Gilgamesh BY pee25 The search for immortality is mankind’s final approach of conquering the fear of death. This is indeed a theme commonly found in Greek mythology. A major example of this is the Epic of Gilgamesh in which, the protagonist Gilgamesh, a demigod, is on a quest to attain immortality after the death of his friend Enkidu. Gilgamesh and Enkidu slay Humbuba and take over the Pine Forest. Furthermore, Gilgamesh and Enkidu are made to wrestle the Bull of Heaven due to Gilgamesh’s actions of spurning Ishtar when she confesses her love for him.
The two friends fight and overcome the Bull, which causes commotion causing the Gods to decide that one of the two friends must be punished for their wrongdoing. Enkidu suffers immensely from illness and eventually dies. After Enkidu’s demise, Gilgamesh’s fear of death drives him to search for the power of immortality. Enkidu was formed from clay and saliva by Aruru, the goddess of creation, to tame Giglamesh and rid him of his arrogance. Enkidu transforms from the nature of an animal to that of a human and at the end, he dies.
This portrays the natural life cycle of mankind, which is that of birth and death. Furthermore, this natural cycle relates back to Enkidu’s creation in the natural world. Gilgamesh is afraid after Enkidu’s death, which makes him question his own mortality. The final fate of all mankind that is death, becomes the main hurdle for Gilgamesh to conquer. Gilgamesh who is two- thirds divine, stands in the center of mortality and immortality. According to Gilgamesh, the power of immortality belonged to women for the sole reason that they are able to give birth.
Gilgamesh starts out his Journey to attain immortality at the mountain Mashu where he encounters the Scorpion-men, guardians of boundary etween earth and sky, who tell him “It is impossible Gilgamesh, Nobody has passed through the mountain’s inaccessible tract. ” (Epic of Gilgamesh 140) Gilgamesh is upset since he is asked to leave, no human can make pass through the mountain Mashu. Gilgamesh then meets Siduri, goddess of brewing and wisdom, to whom he presented his problem of wanting to attain immortality.
Siduri guided him to Ut-napishtim, the only survivor of the flood, who was transformed to an immortal by the Gods. Gilgamesh finds Ur-shanabi, the boatman who asked him to cut three hundred poles after which he took Gilgamesh to where Ut-napishtim lives. Ut-napishtim tells Gilgamesh “Death is inevitable, both for Gilgamesh and for a fool” (Epic of Gilgamesh 144) through which he is hinting to Gilgamesh that he cannot attain what he’s come in search of. Gilgamesh continues to tell Ut-napishtim the story of how Enkidu died and that Gilgamesh had set out on a quest to attain immortality.
Ut-napishtim tells Gilgamesh the story of the flood and how was favored by the Gods with eternal life. Ut-napishtim tells Gilgamesh how mankind originates from clay that can be shaped in various forms. The floor here can be a symbol for the cleaning off of a life nd fresh start. This again links to the natural life cycle such as Enkidu’s. Ut- napishtim presents the fact that immortality requires an absence from planet earth now, who can gather the gods on your behalf, Gilgamesh, That you too might find eternal life which you seek? (Epic of Gilgamesh 149) He challenges Gilgamesh not to sleep for six days and seven nights, which Gilgamesh fails to fulfill. Ut-napishtim tries to prove the point that if Gilgamesh cannot stay awake even for six days and seven nights, how will he be able to attain eternal life? He tells his wife “Look at the young an who wants eternal life! Sleep breathes over him like a fog. ” (Epic of Gilgamesh 149) Before Gilgamesh left, Ut-napishtim tells him about a plant whose “root is like camel-thorn” and that if Gilgamesh could win that plant, he would find rejuvenation.
On his way back, Gilgamesh finds the plant, which gives him some hope of attaining immortality. Unfortunately, a snake carries off the plant when Gilgamesh goes to the pool to wash himself. This snake steals the plant that will bring back Gilgamesh’s youth. He wanted to give this plant to the elders of Uruk in order to obtain mmortality for his kingdom. Gilgamesh finally accepts that he cannot succeed in his quest to gain immortality and tells Ur-shanabi “l shall give up. (Epic of Gilgamesh 1 51) Through this, Gilgamesh learns that he cannot bear the power of everlasting life and concentrates on improving his kingdom. Gilgamesh’s arrogance at the start of the story along with his hunger for immortality led to the fact that he was unable to achieve what he wanted to. Gilgamesh returns back to Uruk and asks Ur-shanabi to “Go up onto the wall of Uruk and walk around, Inspect the foundation ” (Epic of Gilgamesh 1 51) showing that Gilgamesh has accepted that he will always remain Just the creator of Uruk and will have to face death at some point or the other.
There are various themes in this story but one of the main ones is the desire to escape from the human identity in order to obtain immorality. The story mainly deals with the desire to overcome death. The final acceptance of death being a part of life is the main ideas depicted here. Unable to accept the natural life cycle of birth and death, mankind looks out for eternal life. Therefore, the fear of death results to the quest for immortality in order to redeem humanity.