The Search for Immortality in the Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

1500 Words6 Pages
The fear of death and the search for eternal life is a cultural universal. The ideology surrounding immortality transcends time and a plethora of cultures. The theme, immortality appears in stories from the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was composed by ancient Sumerians roughly around 600 B.C., to present day works of fiction in the twenty first century. Gilgamesh, a figure of celestial stature, allows his mortal side to whittle away his power after the death of Enkidu. Undeniably, defenseless before the validity of his own end, he leaves Uruk and begins a quest for Utnapishtim; the mortal man who withstood the great deluge and was granted immortality by the gods (Freeman 36). The search for immortality is a universal concept that has…show more content…
Along these lines, even though Gilgamesh existed “… thousands of years ago, he remains immortal in the sense that we still refer to him and his story” (Sadigh 85). The character Enkidu sets the pace for the entire epic. Enkidu plays such an important role in the story; it makes sense to begin with him. His transformation and death symbolize the natural cycle of life, signifying his links to the natural world. The animal to Gilgamesh’s divine, Enkidu becomes through a process of change, as larger than life as Gilgamesh himself. Keith Dickson summarizes this passage of Enkidu: Enkidu changes from a barbaric man to a civilized human being, thanks to the temple harlot Shamhat, thus crossing the remoteness between nature and culture, and then from human being into champion richly awarded with prominence and also with mortality (Dickson 39). Throughout the epic, the ideas surrounding immortality is constantly being put to question. The story puts to question mortality. Gilgamesh, a divine being that is two-thirds divine, and Enkidu that was created by the gods are unable to escape the fate of all humanity. Enkidu’s wild nature is the embodiment of the natural life cycle found in nature; hence, his death represents a return to the ground, the substance from which he was made. It is Gilgamesh who is distressed over the death of his comrade; he now finds himself at odds
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