Identifying the stages of The Heroes Journey in Gilgamesh is relatively simple. We can start with Enkidu who’s call to adventure being upon hearing of the horrible deeds of Gilgamesh. This is followed by a threshold, the fight between Enkidu and Gilgamesh, after which begins Gilgamesh’s transformation and call to adventure. Together they adventure to the Cedar forest and are challenged by the Demon Humbaba, whom they defeat with the help of the sun god Shamash. The Revelation of the journey occurs upon Enkidu’s Death at the behest of the gods, this is where Gilgamesh’s transformation comes full circle as he searches for eternal life only to find that his deeds and achievements are as close as he can come to immortality.
I would say that the four functions of mythology are alive and active in the story of Gilgamesh. The lessons/transformation Gilgamesh makes to change from a villain to a hero, along with the mysteries of life and supernatural really play into the four functions well. I will say though that from a societal point of view its more of a reflection on ancient Sumerian society than our own. That being said the lessons are still applicable as are some of the inflections about society.
Simply Put, Gilgamesh failed. His quest for eternal youth was a total failure, though he did gain some much needed knowledge about deeds and living on through history through them his overall quest for immortality was a utter failure. This is not to say that going down in history isn’t a great thing, it is just not the same as the quest in which he set out. In reference to that, when my wife sends me to the store for eggs and I come home with a complete meal, she will still ask where are the eggs?
Though as I believe in the impossibility of eternal youth I would love to achieve such deeds where as I would be the center of legends in ages to come.