A Mortals Sense Of Immortality

Powerful Essays
A Mortal’s Sense of Immortality
To fear death is to fear life itself. An overbearing concern for the end of life not only leads to much apprehension of the final moment but also allows that fear to occupy one’s whole life. The only answer that can possibly provide relief in the shadow of the awaited final absolution lies in another kind of absolution, one that brings a person to terms with their irrevocable mortality and squelches any futile desire for immortality. Myths are often the vehicles of this release, helping humanity to accept and handle their mortal and limited state. Different cultures have developed varying myths to coincide with their religious beliefs and give reprieve to their members in the face of irrevocable death. The same is true for the stories in the Book of Genesis and the Mesopotamians’ Epic of Gilgamesh. In these two myths similar paths are taken to this absolution are taken by the characters of Adam and Gilgamesh, respectively. These paths, often linked by their contradictions, end with the same conclusion for each man on the subject of immortality; that no amount of knowledge or innocence, power or humility, honoring or sinning, will achieve them immortality in the sense of a life without death. Eternal life for a mortal lies in memory by one’s friends and family after one’s death.
When Adam is created in the second chapter (and second creation story) of Genesis out of the dust by the newly created world of God, he is the most innocent being ever known. It says of he and Eve, “they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:24)';, and why should they be, having no knowledge that their state was indecent? The opposite is true for Gilgamesh, who Anu grants “the totality of knowledge of all (Gilgamesh 3)';. Through the course of the epic we discover that Gilgamesh indeed does not have knowledge of all things, namely a grasp upon death. Adam does not even know that such a thing exists, thus his life, without the threat of death hanging overhead, is originally one of tranquility, happiness, and perfection. He is humble before his Lord God, with whom he shares the unique relationship of aiding him in His creation of all things. Adam’s life is full in this passive innocence and he has no need for any...

... middle of paper ...’s innocence and ignorance, followed by Gilgamesh’s fame and power to Adam’s humbleness, then their shared punishments and voyages/exoduses and finally their collective discovery about immortality. I find Adam more honorable in his quest, for he searches after unknowingly defying God, rather than Gilgamesh’s looking through defying the gods. Adam knew not what evil he was doing when he ate the fruit of the tree, pressed upon him by Eve and the serpent, for he did not know the subject of evil even existed. Gilgamesh, on the other hand, was arrogant and overbearing in his knowledge and strength, acting more like a spoiled brat than one who was two-thirds a god. His one major saving point is that he does realize humility in the face of death and after failing to find a means of immortality. I can associate much more with Adam and his innocence and meekness for the wills and works of God(s), whatever they may be and if they even exist, are above and beyond the likes of me, a mortal being. I will live my life, the only one given to me, as best I can, not letting issues like inescapable death and unattainable immortality exhaust my limited time.
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