Type: Review
Pages: 5 | Words: 1263
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Gilgamesh, the King of Uruk, and his friend Enkidu are the solitary heroes, who continue to exist from the old texts of Babylon; they are commemorated in the epic story, which dates back to the third millennium BC. They travel to Spring of Youth together, defeat the Bull of Heaven and slay the monster Humbaba.

Once Enkidu passes away, Gilgamesh’s sorrow and fright of demise force him to carry out the quest for eternal living. A timeless story of morality, drama, and real adventure, The Epic of Gilgamesh is the landmark literary investigation of human’s search for an eternal living. This paper is the book report of The Epic of Gilgamesh written and translated by N.K Sanders in 1960.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh was initially the old Sumerian poem translated into Akkadian and written down some 700 – 1000 years after the reign of the historical king in Cuneiform script. The fullest variant, in the Akkadian tongue, was discovered on twelve stone tablets in the ruins of the Ancient Library of Ashurbanipal, the ruler of Assyria, at Nineveh in 1849 by the British traveler Austen Henry Layard.

The major protagonist of The Epic of Gilgamesh is the legendary ruler of Uruk, who, consistent with the poem, felled the huge trees of the Cedar Forest with his friend Enkidu to create strong gates of the City and traveled far to discover a secret of immortality from the prophet Utanapishtim. It is commonly acknowledged that Gilgamesh was the 5th king of Uruk, generally regarded as the place of birth of writing in the west, approximately 2500 B.C. The archaeological discoveries of inscriptions and letters confirming his actions, and those of his son, offer no reason to doubt that Gilgamesh really existed.

Yet, after a while, the human king was altered from a mortal to half-god. His male parent is said to have been Priest-King Lugalbanda and his female parent was the goddess Ninsun, therefore, making Gilgamesh half-god of extraordinary stamina and strength, but, also, mortal. Whilst Gilgamesh performed many great deeds, he could not ultimately realize his utmost wish to defeat death and to live eternally.

Consistent with the story, the great ruler, egotistical and brutal among all lesser humans he ruled, received an odd present from gods: wild giant Enkidu who would confront Gilgamesh’s force and, probably, teach him humbleness. Enkidu, initially growing wild in the woods, is tamed by temple harlot Shamhat, and is taken to Uruk, where he, as planned, challenges the great king. After they struggle, and Enkidu is beaten, the two swear everlasting friendship to one another, and Gilgamesh’s mother goddess accepts Enkidu as her own son.

After the struggle in the Cedar Forest where they beat the demon Humbaba and, soon after, the Bull of Heaven (abusing the goddess Inanna-Ishtar) the gods announce the death of Enkidu, deciding that somebody has to pay for such arrogant actions. Enkidu passes away and, at that moment, Gilgamesh understands that he, too, will pass away and this knowledge tortures him. He cries, “How can I rest? As I am scared of demise I have to go as best I can to discover Utnapishtim whom they recognize as Faraway because he has joined gods” (Sanders 97).

After having crossed the Land of Night and Waters of Death, the king discovers a very old man Utanapishtim, the single person to survive the flood, who was, after that, granted eternal life. Utanapishtim tells the kind an account of how he was informed by God Ea of the future flood, followed his command to create the ark, and put varied beasts inside as to protect himself and his relatives from death.

He tells Gilgamesh immortality will be provided to him if the king can stay awake for the following six days. The king fails in this as well as in the next effort to bring back a magic plant that will make any person young again. This plant is eaten by a snake whilst Gilgamesh sleeps. Thus, having failed to win immortality, the king goes back to Uruk with the help of the ferryman Urshanabi, and, when home, he writes about his own great adventure.

Analysis The Epic of Gilgamesh

This epic is, basically, the eternal fight of the person to find sense in existence. Sanders asserts that even if Gilgamesh is not, in fact, the primary human hero, he is the primary recognized tragic idol. “He is the most compassionate to people, and most characteristic of individual person in his search for living and acknowledgment” (Sanders 7).

Though Gilgamesh failed in the quest for eternal life and the historical ruler is recognized merely through passing references, inscriptions, and lists, he lives on forever through the work of Shin-Leqi-Unninni and many others, who wrote down the oral story, which is translated and transferred from generation to generation. These writers attribute the initial resource of the account to Gilgamesh himself, who, supposedly, inscribed his own amazing actions and adventures on a large stone by the gates of Uruk.

Thus, Gilgamesh became immortal by making a crucial input to the magnitude of his own city by benefiting himself from the city’s final cultural invention: writing. Through the writings, the account of Gilgamesh and his arrogance, his sorrow for the loss of his friend, his fear of demise, and the quest for immortality, the king does, actually, overcome death and wins his eternal living every time his story is read.

Generally, this 5900 years old story is as reachable and captivating as it could be. The heroes are guided by charming dream passages that profoundly illustrate the complication and creativity of people. The booklover observes one vision, heroes hear another, and the inevitable drama touches the most human of all feelings – the weakness of the old, the pride of youth, instability, mortality, mysteriousness, loyalty, love, and the desire for life.

Epic of Gilgamesh by Sanders

Though science fiction and fantasy are still to this day looked down upon by those people, who call themselves ‘literary’, this set of fantasy accounts shaped the rational tale around the major protagonist Gilgamesh, the well-known king of Uruk over four centuries ago. Gilgamesh, historically recognized as a real person, was an equivalent of Greek Hercules. He was a partial god, partially human. He upset and amused gods, he was their son, their plaything, their puppet.

The gods send Enkidu to disgrace Gilgamesh: they struggle, they declare a truce, and they become friends. They set out together to track the malevolence monster Humbaba and kill him. Enkidu, just like Gilgamesh, is mortal and he passes away. Gilgamesh is overwhelmed with sorrow and goes questing for a secret of eternal life. He meets ‘Noah’ (Utnapishtim here) who is immortal now, and he describes how he survived the flood that historically happened thousand years before.

Gilgamesh gets the magic plant but it is eaten by a devious snake. The story is a millennia-old tragedy, yet it is not possible not to feel the grief of the great king at Enkidu’s demise. The story is not faultless, but Sanders’ excellent sixty-page work and introduction clarify all that in a rather academic manner.

It should also be mentioned that this narrative edition provides scientific accuracy, but certainly keeps the delicacy of feeling. The introduction to the deities is enjoyable. As for the narrative, it is full of myths and intrigue and, even though the introduction provides a lot of the plot and actions, it was still extremely exciting and full of surprises. It is difficult to believe the protagonists of the story lived so long ago. This book is highly recommended for all people, who are interested in old myths and history.

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