Comparing Social Norms In The Epic Of Gilgamesh And The Genesis

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After reading both The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Genesis, I found that both stories have excellent elements that tie into the support and breakdown of human community and social norms. Two characters that I found who demonstrated such qualities in both stories would be Enkidu from The Epic of Gilgamesh and Cain from the Genesis: Part 4. Starting off with Enkidu, we read in the epic that he was forged by the goddess Arura as a response to the cruel tyranny and oppression that Gilgamesh administered to the people of Uruk. Thus, it was from the command of Anu and the pleas of the people that this goddess crafted an equal to the two-third divine Gilgamesh. When this equal to Gilgamesh (Enkidu) was born, he was placed in the plains where he soon …show more content…

As such, Enkidu started off in the epic being an individual who could not be considered a member of any type of human community because he lacked any human sense or reasoning at the start of his life. This conclusion is supported by how The Epic of Gilgamesh stated, "He (Enkidu) dressed as the animals do. He fed on the grass with gazelles, with beasts he jostled at the water hole, with wildlife he drank his fill of water." Thus, with Enkidu starting as the complete opposite of respectable member of human society and community, how exactly did he become the individual who corrected Gilgamesh's tyranny? Well, the epic explains this to us by showing us how Enkidu's own animalistic actions had spurned and hampered a hunter who eventually sought help from the harlot Shamhat. It is through Shamhat, as a prostitute, that the readers of this story notice a large eroticism theme in this epic. Anyway, once Shamhat had intercourse with Enkidu, Enkidu found that his community of beasts had rejected him and his animalistic abilities had been reduced. However, in return for these losses, the epic informs us that Enkidu had gained the power of human reason and understanding, which would help him integrate into a new community, a …show more content…

Additionally, the moments in the epic where Enkidu learns to wear clothing and eat bread also demonstrate his slow but progressive integration into human society and community as well. His best display of support for community bonds was undoubtedly when he heard of Gilgamesh's policy of the first night. This policy is shown here in The Epic of Gilgamesh with how, "He (Gilgamesh) mates with the lawful wife, he first, the groom after. By divine decree pronounced, from the cutting of his umbilical cord, she is his due." When Enkidu learns this policy, his newly obtained reason and sense of community is outraged at the tyranny of Gilgamesh, and thus Enkidu serves his purpose of being the protector of the people, a social justice hero, by preventing Gilgamesh from having the bride's first night as shown in the epic story. From here on, Enkidu will continue to develop as a member of the human community, with his watching over of Gilgamesh being an action that Ninsun (Gilgamesh's goddess mother) and the elders of Uruk appreciate immensely. Furthermore, their slaying of Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven also demonstrated Enkidu's heroism and pursuit to protect the community that sheltered, taught, and loved him. While in his last moments, we can feel the impact that human community had on Enkidu,

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