| Quote #1
He carved on a stone stela all of his toils,
The opening description of the city emphasizes the difference between human culture and the natural world particularly through writing—the skill that let people stockpile crops, make business transactions, and pay taxes. (Sorry to burst your bubbles, but writing was a business technology before it was a way for tortured poets to confess their misery.) Given that this whole poem is written, we're not surprised that the author thinks writing is pretty special.
| Quote #2
It was he who opened the mountain passes,
Here, we're treated to a description of Gilgamesh's prowess. These lines emphasize Gilgamesh's role as someone who does battle with—and triumphs over—nature. Just look at that use of the word "flank" (something we typically associate with animals or war) when it talks about how Gilgamesh "dug wells on the flank of the mountain." Or the water bubbling up from those wells like blood flowing from the side of a wounded animal. So, do these lines portray Gilgamesh's triumph over nature in a positive or a negative light? Also, note that Gilgamesh is described as the one who fixed up what the Flood has destroyed. Could this be a hint that we're supposed to compare Gilgamesh to Utanapishtim, the man who survived the Flood itself, whom we'll meet in Tablet 11? Out of Gilgamesh and Utanapishtim, who has the greater triumph over nature?
| Quote #3
Aruru washed her hands, she pinched off some clay, and threw it into the wilderness.
Here, we see how Aruru created Enkidu and placed him in the wilderness. And it's all about the contrast. What are the main differences the poem highlights between Enkidu's way of life and that of an ordinary human being? What does this say about the poem's view of human life in general?