Discussion Questions 2 — Gilgamesh
1. Can you identify any of the stages of the Hero’s Journey in the story of Gilgamesh? You may begin by asking yourself: What is Gilgamesh’s Call to Adventure; or what is Enkidu’s?
All of the stages of what might be the oldest epic currently in existence are really pronounce. Starting with the “lone ranger” Gilgamesh, who finds a friend in someone, Enkidu, who appeared, personality wise on the other side of the spectrum. They ended up becoming really good friends and set up on a heroic journey together to kill Humbaba and stop his terrorizing. It started with dreams of Enkidu and ignoring them until he had supernatural help, from his mother who was half goddess. She interpreted his dreams and off he went. Him and Enkidu went through several triumphs together until Enkidu is picked as the one chosen to die and Gilgamesh enters the “belly of the whale”. He is all alone. He obtains the plant but then the serpent eats it and “cross the return of the threshhold” when he heads back to Uruk.
2. Do you believe any of the Four Functions of Mythology, as outlined in ‘Mythological Themes in Creative Literature and Art’, are alive and active in the story of Gilgamesh? Why or why not?
Although all the functions were present in Gilgamesh, I feel like there is a strong sense of Pedagogical is present. Gilgamesh earned his right to have his story passed on, he earned to live happy and have the best of both worlds after seeing what he had seen.
3. What judgement would you make concerning the success or failure of Gilgamesh’s journey? For instance, he failed to return with the Plant of Everlasting Life, but what did he gain instead? Is it a worthy replacement for eternal youth?
Yes, Gilgamesh did fail to bring back the Plant of Everlasting life, but he gained so much more. To me, living ever lasting means seeing all the people you love continue to pass away and feeling that pain over and over, like the pain he felt when his friend Enkidu passed. I am sure he wouldn’t have wanted to feel that over and over. He gained a new understanding which means he learned how to appreciate life even more than before. It was a worthy replacement for eternal youth because he accepted who he was and what life was, life was never meant to be eternal.
Interesting points. I thought it was a good story and seems to bring up the human drive to want to live forever, yet explaining how the idea of immortality causes some to lose themselves, and in the end it is better to have lived mortal and alive than trying to live forever as a zombie, so to say. This also reminded me a lot of Buddhism through the plot of enlightenment as being the greatest gift of all.