Women in the Epic of Gilgamesh and Mesopotamian Society
Throughout history, women have been treated different than men nether less inThe Epic of Gilgameshwomen play a small but crucial role. In the story,thefemalescharacters have pretty much power as themales,and weare introducedtoAruru,Shamhat, the temple prostitute, Siduri, the goddess of wine, Ishtar, and the wife of Utnapishtim. One of the most interesting aspects of the story is that it shows howmen were aware of the power of women, and inconsequencethey tried not to fall for their temptation. In this paper, the women characters of The Epic of Gilgameshwill be analyzedby their power, wisdom, sensuality, and destruction, as a result it will show the viewed and valued of women in the ancient Mesopotamia.
In the beginning of the epic, the first female character that appears isAruruand sheis introduceas the goddess of creation. In response to the people of Uruk’s complains about the behavior of Gilgamesh, Anu delegates toUruruthe task of creating a man out of clay equal to Gilgamesh, to face him and stop his misbehavior. In this case, the female character is a goddess and since only womenhave the capabilityto create a life, we can see the importance, value, and respect that man of the ancient society had towards woman.The second female character presented in the story is Shamhat, the temple prostitute that civilized Enkidu, with this in mind, GailCorringtoninhis book The Strange Woman power and sex in the biblesays “It is the women whopossessknowledge that separates the “natural man,” “the man of earth”, from his close communion with the natural world” (101). Gilgamesh was aware of the power of women over men and knowing that he sendsShamhatto change Enkidu’s nature. Women were not less than men as it could be easily mistaken by the word prostitute inShamhat’stitle, in any case sheis respected by theforce that brings knowledge and civilization to the wild man