The Theme Of Death In The Epic Of Gilgamesh

948 Words4 Pages
In life, there are two aspects of certainty, death and taxes. The Sumerians had an obscure view on death. They believed their lives were full of suffering and pain inflicted by the gods; that their view on the afterlife was far worse than the life they were already enduring. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, many characters encounter death in a gruesome yet unavoidable manner such as Humbaba, Enkidu, and others. Despite their death being gruesome, the shared entity was the fear of death. Humbaba pleaded for his life when Gilgamesh was ready to go in for the kill. Enkidu fears the curse that foreshadows him dying before Gilgamesh. The epic depicts death through various characters with its message of mortality being certain, yet feared because of the Sumerians pessimistic perspective on life. In Tablet II, Gilgamesh convinces Enkidu to take a journey to the Cedar Forrest and kill the inhabitant who guards it, Humbaba. Despite Enkidu’s refusal, ironically, Gilgamesh says, “As for man, [his days] are numbered, whatever he may do, it is but wind, …exists not for me…” (George 19). He…show more content…
Gilgamesh mourns the death of Enkidu and fears death himself. Gilgamesh embarks on a quest seeking immortality. Utanapishtim is the only person granted immortality. His story is similar to the story of Noah in the Hebrew Bible, except his story focuses more on the relationship with Sumerian gods. Gilgamesh does not understand why Utanapishtim of all people, “Your form is no different, you are just like me, you are no any different, you are just like me….How did you find the life eternal?” (George 88). One can argue Utanapishtim was appointed immortality by the gods because of favor. However, Utanapishtim was not chosen by the gods to be granted immortality; he just happened to be at the right place at the right time. There was no specific action or lifestyle that an individual or Gilgamesh could follow in order to attain immortality. Death was
Get Access