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The Epic of Gilgamesh

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Describe how Gilgamesh's pride in the Epic of Gilgamesh results in his downfall.

Gilgamesh's pride leads to his downfall when he fails to protect the magic plant that is the secret to eternal life and when he fails to follow the taboos laid down by Ninsun. As a result, Gilgamesh cannot bring Enkidu back from the dead and does not attain immortality.

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Like many mythological heroes, Gilgamesh has a bit of a problem with pride, and eventually, his pride leads to his downfall. Let's explore the Epic of Gilgamesh to see what happens.

Gilgamesh is a wise, strong man who is (somehow) one-third human and two-thirds divine. Yet he is still a...

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Like many mythological heroes, Gilgamesh has a bit of a problem with pride, and eventually, his pride leads to his downfall. Let's explore the Epic of Gilgamesh to see what happens.

Gilgamesh is a wise, strong man who is (somehow) one-third human and two-thirds divine. Yet he is still a mortal, and he is still prone to death. Gilgamesh has adventures galore, and he manages to survive them all. But his best friend Enkidu is not so lucky. Enkidu touches a cursed gate at one point, and it drains him of his strength. The two friends complete their quest, but Enkidu is never the same.

Finally, Enkidu dies, and Gilgamesh determines that he will find the secret of eternal life and go to his friend in the realm of the dead. The fact that Gilgamesh thinks he has the power to do this is a prime indication of his pride, for he is a mortal. He really has no business seeking such things, yet he does, and he seems to feel that he is entitled to them.

Gilgamesh meets Utnapishtim, who speaks to him all about the great flood and about the secret of eternal life, telling him of a magical plant that Gilgamesh then finds. Gilgamesh, however, fails to keep the plant safe and secure, and a snake eats it while he is bathing. This neglect, too, smacks of pride, for Gilgamesh doesn't seem to value the plant enough to protect it, or perhaps he thinks that nothing would dare take it from him.

Gilgamesh then asks the goddess Ninsun to show him how to get to the land of the dead to go get Enkidu. Ninsun lays out a series of taboos that Gilgamesh must observe, but in his pride, he apparently thinks they do not apply to him, and he breaks them. Gilgamesh sees Enkidu but cannot return him to life, and he also learns that he, too, will die and that there is no help for it. His pride has finally been curbed.

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