The Quest for Gilgamesh's 'Immortality' Is a Metonymy for Every Mortals to Be Immortal

Topics: Epic of Gilgamesh, Immortality, Ishtar Pages: 3 (1028 words) Published: January 5, 2011
Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.
* Emily Dickinson (Poem 67)
The sweetness of water can be best comprehended by a thirsty man as the desire to live by a dying man. The king of Uruk, Gilgamesh best realized the urge to live on as his best friend, Enkidu lied dead beside him. If you get more you want more, this simplest human trait was left in him along with his two-thirds of mortality. So as a metonymy for the universal desire for mortals to be immortal, Gilgamesh also expressed the desire - Marite chahina ami, sundar bhubane, /manaber majhe ami banchibare chai. - Rabindranath Tagore

Immortality – the quality of unending life or never ending existence. First is the state of being physically alive but the second relates to physical as well as mental, like living through one’s life time works or through future generations to follow. Gilgamesh wanted to achieve the first kind of immortality that is eternal physical existence. He was so terrified by the death of his best that he himself not only wanted to be immortal but also wanted to bring Enkidu back from the land of the dead. Like the luggnaggian immortals of the Gulliver’s Travels immortality turned out to be a curse rather than a blessing against mortality, Gilgamesh through his quests fails to achieve it but he achieves something greater instead, immortality through the stone tablets of his epic adventure. Gilgamesh, the one third god and hero of The Epic of Gilgamesh is a very unkind and cruel ruler. Abused by Gilgamesh, the gods creates his “second self,” an uncultured “wild man,” Enkidu. Gilgamesh finds his adversary, fights him, only to embrace him and be best friends. “Oppressed by [the] idleness,” Enkidu and Gilgamesh sets off on a journey to kill the giant Humbaba who has seven fearsome “splendors” as weapons, with their axe, bow and shield. After slaying the giant, Ishtar calls upon Gilgamesh...

Bibliography: The Epic of Gilgamesh – Anonymous
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