Gilgamesh Essay, Research Paper
There once lived a king, the great king of Uruk in Mesopotamia. This great leader was Gilgamesh. His preserved epic is of great significance to modern day culture. Through Gilgamesh, the fate of mankind is revealed, and the inevitable factor of change is expressed. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, it is a great love, followed by a lingering grief that cause a significant change in the character of Gilgamesh.
Before the coming of Enkidu, Gilgamesh was a man of pure power. A being of which there was no equal match, Gilgamesh boasted upon his overwhelming glory and power. This arrogance was accompanied with an extensive abuse of power, which led the city of Uruk into a state of injustice and rage. “His arrogance has no bounds by day or night” (Sanders 62). Still, Gilgamesh felt no despair; he lived to display to others his majestic power.
The first sign of a sincere change in Gilgamesh arises as a result of the birth of Enkidu. From the beginning, a powerful link developed between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The bond was as powerful as that between man and woman. The wise Ninsun said to Gilgamesh, “You will love him as a woman and he will never forsake you” (66). Gilgamesh had finally met his match, a friend that would serve as his life-long companion. Upon the seal of this great friendship, Gilgamesh began to change his selfish ways. He shared with Enkidu the luxuries of kingship. Shamash, speaking to Enkidu, said, “He (Gilgamesh) has made the princes of the earth kiss your feet, and now all the people of Uruk lament and wail over you”(91). Setting aside his great pride and power, Gilgamesh had opened a place in his heart, and in his sumptuous life, for his beloved brother.
The second significant change in Gilgamesh was caused by the loss of his brotherly companion, Enkidu. Gilgamesh couldn’t bear the loss of a love so powerful. Despite his astonishing power and leadership, something in his life was missing. He wept for seven days and seven nights, in hope of bringing Enkidu back to him. Gilgamesh said, “I thought my friend would come back because of my weeping. Since he went, my life is nothing” (98). It is in this stage of the epic that we see the truly sympathetic and compassionate side of Gilgamesh. The grief in his heart had far surpassed the magnificent pride that he had previously displayed so boldly.
Enkidu’s death left Gilgamesh frightened and confused. The despair in his heart was so great that he could not rest; would he ever be at peace? He became terrified of his own death. Puzzled and searching for answers, Gilgamesh set out on a quest for Utnapishtim. It is on this great journey that Gilgamesh learns of a secret plant, “which restores his lost youth to a man” (116). Once again, Gilgamesh displays his changed character. He proclaims that he will return to Uruk and share the plant with his people. “I will take it to Uruk of the strong walls; there I will give it to the old men to eat,” Gilgamesh said (116). Although Gilgamesh failed in returning the magical plant to his city, the significance of his underlying intentions is immeasurable. Gilgamesh, the once arrogant and overpowering king, was now thinking of the well being of his people.
It should not matter as to whether or not our society perceives Gilgamesh as a notable hero. More importantly, a valuable lesson of mankind is taught through the Epic of Gilgamesh. Perhaps, it is love that binds our world together. We learn from Gilgamesh that a powerful companionship allows us to better analyze others and ourselves. The relationship between Enkidu and Gilgamesh should forever remain an inspiration to us all.