Category Archives: Week 2

An Epic Friendship

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?

I’m not sure Gilgamesh exists in a social or economic “wasteland” before Enkidu arrives. He may be in a psychological wasteland because he has no close friends or equals to interact with – this is supported by the gods creating Enkidu to help solve the city’s problems. His wrestling with Enkidu outside of his wedding seems to be a call to adventure for Gilgamesh. He then, in turn, literally calls Enkidu to adventure by inviting him to come on a trek to the Cedar forests with him. Enkidu has been called earlier, though. His trek to Uruk to confront Gilgamesh is prompted by a passerby telling Enkidu of the King’s treatment of his new bride. That journey, though, is a bit of a prologue or false start. I interpret Gilgamesh’s literal call to action as the beginning of the more complex journey for both of them.

In tablet 3 the elders give Gilgamesh advice and he also goes to his mother, Ninsun. This is supernatural aid in two forms, especially for Enkidu when Ninsun blesses him. Ishtar is clearly the Temptress in Gilgamesh’s journey. It’s during this tablet that I start to doubt that Enkidu fulfills enough of the hero’s journey to count as going on one of his own. He definitely goes through some of the stages, especially the call to action, the supernatural aid, guardians, challenges, and temptations. His journey is cut short when he dies. I’m not sure there is a clear enough atonement and transformation.

Gilgamesh, on the other hand, fulfills almost every step, particularly returning to the known after he fails at keeping the Plant of Everlasting Life and returns 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?

The need for mystery is especially clear in all of the semi-prescient dreams that Enkidu and Gilgamesh have. They do not know what their adventure will bring them and that is part of the appeal, but they also are afraid of the unknown. That fear makes their journey all the more impressive.

The need for an idea of the world in which people belong is less clear. This is a world where humans belong as helpers and devices. They are the shepherds and the prostitutes that aid the god-like beings on their adventure. So much of the story is spent on gods and supernatural beings that this picture is one of humans being vulnerable to the gods’ whims, including Enkidu and Gilgamesh’s whims.

The need for an understanding of our society in which each person belongs is also not clear, but it’s definitely there and alive. The characters in this epic know their places and yet can transform themselves. Enkidu, particularly, morphs from inanimate material to animal, to god-like human, then back to inanimate. He moves through social strata fluidly, while the people who helped him move out of his animal stage, the shepherd and the prostitute, seem content to help him and stay where they are.

The need for a picture of our own psychology that helps with the transitions of a human life is the clearest and most fascinatingly explored in this work. While Gilgamesh begins his story a fully grown adult (though not one that acts like one), we get to watch Enkidu go through a representation of gestation (creation by the gods), then birth. Enkidu is an animal-like adult, uncivilized and unable to use reason. He’s basically a child. He grows into a true adult by learning to eat properly and by sleeping with a harlot. His eventual transition into death is a hard thing to read. He seems to represent a kind of death that most humans fear – an inexorable and transparent figurative march towards a death that we do not want. Gilgamesh is then reborn as an animal, just as Enkidu began. He then matures, for the first time in the entire work, into a full adult with all the maturity of a person that can accept defeat.

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?

I ended up beginning to address this question in the previous answer, so I’ll continue here. Gilgamesh begins the story as a physical adult but emotional child. His relationship with Enkidu and failure to rectify his friend’s death is his transition into adulthood. He gained maturity and fame, which is a worthy replacement for eternal youth.

Gilgamesh the Ornery Giant

1.  Gilgamesh is an ancient poem, which depicts the transformation of man who is considered to be two parts divine and one part human and begins his story with the temperament of a young boy. His story contains many stages correlating to Joseph Cambell’s structure for “The Hero’s Journey.” This does make sense, as this formula is based upon historical patterns and archetypes and “Gilgamesh” is one of the best preserved, yet evolutionary, stories of ancient history.

In the beginning, Gilgamesh parades through the town of Uruk and challenges young men to quarrels and takes women as he pleases. He can be restrained by none and is feared by many. As a king, he lacks maturity and humbleness. Gilgamesh’s “Call to Adventure” arrives with the coming of a man named Enkido, who challenges Gilgamesh for his atrocities and wrestles him in the streets. Although Gilgamesh wins, he admires Enkido’s spirit and strength and befriends him. The actual “Call” is Gilgamesh’s decision to seek out the monster, Humbuba, in the Cedar Forest or forest of the gods, in order to prove the strength of their friendship and his right to rule divinely.

Gilgamesh’s “Departure” takes place when he leaves Uruk with Enkido and they travel for many days to the Cedar forest, where no man has trodden, for Humbuba can hear any who pass through his forest and he carries with him seven glories. Gilgamesh receives “Supernatural Aid” against Humbuba, in the form of winds from all directions, at the hands of the god Shamash. This battle could also be considered “Crossing the first Threshold,” in “The Hero’s Journey.”

During the “Initiation” phase of Gilgamesh’s journey, he begins his “Road of Trials,” where he meets the “Woman as a Temptress,” Ishtar, a goddess who could give much, but has taken more from all of her previous lovers and is rejected by him. This scorns Ishtar and and she sends the Bull of Heaven upon him, which he defeats, but this victory also causes him to lose his friend Enkido, as he is smitten with disease from the gods. After the death of Enkido, Gilgamesh takes to the Steppe and eventually makes his way to a tunnel under a mountain, guarded by a massive scorpion, where he embarks upon his “Belly of the Whale” moment. He may or may not survive this quest for eternal life, but he moves under the world to find his answers and hopes to fulfill his desire for immortal life. He finds his way to Utanapishtim, who challenges Gilgamesh to stay awake for six days and seven nights, who then fell asleep immediately. This is his first successful lesson in being human and humble. After this failure, Utanapishtim gave Gilgamesh the location of a plant at the bottom of the sea, which could make him young again. Gilgamesh then persists to lose this plant to a serpent, a classical symbol for the loss of eternal life and happiness.

Gilgamesh makes his “Return” in the form of “The Freedom to Live.” He is not necessarily successful, in gaining immortal life to escape his fear of death, but he is successful in finding himself and is satisfied with living from this point on. He describes his city of Uruk, in a very similar fashion, as he did early in the story. The difference is the attitude he has towards the city and the people in it. He is happy to be a part of it and not the tragedy that terrorizes it, ultimately joining society and the humanity that he was born into.

2.  As the term would suggest, the “Mystical” or “Metaphysical” function of mythology is very prevalent in the story of Gilgamesh. Both he and Enkido acts as a beasts, as Gilgamesh  lusts and broods over those he wishes to and seems to have no moral dilemma or inner conflict over the issue. Gilgamesh is a man of the flesh and his instincts  during the initial phase of his story. Enkido is simply born of animals and is raised by them in the wild. The transition to a socialized man for Gilgamesh and Enkido also shows variations of the “Sociological” and “Psychological” functions. Enkido is brought into a world of understanding, by the harlot and the hunter, who show him many things that civilized people do in cooking, cleaning and wearing clothes. These folk ways were a form of socialization.

3.  I believe that Gilgamesh was successful in accepting his humanity, but failed to bring back a treasure that could have helped his people and gives up his quest after two small failures. If Gilgamesh was a king, why would he not go back to retrieve the plant after he had acquired the men and tools that were needed? Why would he give up on any great calling? Does this not show a theme that would suggest that to aim too high is unreasonable and so we should not push forward and to persevere above others who give up along the path?


The story of Gilgamesh has many great examples of the Hero’s Journey in it. The Hero’s Journey in Gilgamesh starts with the character Enkidu. Because Gilgamesh was such a terrifying King men begged the goddess Aruru to create an equal who can stand up to Gilgamesh, and so she creates Enkidu. Enkidu is strong and wild like an animal. Enkidu’s call to adventure begins when he is seduced by the harlot Shamat. It creates a desire in Enkidu to be human, and to become part of their culture. Enkidu hears of the evil King and challenges Gilgamesh. After a great brawl Gilgamesh and Enkidu gain respect for each other, becoming true comrades. They have both under gone a transformation, these two men who had stood unparalleled could now consider each other their equal. Just as Enkidu had gained a culture and society by finding a friend in Gilgamesh; Gilgamesh gained a sense of maturity and place to fit into society by finding a friend in Enkidu. This is just the begging of the Epic of Gilgamesh but already a brief cycle of the Journey has been displayed, while setting up the rest of the Epic to build into more and grander Journeys of the Hero.

I believe all the Functions of Mythology are alive in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The start of the epic is clear attempt to feel accepted into society. Gilgamesh must grow and mature to be accepted to be seen as an adult, and not an angry child. And Enkidu must learn to be civilized, and learn how to belong into society before he can be accepted to Uruk. The need to explore our own psychology is represented greatly by how ambiguous Gilgamesh’s success is. Gilgamesh was able to stop the Bull of Heaven with the help of Enkidu, but in turn Gilgamesh lost Enkidu to the grips death by angry gods. The Epic of Gilgamesh is a great example of how the Functions of Mythology can be used to increase the value of stories, by creating a world where we can reflect on our own trials and tribulations.

I think it’s clear that Gilgamesh’s is a success. Even if Gilgamesh believes he has not gained what he was looking for in his quest. The quest itself was Gilgamesh’s reward. By the end of the story Gilgamesh goes home to write of his adventure; of its success and misfortunes.  Gilgamesh has come to terms with his mortality, and at the same time his desire for adventure has waned. Gilgamesh with coming to terms with his mortality learns that to live on you must pass on what you have learned to the next generation; which is Gilgamesh’s form of immortality. I believe this is a huge success and well worth the trade for the Plant of Life. Gilgamesh learns from Urshanabi that living forever does not bring peace, but that peace is found from the deeds you accomplish.



  1. Gilgamesh’s call to adventure is when he goes searching for the Plant of Eternal Youth. One of his challenges is when he trying to stay awake for a week. Also he must go through challenges before he gets to the end of the story. For example, he tries to stay awake for a week.
  2. I do think that that the Four Functions of Mythology are active in the story of Gilgamesh. There is a mystery throughout the whole poem because the language is different and the poem is in verses not full sentences. The Gods that are in the poem add the element of the function of mythology that talks about needing an explanation of our universe.
  3. Although Gilgamesh did not get the Plant of Everlasting Life he did gain a person. What I mean by that is he was able to figure out who he was along his journey. He also gained maturity. At the beginning he was very childish and then by the end he realizes how childish he was and how he didn’t treat people right. I think that knowing who you truly are is much better than eternal youth.


  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?

The phases of “The Hero’s Journey’, described by Joseph Campbell, can be observed throughout the epic of Gilgamesh.  The heroic characteristics of Gilgamesh are of protective nature.  At the beginning of the writing, Gilgamesh is shown as aggressive towards women and men.  However, this qualities are the symbol of his immaturity, part of a series of pictorial details that illustrates the transformations of the maturity life process of men.  Such metamorphosis, I perceived, can be seen as the rate by which men turns into a hero.  “The Hero’s Journey’ is dynamic, and is a process because the hero is not born a hero, but goes through the three stages proposed by Joseph Campbell:  “Departure’, “Initiation’ and “Return’, that happens at different points in time to cause the necessary changes for becoming a hero.

The “Call to Adventure’, which is part of the “Departure’ stage, can be observed when Gilgamesh proposed the quest to kill the guardian monster Humbaba.  Gilgamesh felt that “something was lacking’ or he “needed to win’ something, two of the characteristics mentioned by Joseph Campbell in the “Departure’ phase.  The particular something that Gilgamesh needed was to have his kingly power updated; that is, taken to the next level, the supernatural one, and not just to rule only the human world.  It is a destiny Gilgamesh took willingly, to which he entered into the Cedar Forest where the divine creature Humbaba was ruling.  Another element of “The Call to Adventure’ is that the initiation is often a quest imposed by a deity.  In the prayers of Ninsum, to the deity Shamash, she stated that Shamash inspired Gilgamesh to do such a journey.  The “Supernatural Aid’ is the deity Shamash, who first showed himself to Gilgamesh in dreams and showed him that was going to help him.  Later on, Shamash told Gilgamesh the specific moment that it would be advantageous to attack the monster.  Shamash used his powers of manipulating the weather against Humbaba, for which Gilgamesh took advantage and defeated the grotesque creature.

“The Road of Trials’ is part of the “Initiation’ stage, and is described by Joseph Campbell as an amplification of  the first problem.  In Gilgamesh epics, it is a series of troubles:  the “Bull of Heaven’, the death of his friend Enkidu and the quest to seek immortal life, caused because of Gilgamesh’s rejection of the deity Ishtar.  The rejection can be seen as part of the “Initiation’ phase called “Woman as the Temptress.’  Joseph Campbell defined this part as the hero’s awareness of the reality of the truly evil nature of the queen goddess to which the hero is married to.  Although Gilgamesh was already aware of Ishtar’s evil habits and therefore rejected her, it is still considered a “mystical’ temptation with a queen goddess, one of Joseph Campbell’s requirements for this phase.

The “Return’ of Gilgamesh from his heroic acts through the sun’s tunnel and water of the death, after finding Utanapishtim, does not quite well fit the characteristics of Joseph Campbell.  Gilgamesh did not brought back any trophies, powers or elixirs.  He actually failed both required tests.  He was not assisted with supernatural powers, let alone rescued.  It is not stated how he behaved after such a journey.  However, he was humanized and humbled.  Gilgamesh returned to his place to share his experiences and wisdom for others not to make his same mistakes and for his name to be remembered as a hero.

  1. 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?

The Four Functions of Mythology are present in the story of Gilgamesh.  The more apparent one seems to be the first function, the “mystical function’, defined by Joseph Campbell as a symbolic way by which human nature dominates our most deepest animal instincts.  It is a transformation caused by the achievement of a certain “level of consciousness’ that is awaken when humans are fully aware of the reality of the cruelties of life.  It is often rejected, as Joseph Campbell states, because of the burden of such knowledge.  This level of awareness can be seen in Gilgamesh at the moment his friend, Enkidu, died.  Gilgamesh realizes how harsh life can be, in that death cannot be defeated nor avoided, and that his actions caused the loss of his friend.  Such burden was so heavy on him, he rejected it by choosing to become like a beast and searching for immortality.  The third function, “sociological function’, a need for sustaining social order, as defined by Joseph Campbell, can be seen when the gods sentenced Enkidu to die, because Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s actions were not considered appropriate, based on the social order, which can be perceived in terms of authoritative command.  In other words, certain behaviors were not socially accepted based on their position as humans in the social hierarchy.  The fact that the whole epic is about Gilgamesh achieving the necessary level of maturity, turns it into a total representation of the fourth function, “psychological’, in which humans should act according to social guidelines that are based on shared ideologies and cultural standpoints among their corresponding social groups, and the level of responsibility of such actions are dependent on their role in the society.

  1. 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

Gilgamesh’s journey has both, success and failure.  Gilgamesh’s failing of the test of staying awake for seven days was a teaching for him.  It was the way to show him that after all, he was still a human, and that because of it, there were going to exist circumstances out of his control, such as death.  The battle of his quest was over from the beginning because he could not have changed the fate of his friend.  When something is out of our human control, fighting for it is a waste of energy and time, acceptance of the reality is the necessary task in order to be able to continue with our lives.

Gilgamesh also lost the Everlasting Plant to a reptile.  However, he brought back within the true power that he was seeking for, but did not know it, for he was blind of ignorance.  Gilgamesh realized at the end, that it was the wisdom, the kingly and priceless power he had been trying to find all this time, and that such power, the wisdom, cannot be gained with strength or magic.

The journey of Gilgamesh is a symbol of the journey we all go through to become mature:  to think thoroughly before we make a decision, to control our emotional and behavioral states, to learn from our mistakes, to be aware of the reality that surround us, to be more humble and less selfish, to gain knowledge and share it with others, to not precipitate judgements, to avoid confrontations.  We can summarize all this in one phrase:  to be wise.  Such attribute is more valuable than any power, elixir or trophy that he could have ever won.



  1. The story of Gilgamesh does contain some aspects of A Hero’s Journey. Gilgamesh left as a young immature man and came back as a mature man due to the obstacles he encountered. Granted he had some supernatural abilities Gilgamesh indeed learned many things from the path that he took. Lets take the death of Enkidu a friend of his that passed away. Gilgamesh faced the hard task of letting go and in turn it helped him find his place in search for eternal life.
  2. It is clear that the functions of mythology exist in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The characters throughout their journey find out who they are and what they are suppose to due, much like any other hero. We see this as Gilgamesh’s character grow throughout the journey and he finds himself questioning some of his actions along the way of his quest to find eternal life. When looking back at the story it is evident that the story was not just written for the journey but also for lessons in life, things that you will run into like death for example. Often times people will grow from the loss of a loved one just like Gilgamesh did.
  3. The journey of Gilgamesh’s was far and away a success in the fact that he grew as a person, he found who he was along the way. This was not one of my most favorite pieces of writing but it caught my interest and made me use the right tools to find the similarities from a Hero’s Journey.


One of Gilgamesh’s calls to adventure is after Enkidu’s death. This makes Gilgamesh worried and he wants to find the secret to eternal life. The threshold guardians would be the two scorpions at the gate. He is then helped by the innkeeper and Ur-Shanabi. Gilgamesh then has a revelation as to his inability to live forever when he sleeps for a week. He is then given a flower, which he uses, and he has to accept that. He returns with a better understanding and acceptance of his mortality.

The first theme is seen in his unwillingness to accept death and the discomfort he gets from thinking about it.

I think that Gilgamesh’s journey was a success, because eternal life means nothing if it is nto spent well. As the story started out, Gilgamesh was not a good ruler and he was childish. By the end of the story he gained experiences which changed the way in which he viewed the world. If he had not lost the plant, Gilgamesh would have lived in constant dread of not being able to find another one and fearing death. However, by accepting death, he can now live better and not waste his time on inconsequential things.


(1) Yes, I can identify the stages of the Hero’s Journey in the story of Gilgamesh. At first, Gilgamesh is a terrible ruler. He is arrogant, dominating, and brutal. Uruk’s people did not like him. They wanted someone to be created that would act as a counterweight for Gilgamesh, hoping that it would straighten him out. In turn, Enkidu was created. He was part wild animal and part human. When they Gilgamesh and Enkidu met, they were determined to destroy one another. However, they formed a tight friendship. They are almost like mentors to each other, helping one another with things they fall short on. They become too high on their horse, and Enkidu falls out. He passes away. This irks Gilgamesh! He then wants to begin his transformation of immortality. Finally, he returns to Uruk as a changed ruler.

(2) The Four Functions of Mythology are alive and active in the story of Gilgamesh. At each part within the story, Gilgamesh learns something about himself. He transforms himself little by little, depending on who he meets along his journey. At the end of the story, Gilgamesh has completely transformed. It represents the transitions of a human life, going from childhood to adulthood, and from adulthood to death.

(3) Gilgamesh had a very successful journey! He was able to turn his life around, based on his learnings of his encounters. The greatest part of his journey was becoming friends with Enkidu. Enkidu was able to teach him a lot about himself. Even though Gilgamesh failed to return with the Plant of Everlasting Life, he was able to gain more knowledge. Not returning it didn’t stop his life. It made himself, as a person, stronger. It shows us that even though we may fail at something, we always have the opportunity to take something from that failure and learn from it. Every step we take, gives us more knowledge for the next day.


1) I feel that there are many similarities of the stages in Gilgamesh; in fact I wonder if this story has some origins of many tales of numerous cultural epics. Gilgamesh first encounters his adventure through dream, and Enkidu joins forces with him later, which introduces the great adventure to come.

2) I believe all four functions of mythology could be argued as occurring within the epic of Gilgamesh. It is undoubted that portions of this epic can be found in many ancient mythological themes and even in modern film or literature.

3) It is hard to say, but it was clear by the end that Gilgamesh had no need for eternal youth because he was now a man, full of wisdom and would not treasure such childish themes as eternal youth. Through coping with mortality he could better understand himself, others, nature, and existences worth.

The Oldest Epic.

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.