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The Role of Women Essay

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Powerful. Yet full of temptation. The women in the Epic of Gilgamesh were powerful because of the knowledge they had. They might not have ruled in Mesopotamia, but they knew their place and they knew their knowledge was useful to others. Throughout this epic, there are women who get power from their body and ability to seduce men, women who are goddesses and have the right connections, and women who are merely just house wives with essential information given at the right moments. Even though the role of women in Ancient Mesopotamia society is lesser then the role of men, the response from women is more powerful and wise.
The first woman that is brought to the reader’s attention is the prostitute that Gilgamesh, King of Uruk who is two-thirds god and one-third man, -sent out into the woods to seduce Enkidu, who was man and an animal. The prostitute was lead to the spring and left to wait for Enkidu. That evening Enkidu and the animals drank at the spring and then went to lay down to get some sleep. When Enkidu woke he saw the prostitute, but didn’t know what she was. She then seduced him and when they were finished, all the animals were gone and Enkidu was no longer an animal and a man, he was a godlike man. Enkidu was a powerful animal and man, and after the seduction from the prostitute he lost his ability to communicate with animals and was shunned by them. She was in control. Even though she was a prostitute and in social standards had no power, she now had the power with Enkidu because he had never been just a human, and he could not go back to being what he was before. The women in ancient Mesopotamia were powerful because they could control men by seducing them like the prostitute did to Enkidu. Even though the prostitut...


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...e and did what she was told, but when something was not right she could not just stand by and watch it happen. This is what most Mesopotamian women were like. They had love and knowledge, and they could tell when they had to use it.
The women in the Epic of Gilgamesh played a variety of roles. They were not the biggest, but the story would not be the same if women had not been a part of it. Without the women in this epic, Gilgamesh would not have realized that he had to give up trying to revive Enkidu. He would have lost hope after Utnapishtim told him there was no way to bring Enkidu back and most likely die shortly afterwards. Whereas with Utnapishtim’s wife, she gave Gilgamesh the hope for his friend’s life back. Gilgamesh just lost the plant that gives new life.



Works Cited

Mason, Herbert. Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003. Print.


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