The Epic of Gilgamesh is a long, boring, heroic poem by Gil Gamesh, a Babylonian who plagiarized the story from ancient Sumerian sources and claimed that the events of the poem, outlandish though they are, actually happened to him. One of the poem's key episodes in the flood, which, when it is written about in the Bible, is known as the Biblical flood, but, in Gilgamesh, is referred to as The Deluge.
The poem, which, written about 3,000 years B. C., is among the oldest tall tales in Western literature, recounts King Gilgamesh's love affair with his friend, Enkidu, who later dies, abandoning his liege. Even in its day, the poem was unread by everyone but its author and his mother, and, hoping to make the story more popular, Gil Gamesh hired a comic book artist to illustrate his poem. The result, some scholars, Walt Disney foremost among them, contend, was the world's "first comic book."
The poem has been translated by several modern authors to provide fodder for the lengthy textbooks that contemporary college students must pretend to read in order to receive college credit for ridiculous general education courses like A Survey of Western Literature From Antiquity Through The Middle Ages.
To this day, the tedious, odious poem remains one of the least read and most hated texts of all time, despite a few risqué passages such as one, early in the story, in which Gilgamesh is castigated by his people for deflowering the women of his realm before their newlywed husbands have had a turn with them.
To "distract" Gilgamesh, the goddess Aruru creates a male buddy for him, the wild man Enkidu. First, Gilgamesh fights Enkidu, but they decide to be friends instead of enemies and seek to kill a dragon instead of one another.
The plot slows after they kill the dragon, so Gil Gamesh throws in some more sex, having the latent king spurn the sexual advances of the goddess Ishtar, whose father is not pleased at Gilgamesh's rejection of his daughter and sends the Bull of Heaven down to avenge her lack of virtue. When Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the Bull, the gods decide that one of them must die, and Enkidu falls ill and soon shuffles off his mortal coil (i. e., dies).
Terrified that he will be the next to die, Gilgamesh journeys to the underworld, where he meets Urshanabi, the Noah of the poem, who has survived a cataclysmic flood, The Deluge. Urshanabi tells Gilgamesh of a magic plant that grows at the bottom of the sea. When eaten, it bestows eternal life.
The hero, being a hero, braves death and destruction to obtain the plant, setting it aside until he can share it with the council of his hometown, Uruk, but a snake steals the plant, and the disappointed fool returns to his hometown.
At the sight of Uruk's massive walls, Gilgamesh has an epiphany: men, especially stupid ones like himself, will attain immortality through the deeds that they do, not from eating a plant. He also realizes that "There's no place like home."
Scholars see parallels between The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey and between Gilgamesh and the Bible's story of Noah and the flood. No one else sees any such parallels, because no one else reads the epic, it boring contemporary readers who try to read it as much as it bored its potential audniences several thousands of years previously.
Maybe Disney will make the poem into an animated film?