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The following tape recorded program is a presentation of the National Association of educational broadcasters. The University of Chicago resents the intellectual adventure of ancient man programmes dealing with the good life in ancient Mesopotamia. These programs are read by Joshua Taylor and I based on the book the intellectual adventure of ancient man. They are adapted by thought. The Oriental Institute University of Chicago Mr. Yakob son wrote the original text. To the ancient Mesopotamians. As we have said earlier the world in which they lived was a great cosmic state in which mighty superhuman powers the gods held sway. This state was aware of a rather primitive caste the will of the rulers made law might was often right and evil and lawless elements such as the demons who attacked man bringing disease and death were allowed to roam unchecked Thus the miseries of man the wrongs he suffers were part of the nature of
things were due to his weakness which made him an easy victim of the evil and powerful demons. Just as in the human state he was defenseless against outlaws and bandits who might suddenly set upon him to rob him or kill him. While the conception of the cosmic States remain relatively stable throughout the third millennium the actual human state developed considerably. The central power grew stronger. The machinery of justice became more efficient and punishment followed crime with ever greater regularity. The idea that justice was something to which man had a right began slowly to take form and in the second millennium appropriately the millennium of the famous Code of Hammurabi justice is right rather than justice as favor seems to become the general conception. This idea however could not but conflict violently with the established view of the world. There emerged fundamental problems such as the justification of death and the problem of the right just
suffer. These two problems do not arise with equal clarity but both have behind them an equally passionate urgency. No less articulate less rationalized of the two most probably the revolt against death. We needed a smouldering resentment a deep seated feeling wrong. It's more a feeling than a thought yet it can hardly be doubted that this feeling has its basis in the new concept of human rights in the claim for justice in the universe. Death is an evil. It is as harsh as any punishment. It is indeed the supreme punishment. Why must a man suffer death if he has committed no wrong. In the old arbitrary world this question had no sting for both good and evil were arbitrary matters. But in the new world of justice as a right it became terribly urgent. We find it treated in the Epic of Gilgamesh which must have been composed around the beginning of the second millennium. This epic is
based on older material but the older stories have been woven into a new whole grouped around a new theme that of death. In his youthful energy Gilgamesh ruler of the rock in southern Babylonia drives his people too hard. The people appeal to the gods to create a counterpart to him that they may compete with each other and the people may find rest. The gods comply and create and do who becomes Gilgamesh as companion and friend together the friends and out on dangerous adventures they penetrate to the cedar forest in the West where they slay the terrible monster who guards the forest for in the air on their return the Goddess in honor falls in love with Gilgamesh and when he when he will have none of her she sends the awesome bowl of heaven against him to kill him. Here again however the two heroes conquer they battle with and kill them. There seem to be no limits to their strength and power. Even the most terrible opponents go down before
their weapons. They can afford to treat a mighty God as the most arrogant fashion and then Enlil decides that you too must die as punishment for slaying. So the unconquerable NQ do falls and dies. Until now death has meant little to Gilgamesh. He has accepted the normal standards of a fearless hero and the normal standards of a civilisation. Death is unavoidable and it is of no avail to worry about it. If one has to die that is death be a glorious one met in combat with a worthy opponent. So that is female live before the campaign against the world when in Quito his courage failed him momentarily. You're going to shove break at him sternly. Who my friend was ever so exalted that he could rise up to heaven and lastingly dwell with sham of mere men. His days are numbered. Whatever he may do he is but wind.
You are already afraid of death. Where is the fine strength of your courage. Let me lead and you tarrying can call out to me close in fear or not. And if I fall I shall have founded faith. Gilgamesh fail they will say in combat with terrible who are one. He goes on to relate how in that case and he too will be telling your Commission's son about his father's prowess here death holds no terror. It is part of the gain and it is mitigated to some extent by fame for one's name will live in future generations. But Gilgamesh then knew death only in the abstract. It never touched him directly in all its stark reality. It does so when in Q2 dies my friend my younger brother who with me in the
foothills hunted wild ass and panned in the plains and gave to my friend my younger brother who with me in the foothills hunted wild ass and Panther in the plains who with me could do all who climbs the crags seas killed the Bull of Heaven flung down to our dwelling in the cedar forest. Now what sleep is this. It seized you. You have grown dark and cannot hear me. He did not raise his eyes. The organist touched his heart. It was not beating. Then he covered his friend as if you were a bride. His voice roared out. A lion a lion is chased from her well PZ again and then again he turned toward his friend tearing his hair and scattering the toughs stripping and flinging down the finery of his body. The last which has been visited upon him is too great to bear. He refuses but all his
soul to accept it as a reality. He who with me has shared all hazards the fate of man has overtaken him all day and night. I have wept over him and would not have him buried. My friend might yet rise up at my loud cries for seven days and nights until a maggot dropped from his nose. Since he is gone I can no comfort find he roaming like a hunter in the plains. The thought of death continues to haunt him if he has but one thought one aim to find everlasting life. And so he set out upon his quest at the end of the world beyond the waters of death. Lives an ancestor of his who obtained eternal life. He must know the secret to him will go you must go
alone he wanders the long way to the mountains where the sun sets follows the dark passage through which the sun travels at night almost despairing of ever seeing the light again and finally comes out of the shore of the wide sea. Whoever he meets on his travels he questions about the way to and about eternal life. All tell him the quest is hopeless. Gilgamesh Whither are you wandering life would you look for you will never find. For when the gods created man they let death be his share and life withheld in their own hands. You're going to fill your belly day and night to make merry let days be full of joy dance and make music day and night and wear fresh clothes and wash your head and look at the child that is holding your hand and let your wife delight in your embrace. These things alone are the concern of men. But Gilgamesh cannot give up cannot resign himself to the common lot. The yearning for everlasting
life consumes him and drives him on. On the shore of the sea he meets on a patients boatman and gains passage over the waters of death. He finally finds of notation and can ask him how want to choose eternal life. But inhibition cannot help him. The fact that he himself lives forever is due to unique circumstances that will never be repeated. When the gods in the days of all had decided to destroy mankind and led by Enlil sent a flood to push them and his wife alone were rescued pished them had been forewarned. He had built a big boat and in that he had saved himself his wife and pairs of all living things. Later on in little repented the sending of the flood as a rash act and gave up and appeared to me turn to life as a reward for saving life on Earth. But such circumstances obviously will not recur. Yes Gilgamesh may try to
fight death bids him contend with sleep a magic sleep which is but another form of death. And Gilgamesh who comes almost at once. He is about to perish when Jim's wife out of pity on him wakes him just in time. But the quest has failed. Dejected. Gilgamesh takes his departure to return to Iraq. At that moment the MNS wife urges her husband to give him a parting gift and in a pinch them tells Gilgamesh about a plant which grows in the bottom of the sea and which rejuvenates him who partakes of it. Once more the sagging spirits of Gilgamesh revive accompanied by the MNS boatman or Janabi. He finds the right place dives down and comes up with the precious plant in his hands. Back they say Oh Toto rock reached the shore of the Persian Gulf and continue inland on foot. But the day is warm and the journey tiring.
When Gilgamesh sees an inviting cool pool he flings off his clothes and goes in for a swim to plant the leaves on the bank. And while it is lying there a snake smells it comes out of his hole and snatches it away. Therefore because the age of that plant snakes do not die when they become older they slough off their old bodies and are reborn in youthful vigor. Mankind cheated of Gilgamesh is plant cannot thus return eternally to us and Gilgamesh full of bitterness contemplates the ironic end of his quest. Then Gilgamesh sat down and wept tears streaming down his cheeks. For whose sake ocean ave have I strained my muscles for whose sake has my heart's blood been spent. I brought no blessing on myself. I did the serpent underground good
service. The Epic of Gilgamesh does not come to a harmonious and the emotions which rage in it are not a swathed nor is there as in tragedy any sense of catharsis and a fundamental acceptance of the inevitable. It is a jeering unhappy unsatisfying ending and inner turmoil is left to rage on a vital question finds no answer. You have heard the second programme in the series the intellectual adventure of ancient man. These programmes are based on the book of the same title published by the University of Chicago Press for working with the archives and professor in the university's Oriental Institute is a consultant for the series which is taken from his tax program read by Joshua Taylor professor in the College of the department of Art University of Chicago and produced by Thomas de parish in the university radio office.
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Intellectual adventure of ancient man
Mesopotamian civilization, part two
Producing Organization
University of Chicago
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This second program in the series talks about the legendary character of Gilgamesh and how he reflected values held in Mesopotamian society.
Series Description
This series, based onThorkild Jacobsen's book, "The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man," seeks to describe the "good life in ancient Mesopotamia."
Broadcast Date
Gilgamesh (Legendary character)--Legends.
Media type
Narrator: Taylor, Joshua C. (Joshua Charles), 1917-1981
Producer: Parrish, Thomas (Thomas D.)
Producing Organization: University of Chicago
Writer: Jacobsen, Thorkild, 1904-1993
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-13-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:13:50
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Chicago: “Intellectual adventure of ancient man; Mesopotamian civilization, part two,” 1955-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 26, 2024,
MLA: “Intellectual adventure of ancient man; Mesopotamian civilization, part two.” 1955-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 26, 2024. <>.
APA: Intellectual adventure of ancient man; Mesopotamian civilization, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from