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The Relationship Between Ishtar and Gilgamesh in the Epic of Gilgamesh

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The Relationship Between Ishtar and Gilgamesh in the Epic of Gilgamesh


The story of Gilgamesh seems to be a collection of trials and tribulation. Throughout the book, you watch characters battle demons with each other, as well as within themselves. The tantalizing temptations that fill each character, ultimately leads to destruction and death. One example was the relationship between Ishtar and Gilgamesh. Both characters display a type of arrogant, 'ego-consciousness' (Neumann 63) that inevitably leads to subversive fate.

In the beginning of the story we see Gilgamesh as a womanizer. His submissive behavior is driven by his own self-sufficiency. When Enkidu forces him to see the reality of his own vanity, Gilgamesh withdraws from his obsession and embarks on a new quest with Enkidu; one that will fill his other ego, his masculinity.

After the slayig of the ferocious giant, Humbaba, Ishtar is filled with a lustful desire to betrothe him. When she approaches Gilgamesh, his new sense of self-worth derails him from Ishtar's 'seductive wiles'. (Neumann 63)He replies hastily, insulting her of her past. "Your lovers have found you like a brazier which smoulders in the cold,...a castle which crushes the garrison,...a stone which falls from the parapet,...a sandal that trips the wearer."( pg.30) It is ironic that Gilgamesh finds her past to be so depictable after he spent years of womanizing for his own pleasure. Does he think that he is better than her because he has abandoned his old ways? He really hasn't changed at all. He is still filled with his 'ego-consciousness', just in a different form. As he goes on ridiculing Ishtar, his self-ego grows even more; and once again will be punished for his actions.

After this, Ishtar is filled with so much anger, revenge is all she can think of. Her ego has been crushed and she must reclaim it. So she sends down the Bull of Heaven which kills Enkidu and leaves scarring not only on the people but the Gods as well.

This type of behavior displayed by both Gilgamesh and Ishtar is what guides them to destruction. I felt that it was what I got most out of the story. And it is still true today. A persons ego can really blind us from the reality that our conscious tries to make us see.

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