What values was The Epic of Gilgamesh (the flood story) meant to impress upon the audience?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Two of the significant themes presented throughout the epic concern fate versus human will and the search for immortality. The powerful demi-god Gilgamesh is given extraordinary strength and energy, which allows him to accomplish humanly impossible feats. Despite all of Gilgamesh's accomplishments, he is not able to prevent his close friend Enkidu from dying or to defeat sleep when challenged by Utnapishtim, nor is he able to attain immortality. Gilgamesh even travels to the end of the earth to meet with Utnapishtim, who essentially tells him to enjoy his life because immortality is impossible to gain. Utnapishtim says to Gilgamesh that the destiny of each human is in the hands of the Anunnaki and that nothing on earth has permanence. Gilgamesh not only learns that he cannot control his inevitable fate but also discovers that permanence can only be gained through his legacy, which is written on stone tablets. Gilgamesh has accepted his inevitable death and transforms into a good king who is remembered throughout the ages. The audience learns from Gilgamesh's journey that one must make the most of one's life and accept one's predetermined destiny. In order to accomplish this, one must be humble and determined to live a successful, memorable life. Individuals must also have a positive outlook on the world and be content with their life's trajectory.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story does want to convey a message of humbleness and acceptance of our own weaknesses and limitations. It is the story of a very narcissistic king who wants to take over everything and everyone. His ambition blinds him to the fact that humans are not indispensible, and that we all have a beginning and an end: That we are not the ones who decide what will happen in the end, but (in the case of the story), fate was in the hands of the gods. Therefore, the story is clearly a lesson in human reality, and in the inevitability of death and destiny.

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The Epic of Gilgamesh

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