According to Dr. Dorothy Kilker of CSU, Fullerton, all great literature of all cultures strives to answer one – or more -- of the great questions located below. (In a way, the need to know the answers to these great questions could be a form of shared knowledge that binds all people together.) The people who first heard The Epic of Gilgamesh were no different.

Your Task: Now, based on your reading of the Epic of Gilgamesh and your pre-write, write a 2 pg, double-speaced typed essay in which you discuss what the Epic of Gilgamesh reveals about the values—the moral ideas and standards of behavior—of ancient Babylonia. What ideas were important of the Babylonians? What did they expect of their rulers? What values did they want their heroes to embody? Etc. Use examples from the selection to support your argument.

Grading Rubric:

Clear Thesis
10 points
Relevant evidence from the text
20 points
Creative analysis and interpretation of the text
20 points
Conventions: spelling, grammar, usge
10 points
60 points
See this student example to get started.
This is a summary of Gilgamesh.
Here is Gilgamesh full-text! Here's another place.

The Great Questions

Great literature of all cultures usually deals with one or more of the following questions:

I. What is the nature of the universe—the cosmos?

o Is the universe hostile / beneficent / indifferent to humanity?
o What is the nature of evil? What is the source of evil?
o Why, if God is good, does He allow evil to exist? (The Problem of Evil)
o Why, if God is just, does He allow the good to suffer? (The Problem of Pain)

II. What is God's relationship to humans?

o Does God exist?
o Is God the Creator?
o Is God concerned about humanity?
o Is God indifferent toward humanity?
o Should humans fear / obey / love
sacrifice to / propitiate / pray to God?

III. What is the nature of God?

o Is God (gods) basically: an angry God? a proud God? a jealous God? a kind God?
o Is God all good?
o Does God Himself bring evil to humanity and cause suffering?

IV. What is the nature of human beings?

o Are humans basically good or evil?
o Are people determined or do we have free will?
o Are people noble—more divine than animal? or
o Are people degraded, corrupt—more animal than spirit?
o Are people a balance? If so, how is the balance preserved?
o What is the human being's greatest faculty? reason? imagination?
o Do humans have a soul? Can they achieve immortality? How?
o Are humans in the universe by design or by chance? If by design, why?
o What is a human's basic purpose in life? Is there a purpose?
To save the human soul?
To find happiness? If so, what is happiness and how are we to achieve it?
o What is the "good" life for humans? How can life gain significance?
o How can people give value to their lives?
o How can people find their greatest satisfaction, completeness, fulfillment?
o How do people establish values, ethics, morals? What are their biases?

V. What is the relationship of one human to another?

o How are we to treat people? Are all people to be treated as equals?
o On what basis should we / do we evaluate our fellow humans?
o Are we basically social animals or anti social ones?
o How are we to establish an orderly existence with other humans?
o What is the "ideal" or "good" society? How can it be established?
o Under what social system can people best flourish?
o On what base should we regulate our association with other people?