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Epic of Gilgamesh and Its Historical Significance Essay

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Updated: May 1st, 2021

Gilgamesh is “the semi-mythic King of Uruk in Mesopotamia” who is widely known by present-day readers from a classical, ancient piece of literature ̶ “The Epic of Gilgamesh” (circa 2150-1400 BCE) (Mark). In the epic, Gilgamesh embarks on a series of quests. In the first one, he travels to defeat Huwawa, a giant who terrorizes the inhabitants of the Cedar Forest. However, the second journey is the most meaningful one because Gilgamesh aims to find immortality.

The reason for his decision to become immortal is the death of Enkidu, the king’s closest friend. Pereira states that “as a result of Enkidu’s death, Gilgamesh becomes afraid of dying” (14). Therefore, he decides to find the only man who managed to avoid death and survive the great flood, Utnapishtim. Ultimately Gilgamesh meets the immortal man, and the latter reveals the secret of a magic flower that can endow a human with eternal youth.

The king manages to find this flower as well yet, the moment he tries to pluck it, the magic flower is taken by a snake. Thus, despite all challenges faced during the journey, Gilgamesh does not achieve immortality in the end.

The epic reveals that in the Mesopotamian worldview, only gods can be immortal and all the efforts of an ordinary human being to obtain immortality are rather futile. Moreover, there is no heaven one can live in after he or she dies. At the same time, through good deeds and achievements, a person can become immortal in the memory of other people. As for the meaning of life, the epic suggests that people should celebrate every day and live in the present moment cherishing everything they have.

Works Cited

Mark, Joshua J. “Gilgamesh.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. 2018. Web.

Pereira, Natallya. What is the Quest?. Web.

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