Gilgamesh The Immortal Essay

500 WordsFeb 7, 20122 Pages
Gilgamesh the Immortal Gilgamesh is an epic story of one king's quest for immortality. It was a quest with a low probability of success, but he was relentless. He traveled far and met with the only immortal human, Utnapishtam, who had survived the Great Flood. Both Utnapishtam and a minor goddess, Siduri, advise him to leave off searching and live a good life; he ignored them both. And, in the end, he succeeded in achieving, not eternal life, but immortal fame. Ancient Mesopotamians had a bleak view of the afterlife. In Gilgamesh, Enkidu calls the goddess of the underworld “The Queen of Darkness,” and her realm “the house from which none return.” he goes on to say, “There is the house whose people sit in darkness; dust is their food an clay their meat.” He also describes “all those who once wore kingly crowns” standing “like servants to fetch baked meats in the house of dust.” Glory for man was in this world, not the next. On his way to seek the advice of Utnapishtam, Gilgamesh meets up with Siduri, a minor goddess, who advised Gilgamesh to “fill your belly, be merry, feast, and rejoice.” Gilgamesh should be happy that, unlike most men, pleasure, fame, and glory were available to him in this earthly life. But he's remains stubborn in his quest. Untapishtam is no more encouraging than Siduri; he lectures Gilgamesh on impermanence, ending with, “the sleeping and the dead, how alike they are, they are like a painted death.” How fitting that he then challenges Gilgamesh to resist sleep for six nights? Had Gilgamesh succeeded, he would have gained immortality. But he fell asleep. Utnapishtam gives the stubborn king a second chance – he told him of an herb at the bottom of the sea. Gilgamesh retrieves the herb, but fails to consume it before falling asleep. A snake eats the herb, and Gilgamesh is left mortal. This is the will of the gods.

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