The ancient Sumerians were great story tellers, perhaps
not as good as the ancient Greeks - but still, very good.
Thousands of years ago, they created the story of Gilgamesh.
Gilgamesh is one of the oldest recorded stories in
the world. It's about an ancient King of Uruk who may have actually
existed and whose name - Gilgamesh - is on the Sumerian King List. (But
then, the ancient Sumerians created the list, so there is really no
According to the story, Gilgamesh was not just a
hero. He was the first superhero! He was part god and part human. He had
many special powers.
Once upon a time, a long time ago,
King Gilgamesh sat alone in his garden, thinking things over. He knew he
was strong enough to pick up mountains. He knew he could dive down to
the deepest point in the ocean and back again in one breath. He knew
that any time he fought one of the monsters who lived in the forest near
his kingdom, he would win. He always won.
Gilgamesh was bored. He
had nothing to do that was any fun at all except scare his subjects
silly with his tempers and his tantrums.
Recently, even the monsters in the forest
had taken to hiding every time Gilgamesh went looking for a good fight.
If he could fly, he would have flown over the forest and spotted their
hiding places. But he could not fly. After all, wasn't he a god? Well,
two-thirds of a god? What good were special powers if there was nothing
fun to do with them? His sighs grew heavier and heavier.
Gilgamesh dragged himself to his feet and
wandered towards the ziggurat to join his people in prayer. Every day,
the people gathered at the ziggurat. The ziggurat was a temple - a
really big temple - with stairs that seemed to climb to the sky. His
people eyed him nervously. Gilgamesh did not notice. He knew he should
be praying for his people's safety, and for food enough for everyone.
But instead, Gilgamesh prayed for something to do, something fun!
The gods looked down and noticed
Gilgamesh sighing loudly at the foot of the ziggurat. They understood
gloom being gloomy themselves most of the time. They decided since his
prayer was a fair one, they would answer it.
The gods quickly created a wild man - a
man stronger and faster than Gilgamesh. They named him Enkidu. The gods
sent Enkidu down to earth. Enkidu went roaring into the city of Uruk.
The townspeople fled in terror.
Gilgamesh perked up immediately. The two
men/gods roared and wrestled and bit and scratched, but neither could
beat the other. Enkidu was stronger. He grabbed Gilgamesh around the
throat. But Gilgamesh could hold his breath for a very long time. Every
time Enkidu tired of trying to strangle him, Gilgamesh broke free and
grabbed for Enkidu's throat. But Enkidu was faster and eluded him every
And so it went. All over town. They
knocked down houses and tipped over food carts and started laughing and
soon became the best of friends. Since there was nothing much to do
around town, arm in arm, the two god/men left Uruk in search of
When the citizens of Uruk and the
monsters in the forest heard their king had left town, they threw a huge
festival to thank their beloved gloomy god, Marduk, for sending their
king a friend. They prayed every day to powerful Marduk that their king
would enjoy adventures all over the world for a very long time.
- The First Superhero
(Same story as above in powerpoint format, illustrated by Phillip
and the Cedar Forest
Meet another hero from ancient
The great King
Life, Government, Invention, Religion