The Great Gilgamesh Summary

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The Great Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh talks about an actual historical figure, a king named Gilgamesh who w reigned over Sumerian city-state of Uruk around 2700 B.C. He was wise and mighty. However, because of his tyranny, gods created his counterpart, Enkidu, to stand up to Gilgamesh. After their meeting and combatting, they finally became close friends. Together with Enkidu, Gilgamesh killed the Bull of Heaven and overthrew Humbaba in the cedar forest. But his closest companion fell sick and died after having dreams that gods would punished him for killing the Bull of Heaven and Humbaba. After his friend’s death, Gilgamesh was afraid of death, and started to search for everlasting life. At the beginning of the epic, Gilgamesh is described
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Although he is omnipotent, he still cannot stop death to deprive him of his friend. Although he is omnipotent, he also fears the death as ordinary people do. Enkidu’s death made him realize his mortality and filled him with fear of death. He was afraid of the Netherworld that Enkidu dreamt about. The Netherworld is depicted as a place where there is no light and house is covered with dust. People there are deprived of light, and their food are soil and clay, and they clad like birds in coast of feathers. For no journey back from the Netherworld, Gilgamesh was afraid of death. Therefore, he left Uruk to wander the world, trying to look for immortal Uta-napishti for immortality. The death took away Enkidu, as well as the courage of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh who used to be heroic and used to conquer Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven now was conquered by fear of death. Along his journey of searching for Uta-napishti, the fear and dead covered his face. He saw some lions, but unexpectedly, he grew afraid. He was scared when seeing the scorpion-men. He who used to protect his people from Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven now was protected from lions by Sin, the moon god. In the part of his search for everlasting life, the description of Gilgamesh’s appearance is repeated many times. “His cheeks were so hollow and face was so sunken. His mood was so wretched, and his visage was so wasted. His heart was full of sorrow. His features burnt by frost and by sunshine” (George,77). This description not only subverts his former brave and heroic image., but also reflects how difficult his journey was. Even though Gilgamesh is a hero and omnipotent, he is also afraid of death as ordinary people

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