The Message of Love in Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh is an epic of great love, followed by lingering grief that causes a significant change in character. It is the story of a person who is feared and honored, a person who loves and hates, a person who wins and loses and a person who lives life. Gilgamesh's journey is larger than life, yet ends so commonly with death. Through Gilgamesh, the fate of mankind is revealed, and the inevitable factor of change is expressed.
Before the coming of Enkidu
, Gilgamesh was a man of great power. A being for which there was no equal match, Gilgamesh boasted about his overwhelming glory and power. However, his arrogance was accompanied with an extensive abuse of power
, which pushed the city of Uruk into a state of rage. Still Gilgamesh felt no despair; he lived to display to others his majestic power. The first sign of a sincere change in Gilgamesh arises as a result of the birth of Enkidu. From the beginning, a powerful link developed between man and woman. The wise Ninsun said to Gilgamesh,"You will love him as a woman and he will never forsake you". Gilgamesh had finally met his match, a friend that would serve as his life-long companion. Upon the seal of this great friendship, Gilgamesh began to change his selfish ways. Nevertheless, he shared with Enkidu the luxuries of kindness. Setting aside his great pride and power, Gilgamesh had opened a place in his heart, and in his sumptuous life, for his beloved brother.
The second significant change in Gilgamesh was caused by the loss of his brotherly companion, Enkidu. Gilgamesh couln't bear the loss of a love so powerful. Despite his astonishing power and leadership, something in his life was missing. Moreover, he wept for seven days and nights, thinking his friend would come back because of his weeping. It is in this stage of the epic that one can see the truly sympathetic and compassionate side of Gilgamesh. The grief in his heart had far surpassed the magnificent pride that he had previously displayed so boldly. Enkidu's death left Gilgamesh frightened and confused. However, the despair in his heart was so great that he could not rest; would he ever be at peace? Thus, he became terrified of his own death.
After the death of Enkidu, Gilgamesh tries to find immortality by trying to cross the ocean to find it. As he sounded so pathetic he rambles of his reason for trying to find everlasting life. Moreover, his state of being at this part was completely different from his arrogance from beginning of this epic. Gilgamesh has gone from arrogant to scared. Thirdly, the death of Humbaba changes Gilgamesh. Humbaba was evil. Many people who lived in the city of Uruk feared Gilgamesh. Most would say that Gilgamesh himself is, in fact, evil. In addition, he had sex with the virgins, he does what he wants, and tends to offend the gods. By going into the forest and facing Humbaba, Gilgamesh makes a name for himself and changes the views of the people in his city. However, the past of Gilgamesh does not change but the great deed of killing Humbaba makes him a better person because he protects his city. Most would say that he does this only to make a name for himself, but that is not the case. Gilgamesh does this because of his love for Enkidu and his people.
Puzzled and searching for answers, Gilgamesh set out on a quest for Utnapishtim. It is on this great journey that Gilgamesh learns of a secret plant, which restores his lost youth to a man. Once again, Gilgamesh displays his changed character. He proclaims that he will return to Uruk and share the plant with his people. "I will take it to Uruk of the strong walls; there I will give it to the old men to eat," Gilgamesh said. Although Gilgamesh failed in returning the magical plant to his city, the signifance of his underlying intentions is immeasurable. Gilgamesh, the once arrogant and overpowering king, was now thinking of the well being of his people.
Although, it should not matter as to whether or not our society perceives Gilgamesh as a notable hero. More importantly, a valuable lesson of mankind is taught through the Epic of Gilgamesh
. Perhaps, it is love that binds our world together. We learn from Gilgamesh that a powerful companionship allows us to better analyze others and ourselves. Thus, the relationship between Enkidu and Gilgamesh should remain an inspiration to us all. Like Gilgamesh, our fate is to travel the journey of life, to slay one who is evil with the help of our gods, to survive and mourn some of those we love, and leave the world with as many good deeds as possible.