The Role Of Kingship In The Epic Of Gilgamesh

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Kingship, as an institution, has existed for millennia and been the foundation of most of the world 's greatest superpowers. From the British Empire to the Pharaohs of Egypt, kings dominated nearly all of written history. Never was this truer than in the cradle of civilization itself; Mesopotamia. These early peoples pioneered nearly every idea ever conceived regarding kingship, ever since the great Gilgamesh embarked on his adventures with Enkidu in one of the oldest stories still in circulation. However, Mesopotamian kingship had many facets and duties, and each kingdom and time period required different qualities from a king. While one king may serve as a larger-than life defender and conqueror, another may enforce divine justice on behalf …show more content…
His grandfather, Sargon the Great, began the empire when he conquered Sumer and lands as far west as the Mediterranean Sea. (1) From then on, the empire continued to expand, with Naram-Sin 's rule marking the empire 's peak after conquering the city of Elba. (2) Naram-Sin 's kingship embodied the ideal of the "divine protector" king- one who defends his people and defeats his enemies soundly. This is most evident in a victory stele of him, depicting one of his greatest accomplishments: his defeat of the Lullubi people. In the stele, Naram-Sin depicts himself as a divine, towering figure, who tramples over the crushed bodies of his enemies to ascend to a godlike status. (3) His divinity is further illustrated by the helmet he wears- a clothing item reserved for gods- and the sacred solar rays protecting him from above. (4) This depiction harkens back to the ancient king Gilgamesh, one of the most famous Mesopotamian kings. As the Akkadian Empire expanded, the Akkadians became exposed to Sumerian art and culture, which further spread thoughout the Fertile Crescent. There is a strong possibility that Naram-Sin was inspired by the portrayal of divine kingship in ancient Mesopotamia and molded his image after that ideal. In the inscription on the Basetki statue his godliness is explictly spelled out, when the passage details his defeat of the "four regions" that rebelled …show more content…
Whether Naram-Sin and his all-powerful conquest or Hammurabi and his sacred justice, both of these men show the many facets of kingship. Each king served his kingdom in the best way possible for the period they lived and met specific needs within their domain. When one examines these monarchs, one sees the differences in no only their mark on history, but their place in the ongoing establishment of kingship. They sit amongst figures like Ramses, Alexander, and Cyrus, as living legends and founders of the cradle of civilization. Without these leaders paving the way for the empires of the modern era, the western world would be a completely different landscape than what one sees

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