Down through the ages people have been immortalized by deeds, words, songs, poetry, and a number of other endeavors, but some have always sought the elusive Philosopher's Stone; the answer to true immortality Since the beginning of recorded history, everlasting life has been pursued by old and young, rich and poor. One need only look to the Gilgamesh Epic, the oldest story in the world, to discover where these roots lay. Gilgemesh, the mighty king and warrior, fearing his own demise, seeks out Utnapishtim, a mortal made immortal by the gods, in the hopes that he'll reveal the secret of eternal life. The immortal tells the king of a flower, which when eaten, bestows eternal life. Note that the answer is tangible and real, something that can be seen and held.
Gilgamesh and Enkidu did not have a problem killing Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven; however, one of them had to pay the consequences for what they did. Enkidu’s life ended as a consequence of his disfavor in the eyes of the gods for their misdeeds. Gilgamesh was affected by Enkidu’s death that he decided to go on an adventure to seek immortality. “Gilgamesh, wherefore do you wander? The eternal life you are seeking you shall not find.
Gilgamesh realizes his impending death and searches for immortality to obtain more fame and recognition. A very important part of the story is how the gods react to the way he has handled himself. Utnapishtim talks about the meritless journeys he went on instead of helping Uruk. This goes to show that even back in 2000 BC, they still knew how important it was to be a selfless leader. The story ends by
Every action of his led created a domino effect and him to go on a journey. For instance, the death of Enkidu was a contributing factor into Gilgamesh’s transformation. If Enkidu hadn’t died, Gilgamesh would have continued on living in an illusion. Perhaps, this epic is meant to be a cautionary tale to warn those with a similar lust for immortality to not indulge in it and rather concentrate their focus and energy on something tangible. Since the desire of immortality is impossible to attain and leaves much reparations.
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. Recognizing that he will one day die allows Gilgamesh to finally appreciate the city he has built and the people within it.
Gilgamesh's True Identity Gilgamesh, who was made perfect physically, with all of the wisdom and secrets of the gods, shows he is not perfectly made on the inside as he struggles to find his true purpose and identity in the Epic of Gilgamesh. He, who proves good at heart in the conclusion of the epic, does not know why he was created and is frustrated at his mortal third in his early life. Made to bring strength and prosperity to the mortals of Uruk as an honorable king, Gilgamesh must first go on a journey to find out his true identity and mature along the way. Whether it is for everlasting life, fame, or his desire to be king- Gilgamesh searches for his true identity and purpose throughout the epic, only to find it when he forgets his potential for greatness and gives up the search for fame. Gilgamesh feels trapped on the Earth, being one-third man and two-thirds god, and searches for immortality through the course of his quest to discover that it is not his destiny to live forever.
He takes on the aspects of outward uncivility that matches his inside. Since Gilgamesh is not civilized, he doesn’t function as well in or outside of society. When he’s looking for immortality, he relies on his strength and his uncivilized nature rather than allowing civilization to lead him to immortality. If he had allowed himself to listen to the gods who were trying to help him, the perhaps he would have achieved immortality rather than “hindering his own progress by smashing the Stone Ones” (George, 75) who were planning on helping him. Some would argue that Gilgamesh’s civility does, however, grow immensely through the epic.
It is known by himself, and by the gods, that he is to live a short, but glorious life, however it is not known how or when his life will come to an end. Achilles himself, wishes to live one of longevity without great glory, and therefore tries to escape his lot in life. Is it just for him to give his life for war, or should he live a life to satisfy himself? Throughout the “Iliad”, Achilles’ actions bring his eventual doom closer to reality than perhaps may have been planned. “Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus’ son Achilles and it’s devastation which put pain thousandfold upon the Achaians.” The wrath of Achilles begins in Book One of “The Iliad.” Agamemmnon, leader of the Greek army, takes Achilles booty prize, Briseis to replace his own concubine, Chryses, daughter of a priest of Apollo, who was returned to end the plague put on his people by the angry god, Apollo.
Odysseus immediately responded and refused Kalypso’s offer: “My lady goddess…come (Book V, 223-233).” Many individuals would not decline immortality, but he did not ponder over the thought of living for eternity. Odysseus made this decision based on his ethics and because of true love. Odysseus also makes ethical decisions to save people’s lives. For instance, ... ... middle of paper ... ...lusion, Odysseus makes ethical decisions to benefit others, overcomes adversity with vast amounts of courage, and illustrates humility by relinquishing his hubris to rightfully earn the title of hero. Whether Odysseus has to be unfaithful to his lover or saving lives by stuffing ears with wax, he never forgets that others’ lives are at stake and sparing them are of paramount importance.
In the final half Gilgamesh attempts to drive his immortality through questioning others. Gilgamesh first attempts to find his purpose on his own, but failing in that effort turns to others for it. In clear contrast the first and second halves of this epic convey the universal truth that happiness, meaning and purpose to ones life are found internally, not externally. But we must not forget that the story of Gilgamesh is a common one. How often does man look externally for happiness when it is best found within?