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C O U R S E 
Masterpieces of World Literature
Martin Puchner, Harvard University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Enkidu Introduced to Culture Via Shamhat
Notes taken on January 19, 2018 by Edward Tanguay
what are the problems of a ruler who is going off the rails like Gilgamesh?
he's starting how sleeping with women on their wedding nights
overtaxing the population
he's making young men work to build his great wall around his city
abusing his own population
Sumerian kings are usually wonderful
never do anything wrong
the king has a council of infinitely wise counselors
gods, however, are clamorous
a way of working through tensions in the earthly society
is an autocrat, nobody knows what to do
the towns people pray to the gods to help them
in older Babylonian chronicles
the king and his wise counselors always know the story their in
they know what's going on
nothing ever surprises the good counselor
the evil king who is your enemy may be taken by surprise
but never your king or your counselors
but here the gods send down Enkidu into the countryside who then starts messing up in the countryside
becomes a mirror image of Gilgamesh
he's messing up the country as Gilgamesh is messing up the city
the country people go plead to Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh sends out the temple prostitute Shamhat
she seduces Enkidu, he comes back
Gilgamesh doesn't understand that his clever ploy is actually the god's ploy to bring him under control
still Enkidu has even less idea what is happening to him
there is a theme here which is also in Arabian poetry
country life is better than the city
the virtuous people are pastoralists in the fields
Enkidu comes and sees Gilgamesh about to rape a woman on her wedding night
literature is on the side of the city versus the country
literature is on the side of power
writing is developed for economic, judicial and religious purposes