This Handout provides a short description of all the major characters in the book. This should be printed out as a study guide, and used as a "key" for participating in class discussions.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for a printer friendly version.
Epic of Gilgamesh
Anu - God of the firmament, the patron god of Uruk, husband of Antun, and father of
Anunnaki - Gods of the underworld or the seven judges of hell. Their sacred dwellings are in the Forest of Cedars guarded by Humbaba.
Apsu - The fresh or sweet waters beneath the earth, governed by Ea.
Bull of Heaven - A legendary beast, the personification of seven years of drought unleashed upon Uruk by Ishtar in response to Gilgamesh's refusal to marry her.
Courtesan - The woman Gilgamesh sends back with the Trapper to pacify Enkidu. She initiates Enkidu into the ways of sex and culture, teaching him to eat, drink, and clothe himself.
Dilmun - The distant abode of the gods; also where Utnapishtim resides.
Dumuzi - God of shepherds and sheepfolds and god of vegetation.
Ea - Called "the wise" (1. 66), god of the sweet waters and of the arts. He breaks rank with the council of the gods and warns Utnapishtim of the impending flood.
Eanna - The great temple complex in Uruk dedicated to Anu and Ishtar.
Egalmah - The palace of Gilgamesh's goddess-mother, Ninsun, in Uruk.
Endukagga - Underworld god, associated with the Nindukugga, governor of the underworld.
Enkidu - Gilgamesh's "second self and faithful companion." He is a wild, primitive man who lives in the wilderness with a group of shepherds.
Ennugi - The "watcher over canals" and god of irrigation.
Ereshkigal - The queen of the underworld who appears in Enkidu's dream of the afterlife. She is the wife of Nergal.
Forest of Cedars - The region guarded by Humbaba, the giant or demon.
Gilgamesh - The protagonist or main character. He is semi-divine ruler of Uruk.
Hanish - The herald of storms and bad weather.
Humbaba - The fearsome monster appointed by Enlil to protect the Forest of Cedars. The demon is defeated by Gilgamesh and Enkidu.
Ishtar - Goddess of love and daughter of Anu and Antun.
Ishullana - Anu's gardener, whom Ishtar loved and then turned into a blind mole after he rejected her.
Lugulbanda - One of the ancient kings of Uruk, he is Gilgamesh's guardian god and progenitor.
Magilum - The boat of the dead. It eventually carries all creatures to the land of the dead.
Mammetum - The "mother of destinies."
Man-Scorpion - Described as "half man and half dragon," this creature and his mate are guardians of Mashu, the mountains of the rising and setting sun.
Mashu - The twin peaks where the sun sets and which house the gate to the underworld.
Might of Heroes - The formidable axe Gilgamesh takes to slay Humbaba.
Namtar - The "evil fate who knows no distinction among men" and is the servant of Ereshkigal.
Nergal - Underworld god, husband of Ereshkigal.
Neti - Gatekeeper of the underworld.
Nindukugga - Governor of the underworld with Edukugga.
Ningal - Mother of the sun god, Shamash, and wife of the moon god Sin.
Ningizzida - The god of the serpent and lord of the tree of rife.
Ninhursag - The goddess of growth and vegetation, and mother of Enlil.
Ninlil - Wife of Enlil, and goddess of heaven, earth, and air or spirit.
Ninsun - Called "the well-beloved and wise" mother of Gilgamesh and wife of Lugulbanda.
Ninurta - A warrior god and god of wells and canals.
Nisaba - Goddess of corn, she gives Enkidu his long, flowing hair.
Nisir - The mountain upon which Utnapishtim's boat settled after the flood.
Old Men Are Made Young Again - The name of the secret flower Utnapishtim reveals to Gilgamesh.
Puzur-Amurri - The steersman and navigator of Utnapishtim's great boat.
Samuqan - God of cattle and the god of herds, he gives Enkidu his rough, hair-covered hide.
Shamash - One of the chief gods, he is the sun god, law-giver, and judge who is evoked in blessing and protection throughout the Epic.
Shullat - With Hanish, heralds of the storm god, Adad, during the great flood.
Shulpae - God of the feast. Sacrifices are made to this god at funerals.
Shurrupak - Utnapishtim's home city and one of the five most ancient cities, according to legend.
Siduri - Goddess of the vine, who at first bars Gilgamesh from passage through the garden of the gods.
Sillah - The mother of one of Ishtar's lovers.
Sin - The moon god, to whom Gilgamesh prays as he passes through dark mountain passes populated by lions on his way to Mashu.
Tammuz - One of Ishtar's unfortunate lovers, whom she turned into a broken-winged bird.
Trapper - The first person to encounter Enkidu, who had sabotaged his traps.
Ubara-Tutu - Ancient king of Shurrupak and Utnapishtim's father.
Vrshanabi - Boatman who takes Gilgamesh over the waters of death to Utnapishtim.
Uruk - Gilgamesh's home city which houses the great temple Eanna.
Utnapishtim - Favored by the god Ea, this immortal character is warned of Enlil's plan to destroy humanity through a flood.
Vampire-Demon - A supernatural being who appears in Enkidu's dream of the underworld.
Voice of Heroes - The imposing breastplate Gilgamesh wears into battle with Humbaba.