Gilgamesh: The Role Of Authority In The Ancient World

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Since the dawn of ancient civilization, humans have looked toward authority. The ancient peoples of the world’s river valleys formed the first cities, settling along the fertile banks. At their head, these cities had a leader, often one who had, or who controlled, the food supply. More often than not, the leaders of these cities claimed an ancient form of divine mandate. Their authority was second to none, and their authority resonated throughout the people they ruled.
The ancient city of Uruk, located in present day Iraq, is a prime example. The ancient kings either married a goddess, or claimed to be divine. The king Gilgamesh, being two-thirds divine, according to the Epic of Gilgamesh, ruled his city with extreme strength and authority,
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Our basic feelings are forms of authority. Our hunger commands us to eat, our fatigue commands us to sleep. Whether we like to think it or not, there are always authoritative presences in our lives. Our upbringing places us under the subjection of our parents or guardians, who are the first external source of authority in our lives. It is a necessary social dynamic, and it is the most naturally occurring dynamic. It is the oldest and most common part of our psyche, and as such, it is the best dynamic. Evolution teaches us that the traits that survive are passed on. The human mindset has enabled us to survive so far. Parents, like rulers, only differ in the degree of authority.Gilgamesh, even though he was incredibly powerful, visited his mother’s temple with Enkidu. “Let us bow before her, let us ask for her blessing and advice.” (98) Of course, this is not the only role of the parent. However, the authoritative presence, in general, is the necessary component of life.
This is not an argument for the acceptance of all authority. Authority can, and should be questioned. At times, it should be changed. The right of the people is the right to establish their own authority, one that they feel represents them the best. But like the matter of the universe, authority cannot be destroyed completely. It will only change its form. This is a reality that cannot be argued against. As such, society cannot ever be “free” in the most liberal sense, because it would cease to function and

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