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The Epic of Gilgamesh is a moving tale of the friendship between Gilgamesh, the demigod king of Uruk, and the wild man Enkidu. Accepting ones own mortality is the overarching theme of the epic as Gilgamesh and Enkidu find their highest purpose in the pursuit of eternal life.
The epic begins with Gilgamesh terrorizing the people of Uruk. They call out to the sky god Anu for help. In response Anu tells the goddess of creation, Aruru, to make an equal for Gilgamesh. Thus Aruru created Enkidu, a brute with the strength of dozens of wild animals. After being seduced by a harlot from the temple of love in Uruk, Enkidu loses his strength and wildness yet gains wisdom and understanding. The harlot offers to take him into Uruk where Gilgamesh lives, the only man worthy of Enkidu's friendship. After a brief brawl the two become devoted friends.
The newfound friends gradually weaken and grow lazy living in the city, so Gilgamesh proposes a great adventure that entails cutting down a great cedar forest to build a great monument to the gods. However to accomplish this they must kill the Guardian of the Cedar Forest, the great demon, Humbaba the Terrible. Enkidu, along with the elders of the city, have serious reservations about such an undertaking but in the end Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the terrible demon.
As Gilgamesh cleans himself and his blood stained weapons, Ishtar, the goddess of love and beauty, takes notice of his beauty and offers to become his wife. Gilgamesh refuses with insults, listing all her mortal lovers and recounting the dire fates they all met with at her hands. Ishtar is enraged at the rebuff. She returns to heaven and begs her father, Anu, to let her have the Bull of Heaven to wreak vengeance on Gilgamesh and his city. Anu reluctantly gives in, and the Bull of Heaven is sent down to terrorize the people of Uruk. Gilgamesh and Enkidu, work together to slay the mighty bull. That following night Enkidu dreams that the chief gods met in a council and had decided that someone should be punished for the killing of Humbaba and the Bull of the Heavens. That someone is he. Enkidu commends himself to Gilgamesh, and after suffering terribly for twelve days, he finally dies.
After Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh comes to the realization that one day he too will succumb to the same fate as his friend.
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There are a lot of similar themes to this epic as to some of the other mythological stories I have read in the past. I found this particular observation oddly strange because this tale was written thousands of years before many other similar tales. I think this is why this story of Gilgamesh has endured for so long. All in all it was a good read. However, it can be a little confusing at times. I especially like the part where Gilgamesh refuses Istar's advances. The imagery was quite amusing!