The Epic of Gilgamesh

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There are many vices and virtues displayed in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a tale from ancient Babylon. Its hero, Gilgamesh the king of Uruk, is two-thirds god and one-third man. Throughout the epic, which consists of three stories, the character of Gilgamesh is developed. This is accomplished by changing the vices he possesses at the start of the epic, and replacing them with virtues he receives by its completion. “A virtue is a quality of righteousness, goodness, or moral excellence; any good quality or admirable trait of a character.” (Halsey Collier’s Dictionary 1114) “A vice is an immoral or harmful habit or practice; fault or fall” (Halsey Collier’s Dictionary 1111). Gilgamesh is not the only character in the epic that partakes of vices and/or virtues. Other characters, including Utnapishtim [ the survivor of Great Flood], Ea [the god of water], and Enkidu [the friend of Gilgamesh] exhibit similar character traits. In all four of these characters, their actions are the reason they possess either vices or virtues. In the opening portion of the epic, Gilgamesh takes a bride from her bridegroom and sleeps with her. One can see from this act the selfishness of Gilgamesh. As king of Uruk, he finds that he has the right to sleep with whomever and whenever he wants. The vice of arrogance is displayed in this part because of his lack of respect for others. He is portrayed as an arrogant ruler in his attitude toward those people over whom he rules. Another vice displayed in this epic is stubbornness. This is retained by Enkidu, the wild man that becomes Gilgamesh’s friend. During the battle with Humbaba, the forest demon, Gilgamesh is put in a vulnerable position. He is about to kill Humbaba but then feels charity for Humbaba and slowly backs down. At this point Enkidu urges Gilgamesh to kill Humbaba. Sensing the indecision of his foe, Humbaba fights back, declaring that Enkidu’s words are false. Enkidu remains stubborn and unrelenting,...
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