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The Epic of Gilgamesh

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Ian Jackson

Professor Styles

World Literature

The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story that many read during grade school but don’t truly understand its significance. When asked to read it again , my memory could bring back glimpse situations in the story that addressed numerous life lessons, but it was vague.  This epic has had great success since being written hundreds of years ago and is still seen as a “must read”. So, I took on the task of researching and figuring out why so many had love for this book.

When starting my research on why The Epic of Gilgamesh had such great success, I had to first read the book. As I read more, I realized how great the story is and how there are so many different things for a person to love about the poem: the quest for eternal life, friendship, the manipulation by the Gods! There were many different storylines that people could be drawn to. How their interest grew was now understandable. I wanted to know what interested people about it before our time, so I searched a few articles on the importance of The Epic of Gilgamesh. The story revolved around a deep passion to know more about life and the potential afterlife all while people still did not know how to read or write. A culture that is still very unknown to many people, we got a slight glimpse of what life was sort of like during the time. The same segment also mentions how there are some parallels between The Epic of Gilgamesh and certain stories found in the Bible. Since the Epic of Gilgamesh was written before the Bible, many reference the time in relation to the similarities. After reading the epic, I can further understand how they are alike. Now that I was able to find a deeper understanding of the story, I wanted to learn what has kept it so relevant over the years.

        While reading the epic I was entranced by the relationship between Enkidu and Gilgamesh. I understood why others thought highly of this storyline. It was fascinating knowing that Enkidu’s was put into the world to kill Gilgamesh and they ended up befriending each other. Gilgamesh and Enkidu are “soul siblings” and were meant for each other. As the story reads, “Gilgamesh bent his knees, with his other foot on the ground, his anger abated and he turned his chest away. They kissed each other and became friends.” (2.103-109, 129)

Their initial purpose to be enemies ended in them becoming closer to each other as if they were brothers. To fully understand the bond between Gilgamesh and Enkidu, it is important to introduce the concept of inner siblings, the image of wholeness of ourselves we have within and sometimes find without in the people of the same sex and age group of ours. This implies the two characters were generally very similar in characteristics and that is why they got along so well. With all this in mind, it is easy to relate to the relationship shared between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. We all have that friend that we consider to be “a twin”. This epic could be seen as a great and overcoming story of friendship.

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