan or the extended family, is responsible for the welfare of the other. The family was valued in the Mesopotamian society. The children had to show maximum respect and obedience to their parents. Home and family was the pivot of the Mesopotamian society.
Love and friendship
In the modern days, love and friendship are the order of the day. People find friends of opposite sex, fall in love and even end up in marriage. In Mesopotamia, as quoted in the Gilgamesh, love and friendship were treated differently. Girls were sold to men who wanted women to marry. In fact, there was marriage market day where girls and unmarried women were auctioned. Girls had no right to choose who to marry them, but it was the responsibility of their fathers. The father had to sell their daughters to people who they considered important to marry their girls. Love was valued in the Mesopotamian society. However, the choice of who to marry was limited to men. Men chose who they wanted to get married, pay the requested dowry and sign the marriage contract. Girls were just waiting for anyone who would bid them and pay the dowry to their fathers.
Civilized world vs. Animal world as depicted in Gilgamesh
As illustrated in the Gilgamesh story, the Mesopotamia society underwent full-length civilization. Before the civilized world, the life in Mesopotamia was comparable to animal life hence the term animal world. Before civilization, nature was in control and governed the lives of the Mesopotamians. Leaders such Enkidu were comparable to animals. They had made the life of the Mesopotamians miserable. Leaders had sex with harlots and animals for their personal gain. For instance, Enkidu, who was human and animal at the same time, is said to have with several harlots. Little by little, civilization was realized in most communities. Life started changing slowly by slowly. Humans enjoyed their lives, governance and religion. The life was quite different as compared to the days of the animal world. The author notes that the new world, civilized world, had freedom. People had the right to choose what they needed without fear of the gods. The animal world was left to die with Enkidu.
The Mesopotamia civilization is one of the ancient civilizations that exist in history. A lot of work has been documented showing how the country transformed from its traditional setting to become a modern society. The Gilgamesh story is a full proof journey of the milestones the country has achieved. From the leadership of rulers to the current organized and structured governments Mesopotamia has witnessed development milestones to modernity. Domestication of animals, use of sophisticated weapons, use of chariots, demarcation of time into hours, minutes, seconds, irrigation and much more can be traced back in Mesopotamian civilization. All these development milestones were common in the cities of Sumer, circa, and Mesopotamia.