Gilgamesh and Enkidu: The Manifestation of Death's Inevitability through Companionship

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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. He is thus confused by inherent discrepancy of his antithetical perspectives (Immortal vs. mortal), and the inability to see the world through an outside perspective entirely. This new perspective is afforded by Gilgamesh’s companionship with Enkidu. It is through the investment of sentiment towards Enkidu that Gilgamesh gains the temporal awareness of the inevitable: Heroic failure, death, uncontrollable loss and mortality’s inexorable triumph over immortality.

Prior to their introduction to each other, Gilgamesh and Enkidu exist in distinct but “...contiguous worlds of animal and god...” (Wolff), and both represent a pure approximation of either systems idyllic creations. Gilgamesh’s greatness is observed early on in the text. “...Gilgamesh, the powerful, who rides over the herd like any great king.” (Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet I, Column IV, Line 194/5). Enkidu’s strength and refinement however, is noted by it’s relation to Gilgamesh (which, notably, is prior to having met each other) “There, with a smile, Enkidu will see his other self, great Gilgamesh” (Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet I, Column V, Line 220/1). It is understood that Gilgamesh and Enkidu are enjoined from the beginning.

It is not until...

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... trying to take on the burden of the mortal world which surrounds him. If Gilgamesh can establish immortality, he can take on the emotional responsibility of all mortality’s inevitable death. Gilgamesh wants to free humankind and the immortal from suffering, and is willing to outlive mankind so that he can continue to be humbled and conditioned by the predestined loss of all living things.

Works Cited
Sandars, N. K. The Epic of Gilgamesh. London: Penguin, 2006. EText Books. Web. 3 Mar. 2010. .

Wolff, Hope Nash. Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Heroic Life. Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 89, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1969), pp. 392-398. American Oriental Society. University of Southern California Library eResources; JSTOR. Accessed 3 March 2010.
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