- "The artistic mouth recites words; the harsh mouth brings litigation; the sweet mouth gathers sweet herbs."
Gilgamesh is the main character of the Epic of Gilgamesh, an Akkadian poem based on several earlier Sumerian stories, which described him as a demigod with superhuman strength and the king of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk. Most historians agree that the character was likely based on a historical king of Uruk, who probably ruled sometime between 2800 and 2500 BC and was later deified. He leads the Sumerians in Civilization VI.
Gilgamesh is more valuable as an ally than any other leader in the game.
Much rests upon your shoulders, King Gilgamesh. Your own people, and many people of the world, look to you as leader. But you are more than a mere man, and the weight of the world will never cause you to waver. Encourage the people of Sumer to settle the fertile lands along rivers, and be sure to choose your allies carefully - for there will be many vying for a piece of your strength. Venture forth, for it is time to begin your epic tale.
Gilgamesh's unique agenda is Ally of Enkidu. He likes civilizations who are willing to form a long term alliance, and dislikes anyone denouncing or attacking his friends or allies.
His leader ability is Adventures of Enkidu. When he declares war on someone who is at war with one of his allies, it eliminates his warmonger penalties and allows his units to share pillage rewards and combat experience with the closest allied unit within five tiles. In Rise and Fall, he also gains Alliance Points for fighting a common foe with his allies.
As the first civilization in recorded history, Sumeria shines right out of the gate. Their War-Carts and Ziggurats are buildable from the very first turn, and Gilgamesh's special ability (based on fighting joint wars) comes early too, unlocking with the Foreign Trade civic. Gilgamesh will build War-Carts and get out hunting Barbarian Camps early, so he can take advantage of his Epic Quest ability. He will also scatter the edges of nearby Rivers with Ziggurats to push forward early in Science and Culture. Other civilizations will be tempted to ally with Gilgamesh to gain the Adventures with Enkidu bonus while fighting joint wars. With a quick start and a few successful joint wars, Sumeria should be able to move into a dominant position they can maintain to victory.
Gilgamesh is voiced by Jorge Badillo Galván. He speaks Old Akkadian rather than Sumerian, although he does refer to Sumer with the Sumerian term "ki-en-gi" (which is a misreading - it is a sumerogram, or a logogram that stands for a word in Sumerian but is meant to be read in Akkadian, so it should be read as "Šumeru" instead).
Agenda-based Approval: You are a good friend and ally. Gilgamesh will remember this. (Ibrum u ayyalutim um atta! Gilgameš iḫassas.)
Agenda-based Disapproval: If you harm my friends, you will face the might of Uruk; this I promise you. (šumma ibrīya taḫabbal, emūk Uruk tamaḫḫar, anniam pî amma nādin!)
Attacked: I will enjoy hearing your last breath when you witness the destruction of your people. (Kaša kaša mar iltīm ke tu takiyaḫḫam.)
Declares War: Why do I fight? Because I can... because Inanna demands it. Now you will know the power of Sumer! (Gilgameš ustanimba? Akanni Gilgameš iḫḫaššalka!)
Defeated: What treachery did this to me? No, what evil? (Mînum sartum īpušam, ul mînum lemnum?)
Greeting: I am Gilgamesh of Sumeria and King of Uruk. Do not be afraid… I am good to my friends. (Gilgameš ša KI.EN.GI u šar Uruk anāku. Lā taddar, ana ibrīya ṭîbāku.)
Quote from Civilopedia: The artistic mouth recites words; the harsh mouth brings litigation; the sweet mouth gathers sweet herbs. (pûm nukkulum awātam iqabbi; pûm dannatum dina igarru; pûm ţîbum šāmiţi(m) ţîbutim issip.)
[Note: This is a quote from the Instructions of Shuruppak, verses 103-105.]
Delegation: The delegation of Gilgamesh brings you gifts of Sumerian jewelry, and lyres from Ur. Will you accept them into your city?
Accepts Delegation from Player: Gilgamesh has received your tributes and your envoy. He will let them enter Uruk.
Requests Declaration of Friendship: All the world knows of my generosity to my friends. Let us then be friends, not enemies.
Player Accepts Declaration of Friendship: Thank you!
Player Rejects Declaration of Friendship: Are you mad?
Trade Deal Accepted: Thank you!
Denounced by Player: Hah! Gilgamesh is stronger than your false words.
Denounces Player: Let the world hear my words: you are as treacherous as Ishtar.
Too Many Troops Near His Border: Gilgamesh will tear your army apart with his own hands if you do not move them.
Invitation to Capital: None may pass the wells of Uruk without my permission, but I will tell you of it, if you tell me of your capital.
Invitation to City: The glory of Sumer is yours to see, if you wish: an ancient tradition of arts and sciences, Ziggurats too great to behold!
Historians know little about the semi-legendary (well, almost completely legendary) Gilgamesh. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, considered the first great work of literature, carved in cuneiform on clay tablets some four thousand years ago, he is a demigod of superhuman strength who happens to be king of the city-state Uruk in the Sumerian civilization. Using those big muscles, he built the high walls of Uruk to defend his beloved people against barbarian incursions. He also put them to use constructing ziggurats scattered about the countryside.
It is generally accepted now that Gilgamesh actually did live and rule in ancient Mesopotamia. There are passing references to him (or at least to names very similar) in a number of non-cuneiform texts that have survived more-or-less intact. In a scroll found at Qumran known as the Book of Giants (c. 100 BC), Gilgamesh appears in the form of one of the antediluvian kings. In a Greek work by the Roman Aelian penned around 200 AD, he is mentioned as the successor to an ancient king of Babylon. Theodore Bar Konai, writing around 800 AD, lists Gilgamesh as last of the twelve kings contemporary with the Jewish patriarch Abraham. And fragments of a text found in the Tell Haddad digs relate that the dead Gilgamesh was buried in the riverbed of the diverted Euphrates by his worshipful Uruk subjects.
And that’s about it for historical evidence of Gilgamesh’s life. So, back to legend, which is much more entertaining...
In the Sumerian tale “Inanna and the Huluppu Tree,” the goddess replants a huluppa tree that had been uprooted in a great storm in her sacred grove near Uruk. She planned for it to grow to the point where she could use it to fashion a chair and a bed. However, the poor tree was beset by a snake “which feared no spell” at its roots, a malevolent female spirit (lilitu) in its trunk, and in its branches the monstrous Anzu bird, which could breathe fire and water. Inanna appealed to her brother the sun god for help in ridding her tree of these pests, but he refused. The mighty Gilgamesh did not, and when he smote the snake, the others fled. Inanna got her bed.
In another tale, repeated in the Epic, Ishtar – fittingly goddess of love and war – upon seeing the hunky Gilgamesh cleaned up and with his hair tied back is overcome with lust. She pleads with Gilgamesh to become her husband, and promises him a “harvest of riches" in return. But Gilgamesh refuses to be her plaything, and she is so angered that she prevails upon her parents Anu and Antum to let her unleash the “Bull of Heaven” so it can gore the demigod to death. All Uruk trembles as the bull comes down bellowing and snorting; hundreds die as the Earth cracks under its hooves. Gilgamesh’s “companion” Enkidu attacks the bull, and Gilgamesh soon joins him. Together they slay the beast. Ishtar, meanwhile, has climbed upon the famous walls of the city and shouts curses at the warriors but flees when threatened by Gilgamesh. While Ishtar and her followers mourn the bull (and Ishtar tries to figure out what she’ll tell her folks), Gilgamesh basks in his people’s adulation.
And then there’s the story of Gilgamesh and the Netherworld. This one opens with Gilgamesh complaining to Enkidu that one of his possessions (exactly what isn’t clear: in one translation a drum, in another a ball – giving some idea of what was important in the childhood of the Earth) has fallen into the underworld. Enkidu volunteers to retrieve it. Delighted that someone else is going to take responsibility for his carelessness, Gilgamesh explains at length what his friend must not do down in the underworld if he is to return. He, of course, does all those things. And so Enkidu is stuck, until Gilgamesh convinces the gods Enki and Shamash to open a crack in the ground. Out jumps his friend’s ghost. But not for long.
In the Epic, stricken by grief over the loss of Enkidu and pondering his own mortality, Gilgamesh travels to meet his ancestor, the sage Utnapishtim who had abandoned his worldly possessions and built a large ship, so surviving the Great Deluge. The old man advises Gilgamesh to abandon his quest for immortality but does inform him of a rare plant that will make the king young again. Gilgamesh finally manages to obtain this plant from the bottom of a river where it grows, but a snake steals it. As the serpent slithers away it sheds its skin and so becomes young again. Disheartened, the king returns to his home.
Nevertheless, Gilgamesh – according to the ancient Sumerian King List – lived to the age of 126 years. Not a bad span even by modern standards, and truly spectacular in an age of famine, war, filth and disease when the merest sniffle could kill. To fill these long years of surviving, Gilgamesh and his son and successor Ur-Nungal rebuilt the temple of the goddess Ninlil in the holy city of Nippur, just down the river from Uruk.
Back to fact... well, maybe. In 2003 AD, a German team of archaeologists claimed to have found the tomb of Gilgamesh, in what was once the riverbed of the Euphrates, buried under the sand of the Iraqi desert. Magnetic imaging equipment, supposedly refined enough to tell the difference between dried sediment and ancient mudbricks, showed garden enclosures, buildings and walls of a palace that includes the demigod’s burial chamber. Military actions since have prevented any attempt at excavation, but it is a fervent hope for all that someday archeologists will dig up mighty Gilgamesh’s bones.
- Gilgamesh's diplomacy screen shows his palace entrance with two lamassu statues by the doorway.
- Gilgamesh's leader ability and agenda both reference his close relationship with Enkidu, his one-time rival from the Epic of Gilgamesh.
- Gilgamesh is the only leader whose leadership bonus changes depending on the game mode.
- Provided he existed, Gilgamesh would be by far the oldest leader in Civilization VI and its expansions. If legends about him are to be believed, he was already dead in 1800 BC, which would make him at least 3800 years old.
Achieve the maximum Alliance level with Gilgamesh
First to Civilize
Win a regular game as Gilgamesh
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