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The Pursuit Of Immortality: Epic Of Gilgamesh

928 words - 4 pages

“Shall I not die too? Am I not like Enkidu?
Oh woe has entered my vitals! I have grown afraid
of death, so I roam the steppe.” (Gilgamesh Tablet IX. 1-5)
One of humanity’s ancient compulsions has been to vanquish death. This compulsion is strongly depicted in the Epic of Gilgamesh, as it creates a large portion of the Epic. It reveals the importance of the perception of immortality and the universal fear of humanity: Death. Immortality means to live on forever, indicating everlasting life. In a more symbolical way of thinking, immortality could be living on through remembrance of one’s accomplishments. This paper concentrates on the character of Gilgamesh and his pursuit of immortality ...view middle of the document...

61-63) The act of building the statue of Enkidu is Gilgamesh's way and an attempt in itself to keep Enkidu alive in some way or another, conquering the bounds of mortality. This brings up how Dickson states “the transformation of his body into something rich and strange of course means that Enkidu as a statue ideally remains free from corruption and thereby gains a longevity far greater than that of the body for which it substitutes.” (Dickson 40)
Because Enkidu became such an important character in this epic, it makes sense to being with him. His process of change as well as death signifies the natural circle of life, as it symbolizes his connection to the natural world. The beast-like Enkidu to Gilgamesh’s deity happens through a course of transformation, just as extraordinary as Gilgamesh himself. Dickson explains this journey of Enkidu: “Enkidu famously undergoes transformation from savage into human being, thanks to the intercession of Shamhat, thereby traversing the distance between nature and culture, and then from human being into hero richly endowed with fame and also with mortality.” (Dickson 39) Here once again the story addresses the query of mortality. Enkidu, who is created by the gods and Gilgamesh who is born two thirds deity, neither can escape the inevitable of all mortals.
While Gilgamesh is on this quest for immortality he fails to realize that the fear of dying is his ambition at this point, instead of a longing to live the life he has already. When Gilgamesh finally finds Utnapishtim, whom has gained immortality from the gods, he appoints Gilgamesh with an assignment he cannot complete. The text states “Now then, who...

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