Utnapishtim teaches Gilgamesh a very important lesson on immortality. It is very interesting that even back in ancient times, the people and gods understood the definition of immortality and its characteristics. While there are many differences of opinion on the meaning behind the Epic of Gilgamesh, I find that it highly resembles the beliefs of Christianity. There are key events during this epic that teach Gilgamesh, as well as anyone else who will listen and read, that tell of the true journey of finding immortality. Gilgamesh learns the inevitability of death, and has a hard time coping with it.
The search for immortality seems to be an obsession for many men and women all throughout history. In the Epic of Gilgamesh a man investigates the possibility of immortality following the saddening death of his friend, his brother Enkidu. That man, Gilgamesh, feeling the fear of the possibility of his own mortality which was before unrealized before the death of Enkidu, searches for a way to preserve himself.
Is it truly that Gilgamesh searches for a physical immortality or more of a spiritual immortality? Gilgamesh wishes to give the flower of immortality to the elders of the city to rejuvenate them and return the youth to the kingdom of Uruk. This show of selflessness and concern for his people is a sight that might not have been seen a short while before his meeting with Enkidu and his influence on Gilgamesh which changed his view of life. Gilgamesh clearly tries in the end to restore the youth to the elders for the purpose of keeping the memory of not only himself but also Enkidu alive. As long as your culture and relatives survive so do you. Every relative has a piece of you carried along with them.
Why didn't Gilgamesh just eat the plant and live as an immortal? Perhaps it was because if he were to eat the plant he would become a lonely king who just would become more and more saddened by his people whom he loved die over and...