- What's wrong with Gilgamesh when we first meet him?
- How does Enkidu change Gilgamesh? Challenging the king to combat, as Enkidu does, was a deadly offense. Does the text ever clearly state why or how they go from enemies to friends?
- Compare the characters of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Who was the more heroic? Why? Begin with an explanation of what you consider heroic and see if it is similar to what is considered heroic in the story.
- There are several female characters in the epic — both divine and human. How are women represented in the epic? What roles do they play in the lives of Gilgamesh and Enkidu? Is there a difference between how mortal and divine women are represented? If so, what sorts of differences are there?
- Why does Gilgamesh kill Humbaba? Does Humbaba deserve to die?
- As he lies dying, Enkidu curses the harlot, and then revokes his curse and blesses her. Do you think he was better off in his natural, animal, state, or as a civilized man?
- Why is the issue of immortality so important to Gilgamesh? Does he fear death, or love life?
- Ultimately, what does the story tell us about what it means to be human? How do both Gilgamesh and Enkidu change in ways that might help us answer that question?
- Compare the Biblical story of the flood (Genesis 6-10) with the version of the flood told by Utnapishtim in Gilgamesh. Now, identify several ways in which the two floods are similar and several ways in which they are different. What do you think is the most striking difference between them? What cultural or theological difference may underlie the differences in the two versions of the Flood story? Explain, using specific examples from both stories to support your ideas.
- In the video, the dancer and choreographer Izumi Ashizawa describes Siduri's advice to Gilgamesh as paralleling an insight of Zen Buddhism. How do you understand this advice? Do you agree with it or not? What does it mean for Gilgamesh?