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Exploring Human Nature in The Epic of Gilgamesh and Samuel I Essay

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Examining the nature of humanity and the reason for being has always been a topic of interest that transcends time, gender, age and culture. All literature in existence examines human nature or human interaction or interpretation with non-human things. The one thing we can know for certain is that life is not eternal: we all die. Despite this, each of us have a predisposition to survive and we go to extreme lengths to do so, such as by acquiring mass amounts of power in which to rule over other humans, ensuring a ruler’s survival. We fear what we know is inevitable, so we use the threats of power, including that of ‘higher powers’, to frighten people into believing that they shall face a terrible consequence if they threaten the survival of another. The Epic of Gilgamesh and the book of Samuel I illustrate the corruption that results from using the threat of power, be it human or divine, to ensure one’s best interests and the extreme lengths a human will travel in the pursuit of denying death.
The Epic of Gilgamesh follows the journey of the hero Gilgamesh, ruler of Uruk, who is two-thirds a God and just one part human. We are introduced to Gilgamesh as a tyrant who covets women and sends young men to battle or to endure heavy-labored work. As he is two-thirds a God, Gilgamesh is the strongest in the land, preventing anyone from challenging him as ruler. He is a dictator and has more power than he can use, so in the pursuit of entertainment that could live up to his God-like standards, he often causes great trouble in Uruk. The people of the city know they cannot satiate his appetites, so they turn to the only beings who have more power than Gilgamesh: the Gods. The people pray to the all-powerful Gods to create an equal for G...


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...cal reasoning which suppress the character’s actions. There are also characters that give into their desires to move themselves higher up in the hierarchy. The ultimate all-powerful beings are the Gods, who have unlimited power because they can control life and death. It stands to reason then that the characters who desire power would seek to be as close in perfection as the Gods; many of them do this by disobeying the Gods to prove their power. These plans often fail, as even Gilgamesh, two-thirds a God, could not control the wrath and ruthlessness of the Gods. The Epic of Gilgamesh and Samuel I examine human nature at it’s core by delving into the greed and darkness which resides in us.



Works Cited


The English Standard Version Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

Sandars, N. K., trans. The Epic of Gilgamesh. London: Penguin, 1972.


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