Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, is the protagonist of The Epic of Gilgamesh, where the audience is brought through the story of a tyrannical king 's transformation to become a mature king. He would learn that his responsibilities as king come before any of his wishes for fame and acknowledgment. As a being who was two-thirds god and one-third human, he desperately tried to gain the attention and later on the immortality that only deities would have. In the Epic of Gilgamesh translated by Andrew George, Gilgamesh believed that in order to be a great king, he would have to complete heroic tasks such as killing Humbaba, the guardian of the Cedar Forest and going to the netherworlds to find the source of immortality. However, he was blind to the fact that in order to be an ideal ruler, one should leave behind a legacy dedicated to his people and become a paradigm for future kings to follow.
As a king in Mesopotamian society, all civilians had expectations that the king would serve as a divine mediator chosen by the gods, a military leader that would protect his city from invasions, and maintain the codes of law. Gilgamesh ignored many of these kingly duties and was eager to become heroic and godly. "The young men of Uruk he harries without warrant, Gilgamesh lets no son go free to his father. By day and by night his tyranny grows harsher" (George, Tablet I 67-69). The beginning of the epic depicts his kingship as tyrannical and immoral, which could go without question or complaint unless the gods will it. Although considered great for his many feats such as his great walls and military expeditions, his faults could not be questioned by the commoners, which show a flaw in Mesopotamian kingship. Therefore, t...
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...ortal beings with the capability of mediating between man and the gods, protecting great cities from invasion, and upholding the moral code. Civilians looked to their king for guidance, whose role was to perform the duties expected of him. The Epic of Gilgamesh teaches the lesson to future kings on what should and should not be done. Although Gilgamesh 's faults as king lead many to believe that he was a tyrant, the lessons he learned by the end of the epic show how he matured, gained wisdom, and took up his duties and responsibilities as king of Uruk. The epic poem highlights that to be a great king, heroic and boastful acts do not garner legacy, but what a king leaves behind to his people and future generations is the lasting legacy. Kings, although given power over other humans, are just as prone to make the same mistakes and have the same desires as ordinary men.
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