In a more symbolical way of thinking, immortality could be living on through remembrance of one’s accomplishments. This paper concentrates on the character of Gilgamesh and his pursuit of immortality after the loss of his friend Enkidu in tablet VII. For such a powerful character, a demigod at that, Gilgamesh lets his human side to emasculate his true power. Desperate for obtaining immortality, Gilgamesh deserts Uruk to begin his search for Utnapishtim, whom had survived the great flood and given immorality by the gods. As Enkidu obviously becomes an important part of Gilgamesh’s life, in the beginning, he is represented as Gilgamesh’s total opposite; his other half in fact.
This is presented beginning on line 236 of Book V where Odysseus openly admits that Penelope cannot compare in beauty or stature, but he still pines for her. Also going along with this concept, is Odysseus’ sheer determination to mak... ... middle of paper ... ...nd the theme of immortality. However, each presents it in different ways. The Epic of Gilgamesh presents true immortality as deeds and actions that will keep your names in the memory of the people forever. In The Odyssey immortality is presented as something that is less important than your family and the people you love.
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?
Gilgamesh believes that if he finds immortality he will become more god-like and discover his purpose. Gilgamesh realizes that he was created greater than all mortals, but that if he cannot escape death then he ends up as a mortal in the end. So from the time of his creation, Gilgamesh searches to find a way to overcome this looming shadow of mortal death. Although he is told over an... ... middle of paper ... ...having given up the search for immortality and fame, and by having lost so much that he becomes the ruler he was meant to be. Before Gilgamesh was able to reach his full potential, he needed to complete a journey.
The Epic of Gilgamesh reflects this spirit of the warrior. Although Enkidu’s death indicates that mortals seemingly are at the mercy of the gods and death is inevitable, Gilgamesh nonetheless embarks on a quest for godhood: Enkidu has to die so Gilgamesh can live. Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s friendship prefigures G... ... middle of paper ... ...venture onto the stone walls of Uruk. The irony is that the story is about his failure rather than success. His quest started when he realized “[he had] not established [his] name stamped on bricks as...destiny decreed” (70).
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.
Untnapishtim explains to Gilgamesh that all that he did was obey the gods, in return the gods gave him immortality. Utnapishtim than gives Gilgamesh a three obstacles in order to receive immortality. “As for you, Gilgamesh, who will assemble the gods for your sake, so that you may find that life for which you are searching? But if you wish, Come and put it to the test: to Prevail against sleep for six days and seven nights.” (Gilgamesh, 511) Gilgamesh accepts Utnapishtim’s test but fails within hours and lies about his outcome. Utnapishtim’s wife feels sympathy for Gilgamesh, giving his another test in return for ever lasting life.
They imposed harsh labors and laws on the people who followed them. But most importantly, by having a king, they were turning their backs on God. There were a few benefits that came from having a king, but these proved to be an illusion. Many will argue that a king was good for Israel. Proponents for a king argue that kings brought political stability to the country.
Although some may side with Gilgamesh in that immortality is to be sought after, I stand with McKibben and agree that immortality could be a bad thing. Immortality can void our humanity. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, immortality is the main prize that Gilgamesh tries to attain. However, it was his mortality that kept him human. Gilgamesh was part god and part man and already had trouble relating to his people.
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.