Sealing One’s Fate
The image depicted on the seal is of a winged hero, standing upright with a regal beard and decorative pants, surmounting a lion with one foot on its back. In front of the lion is a bull in the same fearful position. The lion and bull stand on their hind legs with their torsos, heads, and eyes turned toward the hero, implying subordination and defeat. This 6th century, Neo- Babylonian seal reveals a deep longing for a sense of divinity. It paints a picture of a godly human triumphing over animals of nature. The idea produced is one of immortality and freedom. Because this winged man is portrayed as a God, he can live forever without boundaries or conventions. Gilgamesh longs for everything this transcendent hero embodies. Therefore he goes on a long, arduous journey with the hopes of freeing himself from the constraints of mortality and humanity, only to become more like the winged hero from the seal. In the beginning of the epic, Gilgamesh is all-powerful and despotic. He is two thirds god and one third human. (Gilgamesh I: 45) He built the great city of Uruk up from nothing, only to rule and exercise his great power unjustly. His mentality, at this stage, parallels the winged hero in the seal. Gilgamesh doesn’t see himself as an ordinary, mortal ruler, rather an extraordinary, boundless king. The people of Uruk represent the lion and the bull from the seal. Though they have strength, they are still fearful and overpowered by this godly hero. However, Gilgamesh’s superiority comes to question when he encounters Endiku. (Gilgamesh II) Endiku proves to be his equivalent in size, beauty, and strength. Though Gilgamesh is more powerful, Endiku shows that Gilgamesh is indeed not the grandest of all. Gilgamesh’s facade of mysticism is doubted for he has an equal on earth. He can no longer be the sole winged hero on the seal. This is his first confrontation of his mortality for he realizes that he is not above humanity. Gilgamesh and Endiku soon...
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