Powerful But Not Immortal Essay, Research Paper
Powerful But Not Immortal
The Epic of Gilgamesh still touches people profoundly even after many centuries because it is about issues that are common to all people throughout history – the anguish of death for all human beings. For example, Gilgamesh, the protagonist of The Epic of Gilgamesh, and King Thanh Cat Dai Tu Han (the famous King of China in early 400 B.C.) had tried many ways to find a solution for having everlasting lives; however, the fact was that they were human and would die. This is the absolute difference between gods and humans: gods live forever and humans must die. Consequently, immortality was the solution that both Gilgamesh and Thanh Cat Dai Tu Han sought in order to overcome their fear of death.
Gilgamesh, “Two third they made him god and one third man.” (Gilgamesh 13), was the mythical king of Uruk in Babylonia, on the River Euphrates in modern Iraq. He was the greatest king on earth and the strongest man that ever lived. As a young man, Gilgamesh had no compassion for the people of Uruk. He was their king, but not their shepherd; he killed their sons and raped their daughters. But when he met Enkidu, he learned many things: how to love, to have compassion, and to understand the meaning of mortality. He and Enkidu journeyed into the forest to confront the terrible Humbaba because Gilgamesh wanted to set up his name where the names of famous people were written (Gilgamesh 18). When Gilgamesh refused to marry Ishtar, she was furious. She decided to seek revenge by sending the Bull of Heaven to kill Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh and Enkidu succeeded in killing the Bull of Heaven, but Enkidu later died as a result. With the death of his best friend, Gilgamesh was distraught with grief and denial. He despaired the loss of Enkidu but also his own death, which he knew could come some day. Seeking to avoid death, he strived to learn the secret of everlasting life. He came upon the entrance to the land of gods, another world, which would show him the secret to avoiding death. Upon failing the challenges necessary to become immortal, he finally accepted that he was human, and he would have to die as normal people. Gilgamesh’s belief in immortality did not exist in human beings.
Similarly, Thanh Cat Dai Tu Han, was known as the most brilliant ruler of Mong Co (now known as Nepal). He had helped Mong Co to become the most powerful empire in early 400 B.C. He was successful in conquering many countries, such as Tao (China), Cham (Thai Lan), and Giao (Kampodia). Unlike Gilgamesh, Thanh Cat Dai Tu Han was generous to his people, encouraged them to go to school, and devoted his energies to strengthening his empire. But as he grew older, his personality changed. He became villainous because of his jealousy towards younger people. He wanted to live forever, so he asked his servers to seek a way in which to help him to remain young forever. Unfortunately, his people failed his order, and Thanh Cat Tu Han killed all of them, and even their relatives. The more people he killed, the more afraid he became of dying. He would do anything to become immortal. He asked his people to build a mountain that would touch the sky, so he could climb up to the heavens and ask the gods for a way to avoid death. As punishment for his immoral behaviors, the gods made him fall when he climbed the mountain. Thus, the search for immortality led to the terrible death of Thanh Cat Dai Tu Han.
Both Gilgamesh and Thanh Cat Dai Tu Han were looking forward to finding the way to become immortal. But the fact remains: “When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained their own keeping” (Gilgamesh 34). No matter how hard both of them tried, they were human and still faced dead. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, I really enjoyed the main character, Gilgamesh, and his fear of death served as a good example for “There is no permanence. Do we build a house to stand for ever, do we seal a contract to hold for all time? Do brothers divide an inheritance to keep for ever, does the flood-time of rivers endure?” (Gilgamesh, 36) The lives of Gilgamesh and Thanh Cat Dai Tu Han would not be last forever, so seeking immortality was just the dream of the two kings.