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A Tale As Old As Time

Summary:
The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient poem from Mesopotamia, and it tells the story of Gilgamesh, the King of Uruk.  In the story Uruk is well protected from external evaders and the city itself appears prosperous.  In many ways, Gilgamesh is a good King. But his all powerful status, also means that he isn't such a good King, for his abuses his power. He takes the sons of the citizens of Uruk and puts them to work as slave workers in the city, or sends them off to war, and he takes the citizens daughters to either work as servants, or to satisfy his desires. So the people of Uruk appeal to god to protect them from this tyrannical abuse of power.  So the gods send them Enkidu as a countervailing force to Gilgamesh's unchecked power. The story dates from somewhere around 2100 BC and is

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The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient poem from Mesopotamia, and it tells the story of Gilgamesh, the King of Uruk.  In the story Uruk is well protected from external evaders and the city itself appears prosperous.  In many ways, Gilgamesh is a good King. But his all powerful status, also means that he isn't such a good King, for his abuses his power. He takes the sons of the citizens of Uruk and puts them to work as slave workers in the city, or sends them off to war, and he takes the citizens daughters to either work as servants, or to satisfy his desires. So the people of Uruk appeal to god to protect them from this tyrannical abuse of power.  So the gods send them Enkidu as a countervailing force to Gilgamesh's unchecked power.

The story dates from somewhere around 2100 BC and is regarded as one of the, if not the, oldest surviving works of literature.  And its story is about unchecked power, and the need for countervailing forces to keep power in check.

The Old Testament has a related story.

1 Samuel 8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Israel Demands a King

Warning concerning a King

Peter Boettke
Peter Joseph Boettke (January 3, 1960) is an American economist of the Austrian School. He is currently a University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University; the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism, Vice President for Research, and Director of the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at GMU.

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