Gilgamesh: Historical Fantasy 2000 BC

My recent piece of flash fiction called ‘Great Worms in the Temple of Uruk’ (published in Flash of Fiction from the Short Story Competition HQ) draws inspiration from perhaps the oldest surviving story we have in physical form. The Epic of Gilgamesh tells the story of King Gilgamesh of Uruk (now in modern-day Iraq), a fierce Mesopotamian ruler who lived in about 2500 BC. The legend survives in cuneiform inscribed stone tablets.

It portrays Gilgamesh as a debauched and tyrannical ruler. To distract him from oppressing his people, the gods create a man-beast called Enkidu who is his equal in strength and ferocity. Enkidu’s ravishment of the countryside prompts Gilgamesh to lure him into a trap using a temple harlot called Shamhat. After a ferocious fight that results in the doors to one of Uruk’s temples being destroyed, Enkidu and Gilgamesh recognize each other’s strength and become lifelong companions. Perhaps with the aim of repairing the temple doors, Gilgamesh and his new buddy head out to the great cedar forest where they defeat the terrible demi-god Humbaba…

The story goes on and involves many mythical monster slayings that could appear in any Conan story as well as a quest for eternal life in the form of a rare flower. It’s great sword and sorcery stuff and has been an inspiration to countless fantasy epics throughout the ages. I had great fun crafting a little flash fiction piece in the world of Gilgamesh and lament only that my time among the crumbling temples and slithering demi-gods of Mesopotamia was so short. Oh well, perhaps I will visit that world again one day…

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