Over a thousand years before the Old Testament and the Odyssey, an unknown author composed the first enduring story in the history of mankind. The Epic of Gilgamesh was written on clay tablets in the cuneiform writing style of ancient Sumer (modern Iraq) over four thousand years ago.
Two parts god and one part man, Gilgamesh is thought to have ruled over the city-state of Uruk around 2750 B.C. His story is a mixed journey of perilous endeavors and acquired wisdom, but it also includes a number of familiar myths such as the Great Flood and the original Noah.
Primarily, the epic is a window into the desires and troubles that immersed the thoughts of a semi-divine Sumerian king. More than just a tale of heroism, it is the story of Gilgamesh's path to wisdom and maturity; the benefits of civilization over savagery, and a lesson for future kings to fulfill their sacred and mundane duties. Perhaps the most pervasive theme is Gilgamesh's fear of death, a perennial concern that is as salient today as it was thousands of years ago.