In The Epic of Gilgamesh, in what ways do the gods and goddesses show more of their human nature than their divine nature?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is easy to see that the gods and goddesses in this epic text are far from divine, and that in some ways they are more human than the human characters themselves. Consider, for example, the goddess Ishtar, who is very fickle in her affections and is quite open about the way she has treated her former lovers in the past in shocking ways. When Gilgamesh returns from his adventure into the Cedar Forest with the head of Humbaba, the giant he has just slain, Ishtar is overpowered by lust for Gilgamesh, and does everything she can to tempt him into beginning a relationship with her. The words of Gilgamesh that he uses to refuse her show just how ridiculous she is being and how she is more human than the humans themselves as she is consumed by her lust:

I have nothing to give to her who lacks nothing at all.
You are the door through which the cold gets in.

You are the fire that goes out. You are the pitch
that sticks to the hands of the one who carries the bucket.

The message is clear: being divine does not equate with being able to control your emotions. In fact, as the case of Ishtar shows, being divine only gives more power to your emotions with more destructive consequences.

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