BACKGROUND: One of the greatest cities in ancient Sumer was the city of Uruk. Legend says that once upon a time, on the banks of the Euphrates, in the great city of Uruk, there lived a king named Gilgamesh. In truth, a king named Gilgamesh may actually have existed. His name is on the Sumerian King List, a list written in cuneiform on clay tablets, recovered from the library at Nineveh by archaeologists.
The Epic of Gilgamesh is a series of stories about King Gilgamesh, written thousands of years ago. The stories recount the many adventures that our hero, Gilgamesh, experienced in his search for everlasting life. These stories had an unnamed narrator who states: "I will proclaim to the world the deeds of Gilgamesh." The narrator introduces himself before he introduces the hero, King Gilgamesh of Uruk, and by doing so, welcomes us into the story.
The narrator is quick to tell us that the king of Uruk, the great King Gilgamesh, was two-thirds god and one-third human. Because of this, Gilgamesh was far more beautiful and far more courageous than a common person. He had some magical powers, powers that popped up now and then throughout the stories because he was part god. According to the narrator, Gilgamesh was not just a hero; he was a superhero. Gilgamesh fought monsters, moved mountains and rivers, rescued people in need, and generally protected the people of Sumer. Yet, he was also part mortal, which might explain why Gilgamesh was determined to find the key to everlasting life - so he could live forever like the rest of the gods.
Even though The Epic of Gilgamesh was written thousands of years ago, these imaginative stories of great adventure are still fun to read today.