Gilgamesh

The hero of our tale: a cocky, selfish young king who befriends a fifty percent man/half beast, go on fantastic adventures through him. Once his new, beloved friend dies, Gilgamesh realizes there"s no room in life to it is in a cocky, selfish king. So, he pulls it together and also becomes a wise and also admired ruler.

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Okay, so in ~ the start of the epos (1.1-50), we hear about how amazing this Gilgamesh fellow is, just to be adhered to by a detailed description of what a jerk the is. Hence that very first section is periodically designated as a prologue through translators because we are supposed to recognize it together the final evaluation on Gilgamesh"s life: that turned the end to it is in a an excellent king.

The acquiring there, though, was a little rocky. And, pretty lot the whole Epic the Gilgamesh is a story of how one egomaniacal, rash, and also rather thoughtless youthful king "went through every hardship" just to arise a wise and excellent king worthy the his own epic (1.27).

The guy Who would Be (an Egomaniacal) King

Maybe us shouldn"t offer Gilgamesh such a difficult time for being one insufferable bully; he appears to have actually come by that honestly. Imagine: your mommy is a goddess and your dad to be the king prior to you. Girlfriend are also the handsomest, strongest, and also most powerful man in the people (and, don"t forget you"re likewise 2/3rds god).

Yep, we"re guessing the Ninsun and Lugalbanda (Gilgamesh"s parents) doted on little Gilgamesh and pretty much let that slay whatever he wanted.

So what does our little egomaniac do?

He forcibly takes, because that his sex-related satisfaction, the "the daughter of the warrior" and "the bride of the young man" (1.75). In other words, it isn"t the he is merely picking ~ above the "servant" class or something—he treats the warriors, the nobles, and the servants together equally beneath him.He likewise compels all the young men to connect in some useless task just because that his pleasure. We aren"t sure quite what the is because the tablet computer is broken in this part, but we understand it is not anything that would add to the safety, security, or eminence the Uruk, due to the fact that the human being claim the Gilgamesh is "arrogantly" forcing the task upon them "day and night."

The people of Uruk think Gilgamesh requirements an evil one to offer him a major thumping, and put him in his place. Here"s whereby Enkidu come in.

During this period, we acquire a brief, secondhand glimpse the Gilgamesh native Gilgamesh"s two strange dreams, recounted to Enkidu by Shamhat. (How go she know about them? does this median he is sleeping with her? Remember, Gilgamesh especially recommends Shamhat come the trapper; is this since he to know what a good canoodler she is?)

Anyway, in this dreams, Gilgamesh passionately embraces, first, a gigantic meteorite, and, then, a huge axe. In each case, Gilgamesh"s mother, Ninsun, interprets the dream as foretelling the Gilgamesh will obtain a friend, who he will certainly "embrace together a wife." You could say that Ninsun has looked at she son"s behavior and also offered her very own interpretation of what is lacking in his life: a friend. Mother constantly knows best?

BFF 4EVA

Well, as soon as Enkidu does display up, in spite of an initial fight, he and also Gilgamesh quickly become fully inseparable, trading heart necklaces and also running up your immortal parents" call bill. Nothing choose someone that is just about your equal to assist you examine yourself.

And yet, in what seems prefer no time, Gilgamesh says that he and Enkidu go to the far-off Cedar Forest and do battle with the monster Humbaba. Does this typical that Gilgamesh still feels favor he"s missing something, also with his new friend? Or does he merely think a pursuit will provide him with numerous quality time v his new best bud? The poem doesn"t call us.

His mother blames all this seeking glory ~ above Gilgamesh having "a restless heart" inflicted upon that by the gods (3.46). The course, Gilgamesh has actually his very own interpretation that why they should brave hazard to go on their quest. It"s all around death. The way he sees it, us all dice anyway, so you might too live fast, die young, and be stunner famous: "Should ns fall, I will certainly have created my fame" (2.236).

Of course, this is every a many hubris —y"know, chutzpah, audacity, nerve, pretentiousness—on his part. He states that we"ll all die, yet he doesn"t realize what that actually means till after Enkidu walk die. Remember: Gilgamesh was in utter denial about Enkidu"s death, even keeping Enkidu"s body approximately "until a maggot dropped out the his nose" (10.136).

We think Gilgamesh here is favor the leather-jacket-wearing "bad boy" that races his motorcycle in the rain after he"s to be drinking whiskey every night: he may say he isn"t afraid, however anyone with any type of sense would certainly be afraid for him.

How perform we know he"s immature? the recklessly abuses his strength over his people; the rashly leader his girlfriend Enkidu into the Cedar forest to do fight with Humbaba despite the fact that Enkidu and all the elders of Uruk think this is a very bad idea; that smugly tells the goddess Ishtar the he isn"t interested in a love connection. In short, there seems to be no consideration for the feasible consequences of any type of of his actions—and we"re earlier to that "bad boy" on the motorcycle.

Welcome to Grown-Up Life

Some young daredevils finish up in an early grave. Some manage to in which method cheat death and in your adulthood wonder "what the heck was ns thinking? i could"ve killed myself!" And, then, there room some who discover themselves face-to-face through something completely terrifying—it is a problem known together "scared straight." (Even if it can not in reality work.) And, the is the camp the our young Gilgamesh is in.

He does everything he wants, throwing all caution come the wind until the piper comes searching for his payment in the form of Enkidu"s life. When Gilgamesh realizes that Enkidu is yes, really dead, he tells Urshanabi: "I was terrified by his appearance, I began to fear death" (10.137-138). (By the way, the last quote is a comma splice. That sort of thing totally annoys us at wgc2010.org, yet we"re walk to i think the translator had a great reason.) Anyway, the is the moment that beginning to collection Gilgamesh on a great path.

We claimed starts.

At the start of his journey, he proceeds to act like his jerky pre-Enkidu self. When he reflects up at Siduri"s tavern looking like a warm mess, she bolts the door, fearing for her life. His reaction is come beat ~ above the door and say, "If friend don"t permit me in I"ll break her door, and smash the lock" (10.22).

Eesh, Gilgamesh, a straightforward "Excuse me, carry out you happen to recognize where I could find Utanapishtim?" would have actually done just fine.

Or, once Siduri tells him to uncover Urshanabi, the Ferryman, and also ride his taxi end to view Utanapishtim, Gilgamesh is therefore annoyed that Urshanabi is not standing there ready to collection sail, the Gilgamesh destroys the "stone things," just to find out later on that Urshanabi needed those "stone things" to do the passage to Utanapishtim"s house.

But when they lastly arrive back in Uruk, Gilgamesh seems to have actually gotten control of himself. He tells Urshanabi, "Go up, Urshanabi, top top the wall of Uruk and walk around. Study its foundation, examine its brickwork thoroughly…" (11.314-315). And, soon thereafter the story is over. Wait. What? Well, it seems that Gilgamesh, on the journey home, finally gets it. Together the king that Uruk, he currently has what will secure his very own fame and also glory: a cool city the it is up to him to lead, to rule, come improve, to protect.

Et voilà: the boy becomes a man.

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A King Worthy that Legend

But exactly how do we recognize that this stuck?

Let"s look ago at the beginning. We know that once he changed with Urshanabi to Uruk, Gilgamesh collection about "restoring the sanctuaries (or: cities) that the Flood had destroyed" (1.42). He began large-scale architectural and also engineering jobs that benefits the city that Uruk—"mountain passes" and also wells (1.37-38). And also he ended up being a "hero," a leader, a trusted companion, a protector of his people—in short, no one could "compare with him in kingliness" (1.29-43).

So in Gilgamesh, us not just see a boy becoming a man, we view a redefinition the kingship itself. What? Yeah. We see the definition of "good king" change from "awfully an excellent at death monsters" to "really great at judgment a city."

And when you think about the Sumerians being some of the an initial people to settle down in cities, you gain a feeling of why this epic—and Gilgamesh—are for this reason important. See, killing points is a really good skill if you"re the head the a band of wandering nomads. In fact, it"s crucial. However if you"re life in a city, with all the points that a city needs—sanitation, division of labor, taxes, buildings—well, you need a various skill set. And also Gilgamesh is simply the guy for the job.