Epic of Gilgamesh From Babylonia Term Paper

Total Length: 940 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: -3

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The great gods at that time decided to secretly destroy all the whole world with the flood. But one of the creators of the earth, named Ea, went to Utnapishtim's house and revealed the secret. Ea instructed him to build an ark or a great boat to house all living things, gold and silver and to close the door afterwards. The black clouds come with the thunder god Adad and the earth splits like an earthenware pot and light turns to darkness. Light returns after seven days and seven nights. The gods were first enraged at Ea, but he pleaded mercy for the survivors. The gods then considered Utnaphistim and his wife and granted them immortality and made them gods (Kovacs, Wikipedia, Hooker).

After telling his story, Utnapishtim offers him immortality if he can stay awake for six days and seven nights (Kovacs 1989, Wikipedia 2006, Hooker 1989). But Gilgamesh falls asleep. Utnapishtim's wife bakes a loaf of bread for every day that Gilgamesh sleeps as the undeniable evidence of his failure to stay awake from the very first day because the loaves have turned stale (Kovac, Hooker, Wikipedia).

When Gilgamesh wakes up, Utnapishtim offers him a second alternative to gaining immortality (Kovac 1989, Wikipedia 2006, Hooker 1996). He tells Gilgamesh to secure and eat a plant that will rejuvenate him. It lies at the bottom of the sea. Gilgamesh finds the plant but does not eat it immediately because he wants to bring and share it with the elders of Uruk who must also be rejuvenated.
He first takes a bath and puts the plant on the shore of a lake and a snake steals it. This is why snakes shed skins (Kovac, Wikipedia, Hooker). Gilgamesh, thus, fails both chances at immortality and has remained mortal, an ordinary man, in the hands of vengeful, petty gods who did not think that mortals should stay alive longer. Gilgamesh has also been blamed of abuses by his own people. He issues an edict whereby he will be the first man to lie with every bride in his kingdom. He is thus far from being a morally perfect, as gods are deemed to be.

Gilgamesh returns to Uruk and sees the massive walls, which have been built there by human knowledge and toil and have remained as enduring evidence of such toil by mortal men (Wikipedia 2006). He then comes to realize that genuine immortality is achievable only through lasting works and achievements created by civilization and culture (Wikipedia), which mortals pass on from generation to generation, rather than physical or bodily immortality.


1. Hooker, Richard, trans. (1996). Gilgamesh. World Civilization. http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/MESO/GILGH.htm

2. Wikipedia. (2006). The Epic of Gilgamesh. Media Wiki. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki.Epic_of_Gilgamesh

3. Hooker, Richard, trans. (1996). Gilgamesh. World….....

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