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The Search for Immortality

Autor:   •  January 6, 2019  •  1,518 Words (7 Pages)  •  35 Views

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After failing at his attempt of eternal life, Ur-shanabi, the boatman, gives Gilgamesh a plant that will make the old young again, allowing him to have another chance of eternal life. However, a snake takes the plant away on his back while Gilgamesh is bathing in the water. Gilgamesh is in great distress and does not know what to do, because he cannot go home empty handed. “I have come much too far to go back, and I abandoned the boat on the shore.” (11. 321). Gilgamesh was so caught up in not being immortal that he did not realize that he had it all. He was king of a beautiful city that was massively built. “One square mile of city, one square mile of gardens, / One square mile of clay pits, a half square mile of Ishtar’s dwelling, / Three and a half square miles is the measure of Uruk.” (11. 330-332). Gilgamesh was very proud of his city, he knew the city measurements like the back of his hand. Gilgamesh may have had faults in this ruling, but he was a proud king of his city.

Throughout the epic, Gilgamesh has been a cocky, rude, and self-centered individual; however, his character changes into a strong leader of his city. In the beginning of the epic, he raped girls and were killing all of the sons. “Furious flood-wave smashing walls of stone/ Wild calf of Lugalbanda, Gilgamesh is perfect in strength…” (1. 35-36). Gilgamesh knew he was very powerful and mighty in the city of Uruk. He was a king. In the end of the epic, after failing to obtain eternal life, Gilgamesh returns to Uruk bragging on how great his city is. Gilgamesh realizes at the end of the epic that he did not need eternal life, because he was a king of a great city. Being the king of Uruk was enough for him, because he finally realized that he didn’t have to be immortal to be a good king and have a great life.

The descriptions of Uruk in the beginning of the epic and the end of the epic reveals how important architecture is during this time period. The city of Uruk is valued so much in this epic because of how massive and detailed it is, during the epic. Gilgamesh concluded, “Go up, Ur-shanabi, pace out the walls of Uruk. / Study the foundation terrace and examine the brickwork. / Is not its masonry of kiln-fired brick? / And did not seven masters lay its foundations?” (11. 326-329). The epic ended with King Gilgamesh bragging on his city and showing how he was a changed man. This was a cultural value for the people of Mesopotamia because architecture was very important, during this time period. This cultural value was shown throughout the epic because Gilgamesh knew the measurements of his city. The King of Uruk, Gilgamesh, had many flaws throughout the epic, however, he transformed into a great king. He was not changed because of immortality, but instead he was changed because he knew he needed to be content with his city, this ruling, with life’s cycle, and with death.

Works Cited

“Epic of Gilgamesh.” The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Vol. 1. Shorter 3 Rd Ed., Edited by Martin Puchner, W.W.Norton, 2013, Pp. 38-88.


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