Hubristic to Humble Great leaders embody a paradox. They develop strength and wisdom through failure and ignorance. The activist Gandhi recognizes this contradiction, noting that both strength and weakness and wisdom and folly are close companions: “it is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” Gilgamesh proves this truth in The Epic of Gilgamesh, translated by Herbert Mason. In this tale, a godly man, Gilgamesh, develops a friendship with beast-turned-man, Enkidu, who begins to teach Gilgamesh about the world and helps him to grapple with challenges. After one challenge in particular, a battle with the giant Humbaba, Enkidu dies abruptly, leaving Gilgamesh alone again, and forcing him to overcome adversities by himself. Gilgamesh is initially despondent, but these adversities eventually give him the strength to grow in wisdom and appreciation. Gilgamesh flourishes from his failures because he can finally understand the meanings of life and death, accept …show more content…
Always encountering success, Gilgamesh was once a tyrant to his people. Reflecting on his rule, he recalls that, “He demanded from an old birthright/the privilege of sleeping with their brides” (15). His triumphs fostered arrogance. To him, everyone else paled in comparison. When he experiences defeat, however, Gilgamesh grows as a leader, seeing the similarities between him and his subjects, their common humanity. After losing the plant of eternal life, Gilgamesh returns to his kingdom of Uruk. There, Gilgamesh looks over his empire, and is astonished at what he sees. He, “looked at the walls, awed at the heights his people had achieved” (92). Gilgamesh, once believing he was almighty, becomes a greater man and leader through
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After Enkidu arrives, Gilgamesh starts to rule with violence and selfishness. For example, he forces labor, increases violence with war, and indulges himself in the pleasures of life by raping women who are already married, even women married to nobles and kings (Spark notes). All of the examples above emphasize how Gilgamesh portrays bad leadership. He acts upon his own desires, and does things for his own good. Whereas, the definition of leadership states that one must put another’s well being before their own.
Gilgamesh: The Transformed King In many literary works the hero goes through major transitions as the story is developed. This also is the case with Gilgamesh in The Epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is seen in four main ways- as an arrogant ruler resented by his people, a courageous fighter, a disheartened man, and a man who is satisfied with what he has accomplished. These transitions cause Gilgamesh’s attitude towards life to change.
One is is in the Hell called fear, he is looking for some kind of escape and in a way, once he finally makes it back to Uruk, he kind of does escape this Hell. Once back in Uruk, Gilgamesh has developed a new sense of appreciation for the things around him. Gilgamesh is a renewed person and he realizes that he cannot escape fate, but can appreciate the life he is giving, just like Siduri had told him, “Remember always, mighty king, that gods decreed the fates of all many years ago. They alone are let to be eternal, while we frail humans die
With Gilgamesh coming to realization of his mortality, he departs from Uruk on a second journey. Unlike the first journey, Gilgamesh isn’t setting off avid for glory and fame. Instead, he is embarking on a journey to discover himself. Gilgamesh was known for ruling with an iron fist, he was able to get away with anything he wanted by invoking fear into the townspeople. On the other hand, Hammurabi of Babylon provides a perfect example of how to treat your townspeople.
The perception of death for Gilgamesh evolves from ignorance, to denial and lastly acceptance. Death’s purpose is to teach Gilgamesh that immortality is only achievable through the legacy he makes for himself. Enkidu’s passing causes a cataclysm in Gilgamesh’s mental state, as he must learn to deal with the reality of death. The journey Gilgamesh desperately takes to find the secret of eternal life is a direct parallel to him going through the five stages of grief, the grief being mortality. A period after Enkidu’s death, the reality of mortality reconciles Gilgamesh through his outburst,
However, in the text it states “Come here and see this marvelous plant. By its virtue a man may win back all his former strength. I will take it to Uruk of the strong walls; there I will give it to the old men to eat. It's name shall be ‘The Old Men Are Young Again’ and at last I shall eat it myself and have back all my lost youth.” From this quote, it shows that Gilgamesh has become a more compassionate king by placing himself as last to eat this marvelous youth- reviving plant that he worked so hard to look for.
People of Uruk complain about the nature of Gilgamesh’ tyranny to gods as they can no longer tolerate the king’s unjust behaviors: “His companions are kept on their feet by his contests, [the young men of Uruk] he harries without warrant. Gilgamesh lets no son go free to his father, by day and by [night his tyranny grows] harsher. (Gilgamesh, I.166-170)” People rely on the king to protect their rights and the country, but Gilgamesh does the opposite by taking away their sons and daughters for his personal needs. The people of Uruk feel oppressed under Gilgamesh’s rule as Gilgamesh gives himself the right to sleep with women on the first night of marriage and to take away sons from the household to appease his appetite for war games.
In this essay I will discuss about the main changes of Gilgamesh throughout the epic, especially after the death of his closest friend Enkidu. Does Gilgamesh change after Enkidu's death? My answer is yes because in the beginning of the epic the main hero Gilgamesh was very confident and superior among citizens of Uruk but after Enkidu’s death he started to fear. He understood that death can reach him. Moreover, he decided to go on a far journey to find immortality.
“Gilgamesh went abroad in the world, but he met with none who could withstand his arms till be came to Uruk. But the men of Uruk muttered in their houses, ‘Gilgamesh sounds the tocsin for his amusement, his arrogance has no bounds by day or night.” As Gilgamesh first reached Uruk. The men of Uruk gossip and did not trust Gilgamesh. Even though The power of Gilgamesh could be a danger to Uruk, Gilgamesh had power and was wise because the gods made him two-thirds god and one-third man.
Yet, after Enkidu passed away, Gilgamesh becomes so distraught, he becomes obsessed and fearful of death, and seeks the secret to immortality from there on. It is only after he learns the story of the flood from Utnapishtim, the epiphany that he becomes his most noble and wise self. Finally, he accepts his mortality on his way back to Uruk with the boatman alongside him: “O Ur-shanabi, climb Uruk’s wall and walk back and forth! Survey its foundations, examine the brickwork... A square mile is city, a square mile date-grove, a square mile is clay-pit, half a square mile the temple of Ishtar: three square miles and a half is Uruk’s expanse.”
The sudden shifts in his character he experienced on the topic of death effected the thinking of the Ancient Mesopotamians also. With all of Gilgamesh’s efforts, he found there was no easy way to reach immortality. This story was one of the main influences toward the Mesopotamians beliefs that death is inevitable. Using the evidence from the source “Epic of Gilgamesh”, this essay will attempt to solve the problem of death that the Ancient Mesopotamians endured through the character development of
The Epic of Gilgamesh conveys numerous themes. Among those are the inevitability of death, the eminence of the gods, and strikingly the importance of love as an impetus. Love, defined in a consummate sense is intimacy, passion, and commitment. These traits are exemplified in Gilgamesh and Enkidu's relationship, and they are also implied between Enkidu and Sham hat. Despite the violent and abrasive nature of the happenings of this text, love is displayed blatantly throughout.
Gilgamesh persists in reaching his goal of immortality, but as he journeys through the Cedar Forest and beyond, Gilgamesh begins to realize that his purpose in life is not to live forever, but rather to leave something behind for eternity in his name. When Gilgamesh interacts with Utnapishtim and tries to determine how Utnapishtim was able to achieve immortality, Utnapishtim explains how he saved human life from extinction and was thus rewarded immortality from the gods. Humans are not measured by their achievements of strength and power, but instead on how they can make society stronger. Not only does Gilgamesh pass on military success and a powerful city, but he also gives the people of Uruk the knowledge he has learned of the value of respect and comradeship. Even though Gilgamesh was not successful in achieving his goal of humanity, Sumerians values knowledge for future experience above all else.
Gilgamesh is an epic that has been passed down for thousands of years. The epic narrates the legendary deeds of the main character Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is two-thirds immortal and one-third mortal; however, he cannot accept his fate that one day he too will die. The entire epic tells the story of Gilgamesh’s life and searche for immortality. Through his many trials and tribulations, Gilgamesh proves that he has great physical strength.