Week 2 Homework–Sumerian Mythology, and Gilgamesh

(image from google)

Notice the King of Sumeria is a giant

This Week’s Assignments:


  • Read Genesis 9-11
  • Watch Fuel Project “Know Your Enemy” Videos (scroll down) Watch all of them today. It will take about 30 minutes.
  • Read “The Head of Humbaba” from The Epic of Gilgamesh (Link Below)–it is super short


  • Read article, “Who Was Nimrodby David Livingston. You have the handout from class or if you were absent, click here print it out and put it in your notebook.
  • Read short story– from And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini. Chapter One. You have the handout from class or if you were absent click here.
  • Comment (below) on what you thought of the story from Khaled Hosseini. What do you think of the choices the characters made? What would you have done different?
  • GrammarRun On Sentences–Read and study the information here. Take this quiz, print your results and bring it to class on Friday.


  • Finish reading anything you need to read for this week.
  • September Vocabulary Words  I would like you to learn the spelling and definition of each word, using the spelling be and practice questions. Then we can have random quizzes in class so that I know you are doing your work. So let’s try it out this week–Please study the spelling and definitions of these vocabulary words
  •  Begin reading Morning Star, by Rider Haggard. It is free online. You can read it from your computer, you can print it out, or you can read it for free on a Kindle or Ipad. This book has 18 chapters. You will need to be finished with it by Wednesday September 31. So you have about one week to finish it. This means that you will need to read it over the weekend too 😀 Every once in a while you will have to read on the weekends. Try to get about 3 chapters read a day, and you should be fine. You are in luck though, because the book is actually really entertaining and fun.


  • Read Morning Star— get as far as you can, at least to chapter 4-6.
  • Answer Questions about your work this week (at the bottom of this blog) and email them to me by 10pm tonight. Put the title of this blog in the subject line and make sure you put your name in the email.
  • Print out your grammar and turn it in tomorrow 🙂

Sumerian Mythology and the Birth of Polytheism

This week I want you to begin by reading the three chapters in Genesis, then we are going to continue watching a few more videos by the Fuel Project. These videos are about the two most important figures in the history of Sumer (Babylon), Nimrod and Semiramis. I know this is a lot of video watching, but they do a fabulous job connecting the dots and teaching about Sumerian Mythology, and the formation of polytheism. It is crucial that you have this foundation before we go on to learn about Eygptian mythology.

So bear with me, this week will be the heaviest Fuel Project week 🙂

Babylon (5 minutes)

Semiramis (3 minutes)

Tower of Babel: Mountain (4 minutes)

Tower of Babel: Heaven (6 minutes)

The Birth of Tammuz and Polytheism (7 minutes)

The Scattering (7 minutes)

Interesting Side-Note

Here is a picture of a famous painting by Pieter Bruegel called The Tower of Babel (1563)

Here is a poster for the European Union. Notice the building looks similar to Bruegel’s unfinished Tower of Babel image, and the slogan is “Many Tongues: One Voice.” This is a direct slap in the face to God. And in the image below you can see that building of this tower has resumed and people are continuing the work. This poster was withdrawn when it sparked controversy.

Here is the actual EU Parliament building in Strasburg. Does it resemble anything?

“The Head of Humbaba” from Gilgamesh

Before you read–

“Gilgamesh, is an ancient story–a poem, as all stories were in those days. The story was recorded on clay tablets around 2,000 B.C. in ancient Sumer, a part of ancient Mesopotamia. Gilgamesh is the king of Uruk, an ancient Sumerian city. His great friend is Enkidu. Craving an adventure that will bring fame, Gilgamesh convinces Enkidu to journey with him to the cedar forest. There they  confront the forest’s guardian, the evil giant Humbaba.

In the epic from which this verse narrative is taken, Gilgamesh is a superhuman hero, two parts god and one part human. As the earliest known epic hero, Gilgamesh may have been the model for many later epic heroes, including Homer’s Odysseus. Epic heroes have much in common: They are superior human beings with supernatural strength or spiritual powers, mighty leaders of their people. Most are mixed divine and human birth; we admire their divine supernatural qualities and sympathize with their weakness and difficulties, which remind us of our own.” (Holt, Elements of Literature).

I know you read in the article that this is maybe about a struggle between YHWH and Nimrod. But the first time you read it, read it as if Gilgamesh is just a random, flawed hero. Then read it again and see how your feelings change if he was a Nimrod character trying to defy and insult the value and power of your Lord.

The Head of Humbaba
from Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative 

retold by Herbert Mason

        At dawn Gilgamesh raised his ax
And struck at the great cedar.
When Humbaba heard the sound of falling trees,
He hurried down the path that they had seen
5         But only he had traveled. Gilgamesh felt weak
At the sound of Humbaba’s footsteps and called to Shamash
Saying, I have followed you in the way decreed;
Why am I abandoned now? Suddenly the winds
Sprang up. They saw the great head of Humbaba
10        Like a water buffalo’s bellowing down the path,
His huge and clumsy legs, his flailing arms
Thrashing at phantoms in his precious trees.
His single stroke could cut a cedar down
And leave no mark on him. His shoulders,
15        Like a porter’s under building stones,
Were permanently bent by what he bore;
He was the slave who did the work for gods
But whom the gods would never notice.
Monstrous in his contortion, he aroused
20        The two almost to pity.
But pity was the thing that might have killed.
It made them pause just long enough to show
How pitiless he was to them. Gilgamesh in horror saw
Him strike the back of Enkidu and beat him to the ground
25        Until he thought his friend was crushed to death.
He stood still watching as the monster leaned to make
His final strike against his friend, unable
To move to help him, and then Enkidu slid
Along the ground like a ram making its final lunge
30         On wounded knees. Humbaba fell and seemed
To crack the ground itself in two, and Gilgamesh,
As if this fall had snapped him from his daze,
Returned to life
And stood over Humbaba with his ax
35        Raised high above his head watching the monster plead
In strangled sobs and desperate appeals
The way the sea contorts under a violent squall.
I’ll serve you as I served the gods, Humbaba said;
I’ll build you houses from their sacred trees.
40        Enkidu feared his friend was weakening
And called out: Gilgamesh! Don’t trust him!
As if there were some hunger in himself
That Gilgamesh was feeling
That turned him momentarily to yearn
45        For someone who would serve, he paused;
And then he raised his ax up higher
And swung it in a perfect arc
Into Humbaba’s neck. He reached out
To touch the wounded shoulder of his friend,
50        And late that night he reached again
To see if he was yet asleep, but there was only
Quiet breathing. The stars against the midnight sky
Were sparkling like mica in a riverbed.
In the slight breeze
55        The head of Humbaba was swinging from a tree.

Questions Due Thursday Night:

1.) Why couldn’t we read that much of Gilgamesh?

2.) Why is Nimrod so important to our studies this week?

3.) Who is Semiramis? Why is she important?

4.) Explain the theme in the chapter we read from And The Mountains Echoed, where it says, “cut off a finger to save a hand” — what does this mean?

5.) Who is the hero in And The Mountains Echoed? The Div or Baba Ayub? Explain your answer with full sentences 😀

6.) How is the name of the monster that sent the flood in Gilgamesh similar to the name of our God?

7.) How does Livingston explain that Nimrod may not be his real name?

8.) What does Gilgamesh want to boast about? Who does he want to have killed?

9.) Do you think that Gilgamesh has humanistic values? Why or why not? Define humanism and explain your answer.

10.) In And the Mountains Echoed, did Baba Ayub make the correct decision when he left Qais with the Div and went back home?

11.) Was it better for Baba Ayub that he forgot about Qais? Why or why not? (explain)

12.) What was the most interesting thing you learned from the Fuel Project this week?

13.) How far did you get in your reading of Morning Star? What chapter are you on?

14.) If you could eat anything for dessert tonight, what would it be?

15.) Critical Thinking Question (expanded response) Before you read Gilgamesh, I asked you to consider it from two angles–first, just consider it as it is, a hero who was facing a monster and having to make a choice. Then read it again, considering it from a symbolic angle . . . as maybe this man is not the hero, but what if he is Nimrod trying to insult and destroy our Lord.

  • How does your feelings for this story change as you look at it from different perspectives?
  • How can you sympathize with Gilgamesh as a hero that you root for in one reading, and then be angry at him in another reading?
  • Which perspective do you prefer–the literal textual reading, or the historical analysis from David Livinstone?
  • Read the information below about literary criticism and then decide if you think it is better to just analyze Gilgamesh on it own (New Criticism), or if it is helpful to bring in history and possible biographical information (Historical and Biographical Criticism). Or do you think we should do both?!?! Why??? This is all technical stuff you get in college, but you are smart and I want you to use your brains. I also want you to recognize how knowing history and biographical info can alter your feelings toward a text, etc.

This expanded response question is worth MORE POINTS than all the other questions. And hint hint, expanded response can be translated to mean, write more about this than you want to. 😀

Literary criticism is a way to analyze literature by studying, evaluating and interpreting the meaning of a piece of writing. It does not mean criticism in the sense that you are insulting the writing, but critiquing it as a student who wants to learn what it means and why it is special! LOL

  • New Criticism–One of the ways to analyze literature,  is to just let the work speak for itself!!!! You don’t take into account any historical or biographical information about the author, or anything else. This is called “New Criticism” — it is one of the most important ways to look at literature because you are just focusing closely on the words themselves. We should use this first every time we read.
  • Historical and Biographical Criticism–These are names of ways we look at literature in light of the time period or the author’s life and experiences. For example, when we read Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, we do well to consider his own personal experience with the bull riding world of Pamplona, Spain. We don’t have to know this biographical information to analyze and enjoy the book, but when you do learn about it, you gain a lot of insight into the story.

Please let me know if you have any questions 🙂


16 thoughts on “Week 2 Homework–Sumerian Mythology, and Gilgamesh

  1. This story totally left me on the edge of my seat!!! It had a great progressive plot and great descriptive qualities. I think that Baba Ayub made the right decision in choosing one of his children at random. It would be better that one of his children were to “die” than for all of his children to “die”. Of course, Baba Ayub only went off of what he had heard others say about the div. If he knew in reality what the div did for his children, I’m sure that he would’ve had just as hard of a time choosing. I believe that if Baba Ayub knew where his children were to go if they were taken by the div, he would have wanted to give them all up. He then would’ve had the dilemma of all or one. I would’ve probably done the same as Baba Ayub did. Choose one child at random, but follow the div to kill it and get my child back. Mostly the same as Baba Ayub, but just a little more immediate then he did.

  2. I’m not sure what to think about his choices. I guess I could say his second choice was a good choice allowing his son to live a peaceful life being the glass (why does a demon have this?), though I think he should have tried to fight against the div when it came to take his son. I know I would fight the div or die trying.

  3. I loved this short story. It’s so detailed with fewer and more simple words.

    But I believe his choices were acceptable. I mean, it would be hard to leave his favorite son (although he could of chose another rock), but he was happy in there.

  4. Wow, that story just, wow. You probably don’t know how badly I wanted to cry.

    “With a broken heart, he lifted his youngest son into his arms, and Qais, who had blind trust in his father, happily wrapped his arms around Baba Ayub’s neck. It wasn’t until Baba Ayub deposited him outside the house and shut the door that the boy realized what was amiss, and there stood Baba Ayub, eyes squeezed shut, tears leaking from both, back against the door, as his beloved Qais pounded his small fists on it, crying for Baba to let him back in.”
    This was where I wanted to cry my eyes out. I could visually see the boy crying for his father to let him back in, to be with his family and in their arms for safety. Ugh I WANTED TO CRY!!! 😢 But I was satisfied with their decisions. I thought Baba Ayub was going to pick one of his older children, because he favored Qais so much, but I’m glad he chose at random. I probably would have done the same as he did, because when you’re grieving, its hard to think what to do, which is probably why he didn’t go to kill the div sooner.

  5. I thought that the story was amazing. The choices that Baba Ayub made were spot on. I thought that is was very smart when he decided to put the rocks in the bag, and it was even better choice that he let his son live in paradise.

  6. I think that this was a very entertaining story with the div and the mission to save the son but when the div came for his child I think Abdullah should have fought for his son right when he was being taken. I also think that I wouldn’t have made the same choice in calling the div a evil person because the giant could’ve killed him and well, I think the div was taking the children just because he wanted to give the children a better life.

  7. wow. I really enjoyed every bit of that chapter. I felt connected to this story. I don’t think I would have changed anything though, if I were in the father’s shoes. like he said, you need to cut off the finger to save the hand. I wouldn’t want all 5 of my children to die, only for the slight chance that they all might live. But dang, that was an awesome chapter lol.

  8. That was a great little story I think what the father decided to do was the overall right thing to so. But since you asked what I would have done here it is I think I would have done the same thing except going in alone I would have tried to gather some other families that had a bone to pick with the div

  9. That story was so amazing and vivid, I felt like I was in it. Ugh it was just soooooooo good!!!!!! However if I was the dad I would pick the oldest child because he lived the longest and experienced life more, but in the story everything turned out “perfect”. Oh I also wouldn’t name the giant “div”

  10. I really loved “And the Moutains Echoed” even though I called it that he didn’t eat the kids or kill them for pelts or somethig gross like that. Baba Ayub’s actions I understood, a father’s love for his son drove his decisions in the second half of the story. The person’s who actions confused me though were the div. The only reason for taking the children that makes sense is to give them a better life but why “test” so many families? As for what I would have done in Baba Ayub’s spot, I would hope to be as courageous and selfless as he was.

  11. I think the story was good the way it was written. I think he shouldn’t have chosen a child at random but it makes for a more interesting story since he did, especially since he choose his beloved son. I would have tried to fight the giant and save all the children.

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