Study Guide

Aruru in The Epic of Gilgamesh

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Goddess who makes Enkidu and places him in the wilderness.

Although she has a very important role in Mesopotamian mythology (she was the creator of humankind), Aruru has a very small role in the Epic of Gilgamesh. But it's a super important one. When the people of Uruk beg Anu for some relief from King Gilgamesh at the beginning of the epic, he delegates the task to Aruru, who creates a new man from clay—Enkidu.

Aruru also shows up during the Flood story in Tablet 1, where she is referred to by an alternate name: Beletili. According to Utanapishtim, who tells the Flood story, Aruru/Beletili is one of the divinities who crowd around the sacrifice made by Utanapishtim and his wife after they get out of the ship.

Aruru makes her presence felt by suggesting that they ban the god Enlil from the sacrifice. (Enlil was the one responsible for the Flood.) Even though she isn't successful, we can definitely see where Aruru is coming from here: given that humankind is her creation, she can't be expected to take kindly to the guy who tried to wipe it out.

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