How would you describe the role of the gods in Gilgamesh?

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The gods in The Epic of Gilgamesh are very similar to the temporal kings and heroes who serve them: powerful but not omnipotent or infallible and not always particularly wise. Gilgamesh himself is two-thirds god and the gods interact with mortals on what are sometimes surprisingly equal terms. Gilgamesh is able to reject Ishtar with impunity. Even her father Anu will not help her by sending the Bull of Heaven against Gilgamesh until she threatens to raise the dead. When the Bull of Heaven does attack Gilgamesh, he and Enkidu are able to defeat it, and Enkidu shows the greatest disrespect to Ishtar by hurling the dead bull's body parts at her.

The gods decide that Enkidu is marked for death. However, his arrogant treatment of Ishtar does not seem to weigh with them in making their decision. He must die because of his part in killing Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven. Gilgamesh, of course, also took part in both these battles, but the gods are arbitrary. Shamash, the sun god, who actually...

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