Analyzing the Epic of Gilgamesh

Topics: Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, Love Pages: 2 (693 words) Published: May 1, 2013
Over the semester we have discussed many different topics in accordance with the readings. One of the major themes mentioned is the ambiguity of love. This theme is seen in “The Epic of Gilgamesh”. The Epic expresses the Sumerian values but also universal themes such as friendship, love between two people, and familial respect. Feelings for one's family, hometown, people, and generally any emotion that is so strong it makes a person sacrifice himself for somebody are associated with the word love. We see this kind of love in the epic between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. However, there are other scenrios in the book where the definition of love is questioned. The Epic of Gilgamesh shows two different ideas of love from the interactions between Gilgamesh, Enkidu, Ishtar and Shamhat.

When they first meet, Gilgamesh and Enkidu get into an epic battle, their strengths matching equally. Although Gilgamesh wins in the end, they become close friends after the fight. This deep loving bond between them changes both their personalities. Enkidu changes from a wild man into a noble one because of Gilgamesh, and their friendship changes Gilgamesh from a bully and a tyrant into an exemplary king and hero. Because they are evenly matched, Enkidu puts a check on Gilgamesh’s restless, powerful energies, and Gilgamesh pulls Enkidu out of his self-centeredness. This strong bond they developed can be seen more clearly when Enkidu dies from a disease sent by the gods. Gilgamesh, standing beside his bed, mourns: "like as a lion, Gilgamesh raised his voice, / like as a lioness, he roared out [...] / he tears his hair and strews it forth / soon as beamed the first shimmer of morning."[1]. Gilgamesh then decides to "... [clothe] [himself] in a lion's skin / and [haste] away over the steppes ..." and spends the rest of his life trying to find the key to immortality. [1].

A completely different kind of love can be seen in the interaction between Enkidu and Shamhat. Some would not even...
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