The Epic Poem Of Gilgamesh Essay

The Epic Poem Of Gilgamesh Essay

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What does it mean to be immortal? Most people assume that ‘immortality’ is distinguished by a person living forever, or an undying entity beyond the limitations of death. But why would anyone really want this kind of immortality? The very concept seems to only appear in works of fiction, and most individuals don’t recognize that immortality can come with a hefty price. This is the very case when taking into account one of the oldest literary works in the world, the epic poem of Gilgamesh. The hero, Gilgamesh, achieved immortality in death, and although it was not in the traditional sense, his presence became immortal through literature and history.
Throughout the story, Gilgamesh was recognized to be the greatest man within the kingdom of Uruk. Being two thirds god and one third man, his strength was beyond compare to any other counterpart. While he did seem to be wise in some aspects, his pride would usually get in the way when it came down to making certain decisions. With this, however, came a dire need to be remembered, which ultimately drove Gilgamesh to treat his people unfairly and at times, with vulgarity. He worked his people ferociously, took men to fight long, weary battles, took children from their families to work for him, and, had a habit of sleeping with any woman he chose, specifically on their wedding night.
However, Gilgamesh did mature over time. After befriending Enkidu, their relationship helped Gilgamesh see the error in his ways, ultimately becoming more aware of the most important things in life, such as loyalty, friendship, and love. After Enkidu was killed by the Bull of Heaven, Gilgamesh became distraught, and began to fear his own mortality. Paul Kane presented an interesting view on this ver...


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...of realizing such a tragic fate could fall into the hands of an immortal.
In the end, Gilgamesh never seemed to acknowledge that immortality could also pertain to a single person who was deserving of being remembered forever. Ironically, that is exactly what he achieved in his death. After having immortality within his grasp, and then it being stolen away, Gilgamesh seemingly came to terms with his own humanity. In doing so, Gilgamesh ultimately returned to his kingdom and, through his experiences, became a greater king than he ever was before. So, in turn, Gilgamesh did indeed achieve immortality in death. The literary works of his story are still present today, three thousand years after its time. Even though it was not in the traditional sense, and especially in the way he desired, his presence has proven to be an immortal one through literature and history.

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