Hello everyone, I hope you aren't doing any mischief on the first day of the year.
So, I decide to read this small work of literature that has been frequently described as the oldest there is: The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Now, to start off with the title, I've seen some YouTube videos portraying Gilgamesh and Enkidu as bro adventure duo ready to go on a new adventure every now and then. They do this in the book, but I think it's over-exaggerated. On the other hand, I think there are two topics that can be singled out as more important than grabbin' and stabin'.
1)Civilization vs. wilderness
Enkidu was born out of divine creation as a counterpart to Gilgamesh. This meant not only superhuman strength and agility, but also wild instincts and a deep connection to animals. One time, he ran away from Uruk, Gilgamesh's city, to try to live again amidst animals. The gods decided otherwise, so they sent Gilgamesh and him to try to defeat Humbaba, the keeper of the Cedar Forest.
What's funny about this transition from a wild man to a civilized warrior is that it was not because of agriculture, jewellery, clothing or such, but because Enkidu made love to a priestess of Ishtar. I found it utterly unbelievable for a man to become civilized after having sex. After all, sexuality is so primitive that it is our way of propagating the race.
2) Fate vs. change
There's much to say about this, but it would require going into great details. Not to mention that other versions of the Epic tablets feature the Great Duo as villains and Humbaba as a tragic hero (almost). Obviously, Gilgamesh contradicted himself on this. When talking with Enkidu about the latter's dreams, he was so sure of the demise of their enemies that he proudly exclaimed that destiny is immutable. It is doomed to happen. And would you have guessed:Gilgamesh ran away from home to seek immortality, so he could escape "the human fate" (death).
This is hands down the most important topic for me, since I have taken a deterministic stance on life,and I am afraid of death. I am afraid of the terrifying descriptions found at the very end of the book. And it is ever more disturbing when we realise that this issue has been plaguing humans since times immemorial, and we still haven't solved it. What a shame. What a pity!
And that's about it. I would definitely rate this book highly for its portrayal of the great fears of mankind. There were no descriptions of people other than demi-gods and random travellers,so I'd say the book would have been even better if it had included stories of common men. What I also found shocking was the uncanny resemblance of the Deluge to the Biblical story of the Great Deluge. It's almost like…these old people suffered through the same kinds of problems, so their stories and myths have similar details.