In the epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh finds that what he was searching for was impossible to obtain, but while he was searching for it he found something else that would help to make him a better person. Gilgamesh had someone really close to him die and before this he had never thought about his mortality. He was a tyrannical leader (“By day and by night his tyranny grows harsher” (Tablet 1 Line 69).) in the beginning of the epic, but once he realized how finite life was and how the only way to be the human version of an immortal was to be a good person and let the people’s memory of him last forever. This made Gilgamesh reevaluate how he had been ruling unjustly. Gilgamesh didn’t obtain the form of immortality he was searching for, but his quest was still successful because he had learned some...
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...ut not before tearing him apart and leaving him wild.
Burkert would say that Gilgamesh’s journey was not successful because he wasn’t able to negotiate or force someone to grant him his immortality. However, I believe that Gilgamesh doesn’t get what he is looking for, but he still got something from his journey. Had he come back and resumed his position as the tyrannical leader I would have to agree with Burkert, but since he realized his flaws and decided to show his transformation through the transformation of his city (Tablet IX lines 323-329). He wanted to have the power of the gods, but he came to terms with the fact that it wouldn’t be possible and that Utnapishtim was just a special circumstance. This in no way means that his quest wasn’t successful because in the end he still came out a changed person and he did learn something from his journey about himself.
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