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Friday, 7 October 2016

Let's Post About Gilgamesh. Just Your Average Two Thirds God, One Third Mortal Horny-Helmed Kinda Guy.

Yup, Blogger did it again so here is an up-dated post -and this was one of the old CBOs most popular items.
 When I put together Return Of The Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes I put in, as spotted by Subzero (Tales From The Kryptonian), a lot of things I really loved.

There was science fiction -an even more evil presence behind an alien invasion of Earth, super heroes but also monsters and mythology -gods from many pantheons and their ongoing game of entertainment: a war with forces from many time periods who fought, died and returned to life the next day ad infinitum.

But there were two heroes from separate pantheons I had to include.  One is still lurching about the Black Tower universe with amnesia so I am not going to tell you who he is.  The other was Gilgamesh.

You see, I had heard various stories as a child -thunder was caused by giant playing football (my English gran came up with a corker there...though I could never see one of the bloody giants!).  I heard of ghosts and spirits from my German family.  And when I was attending Greenway Boys Secondary Modern School, Southmead, in 1971/72, we had lessons where we were allowed to just pick books to read.  There were a lot of the tiny pocket books so I read Gunfight At The OK Corral and then I found The Twelve Labours Of Hercules (and discovered he should be called "Heracles").

Then I saw another book which was Epic Of Gilgamesh. I read the entire book -and were talking a couple hundred pages which for a boy of 13  in a very tough school wasn't too bad.


Gilgamesh as illustrated in The Chaldean Account of Genesis (1876)


Gilgamesh  was a king of Uruk in what was called Mesopotamia -a kingdom which took in parts of Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria and Kuwait.  And Gilgamesh lived sometime between (roughly) 2800 and 2500 BC and  is the main character in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a poem that is considered to be the first great work of literature.

Go, Mesopotamia! 


It is in this epic that we learn that Gilgamesh is a demigod: a possessor of superhuman strength and who was responsible for building the city walls of Uruk. Adding even more credibility to Gilgamesh's cred was the fact that he travelled to meet the sage Utnapishtim --a man who had survived the Great Deluge.

And, according to the Sumerian King List, Gilgamesh lived for a good while -he ruled Uruk for some 126 years. You can imagine that Gilgamesh after a series of great adventures had become what might be called today "a really arrogant bastid!"

He was not going to get away with that.  Modern accounts tell us that the now tyranical Gilgamesh was to face a challenge:

"Enkidu was formed from clay and saliva by Aruru, the goddess of creation, to rid Gilgamesh of his arrogance. In the story Enkidu is a wild man, raised by animals and ignorant of human society until he is bedded by Shamhat. Thereafter a series of interactions with humans and human ways bring him closer to civilization, culminating in a wrestling match with Gilgamesh.

"Enkidu embodies the wild or natural world, and though equal to Gilgamesh in strength and bearing, acts in some ways as an antithesis to the cultured, urban-bred warrior-king. Enkidu then becomes the king's constant companion and deeply beloved friend, accompanying him on adventures until he is stricken ill. The deep, tragic loss of Enkidu profoundly inspires in Gilgamesh a quest to escape death by obtaining godly immortality."

The death of Enkidu  I can recall reading and it was very poignant.  I must have moped that day.

 Above: Enkidu and Gilgamesh.

there is a more scholarly account here http://www.wisdomlib.org/mesopotamian/book/babylonian-religion-and-mythology/d/doc7097.html

And I quote:

The Creation of Ea-bani.
The passage referring to the creation of this being, who was named Ea-bani, reads as follows:—
“Upon hearing these words (i.e., the words of the gods)
Aruru conceived a man of Anu in her mind.
Aruru washed her hands,
She broke off a piece of clay, she cast it on the ground.
Thus she created Ea-bani, the hero.”
Ea-bani, however, was not wholly human in form. [Page 151] From his picture upon cylinder-seals we know that he had the head, and body, and arms of a man, but his legs were those of a beast.
The following description of Ea-bani is given in the poem:—
“The whole of his body was [covered] with hair,
He was clothed with long hair like a woman.
The quality of his hair was luxuriant, like that of the Corn-god.
He knew [not] the land and the inhabitants thereof,
He was clothed with garments as the god of the field.
With the gazelles he ate herbs,
With the beasts he slaked his thirst,
With the creatures of the water his heart rejoiced.”
Now you might ask: "Who the **** is Ea-Bani?!" so let me explain. Older sources sometimes transliterate the name as "Enkimdu", "Ea-bani", or "Enkita" and "Enkidu" is a modern variant. Explained? Good.



Ea-bani and Gilgamesh in conflict with two bulls. (From a cylinder-seal in the British Museum, No. 89,308.)

 Gods were, obviously, what we might call in our modern pop culture "super heroes".  It is interesting that Enkidu is described the way he is.  Many have tried to suggest that he might have been a Sasquatch-like hominid.  If you have read my books you'll know I go into a lot of detail on wild men as well as large hominids.  A neat idea and there are certain parallels between Enkidu and Sasquatch but this post ain't about that (I'd stick that over on the Anomalous Observational Phenomena blog!).

Now, Marvel and DC -and many other companies in the past, have bastardised other nations-cultures mythology.  Kirby and Lee did a great job with Thor and the Norse pantheon and Jack, of course, brought us the Eternals and New Gods.

Excuse For covers!!! 








And it really did show how both Lee and especially Kirby, loved the old myths.

Then, of course, DC and Marvel fecked everything up by killing them all...in fact I've shied away from any of the non-Kirby New Gods and Eternmals.

"So just what has this got to do with Gilgamesh?!!" I hear you impatiently scream.

Well, Gilgamesh, an Eternal in the Marvel Universe, actually got himself recruited into the Avengers back in volume 1 #300.

Now, I have to say that he was not dressed very Mesopotamian and for some reason he had a horned helmet that is more commonly associated with a Pharaoh elite guard and the "Sea People" who ravaged the Mediterranean area back in the day.

Then again, the legend of Gilgamesh grew up around this character so there was an "opt out".

Cover time (again)!!
 Above: Looking at it again, no, that ain't even a Sea People style horned hat.  Someone was dropping some weird meds back then!  Looks more minotaur inspired which is a whole different thing and not related to Assyro-Babylonian culture.

Below, my man, Gilgamesh....having a sort of brain leechy type problem. And, again, not really wearing clothing suitable for a godling of his culture.  But it's comics so -meh.


Then I came across this at Marvel.com: a character sketch of ....Gilgamesh??? Looks more like the 1920s movie Tarzan. But it's a "Young Guns Spotlight" sketch by Daniel Acuña. "WTF??!!" would be an apt response though it was probably this or make Gilgamesh a 15 year old Hispanic-African American lesbian.


I do really hope the above was just "fun" and not being serious but then -its comics "meh". Time for a deep breath and a look at that John Buscema Gilgamesh re-design which ain't looking that back now..


And it was nice to see someone to convert an action figure -this is a marvel legends Gilgamesh Custom Action Figure made by figure realmer eddiegrayce's. Cooooooooooooool.
There is also an official Marvel Legends Gilgamesh action figure!!!!  How do I get it? Who do I kill? Anyone. Just tell me!

So how did I portray Gilgamesh?  Far more Mesopotamian!


Probably aged about 110 years old here, I think!

And one day I may well draw the Gilgamesh -Enkidu story....though I've put off drawing the Mabinogion for thirty years! For now I hope you enjoyed a little entertaining education mixed in with comics.  If you did not then god-bless-you.

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