Gilgamesh: The Life of a Poem

The Epic of Gilgamesh is, perhaps, the oldest written story on Earth.

It comes to us from Ancient Sumeria, and was originally written on 12 clay tablets in cunieform script.

It is about the adventures of the historical King of Uruk (somewhere between 2750 and 2500 BCE).

Notice how a passage in the first Book of Gilgamesh refers to Gilgamesh as “Man” being 2/3rds God and 1/3rd Human

Who can compare with him in kingliness?
Who can say like Gilgamesh: “I am King!”?
Whose name, from the day of his birth, was called “Gilgamesh”?
Two-thirds of him is god, one-third of him is human. ~Gilgamesh, Book 1.

The Rig Veda was written 2200–1600 BC in the Northwestern Subcontinent of India. Notice How this venerable Book refers to Purusha as “Man” being 3/4th Immortal and 1/4th Mortal

HYMN XC. Puruṣha.

  1. A THOUSAND heads hath Puruṣa, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet.
    On every side pervading earth he fills a space ten fingers wide.
    2 This Puruṣa is all that yet hath been and all that is to be;
    The Lord of Immortality which waxes greater still by food.
    3 So mighty is his greatness; yea, greater than this is Puruṣa.
    All creatures are one-fourth of him, three-fourths eternal life in heaven.
    4 With three-fourths Puruṣa went up: one-fourth of him again was here. ~Rig Veda

The first two verses of the Purusha sukta, with Sayana’s commentary. Page of Max Müller’s Rig-Veda-sanhita, the Sacred Hymns of the Brahmans (reprint, London 1974).

The Deluge tablet of the Gilgamesh epic in Akkadian