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Invitation to World Literature

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This image of Gilgamesh comes from Assyria. It shows Gilgamesh subduing a lion, a common pose for the great warrior-king. His long hair and beard also show his strength, as well as his physical perfection.
David Damrosch talks about this image
This image of Gilgamesh and Enkidu by modern-day artist Neil Dalrymple is inspired by ancient images of the two friends; notice Enkidu is part-animal, and smaller than the king whom he loves and serves.
These ceramic relief tablets were designed and hand sculpted by Neil Dalrymple, Ceramic Sculptor, UK.
The beauty and terror of the greatest of Sumerian goddesses come through in this ancient statue. Ishtar was at once lovely and terrible, seducing many great men and then killing them. Her unearthly white skin and glowing red eyes warn those who might answer her as she beckons with her right hand.
Peter Willi / Getty Images
David Damrosch talks about this image
Humbaba's demonic face was a popular subject for sculptors; this ancient Assyrian representation follows the usual practice of depicting the creature's face as one swirling line.
The Schoyen Collection, MS 4573/1
Soft clay tablets were pierced with small, flat-edged wooden writing sticks to create cuneiform writing. The Sumerians invented this form of writing, which was adopted by later cultures in the region. Once dry, the tablets hardened into permanent documents.
© kmiragaya/Fotolia
The great Assyrian king Ashurbanipal is seen helping to rebuild the temple at Babylon. With a winged god in attendance, the king will place stones in the temple wall. This relief comes from the king's palace at Nimrod.
David Damrosch talks about this image
The king's great prowess as a rider and a marksman is celebrated in this carving from his capital city of Nineveh. The city was his greatest achievement, just as Uruk was Gilgamesh's.
This engraving of George Smith, the self-made Assyriologist, who discovered the flood story in Gilgamesh, appeared in the Illustrated London News on April 10, 1875.
Cuneiform marks from clay tablets are created by Assyriologists as part of the process of translation. Once clearly printed on paper, the marks can be read and translated.
This modern-day recreation of a great walled city on a river gives us a sense of the beauty and power of Gilgamesh's city of Uruk. The continuing interest in ancient Sumeria is proof that his city did indeed grant Gilgamesh immortality.
© 2010 JupiterImages Corporation