As mortal human beings, our lives have a beginning, a middle, and an end. We are born, we live, and we die. But what happens to us after we die? Do our souls separate from our physical bodies and ascend somewhere above the clouds to a place a lovely as the Heavens? Or have our souls been tarnished with mal-content and wrong-doing, thus condemning ourselves to a fate as demonic as Hell? Or perhaps there is nothing that awaits us after death, and our bodies simply decompose, returning to the Earth? These questions still plague modern man today, so it comes as no surprise that the inevitability of death weighed heavily on the hearts and minds of ancient Mesopotamians. Although The Epic of Gilgamesh conveys many themes, including friendship, loyalty and love, at the heart of the epic is the fear of imminent death; a fear that has resonated throughout nearly every culture, and continues still today.
Following Enkidu’s death, Gilgamesh is overcome with shock and disbelief as he begins to mourn his friend:
‘Now what is this sleep that has seized [you?]
You’ve become unconscious, you do not [hear me!]’
But he, lifted not [his head.]
He felt his heart, but it beat no longer.
(See George, p. 65)
In my own personal experience, I can relate perfectly to Gilgamesh’s disbelief. My mother died suddenly, but the shock of her death was magnified by the fact that I had literally just spoken to her the day prior to her death, and she sounded perfectly normal and in good health. It is a feeling of emptiness that I have never felt before; knowing I would never speak to my mother again; knowing I would never see her face again. I believe that this feeling of emptiness is a universal feeling shar...
... middle of paper ...
...o ignore the religious undertones throughout the Epic, as there are obvious multiple deities, an account of creation and even a flood event. But even though the Epic of Gilgamesh is the most complete version of a mythical flood account that we have, it is by no means the first. The Sumerian Eridu Genesis, and the Akkadian Atrahasis Epic both predate their Babylonian cousin. But aside from these Mesopotamian accounts, similar stories are also found in both the Hebrew Book of Genesis, and in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. Each of these summarize a creation myth, a flood account, and a set of morals to live by, thus essentially comprising a set of religious beliefs. Perhaps the reason that The Epic of Gilgamesh continues to be translated throughout the ages, is the simple fact that it addresses our biggest fear as human beings - the inevitability of death.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Gilgamesh, the mythological King of Uruk, is the main feature in the ancient poem, The Epic of Gilgamesh. Early on in the poem readers learn that Gilgamesh has a harsh and overpowering personality. In fact, many of his nobles live in fear and do not dare to confront him. As a result, they decide to call upon Aruru, the Goddess of Creation, to create a brave enough being that will challenge Gilgamesh. Aruru creates out of moistened clay, Enkidu, who is both equally as strong and as powerful as Gilgamesh.... [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, Ishtar, Enkidu]
720 words (2.1 pages)
- The Epic of Gilgamesh The epic story of Gilgamesh in its long, poetic form speaks of another, fantastical world. Yet within the narrative of gods, half-gods, and humanization of creatures, many familiar themes arise that continue to be relevant and explored in modern literature. Ideas on friendship, the power of the gods and love are among those raised in the story with one of the main themes being the desire and search for immortality. As the story unfolds, Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, learns of death leading him on a quest for eternal life only to discover and finally accept the inevitability of humans dying.... [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, Ishtar, Humbaba]
1411 words (4 pages)
- In The Epic of Gilgamesh we are lead to believe that the one way Enkidu and Gilgamesh, these great men who are only truly one third man, exhibit their weakness just through the finite supply of their existence. They are reduced to mere mortals in that they will inevitably succumb to death. In reality they are plagued by the most human of all mindsets. Gilgamesh possesses an insatiable lust for what he doesn 't have and an inability to recognize what is truly valuable until it is denied him. The mortal in him only values things in hindsight.... [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, Epic poetry, Shamash, Enkidu]
1383 words (4 pages)
- In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh’s pursuit for immortality is marked by ignorance and selfish desire. Desire and ignorance, as The Buddha-karita of Asvaghosha suggests, pollutes man’s judgment resulting in his inability to break the cycle of birth and death. At the core of Gilgamesh’s desire resides his inability to accept the inevitability of death, making his rationality behind the pursuit of immortality ignorant and selfish. Implicitly, Gilgamesh’s corrupt desire for immortality conveys that Gilgamesh does not mature as a character.... [tags: Gilgamesh, Desire, Immortality]
1013 words (2.9 pages)
- Heroes are goals for our own aspirations. Humanity is assembled around the necessity for role models and the transference down of information, this is how we learn. A hero is defined as someone with admirable traits or people who, in the face of danger or from a position of weakness, display courage or the will for self-sacrifice, whether it be moral in a literal or figurative approach. These notions of heroism are portrayed directly through the collection of relating texts, ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh,’ and ‘The Ballad of Mulan,’ and the film ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ A hero can be anyone.... [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh]
3030 words (8.7 pages)
- The Epic of Gilgamesh is an fascinating mesopotamian epic that dates back to ancient years. The story focuses on a King by the name of Gilgamesh King of Uruk, two thirds god and one third man. Gilgamesh does not fulfill his leadership expectations, he comes off as an arrogant , ignorant man who is full of himself. He rapes any woman his heart desires. This leads to the gods becoming infuriated with him. The gods are represented as these hard to please inferior beings. Seeking revenge the gods send down Enkidu who was initially imposed to keep Gilgamesh in check.... [tags: gilgamesh, mesopotamia, babylonia]
608 words (1.7 pages)
- Comparing The Epic of Gilgamesh and Noah and the Flood It is said that life is 10% what you make it and 90% how you take it. It is not the circumstances of life that determine a person's character. Rather, it is the way a character responds to those circumstances that provides a display of who he is. "From the Epic of Gilgamesh", as translated by N.K. Sandars, and "Noah and the Flood" from the Book of Genesis, both Gilgamesh and Noah face similar circumstances, but don’t always respond to them the same way.... [tags: Book of Genesis Epic of Gilgamesh]
1059 words (3 pages)
- As Gilgamesh attempts to establish personal significance, he finds himself lacking the understanding of how his own existence is situated between the psychosocial fabric of humanity. This is, of course, the nature of his disposition: his physical composition is figurative of his own enmeshment. Until his exposure to Enkidu, Gilgamesh projects the confused perspective and personal significance, of his compositionally disproportionate man/God-liness. Gilgamesh is trying to figure himself out by taking on the world around him.... [tags: Literary Analysis]
1405 words (4 pages)
- The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poetry that originates from Mesopotamia. It is among the earliest known literature in Mesopotamia. Many scholars believe that it originated from a series of Sumerian poems, and legends about Gilgamesh who is the protagonist. It is known to be the oldest recorded story in the human history that is over 4000 years old. The story portrays Mesopotamia’s society in the third millennium B.C.E vision of after life. In addition, the story tells shows the reader how the people in Mesopotamia believed in the gods, and offered sacrifices for their prayers to be answered.... [tags: mesopotamia, enkidu, uruk]
927 words (2.6 pages)
- The Problem of Woman in Gilgamesh and Genesis The snake hands Eve the apple, and with a twinkle in her eye she bites into the apple, gaining the elusive knowledge the serpent has promised. With shame deep in her heart, Eve smiling offers the precious fruit to Adam, her mate. The prostitute lures Enkidu, protector of nature, into her arms with the fruits of her womanhood. She offers him sexual satisfaction. He like Adam is an innocent taken in by the wiles of a woman. Why do the women tempt the innocents.... [tags: Epic Gilgamesh essays]
1258 words (3.6 pages)