Type of paper: Book Review

Topic: Gilgamesh, Literature, Life, History, Kingdom, Behavior, Human, Prostitution

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/03

The Epic of Gilgamesh was probably one of the oldest pieces of surviving literature originated from the Middle East. However, the stories written in clay tablets were not complete as it is today. During the ancient times, people were totally illiterate. Scribes and rich nobles were the only persons who can read inscriptions on clay tablets. The Epic of Gilgamesh was passed down from word-of-mouth until it was compiled in 2000 B.C.E (Bailkey and Lim, 4). It was said that an anonymous Babylonian, probably a scribe, collected these stories together with some folklore and created a brand new epic which is currently known in the modern age as the Epic of Gilgamesh (Bailkey and Lim, 4).
The Epic of Gilgamesh deals with death transcendence, quite a modern theme for an epic written during the ancient times. Although the epic can be likened to traditional myths wherein gods and goddesses interact with mortals, the story explores the depths of human desire. The main character quests for to have an eternal life in order for him to continue ruling the kingdom and continue living in prosperity. The narrative texts from the epic portray the brutal fight scenes between monsters and human. In addition to this, the epic also portray how the gods interact with mortals. The epic tells the story of a man named Gilgamesh who was the ruler of the Mesopotamian city of Uruk in the 2700 B.C.E (Bailkey and Lim, 4). Although the king possesses a handsome mien, the nobles of the kingdom despised him for being tyrannical and arrogant for drafting their sons to serve under his army whilst some other tale claimed that he behaved badly to the wives and daughters of the nobles (Bailkey and Lim, 4). The first reason can be interpreted as a duty; men served the army in order to protect their kingdom from the enemies. On the other hand, the latter reason can be described as a form of ‘political propaganda’ created by the nobles to overthrow him from his throne (Bailkey and Lim, 4). Gilgamesh was an arrogant fellow; and this prompted Aruru to aid the nobles by creating Enkidu, a man born out of clay. Aruru’s purpose in creating Enkidu was to confirm if Gilgamesh was indeed a despicable and arrogant fellow. She made him out of clay and was endowed with strength equal to Gilgamesh’s. From this point on, the story became fast-paced, filled with action and fighting. At first, Enkidu was a typical wild barbarian living in the actual wilderness along with the animals. In a similar fashion with Romulus and Remus, Enkidu lives by sucking raw milk from the animals and feeding on the meadows just like the cows and goats. The news of Enkidu’s creation spreads across the kingdom like wildfire. This can be interpreted as the catalyst which triggered Gilgamesh to send out a prostitute to tame him. Probably, Gilgamesh arrogantly thought that if the barbarian can be tamed by a prostitute, this would be a great advantage for him when Enkidu loses all of his ‘wildness.’ Gilgamesh sends him a young prostitute and mated with her for a period of six days (Bailkey and Lim, 6). During Gilgamesh’s time, men viewed sex to have a calming effect on one’s senses; thus, anyone who can control a man through sexual pleasures can civilize his rustic behavior, and in turn civilizes him. However, Enkidu’s lovemaking with the harlot proved to be useful because he gained a worldly knowledge and learned everything on how to act and become a man. Unlike Enkidu, Gilgamesh was arrogant; the goddess Aruru refers this ‘arrogance’ to self-importance and excessive pride. A short passage from the epic describes Gilgamesh as ‘strong, wise, and stately’ (Bailkey and Lim, 5). However, this description appears to be only Gilgamesh’s personal statement about himself. The people, especially the nobles disagreed that he was the rightful king because of his behavior and even appealed to the goddess Aruru to teach him a lesson he will not forget. Aruru’s statement ‘to check Gilgamesh’s arrogance,’ was the main reason of Enkidu’s existence. Gilgamesh was surprised that he had an equal in terms of strength and they become friends. The companionship provided by Enkidu made Gilgamesh aware of his flaws as a human. Gilgamesh valued Enkidu’s friendship; they set forth to an adventure fighting monsters, including the Bull of Heaven sent by the gods due to Gilgamesh’s insolent behavior (Bailkey and Lim, 8) and rejection of Ishtar’s love. His friendship with Enkidu humbled Gilgamesh up to the point of exchanging his royal robes for the garments similar to Enkidu’s. When Enkidu died, Gilgamesh became fully aware of man’s short life. This prompted him to journey to meet Utnapishtim, the ‘Babylonian Noah’ who became immortal after the flood. However, Gilgamesh lost the chance to obtain the Plant of Life when he fell asleep at the bottom of the sea. A serpent gobbled the plant and ate it (Bailkey and Lim, 11).
I think that the story of Gilgamesh was not just a product of a scribe’s imaginative mind. The Epic of Gilgamesh despite its mythical tales was probably based from the real Gilgamesh. The ancient Sumerians were noted for their semi-legendary characters such as Gilgamesh. Throughout the centuries, the existence of the real Gilgamesh was disputed and argued by scholars. However, the epic might be the story of the real King Gilgamesh. It was due to the fact that the ancient people lacked the knowledge to explain everything around them; hence, they associated things to their gods and goddesses. The interaction between the mortals and the heavenly deities made Gilgamesh a myth and an epic at some point because of the unrealistic stories.

Works Cited

Bailkey, Nels M., and Richard Lim. Readings in Ancient History: Thought and Experience from Gilgamesh to St. Augustine. 7th ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, 2012. PDF File

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WePapers. (2020, December, 03) The Epic Of Gilgamesh Book Review. Retrieved April 17, 2021, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-epic-of-gilgamesh-book-review/
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"The Epic Of Gilgamesh Book Review." WePapers, Dec 03, 2020. Accessed April 17, 2021. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-epic-of-gilgamesh-book-review/
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"The Epic Of Gilgamesh Book Review," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 03-Dec-2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-epic-of-gilgamesh-book-review/. [Accessed: 17-Apr-2021].
The Epic Of Gilgamesh Book Review. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-epic-of-gilgamesh-book-review/. Published Dec 03, 2020. Accessed April 17, 2021.
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