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 The role of women in the epic of Gilgamesh

Although the protagonist of epic was focusing on Enkidu and Gilgamesh, The role of women played an important role in the epic of Gilgamesh, and many women in epics represented different meanings of ideas. In ancient times, women were valuable consultants with different attitudes toward sex. They controled men’s decisions in some ways, brought immortality and death in men’s lives, and represented the temptation and evil of great wisdom. An example was how women used sex and strength to accomplish their goals.

Shamhat seduced Enkidu and “have her take off her robe and expose her sex”. While he saw Shamhat’s sexy body, he could not controlled his nature so he make love with her for seven days and six nights.

After sexing with the harlot, he became humanized and had normal people’s thoughts. However, those animals which grew up with Enkidu could not accept his change anymore. We could see that the temptation and sex could be a strong weapon from women.

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Another woman character, Ishtar, a symbol of evil and revenge, when she found some people did not like her lover, instead of fixing them, she would make them become strange creatures. In the text, Isthar asked Gilgamesh to marry her, telling him that “be you my husband, and I will be your wife·” However, Gilgamesh not only declined her but also recalled how she treated her past lover.

He says,”Your price is too high, / such riches are far beyond my means. / Tell me, how could I ever repay you [·.

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]” This behavior deeply insulted Ishtar, so she went to heaven to ask her farther, Anu, let the bull of heaven kill the Gilgamesh. Although Anu tried to explain that Gilgamesh did not do wrong things, still Ishtar could not control her temper and even she wanted to “knock down the Gates of the Netherworld· and will let the dear go up to eat the living! ” . if Anu did not accept what she want. This example showed how Isthar is selfish and used her strong power to effect the world. There was a another important female character, Siduri, a tavern keeper. After Gilgamesh passed through the twin mountains of Mashu, Gilgamesh encountered Siduri. He seek her advice how to get to Utanapishtim because he lost his direction of life after losing his best friend, Enkidu. She told Gilgamesh the  way of Utanapishtim and the dangers which lay in between and told him to find  Ur-shanabi so that he could continue his journey. As above mention, she successfully

encouraged him to got away his sorrow and tried to let him enjoy everything in his life instead of just escape the death of Enkudu. Although Gilgamesh did not notice her funtions at that time, she gave him a treasure of wisdom. She say this passage to Gligamesh, “Humans are born, they live, then they die, this is the order that the gods have decreed. But until the end comes, enjoy your life, spend it in happiness, not despair [·.] that is the best way fora man to live”. As a result, we can know these female characters represented two aspects. One is beneficial of the goddess and help make men’s become better such as Siduri, Ninson or Shamhat. The other aspect represents dangerous side that it needed men have a clear thought to deal with the situation which they make, such as Ishtar.

There was a special symbol to represent woman in the epic. That was snake. According to texts explained “Snake symbolized the power of having children. The nake shed is skin only to grow new skin. In comparison to the female, the older female gives birth to the newer female. The snake was considered to be the biological understanding of females. “According to this text, we could know that the society at that time is centered around woman because women could have babies, so they received lots of respect and they had right to deal with the system of society.

In conclusion, based on all the information, men in the epic had duty to realize this aspect of the feminine tried to treat it appropriately and deal with all the temptation properly. Gilgamesh showed that he cooperated with female in text rather than hero in epic always fight and have arguments. Through these examples, we could see that Gilgamesh just kept focusing and still controlled his mind properly and then he could be a great king at that time.

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 The role of women in the epic of Gilgamesh. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

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