Epic of Gilgamesh

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History 421
Strengths and Weaknesses of Rulers

In the epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh and how he is as a ruler changes drastically from the beginning of the epic to the end. In the beginning of the epic Gilgamesh is almost childlike in his views on his kingdom and the people he rules. As the epic progresses Gilgamesh grows with his reputation and support of his friend Enkidu. By the end of the epic Gilgamesh has matured to the point of selflessness.

In the beginning of the epic in the prologue it states that the gods created Gilgamesh and gave him a perfect body, perfect beauty, and great courage. They also made him two thirds god and one third man. In this the epic is describing rulers as perfect in health and strength and above the average person, that they are part of the gods yet still have human nature. I think this would reflect to the people that even though the ruler is above you they are still just like you and can feel emotion compassion and pain.

In The Coming of Enkidu Gilgamesh comes off as very aggressive and masculine. He is brutish and brash. He abuses his subjects with ceaseless battle, forced labor, and arbitrary exercises of power. Gilgamesh selfishly indulges his appetites, raping whatever woman he desires, whether she is the wife of a warrior or the daughter of a noble or a bride on her wedding night. The epic sees these actions as unbecoming of the great ruler Gilgamesh should be.

In response to Gilgamesh’s unreserved use of his power the gods decide to create his antithesis a stormy heart for a stormy heart. Aruru then conceives Enkidu and lets him be a wild beast and graze with the gazelle and drink at the watering holes with wild beasts. After Enkidu is seduced by the harlot and changes into a man the love between Gilgamesh and Enkidu both greatly change and balance each other.

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 a...
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