Week 6: There’s no forever

In this week’s reading, Gilgamesh set out in the search of immortality as a result of looking for Utanapishtim who had survived the Great Flood with his wife and became immortal. As he saw Enkidu’s painful death, he didn’t want to accept that life had to end at some point and how terrifying the ending could be. On his journey, He met Siduri, the female tavern-keeper with whom he had exchanged a very meaningful conversation.

“Gilgamesh, wherefore do you wander?

The eternal life you are seeking you shall not find.

When the gods created mankind,

And withheld eternal life for themselves.

As for you, Gilgamesh, let your stomach be full,

Always be happy, night and day.

Make every day a delight,

Night and day play and dance.”  (Tablet X, Page 132)

Isn’t it surprising how we promise one another “forever” even though knowing there’s no forever? Humans have various desires and wishes but do we always get what we want? But doesn’t everything happen for a reason? All these questions struck me upon reading the above verses. At times, we humans can get lost and wander around but life is too short to have any regrets or disappointment hence it’s wise to make the most out of our time with positivity. Life should be cheerful and spread happiness in one another’s life. Siduri was aware of the reality and accepted it which was definitely a wise decision as she didn’t go after something which she couldn’t get. She advised Gilgamesh with her wisdom that Mankind was created with a certain period of time for which with every life came death. Hence, it would be best to cherish the pleasures of the world and leave without any regrets. I believe that every ending is a new beginning but doesn’t that mean we are in a loop for a lifetime?

Week#6 Gilgamesh’s loss

(Table VIII to XIV)

In table VIII of The Epic of Gilgamesh, readers could appreciate the literary figure of repetition in words such as “May” and “Mourn You” as it repeats almost twenty times in a row. As Gilgamesh sorrow for Enkidu’s fatal ending, he requested that every creature or plant living on earth companion him in his mourning process.

By Gilgamesh cutting his hair and destroying his expensive clothes and jewelry after Enkidu’s death symbolizes vulnerability in front of others (Uruk Citizens). It shows that nothing material is worth it more than his friend to him or a kind of impersonation by changing his dressing style to animal skins. With this behavior, he kind of tried to become Enkidu’s original identity or performed himself as a living tribute to his friend. His suffering was so deep that he eagerly wanted to comfort himself, which made him order to build a statue resembling his late friend figure.

In the following tables, Gilgamesh has a more profound acknowledgment of death besides his recent loss. It starts his journey to find Utnapishtim, A wise man who, according to Gilgamesh, had eternal life granted by the gods and he thought would provide him with the recipe of immortality. After losing the magical plant, Utnapishtim explained to him some reflections regarding immortality. He must assume life and death as something ordinary that he must experience as he possesses one-third of humanity in himself. In conclusion, Gilgamesh’s s final moral is that he needed to see death so close to becoming a humbler human being and value his life more. He went through from being an abuser to a very vulnerable and hurt man.

Week 5 Gilgamesh

A long prologue of Gilgamesh is given to us so we can understand his story. The story of King Gilgamesh is told to us by several different authors. Gilgamesh struggles with the fact of mortality which is understandable being a powerful king that he was and his jourmey to understanding mortality starts with is friendship with Enkindu. Focusing on the great friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkindu. Gilgamesh being the powerful king that he is more of a tyrant to his people and Enkindu coming to Uruk and beating him in a fight, starting off as rivals as they were created to bethey become friends. Enkindu was needed in Gilgamesh life as the way he was described by his mother

“My son the axe you saw was a man, you are loving it as a woman and caressing it”

The langauge used here shows how deep of a bond and connection that Gilgasmesh would have with Enkindu. A partnership is something Gilgasmesh is really wanting. There are momemts when Enkindu shows vulnerability and leans on Gilgamesh for strength and Gilgasmesh giving Enkindu reassurence with dealimg with the beast Humbaba.

“Cries of sorrow,my friend, have cramped my muscles, woe has entered my heart.

Gilgamesh and Enkindu cared deeply for each other in a platonic or maybe even a romantical way. Enkindu role in the friendship has made a deep impact on Gilgamesh as Enkimdu has made Gilgamesh better man and when Enkindu is gone that is made clear as Gilgamesh is lost. Even though it was a short lived, toxic and codependent friendship, it was a necessary one for Gilgamesh for Enkindu.

A Mortal by Any Other Name

Never judge a book by its cover.

There are strong values placed on appearance even in the form of legends and myths. The meeting with the distant one, Utanapishtim, explores this idea and the effects of having to endure that burden of truth in The Epic of Gilgamesh.

“As I look upon you, Utanapishtim,

Your limbs are not different, you are just as I am.

Indeed, you are not different at all, you are just as I am!

Yet your heart is drained of battle spirit,

You lie flat on your back, your arm idle.

You then, how did you join the ranks of the gods and find eternal life?” (pg. 137)

This quote beautifully sums up Gilgamesh’s disappointment on this journey. Looking upon Utanapishtim he notes not the differences in stature or physicality but the similarities instead. He renders him an ordinary man by ushering “you are just as I am”. The limbs Gilgamesh had envisioned were not human-like at all but helped to enshroud Utanapishtim in an air of mystery. For Gilgamesh, to transcend that mortality he must be different, something more. Heroes come in an abundance of forms, though the experience helps to humanize Gilgamesh and what is he is ultimately feeling. He repeats the same line “you are just as I am!” with more tenacity this time. The second repetition encapsulates the anger at the situation and the feeling of loss as a whole. He sought something to transcend his emotions but has resigned to face his own mortality not against an almighty god but an ordinary man. He notes how “… [his] heart is drained of battle spirit” attributing the shift from this idyllic figure to an ordinary man comes from the loss of this spirit. His heart has been drained not of just the will to fight but the will that made him extraordinary. Gilgamesh cannot comprehend this and questions what makes him so special. For Gilgamesh, the resemblance diminishes the idea that he can escape his mortality. For if they are so similar what could he possibly hope to gain?

Week 6- Antigone

In this weeks reading “Antigone” the focus between the conflict of Kreon and Antigone revolves around their own sense of what justice is and how it should be handled. As we see the cause of this conflict was initially started over the death of Polyneices, Antigone’s brother and traitor to their land, and Kreon’s punishment upon the deceased to not give him a proper burial. But it only seems to be the surface of underlying issues that I believe Sophocles was trying to address about Greek concepts of authority and power in relation to existing ideas of progressivism that were apparent even way back then.

It is clear that the reason Kreon and Antigone are at odds which each other is because they are both too stubborn to accept the other’s views. Kreon is seen as a traditionalist believing obedience, loyalty, reverence to his power is what entitles him to make decisions that he believes will maintain order and allow his city to prosper. Antigone, on the other hand, is a revolutionary believing in equality, risks, and unruliness to authority that impose and suppress on her views and opinions to the treatment and relationship authority has with the populace. They argue where does the power really lie and whether or not it is being used for good or evil. There is no accurate answer because power is a concept of what you believe you’re entitled to and/or capable of. Good and evil are also constructs of moral ambiguity regarding to an individual or consensus of actions and perspectives. This is further exemplified in the play when Antigone states, “Who knows if this is not deemed faultless down below” (737). She references to Hades, the god of death, ruler of the underworld, and judge of the dead. Antigone is basically saying that we as mortals don’t decide right from wrong, that decision lies with the divine as only death knows sin. She doesn’t fear death as she takes her own life, and I believe that this was done both as an act of defiance to his attempt to establish his authority over her and as an act of acceptance as she knew her progressive ideals weren’t ready to be enacted to change to the way things are. This repetition was seen through out history as people fight for change as it constantly falls back to tradition, though only slowly progressing as more people become interested in this change, whether or not it is for the better, its not up to us to decide, we can only act and hope what we do is right.

Week 6: Gilgamesh

This weeks reading was from The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet 5 through 11.The reoccurring theme of death is displayed throughout the reading. In the following quote from Gilgamesh, Enkidu is describing his frightening experience with a dream he had about being captured by some type of creature. It is described to be an eagle with the head of a lion. This creature pulled Enkidu down to the underworld.
“His hands were the paws of a lion,
His fingernails were the talons of an eagle.
He seized me by the hair, he was too strong for me,
I hit him but he spring back like a swing rope,
He hit me and capsized me like a raft.
Like a wild bull he trampled me,
‘Save me, my friend!’ -but you did not save me!
He trussed my limbs like a bird’s.
Holding me fast, he took me down to the house of shadows,
the dwelling of hell…” (Gilgamesh 125)
In the first two lines Endiku is describing the creature that he is faced with. He goes on to explain the battle the creature is putting him through. He is being hit and trampled by the creature. Enkidu cried for help but no one helped him. He was then dragged down to the underworld. Although this is a dream, it does have some truth to it. Enkidu is being dragged down to the underworld, with no control and no way to stop it. Much like death, it is inevitable, there is no way to prevent it or slow down the process. It is fully out of your control.

Week 6: Gilgamesh’s Understanding of Life and Death

This week’s reading focuses on Gilgamesh’s strive for immortality after the death of his partner Enkidu. To prove his spirit, Gilgamesh is being tested to stay awake for six days and seven nights by Utanapishtim. However, Gilgamesh quite terribly fails that test as is shown in the following passage:
“Behold this fellow who seeks eternal life!
Sleep swirls over him like a mist…
Come, come, bake his daily loaves, put them one after another by his
head,
Then mark the wall for each day he has slept” (142).

For a hero of the story, one would expect that hero to have more determination and drive to stay awake. Utanapishtim almost scoffs at Gilgamesh’s efforts. I would like to focus on his choice of using sleep and bread. Both elements are essential to humans, yet they also convey a deeper meaning to the dead. After all, life and death are different sides of the same coin. Sleep resembles death–it is very difficult to differentiate between a dead and a living body. Utanapishtim’s point, however, is that humans can’t survive without sleep. Therefore, humans can’t survive without death. In addition, bread was what allowed Enkidu to become civilized. It brought life to him, but the bread we see now is rotten. To expand further, the details of how the loaves of bread rot over the seven days represent the decaying process of the human body. Even though Gilgamesh was two-thirds divine, he was still part human. Did Gilgamesh comprehend the message of the test? I don’t think so. He seems to simply accept that he must die like Enkidu, but not like how a hero realizes the meaning of his quest. Gilgamesh didn’t learn a lesson. Despite the previous argumentative sentence, Gilgamesh has the chance to be immortal by telling his story to the people of Uruk. It has been thousands of years, and his name remains relevant.

The End of Enkidu

As Enkidu approaches his death, we see him go through a variety of emotions and distress. However, we can see that Enkidu’s and Gilgamesh’s friendship carries through, offering Enkidu comfort in his final days. While an unfortunate end for one, their friendship evolved to one with respect for one another.

“Now then, Gilgamesh is your friend and blood brother! Won’t he lay you down in the ultimate resting place? In a perfect resting place he will surely lay you down!” (Tablet VII , Lines 94-95)

Shamash’s words to Enkidu provide him with solace as he understands what is about to come for him. As he mentioned he knew his dream would be a reality that needed no interpretation.His sadness and rage caused him to say spiteful remarks towards the hunter and Shamhat that he later regrets. However in these lines above, the mentioning of Gilgamesh as a friend and blood brother is significant for Enkidu and provides him with comfort that he won’t be forgotten. While not blood related, it represents the closeness between the two. By Shamhat asking him this question, he does seem to know that Gilgamesh will be affected by his death and that Enkidu will not be forgotten by him. His final words are calls to Gilgamesh. And as we do see, Gilgamesh mourns for him. This then leads him on his journey in search of immortality that is unsuccessful. Throughout this epic, their friendship did evolve. Initially seen as one that consisted of a strong power dynamic between the two. However in the end, as Enkidu and Gilgamesh are both confronted with the fact that death is coming, they do provide comfort and respect to one another as equals. Despite their differences, both continued to embrace one and their friendship is unlike any relationship any of them has had with another.  

 

Week 6 post

In the book of The Epic of Gilgamesh, from page 114-145, it takes the reader to a journey of the different events Gilgamesh does to find immortality, after the death of his friend Enkidu. Gilgamesh first goes to Utanapishtim, who survived the Great Flood and became immortal, then to the scorpion monsters, next he approaches the tavern of Siduri who tells him to cross the sea of death with a boatman. However, he fails to complete his purpose for the journey, because he attacks the boatman and smashes the stone charms needed to cross the sea of death. He weeps at the end when the plant is taken away by the snake. 

However, his failure in the quest to get immortality goes to show that he isn’t the hero or strong king we saw at the beginning of the story. At the end of the story, he comes to realize that there are limitations to being a human despite his feature of being “two-thirds divine, one-third human” (The Epic of Gilgamesh. Tablet IX, 129). Even though he has accomplished and failed in some of his quests, is he still considered a “hero”? During his quest, he has gone through the dilemma of fighting terrible monsters to get immortality and find peace with Enkidu death. According to the text, while weeping Gilgamesh questions “For whom, Ur-Shanabi, have my hands been toiling? For myself I have obtained no benefit, […] how shall I find my bearings?” (The Epic of Gilgamesh. Tablet IX, 144). The author points out that Gilgamesh is not so much of a hero or a perfect man we thought of in the beginning because throughout the story we see the vulnerabilities that make him a human-like person. Like any human, Gilgamesh mourns for his friend Enkidu’s death, wanting immortality worries him, and he also tries to find peace within himself through his quest. He may have failed to “gain any benefit” to immortality, but in the long run, he has gained the power and wisdom to live a good life.

 

Week 6 – Enkidu’s Death

In the second half of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh experienced a tragedy with his friend, Enkidu. Enkidu was always by his side and they defeated Humbaba together. However, Enkidu was then struck with a deadly illness and after several days, he died. Gilgamesh mourned the death of his close friend and one of the things he mentioned was that because of Enkidu’s death, he will “put on a lion skin and roam the steppe” (The Epic of Gilgamesh, 128).

This quote embodies Gilgamesh’s deep upset for the death of his friend. Enkidu was born in the wild and grew up among wild animals and Gilgamesh didn’t have such a close connection to the wild. With the death of Enkidu, however, Gilgamesh suddenly decided that he too wanted to be a part of the wild. Gilgamesh putting on a lion skin and roaming the steppe represented how he tried to supplement the loss of his friend by immersing himself in what was a large part of Enkidu’s life. On one hand, this sudden, radical decision could have simply occurred because of heavy grief and the sudden hole Gilgamesh felt created by the loss of Enkidu. On the other hand, Enkidu could be viewed as an extension of Gilgamesh. He was initially created for Gilgamesh, possibly to complement his personality and existence. Because of that, Enkidu became what could be interpreted as an extension of Gilgamesh’s self. Enkidu was the part of Gilgamesh that was meant to be grounded and connected to nature. Once that part of him disappeared, Gilgamesh’s immediate desire was to continue fulfilling that by going straight into the steppe with a lion skin and try to imitate the environment that Enkidu was shaped by.