Gilgamesh: roles of kingship in Sumerian society

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Title: Roles expected of a king in Sumerian Society Name: Institution: One of the most important roles of a king in Sumerian society is to participate in religious ceremonies, and act as a spiritual guide to the people. As seen in the epic, the king starts by visiting the cedar forest so as to offer rituals to the gods. At the same time, the king is portrayed as a demigod, having a mother who is a goddess. Gilgamesh has some divine attributes as well, which all serve to back up his position as an important spiritual leader of the people, besides ruling them. A king has a role of protecting his people from external aggression, as well as against any other adverse effects. This is seen in the heroe’s attempt to build a gate for the city. This can be understood as being an attempt to keep out the enemies outside the city’s gates. At the same time, the spiritual rituals that the king undertakes are in one way or another meant to protect his kingdom in terms of adverse weather conditions, and earthly adversaries who may aim to bring war. In connection with this, it is the king’s responsibility to lead the people into war when the circumstances demand it. The king is in charge of administering justice to the people. Known as the supreme judge of the underworld, Gilgamesh was entrusted by his people to decide conflicts between them, and to uphold justice. He was also entrusted to seek justice on behalf of people, by punishing those who had wronged others. This leads him to kill Humbaba, for instance, for which he pays with his life. As punishment, he is condemned to suffer death. Reference Abusch, T. (2001). The development and meaning of the Epic of Gilgamesh:

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