Themes space the basic and often universal ideasexplored in a literature work.

Love as a MotivatingForce

Love, both erotic and platonic, motivates readjust in Gilgamesh. Enkiduchanges indigenous a wild man into a noble one since of Gilgamesh, andtheir friendship alters Gilgamesh indigenous a bully and a tyrant intoan exemplary king and also hero. Since they space evenly matched, Enkiduputs a inspect on Gilgamesh’s restless, powerful energies, and also Gilgameshpulls Enkidu out of his self-centeredness. Gilgamesh’s connectionto Enkidu provides it feasible for Gilgamesh to recognize with his people’sinterests. The love the friends have actually for each various other makes Gilgamesha much better man in the very first half the the epic, and when Enkidu dies,Gilgamesh’s grief and terror impel that onto a futile pursuit for immortality.

The epic may lack a female love interest, however erotic lovestill plays crucial role. Enkidu’s education as a man beginswith his sex-related initiation through the holy place harlot, and also the two heroes’troubles start with their repudiation the Ishtar, the goddess oflove. Humanity renews itself with the woman life force, whichincludes sex, fertility, domesticity, and nurturance, not throughan arbitrary gift of the gods. When Gilgamesh ultimately sees thathis place is here on Earth and also returns come Uruk come resume his kingship,Ishtar returns to her location of honor.

The Inevitabilityof Death

Death is one inevitable and inescapable truth of human life,which is the biggest lesson Gilgamesh learns. Gilgamesh is bitterthat only the gods can live forever and also says as lot when Enkiduwarns him far from your fight v Humbaba. Life is short, thetwo warriors tell each various other on their means to the deadly confrontationin the Cedar Forest, and the only thing that lasts is fame. Butwhen Enkidu is cursed v an inglorious, ache death, their bravadorings hollow. Shamash, the sunlight god, consoles Enkidu through remindinghim just how rich his life has actually been, but though Enkidu ultimately resignshimself to his fate, Gilgamesh is terrified by the believed of hisown. Mesopotamian theology provides a vision of one afterlife, butit gives scant comfort—the dead spend their time gift dead. IfGilgamesh’s search to the Cedar woodland was despite death, hissecond quest, to Utnapishtim, is because that a method to to escape it. Utnapishtim’saccount of the flood reveals exactly how ludicrous together a score is, sincedeath is inextricably woven into the fabric of creation. Yet lifeis woven in as well, and even though people die, humanity continuesto live. The lesson the Gilgamesh brings back from his quest isn’tultimately about death—it’s around life.

The Gods room Dangerous

Gilgamesh and also Enkidu learn all also well that the godsare dangerous because that mortals. Gods live through their very own laws and frequentlybehave together emotionally and irrationally as children. Piety is importantto the gods, and also they expect obedience and flattery at any time possible. Theycan often be helpful, yet angering them is slim madness—and a character’sreverence for the god is no guarantee of safety. Thus, the worldof The epos of Gilgamesh differs markedly fromthat that the Judeo-Christian tradition, in which God is both a partnerin a covenant and also a stern yet loving parent to his people. The covenant promisesthat civilization will get an earthly or heavenly inheritance if theybehave well. The Judeo-Christian God represents not simply what ismost powerful but what is ethically best—humans must aspire to imitatehim. These differences are noteworthy since Gilgamesh alsoshares certain common facets with the Judeo-Christian Bible. Both Gilgamesh andparts that the bible are composed in comparable languages: Hebrew is relatedto Akkadian, the Babylonian language the the author used in composingthe so late versions the Gilgamesh. The holy bible comesfrom the same region as Gilgamesh and shares someof the motifs and stories, such together the serpent together the foe whodeprives people of eternal life and, most important, the flood.In both the Bible and also Gilgamesh, disobedience toa god or gods brings dire consequences.

Although we never ever learn specifically why the god unleashedthe an excellent flood in Gilgamesh, we understand why Ea rescuesUtnapishtim and also through him all the creatures and also people the theworld. Together the god that wisdom and also crafts, Ea is responsible for humanattributes including cleverness, inventiveness, and also creativity,which allow people to survive independently. Ishtar, too, whilea fickle friend, presides over sexual desire, fertility, nurturance,agriculture, and also domesticity, i beg your pardon ensure humankind’s future. Forthe Mesopotamians, piety and also respect for the gods room not true moralobligations.


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Rather, piety and also respect suggest a valuable acknowledgmentof nature’s power and serve come remind humans of their location in thelarger system of things.