The Epic of Gilgamesh: The Ignorance of Gilgamesh

1001 Words Jun 19th, 2018 5 Pages
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. Enkido’s arrival in The Epic of Gilgamesh forces Gilgamesh to reconsider his immaturity. Gilgamesh is introduced as “tall, magnificent and terrible” and as one “who crossed the ocean” (George i.37-40). …show more content…
Again, reason dictates that if the elderly and wise recommend not traveling into the forest, he should not. Prior to Enkido’s introduction, Gilgamesh would have dismissed these words of wisdom as attempts to declare his weaknesses. His experience confronting Enkido, however, force him to evaluate his attempt to kill Humbaba leading him to fear the possibility of failure and the consequences that come with failure. While Gilgamesh is simply attempting to kill Humbaba, this journey subliminally represents Gilgamesh’s early confrontation with mortality. For instance, Gilgamesh dreams, “heaven cried aloud, while earth did rumble. The day grew still, darkness came forth, there was a flash of lightning, fire broke out. The flames flared up, death rained down” (George iv.99-106). His dream foreshadows Enkido’s dreams of death and Enkido’s death later in the text, introducing the concept that mortality ends in death. Right before he kills Humbaba, Humbaba states that he is not certain whether Enkido or Gilgamesh will die, but he is certain that death will come. By foreshadowing death, Humbaba reminds Gilgamesh that he is one-third human and therefore is doomed to the same fate as humans. Gilgamesh declines Ishtar’s offer for marriage, inevitably resulting in Enkido’s death. He evaluates Ishtar’s offer and concludes that the

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