The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Epic of Gilgamesh is a third person journey about a man’s change from bad to good because of a character named Enkidu. Gilgamesh starts out a mean spirited, bitter, tyrant-like man and turns to a good humble like hero. Throughout the story different experiences and journeys lead Gilgamesh to this ending. On page 99, lines 2-50 Gilgamesh comes off as a cocky and selfish young king. In a way Gilgamesh cannot help but to be the selfish king that he is because, he came into this personality due to his upbringing and surroundings and his overall being.
Gilgamesh is the handsomest, strongest, and most powerful man in the world. He also is two thirds god and his father was the king before him. On more than one occasion, he forces sex from women. On page 101 lines 77-78 it says “Gilgamesh leaves no girl to her mother”. Gilgamesh doesn’t only do this because he thinks that he can get whatever he wants from anyone but to also show that he is above everyone and anything, even a man and his virgin bride. Gilgamesh takes the virginity of these girls simply to prove this point. Gilgamesh also has his building and endeavors completed through forced labor.
This shows that Gilgamesh doesn’t play favoritism when it comes to who he exploits; he equally demises warriors, the nobles, and the servants as equally beneath him. It is not until he meets Enkidu that he gets a glimpse of true bonding. For the first time in Gilgamesh’s life he experiences love and companionship. Yes, Gilgamesh did have female interactions but it was never actual love. The friendship that Gilgamesh had with Enkidu helped him gain the feeling of love and was the first step to him being molded into a better person. He doesn’t feel the love automatically and definitely doesn’t feel it in its entirety until after Enkidu passes.
In the epic Enkidu played the role of Gilgamesh’s faithful sidekick and unknowingly showed Gilgamesh traits that he subliminally wanted to see in him. A trait that is used in the book is on page 121 lines 25-33, Enkidu asks Gilgamesh “why do you raise such unworthy objections? Now you pule! You make me ill. Now, my friend, this has dragged on long enough. The time has come to pour the copper into the cold. Will you take another hour to blow the bellows, an hour more to let it cool? To launch the flood weapon, to weep the lash, Retreat not a foot, you must not turn back, let your eyes see all, let your low strike home! Enkidu subtly showed him what it took to be the best ruler out there and humbled him even.
The friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu is more beneficial to Gilgamesh and in a way leads to Enkidu’s demise. You sow what you reap and so, the gods decided that they had to punish one of the two for the fanatical journeys they decided to take against the gods for being immortal. Enkidu’s sole purpose in being was related only to Gilgamesh, so it makes sense that Gilgamesh was the main beneficiary. On the other hand, Gilgamesh changed from a wild man to a principled one.
Just when it’s thought that one does more to better the other, it balances back out. That’s why they’re so equally matched. Although there were many, one particular adventure pushed the gods to their limits and caused Enkidu his life. Gilgamesh rejects the goddess of love’s affection. Infuriated, she had her father, Anu (the god of the sky) send the Bull of Heaven to penalize Gilgamesh. Always being by each other’s sides, Gilgamesh and Enkidu slay the bull. It was after this event that the gods met together in assembly and decided one of the two great men had to go.
Enkidu suffers from great illness until he finally perishes. Even in death, Enkidu guides Gilgamesh down the right path. Page 132-134 lines 1-85 explain how when Enkidu dies Gilgamesh rids himself of his glory, wealth, and power with no remorse. Page 132-134 lines 1-85 explains how he felt about Enkidu leaving his side due to death by the gods. This action in itself shows you that Gilgamesh starts to make a change for the better. Enkidu dying is not the only event that helps to mold Gilgamesh into a better person. After Enkidu dies Gilgamesh decides to go on an expedition for the secret of eternal life.
In lines 312-321 Gilgamesh does not find the secret to eternal life instead he finds knowledge to make him a better person and king overall. Uruk’s transformation, along with Gilgamesh’s is almost magical and immortal in itself. Gilgamesh accepts life for all that it is and accepts the wealth of the city he once ruled under a vicious hand as now plentiful and in superlative condition, which is better than any other riches in the world. Gilgamesh’s journey due to Enkidu’s death led to this realization. This shows how strong there bond is and how true friendship is enchanted.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 October 2016
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