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Pruyser, P.W. Luke, J.T. (1982). The Epic of Gilgamesh. Am. Imago, 39(2):73-93.

(1982). American Imago, 39(2):73-93

The Epic of Gilgamesh

Paul W. Pruyser, Ph.D. and J. Tracy Luke, Ph.D.

The ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, recovered by archaeologists more than a century ago, has been carefully reconstructed, and widely studied from the historio-comparative-literary point of view. Freud and Jung once exchanged brief comments on the epic in their correspondence, and Joseph Campbell focused on its archetypal concerns. However, the Gilgamesh Epic has been relatively neglected in psychoanalytic studies of ancient narratives. Like some other epics, this one covers a sizeable time span in the hero's life course and can thus be approached as a developmental history. Moreover, the epic was in all likelihood enacted as a liturgical drama in the religious cult, and can therefore be approached as a pedagogy; we should imagine a fascinated audience making temporary identifications with the epic's dramatis personae.

Sigmund Freud was fascinated with ancient mythology. Clinical observation led him to associate dream symbolism with mythic images, and neurotic symptoms with ideation or characterization in ancient stories.

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