What is your response to the gods in The Epic of Gilgamesh?

Asked on by lehcir

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

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The gods in this epic classic generally seem to be quite a capricious, jaded set of characters who appear to be similar in many ways to the Greek and Roman gods in the way that they seem to treat humanity as their playthings. Throughout his adventures, Gilgamesh and his trusty sidekick, Enkidu, have to face either the gods themselves or the monsters and problems they have created, and often the gods are shown to be more vengeful, petty and mastered by their emotions than humans themselves. Consider, for example, the lust of Ishtar the goddess and how Gilgamesh has to repel her advances:

What could I offer

the queen of love in return, who lacks nothing at all?
Balm for the body? The food and drink of the gods?

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

Gilgamesh's words to her are very insulting, but also clearly show that the gods and goddesses in this classic are dominated by earthly faults and failings, even more so than the human characters themselves. There appears to be little of the divine about them, except in their power and immortality.


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