The Epic of Gilgamesh is an adventurous tale of the mighty King Gilgamesh that is so enthralled in making his name written in the stones of history forever. In his many challenges against this goal of his from meaningless slaughter of an appointed guardian to quarrels with the gods, he loses his loving brother, who was seemingly his other half. With the endless amount of grief the king is almost consumed in, his actions become selfish and fearful of death, which sends him on the quest for eternal life. Some interesting points about the reading include how femininity, repetition, and dreams are used to portray some of the oddest ideas.
First off, femininity is something used so loosely, the phrase “like the love of a woman” could be talking about anything from a rock to another man. This aspect of the text can be almost confusing when the reader tries to correlate the previous example to the current. One example would be that Gilgamesh refers to his affection towards his brother as “like the love of a woman”, and then refers to a meteor in a dream in the same way. With those two things being nowhere near each other in meaning, a raised eyebrow is a common side effect to this confusion. Also, the traits of women such as long hair and how they refer to a harlot as teaching Enkidu, Gilgamesh’s brother, the “art of a woman”, can be easily misconstrued to either men or women.
Repetition is also a strangely used figure in this story. At times, the same sentence can essentially be used for almost an entire page. The purpose for such extensive repetition could be a number of things, like emphasis of a certain action or thought. It could also be to give the reader the same feeling that the character is facing when it comes to walking what seems like forever through a dark forest, repeating the same dreary sentence referring to how dark and endless it seems continually for half of a page can in turn create a longing for sunlight in the reader.
Lastly, the dreams in The Epic of Gilgamesh are looked at as almost fortune-tellers. Before Enkidu and Gilgamesh meet, Gilgamesh has a dream involving a meteor that he can’t touch, and everyone in the city of Uruk flocks to, so he consults his mother. She has a very odd interpretation that he will love the meteor like the love of a woman, which is odd in it, especially in that we find out that the meteor actually stands for Enkidu, Gilgamesh’s equal sent from the gods. Another dream is after the two equals fight off the Bull of Heaven, Enkidu has a peculiar dream about the gods talking amongst one another about killing one of the two. Since the person who dreams a dream in this story can never interpret it, Gilgamesh now interprets the dream, and once they both understand, Enkidu dies for Gilgamesh to live on.
From femininity to dreams to seemingly unnecessary repetition, the uses of figurative and confusing language in The Epic of Gilgamesh are very strange in how any way of thinking about them could be right. It seems that nobody will ever know exactly what everything in it means.
Courtney from Study Moose
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