World Mythologies

World Mythologies

Choose any of the three topics. The three questions are based off of the book The Epic of Gilgamesh, translation by Stephen Mitchell.

Papers must be typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins, in a standard font (such as Times New Roman, 10, 11 or 12 pt). You do not need to attach a title page; instead, make sure that your name, section number and the essay topic appear on your first page (top left-hand corner) – and don’t forget to insert name and page number on EVERY page! Please indicate clearly which topic you are answering, and include an interesting, relevant essay title above the main body of your text. Your essay should be written in full sentences and proper paragraphs with all your sources properly documented (MLA format). Remember to include a Works Cited page (MLA format). Choose one of the following topics and write a 3-4 page essay in response

HUM 210-CG7: World Mythologies
Topics for First Short Essay
Due: Saturday, September 25 (at 11.59 pm)
Length: 3-4 pages
Papers must be typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins, in a standard font (such as Times New Roman,
10, 11 or 12 pt). You do not need to attach a title page; instead, make sure that your name, section number and
the essay topic appear on your first page (top left-hand corner) – and don’t forget to insert name and page
number on EVERY page! Please indicate clearly which topic you are answering, and include an interesting,
relevant essay title above the main body of your text. Your essay should be written in full sentences and proper
paragraphs with all your sources properly documented (MLA format). Remember to include a Works Cited
page (MLA format).
Choose one of the following topics and write a 3-4 page essay in response.
TOPIC ONE
In his Introduction to The Epic of Gilgamesh, Stephen Mitchell offers the following insights:
The hero of this epic is an antihero (a superhero, one might say) who doesn’t know the difference between
strength and arrogance. By pre-emptively attacking a monster, he brings himself a disaster that can only be
overcome by an agonizing journey, a quest that results in wisdom by proving its own futility. The epic has
an extraordinarily sophisticated moral intelligence. In its emphasis on balance and in its refusal to side with
either hero or monster, it leads us to question our dangerous certainties about good and evil. (2)
Discuss this explanation of the ancient Mesopotamian text. Is Gilgamesh really an anti-hero rather than a hero?
Does his “agonizing journey” through the wilderness result in wisdom, despite the fact that this same journey
can be understood as a quest that is ultimately futile? What is the wisdom gained by this anti-hero through an
extended exercise in futility? Explain the way in which this epic narrative is able to challenge “our dangerous
certainties about good and evil.” Mitchell offers the intriguing suggestion that this challenge results from the
epic’s emphasis on balance and its refusal to side with either hero or monster. Do you agree with this
interpretation and understanding of the ancient Mesopotamian text? Remember to include specific evidence
from the text to support your discussion.
TOPIC TWO
Explore the relationship that is forged between Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, and the wild man, Enkidu, who must
be “tamed” (or “civilized”) by a temple prostitute before he’s ready to transition from the wilderness to the city
of Uruk. How do you interpret this very intense relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu? How does this
relationship impact both Enkidu and Gilgamesh? Although his beloved companion dies too soon, what has
Gilgamesh gained from the relatively short time he is able to share his life with Enkidu, his beloved
companion? Remember to include specific examples from the text to support your discussion
[In your discussion you might want to consider the following:
Topics/FirstShortEssay/2
§ The wild man, Enkidu, has been created with a very specific purpose in mind. What is this purpose, and is
this purpose fulfilled? What happens when these two superheroes finally meet, and how does this first
dramatic encounter end?
§ Their very close relationship is cut short by Enkidu’s death. How does Enkidu die, and why does Enkidu
die? How does Gilgamesh respond to the death of his beloved companion? How does he express his
powerful emotions at this loss? What does Gilgamesh do once the funeral and burial rituals are
completed?]
.
TOPIC THREE
In Rolf de Heer’s Ten Canoes, the storyteller announces to the audience:
Minygululu will tell Dayindi that story to help him live the proper way. It’s Minygululu’s story for
Dayindi back then, and it is my story for you now. It is a good story, but you’d better listen, eh.
Maybe you like Dayindi, maybe story will help you live proper way.
This film has been called a “celebration of the art of storytelling.” Discuss the importance of stories and
storytelling in this film, paying particular attention to the advice offered in the statement above: stories will
help the audience live in the proper way. Remember to include specific examples – scenes, characters, events –
from the film to support your discussion.
[In your discussion, you might want to consider the following:
§ the different stories that are presented during the course of the film
§ the motivation for these various stories
§ the effectiveness of the storyteller
§ the way in which the story is presented
§ the manner in which the storyteller reflects on the process of storytelling itself]

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