Gilgamesh, interpreted by Stephen Mitchell, is about a tyrant king who falls in love and meets his equal in Enkidu (as he is as big, courageous, and loud as Gilgamesh, but also carries opposite qualities such as humbleness, innocence, and unselfishness), who ends up being sent by the gods to free Gilgamesh of his tyrant, selfish, and unfair ways.
Although the love between Gilgamesh and Enkidu consume the reader, it diverges us from what I feel the real message behind it all was, which is to live in peace with yourself. ”When there is no way out, just follow the path in front of you”. At the very beginning of the story, the people of Gilamesh’s city complained to the gods about his tyrant ways, and the gods responded with Enkidu. Enkidu was meant to, in the long run, cure Gilgamesh of his selfish ways, and finally be able to rule his town in peace.
Before the two men had met, they both had immortal qualities, and might have actually been immortal. The fact that Enkidu explores his sexuality with Shamhat, allows him to come out of his primal world and enter into civilization. This act was the first step of making Enkidu more like a man, and less immortal. When Enkidu enters into Gilgamesh’s civilized town, it seems that sex is all there is. Sexuality IS civilization. Gilgamesh indulged in his practice of sexuality so much that it effected his people in a negative way, like taking the virginity of new married wives. It was his way of ruling. When thinking of how he ruled his city, it seems very uncivilized (by gaining reign and power with sex).
Enkidu hears of the acts of the King and is outraged by the selfishness of his acts, and challenges him to a fight. In the end, they feel that they have found their match. The mens love and respect for each other is the beginning of their manhood and end of their immortality, which means that death is inevitable.
Enkidu and Gilgamesh bask in each other’s strength, pride, good-looks, strength, and fame. They go through life loving and be loved, but always act in a very selfish manner. Everything they did was for themselves, and not for the city that Gilgamesh ruled. The death of Enkidu brought fear and confusion to Gilgamesh, which consumed him into his old age. Gilgamesh searched and searched for the answer on how to escape death, or how to become immortal (after all the gods had given him hope that it could be possible to become immortal). For so long Gilgamesh could not find an answer, when it was always right in front of him. Failures happened one after the other, in fate, and in order of the divine, that lead Gilgamesh to the realization that he will start living once he accepts death.
Gilgamesh came to peace with death, and accepted the death of his lover, gained internal peace, and finally reigned his city in peace.
In order to be able to act kindly to others, you must act kindly to yourself. When you let true love and happiness enter into your life, that is when it will be passed along to others to genuinely be experienced.
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