How does Gilgamesh illustrate the mysteries of the human condition? essay

Gilgamesh of Uruk is introduced as the greatest king on earth who ever existed, a man-god creation with two-thirds god and one-third human. It could be claimed consequently, that Gilgamesh is a medium bridge way, between God and man. Government versus Mortals There is great oppression and exploitation of the people of Uruk by Gilgamesh that is the government before Enkidu appears. For instance, Gilgamesh rules the land of Uruk with such cruelty, with an iron fist. All he knows is eating, drinking and indulging in sensual desire and acts of lust and savagery; he handpicks all the pleasant things exclusively for himself.

He therefore seizes girls and women from their fathers and spouses and brings chaos, doom and sorrow upon the families. His inhuman acts drive the people in Uruk to the verge of intolerance to the extent that they appear in God’s presence and plead with him to create another being that can protect them against Gilgamesh. God gives in to the people’s wishes and brings into creation another human form called Enkidu and lands him upon Uruk. At first encounter, Gilgamesh and Enkidu engage in combat. The battle is mighty and fierce, but soon, the two shake hands and are bound in eternal friendship.

There is a great change after Gilgamesh encounters Enkidu. He attains human perfection and even achieves the stature; understands what mortals go through. Nature versus Civilization Natural person is ignorant, naive and beast-like without civilization. There is tremendous transformation and humanness when one undergoes civilization. For instance, when the people complained about Gilgamesh to their God, the goddess of creation, Aruru creates the wild-man Enkidu. Enkidu starts bothering the shepherds.

One of the shepherds complains to Gilgamesh, the king who then sends the woman Shamhat, a temple prostitute. The body contact with Shamhat civilizes Enkidu, and after six days and seven nights, he is no longer a wild beast who lives with animals. Enkidu is also gradually introduced to civilization by living for a time with a group of shepherds, who teach him how to tend flocks, how to eat, how to speak properly, and how to wear clothes (George, Andrew R. (2003). Nature and depth of friendships There is always a natural compatibility that exists between specific people.

For instance, Enkidu and Gilgamesh fight furiously over sensuality until Gilgamesh wins the upper hand; Enkidu concedes Gilgamesh’s superiority and the two embrace and become devoted friends. After he has met Enkidu, he finds his missing half. The congruity between these two is so striking that everyone notices. After this oneness, Gilgamesh ascends on the path towards human perfection and even achieves the stature. It is at this time that Enkidu falls sick and Gilgamesh, now back to proper human stature, comes to understand the bitterness of human agony and the implacability of death.

He is torn apart by the death of his friend, and utters a long lament, ordering all of creation to never fall silent in mourning his dead friend. Immortality of art (visual) The soul of man is truly immortal. This is seen in Gilgamesh who is now never unconscious of the pain brought about by the loss of his twin alter ego, Enkidu whom he laments and edifies in momentous sorrowful hymns, he sets out in search of immortality and eternal life. He embarks on numerous quests and reaches a variety of life forms whom he asks about the secret of immortality.

He is told that death is the certain end to life and that, instead of his passion with the prospect of such doom; he may as well seek joy, and happiness in his remaining time while he still lives. Gilgamesh remains determined to press on in his quest unmoved by all advice. Finally, guided by inspirations from an old sage, Utnapishtim, who is possessed of the secrets of immortality, he treks through the dreadful deadly marches across the waters of death and gets his hands, at the bottom of an ocean, on the plant that gives everlasting life.

However, he does not consume the plant after he emerges from the abyss but decides to take it to Uruk and to share it with the people of his land. Conclusion The epic of Gilgamesh is the first recorded tragic tale of the humankind. It shows the horrible sorrow of man who is entangled in a mesh of doubts, cynicism, bewilderment and earthly agony while, at the same time, he is paradoxically obsessed with the desire for eternal life.

The human mind is constantly wandering in the losing strife to achieve eternal goodness. Gilgamesh is the picture of total loneliness that abandons his godly claims and pretenses and accepts to wander towards the ultimate in humanness and to the final destiny which is death. He experiences the reality of emptiness and puts to test the philosophy of despair and hopelessness of mortal life.


George, Andrew R. (2003). The Epic of Gilgamesh. England: Oxford University Press.