The Epic Of Gilgamesh

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Can humans live forever? Can a man single-handedly slay a mythical beast? Is it possible for someone to stay awake for six days and seven nights? It seems as though it's possible according to the characters in The Epic of Gilgamesh. This ancient literature represents a story of a quest to it's fullest aspects.

The definition of a story of a quest is a story in which a "hero" searches something that all people would like to have. In this case the hero, Gilgamesh, searches for glory as well as immortality, two things that all people would like to have. However, his journeys weren't without it's obstacles. This brings me to another quality that a story of a quest must have, the presence of challenges that the hero encounters in order to achieve his or her goals.

Gilgamesh sought glory through battle with the mighty keeper of the forest, Humbaba.

Although very powerful himself, Gilgamesh did not face this challenge alone. His close companion, Enkidu, joined him in battle. Although Enkidu was a major factor in the defeat of this beast, he was also an obstacle Gilgamesh had to overcome in order to do so. Enkidu was very much intimidated by Humbaba, and very skeptical about engaging in battle. If it weren't for Gilgamesh's "gun-ho" attitude towards the whole thing, Enkidu would not have had the courage to participate in the battle, and Humbaba would have still been alive reining his evil.

Further along in the epic, Enkidu eventually dies and Gilgamesh realizes that he too is a mere mortal and could also die. This sparks his quest for immortality. His journey for immortality was very dangerous because it took him past the boundaries of the "familiar world" and into a place only known by legend, The Great...