11 Feb. 2014. Sadigh, Micah. "The Foundation of Existentialism In The Oldest Story Ever Told."
1-5) One of humanity’s ancient compulsions has been to vanquish death. This compulsion is strongly depicted in the Epic of Gilgamesh, as it creates a large portion of the Epic. It reveals the importance of the perception of immortality and the universal fear of humanity: Death. Immortality means to live on forever, indicating everlasting life. In a more symbolical way of thinking, immortality could be living on through remembrance of one’s accomplishments.
“How can I rest, how can I be at peace? Despair is in my heart. What my brother is now, that shall be when I am dead. Because I am afraid of death I will go as best as I can to find Utnapishtim whom they call farwell, for he has entered the assembly of gods.” (Gilgamesh, 507) Gilgamesh finally finds Utnapishtim and demands for immortally. Untnapishtim explains to Gilgamesh that all that he did was obey the gods, in return the gods gave him immortality.
Consequently, it motivates Achilles to return to battle and swear revenge upon the Trojans, especially Hector. Naturally, Zeus, who was worshipped for his ability to act and his achievements, is now going to be overshadowed by Achilles who will soon be entering the battle and ultimately win all the glory. Zeus wishes to experience human’s mortality and therefore sets up this whole ordeal for Achilles to overshadow him in glory, which will then destroy his relevancy. Accordingly, Zeus will experience human’s mortality, albeit metaphorically. In contrast, humans die through actual death, which the only way to bring them closer to their primitive desire of immortality.
In this Epic, Gilgamesh is seen trying to achieve immortality through the methods of both the old and the new. His journeys through the sacred and the profane in many ways characterize the confusion arising from the unstable social climate. Therefore, the society, by writing the story of Gilgamesh, guarantees not only his immortality, but the immortality of the new order being established. The beginning of the Epic finds Gilgamesh hunting immortality through the ways of old. He is trying to achieve everlasting life through the fertility of young virgins promised to another.
Gilgamesh: The Epic Hero Unlike the heroes of Greek, Gilgamesh actual has existed. He is a mighty king who rules over the Sumerian city-state of Uruk around 2700 B.C. (Jager 1) The Epic of Gilgamesh tells a story of a rattled young king who travels to the end of the world in search of wisdom and immortality. While searching for wisdom, Gilgamesh realizes that he needs to accept human mortality and gain courage to lead a compassionate and fruitful life. (Jager 1) Gilgamesh is also a brave and adventurous character who exhibits unique characteristics.