The Epic of Gilgamesh Questions and Answers

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What is the role of gods in The Epic of Gilgamesh?

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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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michuraisin | Student

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Gods come off as very powerful and interfere with the lives of humans as they chose. There are multiple examples throughout the text of them trying to control life in a certain way. For instance, when people complain about Gilgamesh being a ruler who does not treat his people well, Aruru (the Goddess of Creation) creates Enkidu, who is supposed to be the equal of Gilgamesh. Later on in the story when Enkidu and Gilgamesh face Humbaba, it is the God Shamash who helps defeat the monster.

The Gods in Gilgamesh are typical of epics of that time, as they are shown as constantly interfering in the lives of humans. They display an ability to use their immense power to affect daily events. Also, the Gods are symbolic of what Gilgamesh strives to be. While the main protagonist may be partly divine, he is still mortal and will die. That explains why Gilgamesh doesn't just settle around and start a family, but instead goes on quests to defeat monsters. He wants his name to live forever, as a God will live forever.

The Gods are shown as more powerful than humans, they are shown as interacting and interfering with humans, but something important to note are that Gods are presented as being like humans. They have problems, personalities, and moods. For instance, when Gilgamesh wants nothing to do with Ishtaar (God of War and Love), she feels insulted and wants to get revenge. I think what the epic really conveys are that while Gods may be imperfect, but they do control much of what happens in the human world, and what Gilgamesh strives to be.