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Could a 2100BC sex epic show us how to handle Trump? | Alex Clark

Newly discovered fragments of an ancient text reveal an unusual strategy for dealing with an out-of-control leader

A new bit of The Epic of Gilgamesh, the world’s oldest literary text, has turned up, which is no great news in itself: fragments of clay tablet telling the story of the tyrannical Sumerian king are periodically unearthed, and there is a thrilling expectation that they will continue to be so indefinitely. The narrative has therefore been subject to change, expansion and gap-plugging from its beginnings, in 2100BC, to the Akkadian versions made by copyists (often prisoners of war) in the scriptorium of Nineveh for the pleasure of King Ashurbanipal.

But the latest twist has piqued the interest. Why? Because it is about sex. It tells us that Enkidu – a very hairy man who grazed with gazelles and freed the beasts from hunters’ traps – was civilised after a mammoth Mesopotamian shagging session that lasted not, as previously thought, a mere week, but an entire fortnight. Ouch.

Related: 'Some of the most appalling images ever created' – I Am Ashurbanipal review

Related: Nicholas Lezard's choice: The Epic of Gilgamesh

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