Epic of Gilgamesh Poem Analysis

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, among the oldest known epic poems from Ancient Mesopotamia centers in on the development of the Sumerian king of Uruk, Gilgamesh, by telling his life story. While this is an epic literary work expressed for both fantasy and fiction. In the story, Gilgamesh is considered as the protagonist for both his flaws and virtues since he struggles with the concept of mortality. However, it isn’t until Gilgamesh’s best friend Enkidu is killed that has a major impact on his life for the better. Since Gilgamesh is afraid of death and wants to travel across the world in search for eternal life. He inevitably fails to achieve his goal of obtaining immorality, but the quest itself gives his life a whole new meaning as he gains wisdom from his journey.

Through all these transitions, Gilgamesh’s attitude towards life changes completely from being an over aggressive ruler that is resented by his own people to someone well respected in the end on becoming an heroic fighter when he had realized that his goal of enteral life is unattainable. (Thesis)Although the goal Gilgamesh has for his own life altered dramatically, it is in these goals that the transformation of a tyrannical ruler into becoming a more introspective mortal being that causes him to have a change of heart.

Since Gilgamesh is described in this epic as two-thirds god and one-third human, he perceives himself as a god like creature and refuses to believe that his own life will come to an end. Infact, Gilgamesh was a very arrogant person as he seemed to be narcissistic of his looks. This is how Gilgamesh justified his wrongful actions the way he did because he was seen as a god which meant that he was held to a higher status than anyone else by oppressing his people the way he did. For example in (insert author name here) explains how “Gilgamesh leaves no son to his father; day and night his outrageousness continues unrestrained; And he is the shepherd of Uruk, the enclosure; He is their shepherd, and yet he oppresses them. Strong, handsome, and wise. . . Gilgamesh leaves no virgin to her lover.”(p.18, Line 23-27)

From this, he had coxed forced labor on to his own people and even slept with any one he had desired no matter if they were a bride or wife of a nobleman. While the citizens of Uruk had respected him for being their king, they also resented him for his immoral and irrational behavior. In return, they would go on to plead to the gods of Gilgamesh’s wrongful actions. As a result, this made the gods very mad at him so they checked his power. In particular, the people of Uruk called upon the sky god, Anu, to put an end to Gilgamesh’s cruel ruling and unjust behavior. This is when Anu tells the goddess of creation, Aruru, to create an equal like figure both in size and strength, thus creating Enkidu. It is this part of the epic that Enkidu assumes the role opposite of Gilgamesh by becoming the antagonist in the story and more importantly putting a balance to his power.

When we come to recognize Enkidu in the story, he did not know how to react in society but is merely described as a wildman living amongst wild beasts in the forest. At first, when Enkidu ends up setting off a trap near a water hole, this gets the attention the trapper and sees this strange looking creature covered in hair which then notifies Gilgamesh to entrap this wildman. At the request of Gilgamesh, he sends a temple prostitute, the Shamat of harlot, from the temple of love in order to seduce and tame Enkidu. But it is when Enkidu tries to return back to the wild, that he loses his ability to communicate to live back with the animals that he would not be the same ever again.

After this, Enkidu returns to the harlot outside the city of Erech where she persuades him to come live with her in the city and helps teach him the ways to become a more civilized human being. Since Shamat plays a pivotal role by demonstrating her power over Enkidu in the story. Her role was to humanize Enkidu in order to achieve life outside of the forest in which he thrived. So it is easy to see how at this point in the epic, that Shamat possessed the upper hand over Enkidu by teaching him about how Uruk is controlled by a evil king. Moreover, It is in this way that Enkidu embarks on his journey to where he is initiated into the ways of city life as he travels to Uruk to challenge Gilgamesh. In order for peace in Uruk, it is clear that Enkidu was created to challenge and complicate the nature of Gilgamesh from oppressing his own people.

When Enkidu leaves behind the forest in search of city life in Uruk, he learns the ways of local shepherds and trappers in order to become more civilized in society. This is where Gilgamesh awaits him. Since it is apparent that Gilgamesh is having strange dreams describing how someone will come and visit him in the near distant future foretelling the arrival of Enkidu. Enkidu hears of Gilgamesh from the way in which he was treating women in his kingdom. This is why Enkidu and Gilgamesh immediately begin to brawl right at the gates of Uruk, where they ironically become good friends shortly after fighting.

Enkidu has an immediate impact on Gilgamesh on the first sight of each other. In addition, Enkidu interprets a dream of Gilgamesh in and essentially requesting all that he has accomplished by realizing he has not made a name for himself yet. Soon after, this is when Gilgamesh wants Enkidu to join him on his expedition to the Forest of Cedar, while ignoring the dangers of traveling. In preparation for this journey, they both visit the goddess, Ninsun, in getting help from the sun god, Shamash, for protection and wisdom along there journey.

This may have been the reason why Gilgamesh was fearful of dying because he would die just like the people he ruthlessly ruled over. In other words, his morality might have driven him on a quest in search of eternal youth in the first place. Thus questioning of his morality might have driven him on his quest to live forever.

During one of Enkidu and Gilgamesh’s adventures, they both go to Cedar Forests and Humbaba, a monster that was instructed by the gods to guard the forests confronts them. This ends up with Gilgamesh encouraged by Enkidu to end up killing Humbaba and after they both return to Uruk where Gilgamesh is pursued by the goddess Ishtar. This is when Gilgamesh rejects Ishtar’s sexual advances.

Although this makes Ishtar very angry in the long run and sends down the bull of heaven, in which Enkidu and Gilgamesh are able to defeat. Gilgamesh is completely a different person after the beginning of the story. After all, Humbaba was innocent and did not deserve to die. Ultimately, in defiance, the gods kill Enkidu as punishment and this turns Gilgamesh’s whole life upside down as he starts to mourn at the lost of his best friend. In this tremendous grief for a friend this is when Gilgamesh resolves to conquer death.

While Gilgamesh is determined to live forever, he sets out on his journey to travel and see Utnapishtim in order to obtain eternal life. Although Gilgamesh had overcome many obstacles and traveled to the end of the earth to meet this man.


Cite this paper

Epic of Gilgamesh Poem Analysis. (2021, Mar 20). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/epic-of-gilgamesh-poem-analysis/



What are some major themes in the poem Gilgamesh?
The major themes in the poem Gilgamesh include the search for immortality, the nature of friendship, and the power of love. It also explores the consequences of arrogance and the inevitability of death.
What is significant about the poem Gilgamesh?
The poem Gilgamesh is significant because it is one of the earliest known works of literature. The poem tells the story of Gilgamesh, a hero who goes on a journey to find immortality.
What is the main lesson of Gilgamesh?
The main lesson of Gilgamesh is that death is inevitable and that humans must accept this fact.
What kind of poem is The Epic of Gilgamesh?
The novel is about a man who wakes up one day to find himself transformed into a giant insect. The story is an allegory for how humans can be transformed by their own actions and thoughts.
We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out