The Epic Of Gilgamesh Essay

2042 words - 9 pages

In the ancient Mesopotamian world, the realm of civilization was viewed to be highly illustrious. At the same time, this state of advancement of great antiquity was also an attribute of divinity. The elements of civilization were intimately associated to the highly esteemed divine mediation. Despite the prominent theology culture in The Epic of Gilgamesh, divine intervention is not the only element that could transform the crude heroic figures into sagacious men. Strength and power are definitely not the only possessions that could advance one in life even though they clearly distinguish the heroes from ordinary men. It is rather, more significantly, the process of internalization. No ...view middle of the document...

Even though the King of Uruk is expected to be highly civilized, ironically he does not appear to be so. Overwhelmed with ego, arrogance and complete misuse of power, Gilgamesh has condemned civilization insofar his existence. He thwarts his humanity by emphasizing his strength and power in order to be more successful, forsaking the well-being of his people. Hearing the laments and cries of the people of Uruk, the gods then create Enkidu as a match for Gilgamesh. For Enkidu is a divine creation, with “[a] virtue in him like the god of war Ninurta, long waved hair of the goddess of corn Nisaba, and body of matted hair like the god of cattle Samuqan” (Sandars 63), one would have expected him to be a lesson to Gilgamesh. However, the creation of Enkidu does not really answer the people’s grieving as an equal who can contend with Gilgamesh together and keep him busy from all his iniquities (Sandars 62). Enkidu can never be Gilgamesh’s match as he is created completely human while Gilgamesh two third divine.
This strategy, in fact, works in a different manner whereby Enkidu teaches Gilgamesh the real significance of being a human. This shows a fascinating twist as Gilgamesh’s intention to “tame” Enkidu by sending him a prostitute instead mirrors his taming by Enkidu. It is because Enkidu’s indulgence in sex with the prostitute “for six days and seven nights” that he forgets his beloved animal friends (Sandars 64-65). Oddly, this forgetfulness earns him wisdom and understanding instead of leading to imprudence and while possessing wisdom undeniably contributes to our strength, it in return contributes to Enkidu’s weakness just as Sandars states, “Enkidu was grown weak, for wisdom was in him, and the thoughts of the man were in his heart” (65). In this sense, with Enkidu successfully unfolds his human characteristics, there is no doubt that his appearance initiates an unconscious increment of civilization especially the growing love and compassion in Gilgamesh. For Enkidu has grown weaker, one would commonly expect Gilgamesh to be domineering over Enkidu and finishes him off in their fight just like how Gilgamesh has killed the warriors of Uruk. Instead, not only he spares Enkidu’s life but also they embrace together as friends. Adding to that, Gilgamesh calls Enkidu the trusted axe at his side (Sandars 83). In this sense, it turns out that Enkidu has slowly become his dominant drive to learn how to love and show compassion.
Nature then comes into the picture with an underlying reason to discover the meaning of life as they undertake a quest to the forest which is known as the “Country of Living”. To relate to archetypal interpretation; “In fairy tales, the child must enter the forest of the unconscious, inner self to overcome an impossible task in order for individuation to take place” (Archetypes). It implies that the forest in this context, acts as a step to contribute to the completeness of oneself. The paradox nonetheless arises when it is...

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