As he lies dying, Enkidu curses the harlot, and then revokes his curse and blesses her. Do you think he was better off in his natural, animal, state, or as a civilized man?
I believe that Enkidu was better off as he was a human, a civilized man. His first actions, as he dies, do not present him as a terrible creature. They are natural for a person who does not want to pass away and is not able to change the situation. Being an animal Enkidu carried only about himself, but as a man, he has found the most precious thing – real friendship.
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“Now Gilgamesh is your beloved brother-friend!
He will have you lie on a grand couch,
and will have you lie in the seat of ease, the seat at his left,
so that the princes of the world kiss your feet.
He will have the people of Uruk go into mourning and moaning over you,
and fill the happy people with woe over you.
And after you, he will let his body bear a filthy mat of hair,
will don the skin of a lion and roam the wilderness” (Gibbs par. 1).
Both Gilgamesh and Enkidu slay Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven, yet the gods decide that Enkidu is the one who must die. Why?
The gods decided to kill Enkidu as they believed him to have no right to fight for the Bull of Heaven and kill Humbaba. His actions were considered to be interference with the gods’ will:
“Enkidu’s fate is decided when he and Gilgamesh defeat and kill the monster Humbaba, and then kill the miraculous Bull of Heaven” (Mason 121).
Compare the characters of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Who was the more heroic? Why?
To my mind “heroic” deals with some deeds made in honor of goodness. Here, heroes are people who can do something extraordinary and almost impossible. I believe Enkidu to be more heroic, as Gilgamesh’s actions are more selfish:
“I will kill Humbaba. The whole world will know how mighty I am.
I will make a lasting name for myself” (Mitchell 137).
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Enkidu does everything for his friend, which appeals to me more:
“Are you ready to leave? Or are you still afraid to die a hero’s death?
…Enkidu listened gravely… At last, he nodded.
Gilgamesh took his hand” (Mitchell 137).
Review Utnapishtim’s story of the flood. What are the similarities and differences between the two accounts of the flood as presented in the Book of Genesis and Gilgamesh?
These versions have lots in common. Both include the information as the gods wanted to kill people as they were too sinful, but chose a man to save creatures from all species from the flood. In both birds were set free to check whether the flood is over, and there is an opportunity to land. The disasters accrued in ancient times and were extremely severe. After the flood, the arks landed on mountains. The gods said they would destroy humans again.
Among the differences in the shape of the arks, a rectangular ark was present in the Biblical story while in the Epic of Gilgamesh was a square one. In Genesis, the flood lasted for forty days, and in the story only six. Noah gained dominion and Utnapishtim got eternal life.
Although Gilgamesh wants to live forever, he cannot even stay awake for seven days, as Utnapishtim proves by having his wife bake seven loaves of bread while Gilgamesh sleeps. What is the point of this episode? What does Utnapishtim teach Gilgamesh about immortality? Would anyone really want this kind of immortality?
Utnapishtim wanted to prove that Gilgamesh is not ready for immortality, and he does not really need it. Gilgamesh wants internal life, but while sleeping he just wastes the opportunity to live longer, gain new information, and act:
“Look there! The man, the youth who wanted (eternal) life!
Sleep, like a fog, blew over him” (Leeming 315).
Utnapishtim underlines that people do not need to be immortal. Death is waiting for everyone; it brings rest and peace:
“After Enlil had pronounced the blessing,
the Anunnaki, the Great Gods, assembled.
Mammetum, she who forms destiny, determined destiny with them.
They established Death and Life” (“The Epic of Gilgamesh” par. 10)
When Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh nearly goes mad with grief. He sits by the body until it begins to decay, he puts on the skins of animals (such as Enkidu probably once wore), and he searches the wilderness and the underworld for the secret of immortality. Do you think this is because of his love for Enkidu and his desire to bring him back, or do you think this is because Gilgamesh has finally recognized his own mortality and is terrified?
I believe that Gilgamesh is afraid of dying and wants to save his life. While speaking to the Sun God, he shows this by asking if he will let “I sleep and let the earth cover my head forever?” (Sandars 17). Thus, seeing this friend dying and decaying, Galgameth decides to prevent this. He still cares about Enkidu, but his own life is more valuable.
Gibbs, Laura. The Epic of Gilgamesh. 2004. Web.
Leeming, David. The Handy Mythology Answer Book, Canton: Visible Ink Press, 2014. Print.
Mason, Herbert. Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003. Print.
Mitchell, Stephen. Gilgamesh: A New English Version, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010. Print.
Sandars, From the Epic of Gilgamesh 2011. Web.
The Epic of Gilgamesh. n.d. Web.