Exploring Human Nature In The Epic Of Gilgamesh And Samuel I

1306 words - 5 pages

Examining the nature of humanity and the reason for being has always been a topic of interest that transcends time, gender, age and culture. All literature in existence examines human nature or human interaction or interpretation with non-human things. The one thing we can know for certain is that life is not eternal: we all die. Despite this, each of us have a predisposition to survive and we go to extreme lengths to do so, such as by acquiring mass amounts of power in which to rule over other humans, ensuring a ruler’s survival. We fear what we know is inevitable, so we use the threats of power, including that of ‘higher powers’, to frighten people into believing that they shall face a terrible consequence if they threaten the survival of another. The Epic of Gilgamesh and the book of Samuel I illustrate the corruption that results from using the threat of power, be it human or divine, to ensure one’s best interests and the extreme lengths a human will travel in the pursuit of denying death.
The Epic of Gilgamesh follows the journey of the hero Gilgamesh, ruler of Uruk, who is two-thirds a God and just one part human. We are introduced to Gilgamesh as a tyrant who covets women and sends young men to battle or to endure heavy-labored work. As he is two-thirds a God, Gilgamesh is the strongest in the land, preventing anyone from challenging him as ruler. He is a dictator and has more power than he can use, so in the pursuit of entertainment that could live up to his God-like standards, he often causes great trouble in Uruk. The people of the city know they cannot satiate his appetites, so they turn to the only beings who have more power than Gilgamesh: the Gods. The people pray to the all-powerful Gods to create an equal for Gilgamesh, keeping him too occupied to continue his destruction. The Gods answer the people’s prayers and, similar to the Christian God’s creation of Adam, produce a man from the dirt: Enkidu.
Enkidu is a man born without the influences of humanity: he is a pure being who was raised on animal’s milk and under animal care. Enkidu is eventually caught in the chaos of humanity and he hears of Gilgamesh’s tyranny. Outraged, Enkidu tracks him down to initiate a fight. The two relish in each other’s power and strength, and quickly become great friends. The more time Enkidu spends with Gilgamesh, the more he seeks the thrill of fame and power. The two decide that they are so powerful, they could certainly destroy one of the God’s creations: Humbaba, Gaurdian of the Cedar Forest where the Gods live.
Enkidu and Gilgamesh eventually fight the beast. At last moment, Humbaba begs for his life and pledges his service to the two men which causes Gilgamesh to hesitate, but Enkidu is ruthless and demands the beast be destroyed immediately before the Gods discover what they have done. Enkidu decapitates Humbaba. The God Enlil is enraged and among the others, decide the two must face a punishment: Enkidu falls ill and dies while...

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