The Search for Immortality in the Epic of Gilgamesh

1509 Words4 Pages

The fear of death and the search for eternal life is a cultural universal. The ideology surrounding immortality transcends time and a plethora of cultures. The theme, immortality appears in stories from the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was composed by ancient Sumerians roughly around 600 B.C., to present day works of fiction in the twenty first century. Gilgamesh, a figure of celestial stature, allows his mortal side to whittle away his power after the death of Enkidu. Undeniably, defenseless before the validity of his own end, he leaves Uruk and begins a quest for Utnapishtim; the mortal man who withstood the great deluge and was granted immortality by the gods (Freeman 36). The search for immortality is a universal concept that has presented itself many times throughout the world; it is a concept that stands in hearts of mankind; The Epic of Gilgamesh illustrates humanity’s innate desire to break free from the constraints of the civilized world, while at the same time trying to find the meaning of existence; a theme that that is perpetrated many times throughout the epic. With that being said, The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story that should not be simply viewed as a text that was written by ancient human civilization thousands of years ago; it should be viewed as a text that highlights humanity’s struggle to overcome the limitations of mortality, and the acceptance of death. This is a theme Enkidu is a vital part of Gilgamesh’s life. At the beginning of the story Enkidu embodies the opposite of Gilgamesh, his other half. After Enkidu’s death Gilgamesh cannot go back to life as it was, he is lost and for the first time in his life, afraid. The fate of all humankind, death, becomes the last obstacle for Gilgamesh to conquer. The dis... ... middle of paper ... ...p. "Lessons from a Demigod." Humanities Jul 2012: 34-8. ProQuest. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. Gardner, John, John R. Maier, and Richard A. Henshaw. Gilgamesh: Translated from the Sîn-leqi-unninnī Version. New York: Knopf, 1984. Print. “Gilgamesh Epic." (n.d.): Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. “Gilgamesh." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (2013): 1. Literary Reference Center. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. Harris, Rivkah. Gender and Aging in Mesopotamia: The Gilgamesh Epic and Other Ancient Literature. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 2000. Print. Jackson, Danny P. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 1992. Print Journal Of The Society For Existential Analysis 21.1 (2010): 76-88. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. Sadigh, Micah. "The Foundation of Existentialism In The Oldest Story Ever Told."

Open Document