Dreams of Gilgamesh
In most ancient cultures dreams were signs from the gods. They were depictions of what was to come or what had already happened. The Babylonian culture believed this true for the dreams present in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The dreams Gilgamesh experiences on his journey to destroy Humbaba are interpreted by Enkidu as reassurance of Humbaba’s defeat; however, there are many other ways the dreams can be analyzed and applied to the epic. The dreams are not only the foreshadowing of the defeat of Humbaba, but also of Gilgamesh’s manifestation of fears and past and future events that occur in the epic.
The first and second dreams have strong correlations to each other. The first dream, “In a mountain valley…. The mountain fell down on top of…. Then we like….” (31), is very short and the mountain is the only distinct characteristic. Gilgamesh’s second dream, “In my dream, my friend, a mountain…. It threw me down, it held me by my feet…. The brightness grew more intense. A man appeared, The comeliest in the land, his beauty… from beneath the mountain he pulled me out and…. He gave me water to drink and my heart grew calm. On the ground he set my feet.” (32), gives more insight to what Enkidu thinks is there upcoming battle. There are many more distinct characteristics that appear in the second dream. Enkidu reassures his friend that his dream is a good sign and that Humbaba is not the mountain that is being seen in the dream. He also states that the man that helps Gilgamesh up is Shamash. Enkidu’s dream interpretation of the upcoming battle with Humbaba is correct; however, there are many other ways the dream relates to the epic. The man in the dream could actually be Enkidu. The arrival of Enkidu saves Gilgamesh from his chaotic ways. The people of Uruk pleaded to the gods for an equal of Gilgamesh to be created to stop his tyranny, “You, Aruru, created mankind now fashion what Anu has thought of! Let him be a match for the storm of his heart, let them vie with each other, so Uruk may be rested! (4)” Enkidu became the voice of reason that stopped Gilgamesh from bedding the brides of other men and keeping the soldiers out on constant battles. Enkidu is the representation of order throughout the epic; his arrival brings order to the chaos that is Gilgamesh. The mountain would then be the gods; the gods falling upon Gilgamesh could be a representation of them creating Enkidu as Gilgamesh’s equal.
The dream could have foreshadowed the Gilgamesh’s passage through the twin-peaked mountains to the underworld. Gilgamesh has to take the path of the Sun God to find out the secret of eternal life. This could be interpreted by the first and second dream. The mountain that fell upon him would then be him traveling to the underworld. Essentially, the mountain would not have fallen upon him in this interpretation; Gilgamesh would have gone under it. Following the path of Sun God, the intense light would then be Gilgamesh exiting the underworld, “at twelve double-hours Gilgamesh came out in advance of the Sun. (74)”. The intense light could also be Gilgamesh following Shamash, the Sun God, on his journey to the underworld. The man that pulled Gilgamesh out could have been Shamash as he completed the path of the Sun God. Gilgamesh made it through the underworld to come out on the other side, which could be the part of the dream where his heart grew calm. The calming of the heart would be in reaction to overcoming Gilgamesh’s greatest fear, death.
The fight with the wild bull shinning in the sky, Taurus, could have also been foreshadowed by this dream. Ishtar sent down the Bull of Heaven to destroy Gilgamesh after Gilgamesh denied her sexual advances and proposal. The mountain in the first and second dream could have been considered the Bull of Heaven. The brightness that grew more intense would then be Anu releasing the bull to his daughter Ishtar. The beautiful man that pulled Gilgamesh out would be Enkidu since he...
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