Epic of Gilgamesh


In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh, the hero of this epic, achieves many feats of skill, which makes him famous, but that is not the reason it is an epic. The Epic of Gilgamesh fulfills the requirements of an epic by being consistently relevant to a human society and carries immortal themes and messages. By looking at literature throughout history, one can infer the themes that are consistently passed on to other generations of humans. It is in human nature for people to want to excel in life and strive to make a name in this world for themselves. We want to be remembered by name or for something we have done. Most, who actually succeed, are forgotten about in a matter of years. However, some are remembered for tens, hundreds, and even thousands of years, because of their great intellectual achievement to feats of outstanding skill.

Gilgamesh is not only a character of a story; he is actually a portrayal of people and how they act out of human nature. He, like many of us, does not want his existence to end when he leaves this world. He is not content with what he has, good looks, money, and power, and desires more in life. The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story that we, as people, can relate to. There are similarities between Gilgamesh?s journey and our own journey through life. Some of the texts that will be compared with The Epic of Gilgamesh, are the Bible, and Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The characters of these stories are all have that burning desire to be successful in life, which we can relate to. These texts span across different time periods and societies illustrating how human nature, particularly the desire to obtain more than one possesses, plays a significant role throughout written and present human history.

It is in human nature to want to be recognized and receive what one think he or she may deserve. In the Bible, one of many themes is the quest for something greater than what the seeker currently has, in terms of stature or wealth. One of many examples is the theft of Esau's birthright by Jacob. In Genesis 25: 27-34, Esau Sells His Rights as the First-Born Son, Jacob wanted more than his proper inheritance, he wanted the rights as the first born son. His brother Esau was hungry and asked for some soup that Jacob was cooking. Jacob answered, "I will give it to you if you give me your rights as the first-born son." Jacob could not be content with what he already had. He wanted a larger portion of the inheritance entitled to the one who is the first-born as well as the title. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh seeks to gain more fame by attempting feats of great proportion. One of the feats is the slaying of Humbaba, the giant beast who is the keeper of a forest. By doing so, Gilgamesh becomes famous for killing the dreaded Humbaba, even though it does not pose any threat to people who stay out of that particular forest. "Together we will accomplish a work the fame of which will never dieyour dream is good, your dream is excellent, the mountain which you saw is Humbaba, Now, Surely, we will seize and kill him." He does this is for fame as well as access to the cedar trees. After this event, he announces to every person he meets, "I killed the watchman of the cedar forest, and I killed the lions in the passes of the mountain." Both Gilgamesh and Jacob wanted more than they had. Jacob already had an inheritance coming to him, but desired more of it as well as recognition as the first-son. Gilgamesh already had good looks, strength, and kingship, yet he had to go out and kill Humbaba to gain fame and rights to cedar trees for it. Jacob still would have gotten part of the inheritance without taking the first-son birth rights from his brother, and Gilgamesh still could get access to the cedar trees without killing Humbaba, yet that was not enough for them.

Most people would not find their life as fulfilling without adventure. In Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck sees life as an adventure and lives it out in that fashion. Huck runs away from