Portrayal Of Early Civilization In The Epic Of Gilgamesh

Early Civilizations poise curiosity when analyzing their culture and understanding their way of life. The Epic of Gilgamesh, gives its audience an inside perspective on early western civilization. Uruk, located in modern day Iraq, resides between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Immense Ziggurats, high walls, and great military compliment the focus on Uruk’s defense. The Epic of Gilgamesh had a daunting atmosphere, presentiment of mortality, and uncertainty of the gods that portrayed a common perspective in early civilization.

The narrative introduces King Gilgamesh, whose tyranny delivers unassailable despair amongst his subjects. Forced labor, assault, and disregard was unpleasing to the gods. An assembly met to debate a salvation to Gilgamesh’s reign. Enkidu was created by clay to challenge Gilgamesh’s power. The success of Uruk diverted the afflictions caused by its King. Furthermore, the power affiliated with the king discouraged public scrutiny; therefore portraying no balance of influence. Consequently, the dishearten society was obligated to focus on defense; while seeking individual salvation.

Enkidu, identified by a broad and hairy physic, lived amidst the animals that identified with him. Enkidu would disrupt traps and preserve the life of those he dwelled with. Ultimately, a hunter sought after to tame him, and employed a temple prostitute. Enkidu, encompassed with lust, engaged in sexual intimacy with the prostitute for 7 nights. Afterward, the animals no longer viewed him as the same, and Enkidu lost his touch with the wild. We can infer that during this time period, intimacy and lust were known to separate a man from his prior self. Furthermore, a lustful man can be seen as impure; justifying Enkidu’s dispossessing his animalistic abilities.

Enkidu, now a regular man, received wisdom from the woman. She relayed information of Uruk, its success, and their leader. Seeking to challenge a tyrannical leader, Enkidu pursued his conceived destiny. To the demise of the gods, Enkidu befriended Gilgamesh; contradicting his purpose. The gods recognized this and once more drew to assembly. A decision was made to slay Enkidu, and a dreadful illness came upon him. Explanations during these times were typically afforded to divine intervention. Enkidu, formed from clay and spit, took breath of life according to the gods’ will. Now, we notice the gods whom created him, spite him and sought to end his life. Mesopotamia people, throughout their life, sought to avoid spiting the gods, to avoid such fate. We also recognize human emotion within the gods. They portray appeasement and disapproval to that of a human; giving large room for error.

Enkidu, begins to have visions of the Underworld; recollecting poor treatment to all regardless of status. Gilgamesh consoles Enkidu to his death; followed by an intensified mourning period. Afterward Gilgamesh realizes his kinghood will not treat him well in the afterlife. Now mortality enshrouds Gilgamesh, and the fear dilutes his strength. Mesopotamia people feared being spited, and salvation did not await them after death. One can assume Mesopotamia people lived their life in fear; only to expect a depressing eternal residence in the underworld. Paranoia, death, and obsession for the awaiting damnation appeared to be rampant amongst daily life.

Gilgamesh’s perspective now awakened, realizes his death approaches as well. Utanapishtim, the only immortal man, remains beyond the waters of death. Once more, attempting to generate an explanation, divine presence appeared to be out of reach for the common people. Gilgamesh conclusively met with Utanapishtim, whom advised him leave this passion for immortality. Utanapishtim being the only immortal man, expressed the gods allot such ability, not man. Gilgamesh accepting his fate, returns home to live his life for what it may offer. Mesopotamia people perceived life to be out of their control, and achieving a good life was the maximum potential given to humans.

The Epic of Gilgamesh, although a pessimistic narrative, conceals intimate knowledge within its excerpts. Regardless of religion, life is offered to us as an opportunity to live to its fullest. The culture of Mesopotamia was negatively focused. Its civilization was based on subjects’ living under rule not questioning the events taking place. Lastly, the people were obedient; yet fear enshrouded their intentions. With ideas so stabilized, we can guess that fluid borders did not exist as significant to those of Greece. Also, understanding that religion was the basis of daily life, we can conclude these people devoted much time to pleasing their gods. The Epic of Gilgamesh, although focused on him, portrayed the ultimate authority given to the gods. This society worshipped, feared, and obsessed over those that ruled over them. Added to this notion, Uruk appeared to isolate themselves defensively. During this time wars may have been common, and conflicting nations presented a further danger to one another.

Overall, a record such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, written in Cuneiform, opened an opportunity to literature today. History repeats itself, just as in the days of Gilgamesh. People in today’s nations still blindly follow orders seeking to avoid damnation.

Dismal religions, over time declined in popularity; such as monarchies due to their lack of prosperity. Through destruction and demise, wisdom can be found. The Epic of Gilgamesh not only portrays that life is brief, but life is also valuable.

10 October 2020
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