The Epic of Gilgamesh, in its treatment of the gods, tends to parallel the tensions readers see in the later Homeric epics. The gods are deeply human in their personalities, complete with various personal failings. At the same time, they occupy tremendous power over human beings and over the full course of human civilization. Even if the gods may be similar to human beings in personality, in terms of their overall power and role within the cosmic order, the differences are vast and profound.
We can see this tension throughout the poem. Consider the portrayal of the goddess Ishtar, with her attempted seduction of Gilgamesh, only to be scorned. Prideful and enraged, she goes to her father, demanding he release the Bull of Heaven, an act which shows the devastating and overwhelming power of the gods. However, perhaps the strongest statement concerning the cosmic gulf which separates the gods from humanity lies in Gilgamesh's own fate.
Ultimately, Gilgamesh's defining quest is his attempt to...
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