Women in the Epic of Gilgamesh and Mesopotamian Society Essay

1990 WordsApr 5, 20128 Pages
Bethany TowneWritten Assignment 1Western Civ 1Women In The Epic Of Gilgamesh and Mesopotamian Society In the Epic of Gilgamesh, gender plays a very significant role, because while women were not the most powerful gods nor the strongest or wisest of all humans, they still had tremendous influence over others around them, and even today, over those who study and learn about the women of the time of Mesopotamia. Though the main characters of the story, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, are male, women did not necessarily play a minor role. One particular issue that is demonstrated among several others in the Epic of Gilgamesh is the status of women. Since this is a story of women's status many years ago, it is indeed an interesting issue to discuss,…show more content…
After passing through the twin mountains of Mashu, Gilgamesh encounters Shiduri, the tavern keeper. Lost in his wanderings, he is forced to seek advice from her on how to reach Utanapishti. It is ironic because after his blatant abuse of power and mistreatment of women, as mentioned above, it is a woman that he seeks advice from in one of his weakest moments. She tells him how to reach Utanapishti and the dangers that lay in between and tells him to find Ur-shanabi so that he may continue his journey. In addition to providing guidance, women also play powerful roles. Shamhat, for example, uses the power of sex and curiosity to lure Enkidu away from his wild environment. After having sex for seven days and seven nights, Enkidu was no longer able to return to live amongst the animals and was forced to learn the ways of civilized life, which Shamhat taught him. It is easy to see that at this point in the epic, Shamhat clearly possessed the upper hand over Enkidu. He succumbed to her every word, learned the ways of morality and man, and was even convinced to go stand up to the mighty king of Uruk, which ultimately led to the friendship between Enkidu and Gilgamesh.Ishtar also takes on the role of a powerful woman. The goddess of love used her sexual power over men. Not only did she use it to get the man she wanted, but she used this power to dominate and hurt the men that loved her. Knowing that her love would eventually lead to his loss of independence and

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