The Epic of Gilgamesh: Lessons on Life, Love, and Death

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In the Epic of Gilgamesh, there is a Priest-King named Gilgamesh who rules over the city of Uruk. He is an authoritarian king that treats his civilians in a cruel way by making them overwork, which at times leads the individuals to die. On top of this, King Gilgamesh enjoys taking things away from the citizens of Uruk and sexually using women whenever he wants. Due to all these matters, the citizens of Uruk ask for help from the gods in order for them to live in peace within their city.

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After the gods hear the cries for help, they send the Anu to make a new version of Gilgamesh named Enkidu that will put Gilgamesh in his place without hesitation.

When a trapper saw Enkidu one day, he told his father, who told him to go and tell Gilgamesh in order to bring Shamhat, a temple prostitute, back with them in order to seduce Enkidu. When Shamhat presents herself to Enkidu, they have sex for a few days and find out that the animals who once accepted him do not anymore. This then makes Shamhat ask Enkidu to go back with her to Uruk, where Enkidu wants to meet Gilgamesh. While on their journey back to Uruk, Enkidu overhears Gilgamesh’s affair with a newly wedded bride, making Enkidu have more of an urge to stop this behavior from Gilgamesh. When the two first meet, they have a huge fight with each other, which then leads to a great friendship and a journey to Cedar Forest, where they will fight Humbaba. While there, they beat Humbaba and returned to Uruk with his head.

Then, Gilgamesh has Ishtar wanting him to be her lover, but Gilgamesh turns her down, considering the fact that many have said that she is a “scornful lover.” This then angers Ishtar, who tells Anu to release The Bull of Heaven, which then kills hundreds of men in Uruk, causing Enkidu and Gilgamesh to kill the bull. After this act, the gods meet up and decide that Enkidu or Gilgamesh have to die, which results in them choosing Ekidu. After Gilgamesh sees Enkidu die, he mourns for Ekidu and refuses to die, so he goes to see Utnapishtim in order to become immortal. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh about a plant at the bottom of the sea that will reinstate his youth. When he retrieves the plant, a serpent steals it from him. When he returns to Uruk, he then comprehends his duty as king and how in life, the greatest key is to live and love others in a proper manner and how one cannot live forever, but humankind can.

This speaks to us today because it shows us how we cannot live life being greedy and afraid of the unknown (usually death). Individuals have to live life at the moment and value each other every day because you never know when your time may be up. In addition to this, I do believe that this epic poem showed us what it is to be human because it is natural for people to be greedy at times and do the wrong things, but in the end, it will only harm us instead of benefitting us. It gives us the wisdom that when living in the present, people should focus on what really matters in life and what is essential to them.

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The Epic of Gilgamesh: Lessons on Life, Love, and Death. (2023, Mar 21). Retrieved from