Gilgamesh Discussion Questions 2

Gilgamesh and Enkidu both undergo heroes journeys and transformations throughout the tale. They change throughout the tale becoming greater than what they were due to the experience of successfully completing their trails. The difference between the two is how they grow and change throughout the story. Sometimes experiencing the same type of growth and sometimes learning entirely different lessons than the other.

Enkidu’s heroes journey consists of two separate journeys where he completes the cycle both times. The first time Enkidu starts his cycle through the heroes journey is when he meets Shamhat and the shepherds. Causing him to start his break from his old lifestyle and get his call to adventure when he hears about the behavior of Gilgamesh. Leading him into his first challenge with the wresting match against Gilgamesh. When he is defeated it starts a period of growth as Enkidu goes through the cycle of revelation, transformation, and atonement. Which is shown as Gilgamesh and Enkidu become friends and Enkidu becomes able to join society becoming greater than his old self. Enkidu then goes through his second heroes journey when he finds out that he is going to die and begins the process of accepting his own death. As Enkidu realizes that he is going to die and he curses Shamhat and the Hunter for starting him on his first heroes journey. He then is challenged by Shamash who tells him that without those two he would have never met Gilgamesh. Which leads him into a revelation about how his life has changed for the better. He then blesses Shamhat and seems to accept his death. Completing his final heroes journey and period of growth.

Gilgamesh starts his heroes journey after he meets Enkidu and becomes Enkidu’s friend. They then go through the trials of killing Humbaba and the bull of heaven. Then as soon as Enkidu dies he enters the preverbal abyss with his newfound fear of death and his way of escaping that fear with the pursuit of immortality. With the true moment of transformation occurring when Gilgamesh realizes that the achievement of immortality does not require violence and death. This is a complete change from how Gilgamesh has behaved to solve problems throughout the majority of the tale. Leading Gilgamesh to several realizations about himself and causing him to make his way back to Hurk when he fails the tests of immortality.

All of the four functions of Mythology are touched upon in different manners throughout the story. The change from child to adult to awaiting death is shown with the growth that both Enkidu and Gilgamesh both go through. First in their breaking away from their more primitive behaviors and then the dealing with their own approaching deaths. Answering the question of the place of humans in the universe is told by Utanapishtim’s survival of the flood. Which lead to a change of the gods attitudes towards the total annihilation of humans after ensuring a place for them on the planet. A feeling of belonging is shown most potently by Enkidu as he leaves his animal friends. Causing loss of his feeling of acceptance for a time until he builds his friendship with Gilgamesh and finds a home in Hurk. As for mystery, it is discovered as both Enkidu and Gilgamesh embark upon the next part of their journeys. For if there was no mystery there would be no need for them to go.

When Gilgamesh’s journey ends he did not gain anything of material value that he did not finally lose at the end of his journey. Instead by the time that he has completed his travels he has learned that even he, a being two thirds a god, has limits and will die. Discovering these things about himself changed Gilgamesh for the better. Causing him to write down his story on the city walls when he gets back to Uruk so that he may both gain a measure of immortality let others learn from his trials.

One thought on “Gilgamesh Discussion Questions 2

  1. Mary Filbin

    I like reading your insights. I always find it amazing how everyone gains something a little different and personal from the same text. That is one of my favorite quirks of being human.

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