Epic of Gilgamesh Essay
The Epic of Gilgamesh compares to the Bible in many different ways - Epic of Gilgamesh Essay introduction. The epic
has a different perspective than the Bible does. This paper is a contrast and comparison between the two books. The three main points of this paper will be the Creation, Flood and the Hero.
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The way these two books start out is creation. This is the first similarity that we can state. God created man out of the earth, “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth”. In the epic, Auru, the goddess of creation created a man called Enkidu, she molded him out of clay. He was the keeper of the forest and brother to Gilgamesh. Another similarity is the fall of man and the search for everlasting life. The snake is represented in both of the stories. Gilgamesh is searching for everlasting life, and the everlasting life is within a flower. Gilgamesh finds the flower but is confronted by the snake and drops it. However, in Genesis, a snake confronted Adam and Eve. It was Eve who would not have even thought about eating the forbidden fruit without the snake tempting her. She then turns around and offers the fruit to Adam. This causes them to know about sin. As a result of their sin it continues throughout all mankind. This causes God to Flood the earth.
When the flood came it was all over the world in both of the books. Noah and Utnapishtim were both righteous men. They were both told to build a boat and they both complained about it. The flood was a result of man’s wickedness. Utnapishtim said “the world teemed, the people multiplies, the world bellowed like a wild bull, and the great god was aroused by the clamour”. The noise was so harsh that they agreed to “exterminate mankind”. Genesis states that “the earth was filled with violence” and that the world was “corrupt” . So God told Noah that “the end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth”. The difference here is the way that the way the gods/Gods got the idea to destroy the Earth. Since man was sinning and making all this noise God wanted to destroy his creation and start over. The flood came by heavy rains in both Genesis and Epic of Gilgamesh. The flood was different by several of the following ways. The first thing to note is who instructed Noah to build a boat? The instruction in Genesis was Yahweh (God). Now in the Epic, there was an assembly of gods. Second is the whole dynamic of the boat structures. The height, width, compartments, and the shape. Noah’s boat was three stories high and Utnapishtim’s was six stories high. The shape of Noah’s boat was rectangular and Utnapishtim’s was square. On Noah’s boat the only human passengers allowed on the boat were family members which was his three sons and their wives and of course, Noah’s wife. Utnapishtim’s boat contained family members. A few other people were permitted to aboard the Boat.
Another aspect of the flood is the length. The length of the flood in Genesis was forty days and forty nights, whereas, in the epic the flood only lasted six days and six nights. When the rain ceased and the sun was out, both of the heroes needed to know if there was land out there. Noah and Utnapishtim sent out birds. This concept is the same but the types of birds were different. The birds that Noah released to find land was a Raven, and three doves. The birds that Utnapishtim released to find land was a dove, a swallow, and a raven. When Noah finally landed, he was on Mt. Ararat. The mountain that Utnapishtim landed on was Mt. Nisir.
They both sacrificed after they reached land and they both were blessed. God made a covenant with Noah, saying that he will never flood the earth again. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim was given eternal life. Whereas, man received everlasting life at creation.
The two heroes have many qualities about them that are the same as well as different. Noah and Utnapishtim were the heroes. The difference between them basically was that Utnapishtim obeyed many gods. Each god had a different job to do. One that created him, a different god that was the keeper of nature and animals and another one for the weather. At the end of the book there is a special page that has a character description. For Utnapishtim it says “ Old Babylonian Utnapishtim, Sumerian Ziusudra; in the Sumerian poems he is a wise king and priest of Shurrupak. He is the son of Ubara-Tutu, and his name is usually translated, ‘He Who Saw Life’. He is the protégé of the god Ea, by whose connivance he survives the flood, with his family and with ‘the seed of all living creatures’; afterwards he is taken by the gods to live for ever at ‘the mouth of the river’ and given the epithet ‘faraway’; or according to the Sumerians he lives in Dilmun where the sun rises.” “There were so many gods responsible in this man’s life. However in the book of Genesis, Noah had only one God. This God created and destroyed mankind and he then made a covenant with Noah and then he repaired the damage that he caused. Noah had a special relationship with Noah. In the Bible it decries Noah as a righteous man, who loves the Lord.
In conclusion, these to books are so much alike yet, so different. The comparison between Genesis and the Epic of Gilgamesh is remarkable. There are some things that are hard to decipher, but most was understandable. The Epic of Gilgamesh was hard to get started on, but was easily finished.
The Holy Bible. KJV. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville. 1984.
The Epic of Gilgamesh. Penguin Books, London. 1972.
Epic of Gilgamesh Essay
The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of earliest known pieces of literature - Epic of Gilgamesh Essay introduction. Through years of storytelling and translation, The Epic of Gilgamesh became a timeless classic. This story is believed to have originated from Sumerian poems and legends about the king of Uruk, Gilgamesh. Throughout the epic, many themes arose about women, love, and journeys and the one I would like to discuss is the theme of death. Also, I will discuss if Gilgamesh accepts morality at the end of the story and the development of Gilgamesh’s character throughout the story.
The story mainly focuses on the character Gilgamesh and this wild man created by the gods, Enkidu in which Gilgamesh and Enkidu later become good friends. Together they go upon quests to defeat creatures and upset the gods to help Gilgamesh find immortality. The first journey they go on is to defeat Humbaba, a monstrous creature in the Cedar Mountains. Next, they defeat the Bull of Heaven that the goddess, Ishtar had sent to punish Gilgamesh. Lastly, the end of the book focuses on Gilgamesh’s reaction to the death of his new and loved friend Enkidu that takes him on the journey to find immortality and gives the epic one of many themes, death.
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Death is an inevitable fact of human life, which is a lesson learned by Gilgamesh when his dear friend Enkidu is killed. From then on Gilgamesh finds himself being scared of dying. This fear pushes Gilgamesh to search for the power of immortal life. Gilgamesh becomes bitter that only the gods can live forever and this says a lot about Gilgamesh’s character. Many times Gilgamesh thinks he is a god and abuses his rights as a king for example by raping the virgin brides of his city.
With this mind set, Gilgamesh is an arrogant and selfish king by leaving his city to go on this very long quest for himself in which he doesn’t know when he will return. On the way to fight Humbaba in the Cedar Forest, Gilgamesh and Enkidu tell each other life is short, the only thing that lasts is fame. From this first account, it may seem as though Gilgamesh was doing this for the fame and to be remembered. But when Enkidu dies while fighting Humbaba, one can tell a change in Gilgamesh’s character. Since Enkidu was his close and only friend, it makes it more visible that everyone is mortal.
One may say that, by going into the forest and facing Humbaba, Gilgamesh makes a name for himself and changes the views of the people in his city. The great accomplishment of killing Humbaba makes him a better person because he protects his city and for his love of Enkidu and his people. This is a considerable amount of change from the beginning of the story. There are no major changes in the character of Gilgamesh until Enkidu enters the picture. Enkidu is the primary reason for the ultimate changes in the personality and maturity of Gilgamesh.
The main factor contributing to the changes in Gilgamesh the love that develops with Enkidu. Enkidu is made to make Gilgamesh more human. In the first paragraph of the book the gods are angry with Gilgamesh and send down an equal of himself, they send down Enkidu. After becoming friends, Gilgamesh changes because he has an equal to be with. From Cedar Forest, Gilgamesh is met by Shamash, the Sun God, who tells him, “You will never find the life for which you are searching. ” This upsets Gilgamesh because he has traveled so far for someone to tell him he cannot have what he wants and is looking for.
For there, Gilgamesh travels to see Siduri by the sea. Siduri will not let Gilgamesh pass to through to see Utnapishtim, the only man with eternal life. She says, “Gilgamesh, where are you hurrying to? You will never find that life for which you are looking. ” Once again someone tells Gilgamesh that what he is looking for does not exist. From there, he is to find Urshanabi, the ferry woman. Urshanabi takes Gilgamesh over the ocean and waters of the death. He finds himself in Dilmun, the place where Utnapishtim lives. Utnapishtim asks why he has come and Gilgamesh tells Utnapishtim the whole story about Enkidu dying.
He proceeds to tell him far he has traveled and that he wants to know how to become immortal like him. “There is no permanence,” Utnapishtim says. Utnapishtim offers him a test and all he has to do is stay up for six days and seven nights. Gilgamesh fails at the task and was not grant immortality. After a seven day rest, Gilgamesh was awakened and was told of this plant that restores a man’s youth. Gilgamesh retrieved this plant but while bathing a snake ate the plant. Gilgamesh is left with nothing. Gilgamesh never received the immortality he was searching for, but he got immortality of a different kind.
When he returned to his people he ruled differently, kindly and lived through his subjects. Death wasn’t the ultimate lesson Gilgamesh learned about, it was the ultimate lesson of life and even though people die, humanity lives on. Through death Gilgamesh goes through character changes that will affect him forever. Gilgamesh realizes that he cannot be immortal and learns the value of friendship. Death is something that had never occurred to the great Gilgamesh but through the series of events throughout the epic he comes to terms with it and betters himself as person.