World Literature Honors
12 September 2017
Gilgamesh in Human Life
In the beginning there was nothing, then there was a cry. The broken sound cut through the air. It was the sound of a baby. The sound continued all morning without relent. The sun broke out and the cry turned to laughter. Afternoon light skipping with the cheerful sound as the child tottered on its bicycle. Wind whipped the cry into a sob. The teenager under a black umbrella at a funeral. Clouds coasted over the sob to form a groan. The adult stared at a pile of bills. The sun peeked through the groan, creating a giggle. Wedding bells rang. Hail pounded the giggle away to silence. Heart monitor beeps faster. A blizzard covered the old woman’s mouth. Her skin was as cold as ice. The baby’s cry was no more. The Epic of Gilgamesh outlines the human arch for life. It helps us understand the nature of a human lifetime. The Epic of Gilgamesh tells the life of ruler called Gilgamesh in 2700 B.C. He is the king of Uruk in ancient Mesopotamia. Gilgamesh is more god than human. He embarks on journeys with his comrade Enkidu and experiences adventure and obstacles while exhibiting bravery, strength, and wisdom. This epic poem is regarded as the earliest surviving great work of literature. This epic was first recited orally before being translated to clay tablets for later archeologists to discover. Although it is ancient, the text is still prevalent today. The Epic of Gilgamesh is relevant in modern society due to the text’s unveiling of human realities such as evolution, community, and the desire to be remembered.
The Epic of Gilgamesh presents the ancient human reality of evolution blossoming from education. Humans know nothing until taught. Each piece of knowledge can cause humans to evolve mentally, physically, or spiritually. Enkidu “was innocent of mankind; he knew nothing of the cultivated land” (Anonymous, 63). He possess no knowledge of civilization or how he is expected to act until he is taught by Shamat, the harlot. Shamat “taught you to eat bread fit for gods and drink wine of kings” (Anonymous, 91). When she provides this knowledge to Enkidu he changes or evolves as he learns. At first Enkidu is able to live among wild animals. However, Shamat teaches him that living with beasts is not right. He attempts to return to that way of living “but his body was bound as though with a cord, his knees gave way when he started to run, his swiftness was gone” (Anonymous, 65). Enkidu evolves physically because the harlot teaches him that his previous way of life is savage. He lost his physical ability after gaining the knowledge that he should not hold that ability. He also changed physically when retiring from running for a short period of time. His body grew accustomed to moving in a specific way during that week. Mentally, Enkidu begins to think in a more complex way then before. Spiritually, after learning about new...