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The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh speaks of bravery and perseverance as it narrates how to learn wisdom from failure. Just like other epics, the main character is portrayed with super human or larger-than-life powers which are the source of dilemma for the hero. Supernatural powers in these two epics are of good and evil. His mother helps by asking their Gods to provide protection against evil. Gilgamesh is portrayed as ambitious and tyrannical king during the first part of the epic.

Author Hooker pens, “Gilgamesh, two-thirds god and one-third human,” is the greatest king on earth and the strongest super-human that ever existed; however, he is young and oppresses his people harshly. (Hooker). Because of his ambitious nature, he longs for adventures in his life. The Epic of Gilgamesh also tells of his devoted relationship with his friend Enkidu who was sent to Gilgamesh for a purpose. Gilgamesh slowly learns wisdom from Enkidu who helps him attain his ambitions, Gilgamesh realizes his vulnerability in the end and tries to find ways, with the help of supernatural powers, to attain immortality.

He tries hard to achieve immortality through the methods of both the old and the new. His journeys depict the travails from the sacred and the profane which distinctly characterize the confusion from the unstable social climate. Thus, the society guarantees not only his immortality, but the immortality of the new order being established then. He is seen as an archetypal hero because he is considered the greatest king yet he also oppresses his people. He is so powerful that the gods had to create a counterpart in order to check his desires and actions.

The gods, though, are quite problematic because they subject the humans to their power and dominion. Gilgamesh, however, transforms into a hero in the later part of the story because of Enkidu’s death, who is not revived and restored to life no matter how powerful Gilgamesh is. Despite his failed attempt to attain eternal life, he realizes the significance of his exploits and having the attributes of partial divinity, he is transformed in the end into a great and celebrated king.


The Epic of Gilgamesh: Introduction. Enotes. com LLC 2000-2005. Retrieved Jan. 21, 2008 at: <http://www. enotes. com/epic-gilgamesh/8635/print> Hooker, Richard Hooker. “Gilgamesh. ” World Civilization: Mesopotamia. Retrieved Jan. 21, 2008 at: <http://www. wsu. edu/~dee/MESO/GILG. HTM> The Stories of Gilgamesh. Mr. George’s ancient history links. Retrieved Jan. 21, 2008 at: <http://www. qacps. k12. md. us/stm/gilgamesh. htm>

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