The Epic of Gilgamesh in Comparison to the Enuma Elish

12 December 2016

Gilgamesh was created by several gods in their likeliness with only one problem, he was not immortal. He continued to live his life to the fullest just like Marduk. The Sumerians viewed some gods as unpredictable because of Tiamat’s choices in the Enuma Elish, therefore when Humbaba created a mass of destruction by destroying nature he represented how Tiamat was unpredictable. In the historical background of introducing Gilgamesh the document states that were traces of an earlier matriarchal religion remains which is similar to the Enuma Elish because the world order continued to stay that way ever since the first creation myth.

The Epic of Gilgamesh, Chapter 1 states that when Gilgamesh was a young king, he knew no fear, he had no respect for tradition, and that he did whatever he wished even when it hurt others. The fact that his behavior disturbed his companions and they did not restrain him marks an explicit parallel view as to when the gods in the Enuma Elish represented chaos within the civilization. “The heavenly gods heard the complaints of the nobles of Urk and met in assembly to discuss Gilgamesh’s behavior” whereas in the Enuma Elish there was also an assembly that gathered to discuss the children’s behavior.

Besides explicit allusions there are also implicit allusions. Implicit allusions are not stated, but understood in what is expressed. The Epic of Gilgamesh states “Now created an equally strong and courageous man, Enkidu, to be just like Gilgamesh” implicitly parallels to how Enkidu was the encourager similar to how Mummu encouraged Apsu to kill. The only difference was that the deaths that happened, the death in the Enuma Elish is a death upon evil and in the Epic of Gilgamesh the death was between the giant and the destruction of nature.

The epic of Gilgamesh extolled the virtues of being the first civilization is based on how Gilgamesh was created and based on how their city was built along with the writing system and religion. Different gods and goddesses created Gilgamesh, but they created him in their likeness. Nintu, the great Mother Goddess who had fashioned the first human beings out of clay, had also created Gilgamesh. Shamash, god of the sun, had given him great beauty. Adad, god of the storms, had given him great courage.

Ea, god of wisdom, had given him the capacity to learn from his experiences and to become the wisest of men. All of his creators represent something that was first made in the world. It is obvious that the people of Uruk take much pride in their city walls because in the Epic of Gilgamesh it stated “Notice the strong walls of our city of Uruk”, the people wanted others to see foundation of their city and what they have as compared to what other civilizations have. Another statement is “Examine the fine brickwork.

These walls, too, surpass all others! No human being, not even a king, will ever be able to construct more impressive walls than Gilgamesh built around our city of Uruk! ” Again this brags about the arrogant way of Gilgamesh and how he takes too much pride in his work. Later in the story Gilgamesh’s arrogant attitude appears again when the story states, “No mortal, not even a king, will ever be able to build a structure as beautiful as the one Gilgamesh created! Climb up and walk upon the walls of Uruk. Examine the fine brickwork. Themes of Gilgamesh include the fear of death and human longing for immortality, the path to wisdom, learning to face reality and growing up, youth versus age, and the proper duties of kingship, man’s responsibilities to his family, and the benefits of civilization over savagery, the rewards of friendship, the nobility of heroic enterprise, the vanity of the hero’s quest and the folly of the pursuit of immortality, the tale of the Deluge/Flood, and the gloomy realm of the dead. This is more a story about a human and the human condition than a mythology of the gods based on the religion in believing in gods.

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