1. What two worlds do Enkidu and Gigamesh represent? 2. Do the authors think city life is better than life in the country? 3. According to the Epic, what are the advantages of the city? 4. What...
1. What two worlds do Enkidu and Gigamesh represent? 2. Do the authors think city life is better than life in the country? 3. According to the Epic, what are the advantages of the city? 4. What problems does city life pose? 5. What is the meaning of the story?
At the beginning of the epic, Gilgamesh is the King of Uruk, a powerful and wealthy Mesopotamian city. He is a demi-god and in some ways represents the power of the gods as enacted within the context of a theocratic kingdom in which temple and king are closely bound together. Gilgamesh is portrayed as intoxicated with his own power and behaving unjustly, forsaking his duties towards the gods and his subjects and abusing power rather than using it to enact divine justice.
Enkidu was created by the gods as a companion for Gilgamesh. He is portrayed as representing the other side of divine order, namely the divine as it is manifested in nature. Although in some ways he is morally better than Gilgamesh, he is also in thrall to his own sensual nature. Thus we could argue that what we see here is what the Greeks would later call the opposition between nomos (convention, human law) and physis (natural law, nature).
The epic itself does not have a singular meaning. It is a mythical foundation story concerning the history of Uruk and the nature of kingship. It favors neither city nor countryside but insists on the need for a symbiotic relationship between the two.
1. Enkidu and Gilgamesh are foils. Enkidu is wild and fully human, uncivilized, but he is also wise and temperate. Gilgamesh is two-thirds divine and comes from a civilized and elevated society, but one which is rife with greed.
2. This is not entirely straightforward. There are advantages to city and wilderness both. Civilization is prized. However, Gilgamesh has been too sheltered in the city and must return to the innocence of the wilderness to grow.
3. The advantages of the city are that it is rich and beautiful, with a populace who respect their overlords and are generally happy to live there.
4. The issues with city life are that, over time, it breeds complacency and resentment. The city-dwellers have forgotten what life was like in the wild and are no longer grateful for all the beautiful things their city offers. They have become greedy.
5. The moral of the story is, perhaps, that chasing personal immortality is foolish because death is an inevitability for us all but also that, if due respect is given to the gods, they will ensure humanity as a whole are saved and will be immortal as a race.
1. Gilgamesh is a greedy king who is part-man and part-god. He represents city life where people can be greedy and self-centered. Enkidu is a mortal who represents the wilderness and all of its simplicity.
2. Life in the city under Gilgamesh's reign was unpleasant. City life is depicted as more civilized but more complicated. The author seems to indicate that country life is better or, at the very least, more innocent. In order to learn a lesson and achieve his mission, Gilgamesh must leave the city.
3. The advantages of the city are that Gilgamesh has created a great city with happy people: a place anyone would want to be part of.
4. City life poses a problem because under Gilgamesh's rule, the people have become bitter and frustrated.
5. The moral or meaning of the story is that Gilgamesh learns through an epic journey that he has achieved the immortality he sought by earning a place in people's heart where he will live forever. Instead of actually living forever, his legacies and contributions will live eternally.