Two understand how the gods influenced our hero, Gilgamesh, one must first look at the various ways the gods meddled into his life. The Epic of Gilgamesh is a tale of a half-mortal man whose quest to break his own boredom turns into a tale of friendship, immortality, and kingship. However, his tale would not have been able to happen if it was not for the influence of the various Sumerian deities. After the people of Uruk complained to the gods about Gilgamesh’s child-like behavior, the goddess Aruru creates the man that will become Gilgamesh’s closest friend, Enkidu. Enkidu was created as an equal to the king so that Gilgamesh would have a way to occupy his time. Unfortunately, after the two friends defeated the giant Humbaba, a terrible demon creature, the god Enlil becomes enraged, but despite Enlil’s best effort, he is unable to punish the two.
In The Epic, Gilgamesh’s understanding of his mortality is almost dismissive; he argues that since all men die anyway, that then they might as well risk their lives to make a name for themselves. Gilgamesh does not question the value of “making a name for himself” in a world where all great heroes are forgotten-it is enough to use his allotted years to achieve fame and glory. In this case, Gilgamesh believes that the value of life is to be remembered after death. Gilgamesh’s mortality and fear of death reflect on his human side and is consistent with the human condition of fearing death. However, Enkidu views death differently. Gilgamesh rouses Enkidu with a speech, explaining to him that since all men die anyway, they should not fear
(Gilgamesh 71)” Gilgamesh's grief for his friend was natural, but he shouldn't have abandoned his people and his royal duties. As ruler, his people have to follow his decree, and need his support to thrive. By forcing them to grief, and abandoning his position, he left them in a very vulnerable position. His last and final abandonment of his people began with Gilgamesh's quest for immortality. He was so upset and shocked by what occurred to Enkidu's body after death, that he vowed he would never die. His selfishness has grown so far, that when he finds his cure for mortality, he chooses to let an old man test the plant in case it brings death instead. “I will bring it to Uruk-Haven, and have an old man eat the plant to test it. The plant's name is “The Old Man Becomes a Young Man.” Then I will eat it and return to the condition of my youth. (Gilgamesh 106)” Gilgamesh was a powerful man with a lot of ambition, and potential. It was just ruined by his selfish nature. He was, all-in-all, a famous and great ruler... but not a just one.
This explain that Enkidu is trying to point out how dangerous Humbaba is. Gilgamesh didn’t care how powerful Humbaba is because he believe that he could take anyone down, he didn’t care about Enkidu thoughts of Humbaba. “Gilgamesh opened his mouth to speak,/ say [to Enkidu:]/ why, my friend, do you speak like a weakling?/ with your spineless words you [make me] despondent.” (19). This shows that Gilgamesh is arrogant and immature, thinking he could defeat the monster himself without having any fear. Gilgamesh went back to the Uruk to make an announcement of battling Humbaba the vicious monster. Gilgamesh said, “I will conquer him in the Forest of Cedar:/ let the land learn Uruk’s offshoot is mighty!/ let me start out,/ I will cut down the Cedar./ I will establish for ever a name eternal!” (20). Next, Gilgamesh and Enkidu climbed up the hill into the forest to find Humbaba. They end up on the hillside to rest before the battle. Gilgamesh had his first dream, “[My friend, did you not call me? Why have I wakened ?]/ [Did you not touch me? Why am I startled ?]/ [Did a god not pass by? Why is my flesh frozen numb?]/ [My friend, I have had the first dream!]” (30). This symbolize fear, for the first time Gilgamesh experiencing the feeling of being afraid. Gilgamesh suddenly changed as he went onto a Journey to the Forest of Cedar. When Gilgamesh continue to see Humbaba knowing that he is
Gilgamesh encounters Utnapishtim, a man who survives the great flood and receives immortality. Utnapishtim gives Gilgamesh eclectic tasks to achieve eternal life. The first task is to stay awake for seven days, which Gilgamesh is unable to accomplish. Feeling sorry, Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh a secret that if he finds the “plant that grows under the water… [it] restores his lost youth” (31). Gilgamesh lights up and ties rocks to his feet to sink down to search for the marvelous plant. Gilgamesh finds the ultimate boon. He is overjoyed and eager to bring the plant back to his homeland to restore the youth of all the men there. The refusal of the return occurs when, he was returning home and becomes careless and bathes in a nearby well of cool water, leaving the plant unattended. A snake suddenly appears and eats the plant, restoring the snake’s youth. Gilgamesh begins to weep upon seeing that he failed in his quest for immortality. Gilgamesh returns back to his homeland, Uruk, and engraves his story on a stone for everyone to see and
Gilgamesh is not a completely flawed character; he possesses, and obtains through his adventures, many positive qualities or virtues. For example, he is courageous. This virtue is evident during his battle with Humbaba. This forest giant is a fearsome adversary, aided by the gods, with a considerable size and strength advantage. Defeat of Humbaba takes the combined efforts of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. To succeed, Gilgamesh had to gain the courage to undergo this task. Enkidu rallies his friend by saying, “O Gilgamesh, remember now your boasts in Uruk. Forward, attacks, son of Uruk, there is nothing to fear.” (Sandars 20) With this, Gilgamesh’s “courage railed” (Sandars 20). He defeats and eventually kills Humbaba for which he is subsequently praised.
Gilgamesh, on the other hand, is not so lucky. His weakness is something that he cannot escape. Since Gilgamesh is part human, death is an inevitable fact of life. Gilgamesh’s fate is first foreseen when he has a dream about a wild man Enkidu. Gilgamesh tells his mother,” Stars of the sky appeared, and some kind of meteorite of Anu fell next to me. I tried to lift it but it was too mighty for me, I tried to turn it but I could not budge it. – I loved it and embraced it as a wife. I laid it down at your feet, and you made it compete with me. (220-231)” Gilgamesh learns his destiny is to love Enkidu, but the gods create Enkidu to destroy Gilgamesh. When the goddess of love sends the bull of heaven to kill Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh and Enkidu defeat the bull, but the gods are not happy. As punishment, they speak the curse of death upon Enkidu. Heart-broken
Gilgamesh sets out on his journey for immortality, leaving his kingdom and people behind to fend for themselves. He starts to become self-seeking just as he had before. He spends every waking moment searching for immortality only to benefit himself. The whole purpose of the journey itself is so that Gilgamesh can gain immortality for himself and be remembered forever. He doesn’t realize that his people are off on there own with no king to control the empire. Even when
Gilgamesh knew that Enkidu was just as magnificent as himself, so after his death When Gilgamesh knew death was around the corner he did not enjoy worldly pleasures, thus making him more god fearing.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu helps act as a catalyst for the transformation of Gilgamesh’s character from an undefeatable god-like brute into a complex thinker. In the eyes of Gilgamesh, he is unstoppable and is willing to challenge death itself so long as he is remembered as a hero by his subjects. With Enkidu’s help, Gilgamesh learns to become a better person as a ruler, not as a better warrior. Although not blood related, Enkidu was like a brother to Gilgamesh and the duo shared an inseparable bond. Throughout the epic, Enkidu teaches Gilgamesh that he is not unstoppable, being stubborn will not stop him from dying, and that there are no easy solutions to life.
In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh’s pursuit for immortality is marked by ignorance and selfish desire. Desire and ignorance, as The Buddha-karita of Asvaghosha suggests, pollutes man’s judgment resulting in his inability to break the cycle of birth and death. At the core of Gilgamesh’s desire resides his inability to accept the inevitability of death, making his rationality behind the pursuit of immortality ignorant and selfish. Implicitly, Gilgamesh’s corrupt desire for immortality conveys that Gilgamesh does not mature as a character.
Gilgamesh is considered a hero because of his skill, intelligence, and willingness to die, not to mention his feeling of reverence and respect for death. Throughout the entire epic, Gilgamesh demonstrates outrageous skill as a warrior and leader. While Gilgamesh was respected, many people felt disdain for him. Gilgamesh was born two-thirds god, and one-third man, giving him supernatural abilities. Because of this, the gods challenged Gilgamesh. These abilities made him arrogant, and although it is not now, back then it was respected. Gilgamesh used to do whatever he wanted. When Enkidu, a wild man who first lived
Later, Enkidu is punished for killing the Bull of Heaven and Humababa, Enkidu suffers from illness and ends up dying. Enkidu’s death affected Gilgamesh a lot; Enkidu’s death marks a change in Gilgamesh life. Gilgamesh change from a harsh and a strong person into someone who has feelings and a loving heart. Gilgamesh keeps thinking that if Enkidu can die then he can die too and all that Gilgamesh
This is known to be the major transition of Gilgamesh. It has already been foreseen through the various changes of the king how Enkidu had affected him overall as a person. From the wild beast entering his life to the slewing of Humbaba, humanity had crept upon Gilgamesh without a sound. When the gods decided to penalize Enkidu for the murder of Heaven’s Bull, the demise of Humbaba, and the cedar tree he cut down, he was faced with eternal punishment. By way of Enkidu’s sluggish miserable death, it took its toll upon Gilgamesh.
There once lived a king, the great king of Uruk in Mesopotamia. This great leader was Gilgamesh. His preserved epic is of great significance to modern day culture. Through Gilgamesh, the fate of mankind is revealed, and the inevitable factor of change is expressed. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, it is a great love, followed by a lingering grief that cause a significant change in the character of Gilgamesh.