Monday, May 7, 2018

Our fiction addiction: Why humans need stories | BBC

Fiction | Literature | Evolution

by David Robson | 3 May 2018

The epic of Gilgamesh has endured for 4,000 years, with elements of storytelling that teach us how to cooperate (Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum)


It sounds like the perfect summer blockbuster.

A handsome king is blessed with superhuman strength, but his insufferable arrogance means that he threatens to wreak havoc on his kingdom. Enter a down-to-earth wayfarer who challenges him to fight. The king ends the battle chastened, and the two heroes become fast friends and embark on a series of dangerous quests across the kingdom.

The fact that this tale is still being read today is itself remarkable. It is the Epic of Gilgamesh, engraved on ancient Babylonian tablets 4,000 years ago, making it the oldest surviving work of great literature. We can assume that the story was enormously popular at the time, given that later iterations of the poem can be found over the next millennium.

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