The Story Of The Flood, How Utnapishtim Tells His Story To Gilgamesh Essay, Research Paper
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh’s best friend Enkidu is killed and therefore causes him to be afraid of death. Gilgamesh now that he is afraid of death wants to achieve immortal life so he will not have to face death (34). Gilgamesh travels far and longs to find the man who was granted everlasting life, and ask him how he did indeed receive everlasting life. Throughout his journey he is told time after time that he will not find everlasting life, so when he finally arrives at Utnapishtim, he too tells him he will not find the life he looks for. So, in order to prove to Gilgamesh that he will not get immortal life, he tells him “The Story of the Flood.” (38)
Gilgamesh in the story is afraid of death because his best friend was killed, so he sets out on a mission to achieve immortal life. What Gilgamesh does not know is, he will never find what he is looking for. Even before he is told “The Story of the Flood” during his mission he comes across 2 gods who tell him that he is not going to achieve immortal life. The first god (Shamash) who he bumps into and he tells him, that he will not find the life for which you are searching for.” (34) After Shamash confronts him, Gilgamesh then runs into the god Siduri. Siduri basically tells him the same answer, saying, “You will never find the life for which you are looking for. When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping.” (35) Gilgamesh still in a conquest to achieve everlasting life, does not believe any of the previous gods, and still wants to see Utnapishtim, to see how he achieved everlasting life. When Gilgamesh talks to Utnapishtim, the story is no different from the rest. Utnapishtim says to Gilgamesh, “there is no permanence” (38), furthermore stating that Gilgamesh is not going to find everlasting life.
Even with the word of Utnapishtim, Gilgamesh still does not believe he will not find immortal life, so Utnapishtim decides to prove it to him by “telling him a secret of the gods.” (38) He reveals the secret of the gods by telling Gilgamesh the story of the flood. Utnapishtim by telling him this story proves to Gilgamesh that he is not going to find the life he is searching for. Utnapishtim was chosen out of random to be warned of this catastrophe, because Ea did not want mankind to be destroyed. Ea wanted mankind to live on, so he told Utnapishtim of the flood (39). This goes to show that in order for Gilgamesh to receive immortal life he must be chosen for some great reason. Once he was warned of the flood, he was not allowed to tell a soul except for his family, and he had to build a boat and bring things a long with him. Now that Gilgamesh is warned of the flood, he must survive this dangerous flood, and it was said “that the flood was so scary that even the gods we afraid of the flood.” (40) When the storm finally seized and the flood waters were still, Utnapishtim “made a sacrifice at the top of the mountain which would attract the gods and make them happy except for Enlil” (40) Finally Enlil notices that not all humans have died, and is angry that even one human has survived. Enlil suspects that reason why Utnapishtim survives is because he is told so by Ea (41). Ea lies to him and tells him that, “Utnapishtim found out about the flood in a dream” (41), and with that Enlil thinks that he is such a wise man, that he not only grants Utnapishtim everlasting life, but his wife also.
Everything that god has created, was not meant to last forever, and to achieve immortality is nearly an impossible task. Utnapishtim is trying to make this point with the Story of the Flood. The story not only backs him up and says Gilgamesh will not achieve everlasting life, but also tells him why. Utnapishtim receiving immortal life, merely by chance a mistake that should have never happened. If Ea did not tell him to build a boat due to the coming flood, he would have never survived and if Ea did not lie for him, he probably would have never been granted immortality. Gilgamesh is not going to achieve immortality by searching for it, he must have a special deal or oath with a god, and also he must be granted immortality by a god. It will be nearly impossible for the same conditions repeat themselves, and for Gilgamesh to achieve immortal life.