And so they traveled until they reached Uruk. There Gilgamesh the king said to the boatman: “Study the brickwork, study the fortification; climb the ancient staircase to the terrace; study how it is made; from the terrace see the planted and fallow fields, the ponds and orchards.
One league is the inner city, another league is orchards; still another the fields beyond; over there is the precinct of the temple. . . . , Three leagues and the temple precinct of Ishtar.” Measure Uruk, the city of Gilgamesh
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The epic of Gilgamesh is a compelling story about aspects of life, love, contentment, despair, sorrow, and the totality of living. It is a story about Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and his journey in finding the truths of life. He found a friend in Enkidu, a creature that was made by the Gods. It was argued that Enkidu and Gilgamesh had a homoerotic relationship. For example, it was said that Gilgamesh and Enkidu loved each other like man and wife, which implies that they may have sexual relationship. Also, it was said that they often kiss and embrace. Enkidu died because of an illness brought by the Gods. After the death of his friend, Enkidu, decided to travel throughout the world to search for the secret to eternal life. But at the near end of his journey, he realized what it was to really live. His consciousness came back and he came back to reality. He comes back to his kingdom as a better king. Many different aspects of life are described in the story that reminds readers that these things are eternal. These aspects of life came way way way before. They are the ways of the world: love, lust, life, sorrow, pain, friendship.
The Gilgamesh is often compared to the Bible in terms of the plot and stories that both depict. Some of these stories were the following:
- Utnapishtim and the great flood were associated with Noah’s Ark.
In the story, Utnapishtim gained his immortality through this great flood even though he was not the one who made the ark. The gods killed the people that were with him. On the other hand, Noah’s ark is a depiction of God’s wrath to humankind. Also, there was a great flood and those who are not with Noah were killed. Furthermore, in the story, Utnapishtim is portrayed as bad while Noah is a good man and God was pleased with him.
- Ecclesiastes, a chapter in the Bible which talks about contentment and that there is a time for everything is associated with the realizations of Gilgamesh on what life is about.
- The Snake that stolen the plant that restores youth is associated with the snake that tricked Adam and Eve.
In the Bible, the snake is portrayed to be a bad creature. He tricked Adam and Eve to commit a sin that led them to be expelled from the Garden of Eden. The serpent is thought to be the one who killed the innocence of man. Also, that the snake is the one who brought death and knowledge into the world. On the other hand, in the story, the snake was portrayed to be good. After stealing the plant, Gilgamesh was able to regain his consciousness. This ended his conquest and restored his sanity. Furthermore, abandoning his eagerness for immortality, he decides to go back to his kingdom and live. He will live here and now, focusing his strengths towards the betterment of his kingdom.
The comparisons brought a thought and thinking that maybe, or not just maybe, there is a passing over of the myths, stories and tales of the past towards the future generation. The examples that explicitly show the association of some of the parts of the story to the Bible, which was written hundreds of years later than the tablets show that stories and tales really travel through time, they are eternal. Though some may change, fragments of it remain. Furthermore, comparison again of the Bible and the story revealed many different changes such as that of the story of the snake. The story was completely opposite of the original story. As it is known that the Gilgamesh is a work even before the writings on the Bible were discovered. This is a clear indication that literature is really passed on from generations to generations, however, it may completely change as it is passed on from one generation to the other.