A Summary of the Epic of Gilgamesh

A Summary of the Epic of Gilgamesh

Length: 849 words (2.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
The Epic of Gilgamesh: A Summary


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.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"A Summary of the Epic of Gilgamesh." 123HelpMe.com. 17 Nov 2018
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=12550>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Analyzing the Epic of Gilgamesh by F. Lorey through a Creationists Viewpoint

- Epic of Gilgamesh Annotated Bibliography Lorey, F. 1997. The Flood of Noah and the Flood of Gilgamesh. Acts & Facts. 26 (3) Web. 4 Feb. 2014. When reading the story, someone can take many different viewpoints. In the article above, the author is analyzing the Epic of Gilgamesh through a creationists view point. It contains useful comparisons and historical data to help support his analysis. The author considers the story to hold very value for Christians. It concerns the typical myths that were tied to pagan people....   [tags: Christians, gods, myths]

Research Papers
811 words (2.3 pages)

What Does It Mean? Essay

- What does it mean to be Human. The story of Gilgamesh is an epic poem that is considered the first work of literature, written around 3000 years before Jesus Christ. In this poem, the hero Gilgamesh, who is two-thirds god and one-third human, has built a city to protect the citizens of Urik, a city in ancient Mesopotamia. In his quest for life, he is considered super human like a god, but also intelligent. Overall, the best description of Gilgamesh was arrogant. His motif included being a despot who would rape any woman, or child....   [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, Ishtar, Cedar Forest]

Research Papers
913 words (2.6 pages)

The Transformation of Gilgamesh Depicted in The Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

- Gilgamesh struggled to establish moral principle. His personality at first was an arrogant, self-centered tyrant ; he was described by Enkidu "His teeth are dragon's fangs, his countenance is like a lion his charge is the rushing of the flood..." (pg. 16 line 3-6). But towards the end of this epic narrative Gilgamesh switched over to a more humble and sincere person. This adjustment in Gilgamesh's behavior shows his modesty and the morality throughout the story. At first, Gilgamesh was seen as an oppressor to his people....   [tags: The Epic of Gilgamesh]

Research Papers
437 words (1.2 pages)

Gilgamesh : The Epic Of Gilgamesh Essay

- The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest known stories, recounts the tale of the reckless King Gilgamesh and his adventures with his friend Enkidu, a natural man created by the gods from clay to humble and teach Gilgamesh to become a better ruler. Through Enkidu’s death, the once fearless Gilgamesh becomes fearful of his own inevitable demise and journeys to find immortality. However, by finding compassion for his humanity, he is able to come to terms with his mortality and continue living wholeheartedly as the ruler of Uruk....   [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, Ishtar, Uruk, Enkidu]

Research Papers
2008 words (5.7 pages)

The Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

- Perhaps one of the main reasons the Epic of Gilgamesh is so popular and has lasted such a long time, is because it offers insight into the human concerns of people four thousand years ago, many of which are still relevant today. Some of these human concerns found in the book that are still applicable today include: the fear and concerns people have in relation to death, overwhelming desires to be immortal, and the impact a friendship has on a person’s life. It does not take a great deal of insight into The Epic of Gilgamesh for a person to locate these themes in the story, and even less introspection to relate to them....   [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh Essays]

Research Papers
1053 words (3 pages)

Gilgamesh : The Epic Of Gilgamesh Essay

- ... This makes you get the idea: it is a lot of event description from the outside, which the narrator takes us inside the characters thought. The first taste of this is after Enkidu had finished his frolicking with shamhat. He, therefore, realized he would like a friend (naturally) after all that loving with temple-prostitute. Before even Enkidu tells shamhat that, the narrator, therefore, lets us inside his head for a moment. Narrator’s point of view also comes in when at some points the characters talk in their voices about things that had taken place into their lives in the past still this comes in the third person frame....   [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, Odyssey, Epic poetry, Ishtar]

Research Papers
1008 words (2.9 pages)

Gilgamesh : The Epic Of Gilgamesh Essay

- ... Before Enkidu and Gilgamesh venture into the Cedar Forest to kill the great Humbaba, Gilgamesh tells the sun-god Shamash to pray to the gods to bring him back alive, demonstrating that he is greatly afraid of death and being killed. On their way to the forest Gilgamesh and Enkidu speak about how if they are to be killed, the one thing that will remain of them is fame. Enkidu expresses his concerns about death, which Gilgamesh dismisses, telling Enkidu that that life is short and that no one lives forever....   [tags: Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, Ishtar, Humbaba]

Research Papers
1411 words (4 pages)

The Epic Of Gilgamesh And Gilgamesh Essay

- The epic hero’s journeys hold the hopes for future of ordinary people’s lives. The Epic of Gilgamesh was written in approximately 2000 B.C.E which is highly enriched with Ancient Mesopotamian religions, and The Ramayana was written by ancient Indians in around 1800 B.C.E. The stories were written in two different parts of the world. However, these two stories etched great evidence that show people from generation to generation that different cultures and religions are interconnected; they share ideas with each other....   [tags: Mesopotamia, Epic of Gilgamesh, Ramayana, Sumer]

Research Papers
1590 words (4.5 pages)

The Transformation of Gilgamesh in the Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

- The Transformation of Gilgamesh in the Epic of Gilgamesh In many literary works we see significant transitions in the hero's character as the story is developed. This is also true in the Epic of Gilgamesh with its hero, Gilgamesh. In this narrative poem, we get glimpses of who Gilgamesh is and what his purposes and goals are. We see Gilgamesh act in many different ways -- as an overbearing ruler resented by his people, a courageous and strong fighter, a deflated, depressed man, and finally as a man who seems content with what he's accomplished....   [tags: Epic Gilgamesh essays]

Free Essays
1766 words (5 pages)

Essay about The Epic of Gilgamesh is Truely an Epic

- The Epic of Gilgamesh is Truely an Epic An epic is an extended narrative poem in elevated or dignified language, celebrating the feats of a legendary or traditional hero.   The main characteristics of an epic as a literary genre is that it is a long poem that tells a story, it contains an epic hero, its hero searches for immortality (but doesn't find it physically, only through fame), gods or other supernatural beings are interested and involved, and it delivers an historical message.  The Epic of Gilgamesh is classified as an epic because it fits all the characteristics of an epic as a literary genre....   [tags: Epic Gilgamesh essays]

Research Papers
1699 words (4.9 pages)

Related Searches

He sets out to find Utnapishtim the only mortal that the gods have granted eternal life in attempt to find the secret of immortality. After a long perilous journey through the land of darkness, through the garden of the gods, and across the waters of death, Gilgamesh arrives a shore where Utnapishtim lives. Gilgamesh recounts the story of Enkidu's death to Utnapishtim and how he came to his shore. He asks Utnapishtim to tell him the secret of eternal life. Utnapishtim advises Gilgamesh that death is a necessary fact because it is the will of the gods. Gilgamesh pursues the issue further until Utnapishtim recounts how he received immortality and reveals the greatest secret hidden from humans. At the end of his story, which is famously similar to Noah's flood in the book of Genesis, Utnapishtim offers Gilgamesh a chance at immortality. If Gilgamesh can stay awake for six days and seven nights, he, too, will become immortal. Gilgamesh accepts these conditions and sits down on the shore; the instant he sits down he falls asleep. When Gilgamesh awakes, he deigns that he had fallen asleep. Utnapishtim points to the loaves of bread that his wife laid at his side to count the number of days he slept. Utnapishtim's wife convinces the old man to have mercy on him; he offers Gilgamesh in place of immortality a secret plant that will make Gilgamesh young again. The plant is at the bottom of the ocean surrounding the shore. Gilgamesh ties stones to his feet, sinks to the bottom, and plucks the magic plant. But he doesn't use it because he does not trust it. He decides to take it back to Uruk and test it out on an old man first to make sure it work. On his way back, Gilgamesh stops at a well of cool water to drink. There hiding deep in the pool was a snake. When the snake sensed the sweetness of the flower, it rose up out of the water and snatched the plant away causing the snake to slough its skin.

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!
Return to 123HelpMe.com