Who Is Gilgamesh?

Gilgamesh is a semi-mythical Uruk king famous from "The Epic of Gilgamesh." This poem was written 1,500 years before the Greek epics of Homer, making "The Epic of Gilgamesh" the oldest known piece of Western literature.

Gilgamesh is accepted by historians as a fifth-century king of Uruk whose influence was so significant that he became in part a mythical figure. He is credited in the epic with building the walls of Uruk to defend its inhabitants against attackers. Later, he travels with Enkidu, an enemy-turned-friend, on a series of adventures which result in the displeasure of the gods and Enkidu's death. In the second half of the epic he seeks the secret of eternal life, at least in part in response to Enkud's death.