Ancient literature offers great insight into the beliefs and values of the earliest cultures. As illustrated in the biblical book of Genesis as well as the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Ancient Mesopotamian society viewed women as alluring temptresses, who draw men away from the wild and into civilized life.
The example of female temptation in the Epic of Gilgamesh consists of sexual seduction. In an effort to domesticate Enkidu, a prostitute is sent to entice him and to draw him away from his wild, animalistic lifestyle. She also introduces him to the civilized ways of eating, drinking, and dressing. Moral implications aside, note that this event is portrayed in a clearly positive light. That is, the seduction was simply the most effective way in which to bring Enkidu into civilization. In fact, a positive relationship between the prostitute and Enkidu is maintained throughout the epic. In the story of the Fall, Eve, having already been deceived by the serpent, offers to Adam the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Although this is not a sexual encounter, gender nevertheless plays a vitally important role in this scene. Note that it is, once again, the female temptress who persuades the man, rather than reversing the roles. The key similarities to note between these two tales are: first, that each temptation led to the discovery of some type of knowledge, and second, that each one resulted in leaving nature. Enkidu was undoubtedly enlightened after his first sexual experience, discovering his human sexuality as well as his need for human companionship. After the encounter, Tablet I notes “...he had gained [reason] and expanded his understanding,” and “he was yearning for one to know his heart, a friend” (Norton Anthology of World Literature, 18). Hence, he willingly left nature with the harlot. Adam, after eating the fruit from the forbidden tree, learned of sin and imperfection, and therefore was forced to leave nature....
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