Text Analysis of the Epic of Gilgamesh

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Jill Seymour
HST 197
Dr. Smith
September 17, 2012
Text Analysis of The Epic of Gilgamesh
The question I thought about while reading this text was what the role is for women, and how their actions and descriptions reveal Mesopotamian attitudes concerning gender. The female gender was not highly looked upon during these times. The only time you see a respected female figure is when the mother of a son is being talked about. Any other time females are being talked about, they are portrayed with vulgar characteristics and seen as simply being there to serve the man. I will go through both ways the women are being portrayed, and relate them back to how they reveal Mesopotamian culture.

The main woman character in this story is Ishtar. Ishtar is the goddess of love, fertility, and war; the Queen of Heaven. Normally when you think of the word goddess, a majestic and noble type of being comes to mind. Ishtar is portrayed as the complete opposite in The Epic of Gilgamesh. The first time she comes into play she uses the characteristics of a prostitute to lure in the man that she wants, which at the time is Enkidu. Ishtar is told “make your breasts bare, have no shame. Let him see you naked, let him possess your body” (Sandars, 3). It then goes on to say that “she was not ashamed to take him, she made herself naked and welcomed his eagerness” (Sandars, 4). Before she is told to lay with Enkidu, the story explains that this is not the first man she has done this to. Ishtar is being used for this, because she is known to have her way with the men and they don’t know how to tell her no because of her beauty.

The way Ishtar is seen relates back to Mesopotamian culture in showing that women were not very important in society. They were mainly there to serve the man and to reproduce. They were looked at in two ways; the daughter of her father, or the wife of her husband. At an early age girls were trained to do the roles of a good wife and mother. It was not frowned...
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