Significance of Shamhat: "The Epic of Gilgamesh"

Essay by vgsgurl10College, UndergraduateB, February 2007

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The role of women in The Epic of Gilgamesh is very important. One particular issue that is demonstrated is the status of women in The Epic of Gilgamesh. This is because of the fact that there are particular instances noted in The Epic of Gilgamesh that relate to contemporary mean and women. Prostitutions or the use of women for sex is the example that may be emphasized. The role of women is a very important topic in The Epic of Gilgamesh, and various women are chosen to represent various aspects of the conception of women. This is where Shamhat enters the story. What can we learn about her and what are her gifts for us here and now?

Shamhat, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, is the priestess of Ishtar, and the great goddess of love and war. She is called by Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, to discipline the wild man Enkidu and teach him the arts of civilization, like eating, drinking, and everything else as quoted by Shamhat, "Eat the bread, Enkidu, it is the staff of life.

Drink the beer; it is the gift of the land." But the question is what is her significance? Certainly, she is one of the most exciting and mysterious character of the myth and religion, the character that begins in the first two Tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Her presence is very meaningful and brief. Basically, Shamhat brought change and transformation whose mystery is as appealing as the value of a true erotic initiator she represents. Shamhat taught Enkidu to be a full man for his sake, not for her own gain. Indeed, Enkidu and Shamhat share an initiator relationship, but it's for the best. She inspired him to move further by making his own choices by acting like a...