Gilgamesh

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Gilgamesh: An epic struggle with Thanatophobia

Death. Some of us are in denial and some of us accept that dying is just another part of life, but at some point, we will all die. Hopefully we will all live long lives, filled with many adventures, without ever giving too much thought to our own mortality--ever present as it may be. While a generalized fear of death seems to be healthy; perhaps, protecting us from possibly dangerous situations, at one point when does a fear, become a phobia? In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the reader can clearly observe a transition from what would seem to be a healthy fear of death, to an obvious case of Thanatophobia, or an unhealthy fear of death. Throughout the story, it is made clear to us, that both Gilgamesh and Enkidu clearly fear death; however, Gilgamesh's fear, appears to be catapulted to phobic proportions upon Enkidu's untimely death.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu's early exhibitions appear to carelessly stare death in the face; as if, death, were just another opponent that they'd soon conquer. "Here you are, even you, afraid of death, What has become of your bravery's might" (Norton 111)? Gilgamesh almost mocks the fact that, Enkidu, fears the increased risk of death involved with their upcoming conquest in pursuit of the wild beast Humbaba. Gilgamesh then jokes, that if he were to fall to while in combat with the beast, that he'd at least become famous. "If I fall on the way, I'll establish my name: 'Gilgamesh, who joined battle with fierce Humbaba' they'll say" (Norton 111). As we can clearly see, the tone of their conversation is almost playful, but does not discount the sense of fear being emoted. Their interactions, seem to reflect that of someone who has a healthy fear of death. Their adventure has a high level of risk, which would naturally increase the threat of premature death for any mortal; however, Enkidu's fears soon become reality.

Upon their return to Uruk and after they'd slain...
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