Personal Growth Inspired by Love in the Epic of Gilgamesh
A person who is feared and honored, loved and hated, strong but beautiful while still having a lot of courage has the same characteristics as many Gods. While Gilgamesh resembles this, he was only a man, not a God. Gilgamesh was abusing power and any sense of immortality which led to him breaking every single rule he had ever been given. This all changed one-day as Gilgamesh was confronted by Enkidu’s powers and realized he had met his match, which set Gilgamesh into a change of character.
He becomes a more sensible person that ends up in a different kind of bonding relationship with Enkidu than ever seen before while they begin travelling on a quest to concur something bigger than what they have. When Enkidu falls, Gilgamesh goes into mourning and is completely grief stricken and withdrawing from everything else in the world. Gilgamesh seeks further into hell on earth to answer his questions about life and death. He is a man who is two-thirds god and one-third man.
As a man who is two-thirds god and one-third man, Gilgamesh has great power over the people in Uruk with there being no capable competition that could match or come close to having the amount of power Gilgamesh possessed. He is a fearful and powerful man who sacrifices his own warriors and rapes noble women whenever he pleased. He takes whatever he wants from his people and destroys anyone who stands in his way. He is a mean man that lives to display his impressive power. He is a man who gets what he wants in a wrong, dishonest way.
The people in Uruk complain that a king is supposed to protect and defend his men like a Sheppard to his people (pp. 62). A Sheppard guides its followers and protects them from danger that may become to them but Gilgamesh did not care or agree with this statement. He has all the power over the people in Uruk where they do actually respect him as a leader but are scared to death of him as a person and believe he is a scumbag who only cares about himself. He was taking such advantage of his powers and abusing them so much that this drew the attention of the Gods.
The Gods realized they must do something about this and decide they must call out to Aruru, the sky God, for help from they that created Gilgamesh. Arura needs to make someone who is strong enough to stand up to and conquer Gilgamesh’s unstoppable powers. Aruru created a strong man, Enkidu, hoping this man would be able to give Gilgamesh a challenge so he quits abusing his powers so horribly. He hopes Enkidu will be the man that can make Gilgamesh realize he’s not the only powerful beast and would have an ego to stand up to him without being frightened or giving up.
Enkidu is a wild man-beast from nature that had been part of the wilderness that lived with the animals so long and thoroughly that the animals truly thought Enkidu was one of them. He was, however, dislodged from his life in nature by the powerful link between man and women after being seduced by a harlot from the temple of love in Uruk. She trains and tricks Enkidu by seducing her naked body and he falls in love with her beautiful fluent features of a woman. She teaches him life of human beings and takes away his pull to live in the wilderness but teaches him a wisdom and understanding of the world as she tames him.
The harlot offers to take him into Uruk where Gilgamesh lives, telling him Gilgamesh is the strongest and he has no competition with him to cause Enkidu to start feeling defensive and weak. Enkidu fell into her trap and wants to prove to her that he can stop him and his wrong doings so he agrees to go to Uruk. Gilgamesh starts having dreams of walking under the firmament and a meteor of stuff of Anu fell down from heaven. He brought this star from heaven that descended from the sky to his mother, the wise Ninson, said to Gilgamesh about Enkidu, “You will love him as a women and he will never forsake you.
This is the meaning of the dream. ” (pp. 66). Gilgamesh realizes not only he may have someone who he may call his brother but also a comrade who he can rely to fight amongst his side. Gilgamesh now has a great friendship that he will remember his whole life and will call Enkidu his brother, the only man worthy of his friendship. This is when Gilgamesh starts to change his selfish behavior by giving Enkidu his friendship letting him share his fortune. Boredom causes Gilgamesh and Enkidu to make more bad choices. Gilgamesh decides to make a name for himself.
Gilgamesh decides he wants to go the great cedar forest and cut down all the cedar trees but needs to fight the guardian of the forest, Humbaba. Enkidu, the elders and Ninsun try to persuade Gilgamesh that the adventure is not to his best interest and give him different opportunities but he still decides to go forward with his original intent. He continues to make a name for himself. In the middle of the battle Gilgamesh has been given the opportunity to spare the life of Humbaba but still decides to make a name for himself.
Sometimes choices not only effect on the one who makes the decision but also could affect others. Enkidu tries to talk Gilgamesh out of it but he still decides to kill Humbaba. In result of killing Humbaba not only did he curse Enkidu but also it resulted into a dramatic effect on Gilgamesh. The second change that dramatically changed Gilgamesh was caused by the cursed death of his brotherly comrade Enkidu. Gilgamesh was overwhelmed with the loss and couldn’t seem to ever get over it. He became overcome with extreme emotions that he could not control.
He wept for seven days and nights thinking his friend would come back but he was mainly feeling bad for himself. He was feeling self-destruction and weeping for something to happen to make himself feel better. At this point we can really understand the feelings and compassionate part of Gilgamesh that we haven’t seen from him so far. This grief from Gilgamesh is a whole different side of him compared to the towering pride that he previously had because now he is frightened, confused, and overwhelmingly sad about his loss.
This also triggered an obsessive fear in him of his own personal death in the future. After Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh tries to find immortality by venturing off through mountains and crossing oceans to find an everlasting life. The third encounter that changes Gilgamesh is the death of Humbaba. He was a massive, evil creature that protected the cedar forest. Most of the people in Uruk would also say that Gilgamesh is evil as well because most people were scared of him. He does what he wants when he wants to and continuously seems to disappoint the Gods.
By going into the forest and facing Humbaba, Gilgamesh gave a different view to the people in Uruk because he was protecting his city. Some would say he was doing this to make a name for himself, showing he could in fact destroy anything and everything but actually Gilgamesh was doing this out of his love of Enkidu and his people. When Gilgamesh set out a quest for Utnapishtism to look for answers, he was told about a secret plant that is supposed to restore the lost youth to a man.
Gilgamesh shows a change in character at this point declaring he would take this plant back to the city of Uruk and give the plant to his people so everyone could be youthful and healthy again. Although Gilgamesh wasn’t able to bring back the magical plant to his city, the intention he had showed his people he cared and was attempting to not be selfish for once. He started out as an arrogant and overpowered king that had no respect or kindness for his people and now cares about his people and their well-being more than he did about himself.
Whether or not we see Gilgamesh as an epic hero or not, the most important lesson taught through the Epic of Gilgamesh is how love is a bumpy road that connects everything together in the world. We learn from Gilgamesh that our destiny through life is affected by our close friends around us that give us a better understanding of others and ourselves throughout our life. The relationship of Gilgamesh and Enkidu fighting fate on a journey to slay evil with the help of the Gods and to survive and mourn the ones who we love and leave the world while keeping a positive attitude towards others should be an inspiration to all of us.