Significance of Dreams in Gilgamesh

Essay by cknight03College, Undergraduate March 2004

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Significance of dreams in Gilgamesh and ancient Mesopotamian Culture

When we look at the meaning of dreams in today's society we find a variation of things. Some believe dreams are based on the subconscious desires, an example of such would be getting a kiss from a female you think is beautiful on television. This theory is called the psychodynamic theory, "According to Freud's psychodynamic theory, the contents of our dreams reflect internal conflicts and unconscious motives... Freud believed that dreams express unconscious desires and conflicts as disguised dream symbols (images that have deeper symbolic meaning)" (Coon 236). Dreams are a reflection of people's inner thoughts and feelings. These thoughts and feelings are too secretive to be expressed to the outside world. It seems that dreams were always a portrayal of a twisted reality but dreams were not always expressions of the subconscious. The value of dreams has depreciated tremendously since earlier civilization.

Reading the Bible growing up I came to understand that dreams were used a great deal as communication between God and humans. Gilgamesh makes this theory concrete, as dreams are recurrent in the epic. In Gilgamesh dreams are used as the largest communication device between the gods and humans. Major events are prophesized through dreams and destinies are foretold. It is evident that dreams play a major role in ancient Mesopotamian cultures. In the novel itself dreams foretold the coming of Enkidu, the death of Enkidu, the protection of Shamash during the battle with Humbaba and much, much more. Gilgamesh was not only a fictional but also a biblical text of ancient Mesopotamian society. Since dreams played such a large and important role in the novel, they must have had a significant place in society.

The first mention of dreams in Gilgamesh was with Enkidu and...