Gilgamesh Essay

1255 words - 6 pages

The Epic of Gilgamesh: An Analysis
The Epic of Gilgamesh teaches us many things about the Mesopotamian perception of the metaphysical. The Mesopotamian gods are quite Hellenistic in the way that they may interfere as they see fit with human beings to the point that they may conceive children with them; Gilgamesh himself is two thirds god and one third man. Gilgamesh’s mother is Ninsun who is a minor goddess known for her wisdom and his father was the king of Uruk before him. Throughout the story there are instances of the gods interfering in the deeds of men, for instance once Enkidu and Gilgamesh return to the city of Uruk with the wood they have taken from the great cedar forest Ishtar ...view middle of the document...

Enkidu starts off as a wild and hairy man who associates himself with the wild game of the forest feeding off grass and drinking from a watering hole. Then he is seduced by a temple prostitute Shamhat and once they have sex for six days and seven nights Enkidu tries to return to the animals and they reject him. This shows that sex is a sort of port hole or gateway to becoming not just a man but becoming fully human and so Enkidu then begins his segue into becoming civilized. His transformation towards civility mirrors the evolution of humanity itself in several steps, first he becomes man through sex, then he becomes part of a herding group where he adopts the garb and dietary/hygiene customs, then he moves to the city which is the peak of human civilization. This shows how we as humans have stepped away from our animalistic nature and adopted city life and as a result we have lost our connection with nature and our primal innocence. So Enkidus story of progress is also a story loss.
Enkidu also exhibits prophetic dreams that tell of the afterlife while he is on his death bed and shares his visions with Gilgamesh. (Prophetic dreams will be a staple in epics to come such as The Illiad and The Aeneid) He tells Gilgamesh of the afterlife and how the dead wander between mounds of crowns of the kings of the past and are clad with feathers like birds and their only drink is dust and their only food is clay. This afterlife is so bleak and without happiness that it makes whatever you can do to avoid it that much more tempting. This portrait of the afterlife can be seen mirrored by other cultures in the Greek underworld and the Christian hell.
Dreams play a vital role in The Epic of Gilgamesh and the dreams are always prophetic and relative to very important moments in the story. Their dreams were important in the story and show that the Ancient Mesopotamians possibly believed that dreams came from the gods and had special meaning. The first time we see prophetic dreams in the story is when Gilgamesh has a dream about Enkidu and the gods tell him that he will be a friend of great value to him. We cannot know for certain if this dream is given to him by will of god or it is because Gilgamesh is part god himself, or by chance (who knows). Later in the story Gilgamesh has a dream where he sees Enkidu laying still on and Gilgamesh being held in the hands of a stone giant,...

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