The Epic of Gilgamesh Characters

The main characters in The Epic of Gilgamesh include Gilgamesh, Enkidu, Ishtar, and Utnapishtim. 

  • Gilgamesh is the King of Uruk. He is a demigod who declines Ishtar's marriage proposal and searches for the secret to immortality.
  • Enkidu is a demigod created by the gods. Upon arrival in Uruk, Enkidu challenged Gilgamesh to a battle. Enkidu later died after being cursed by Ishtar as revenge against Gilgamesh.
  • Ishtar is a vengeful goddess who proposes marriage to Gilgamesh and is offended when he turns her down.
  • Utnapishtim is a man who was blessed with immortality after surviving an ancient flood.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on January 20, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 241


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Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, a demigod. He is the wisest, strongest, and most handsome of mortals. In earth-shaking combat, he overcomes Engidu, who has been fashioned by Aruru to be his rival. After the battle, the heroes become inseparable friends and companions through a series of heroic exploits. After Engidu dies, the grieving Gilgamesh seeks for and finds his friend in the land of the dead.


Engidu, a demigod formed by Aruru to be a rival to Gilgamesh. Vanquished by Gilgamesh, he becomes the hero’s inseparable companion and goes with him to conquer Khumbaba. Accidentally touching the portal of the gate to Khumbaba’s lair, he receives a curse from which he eventually dies. Allowed to meet the grief-stricken Gilgamesh in the underworld, he reveals to his friend the terrors of death.


Utnapishtim, a mortal who possesses the secret of life. After Engidu’s death, Gilgamesh receives from Utnapishtim the secret—a magic plant—only to lose it on his homeward journey.


Aruru, a goddess who fashions Engidu from clay.


Anu, the chief of the gods.


Ninsun, a goddess and adviser to Gilgamesh.


Ishtar, a fertility goddess who is in love with Gilgamesh.


Siduri, the divine cupbearer.


Ur-Shanabi, the boatman on the waters of death.


Ea, the lord of the depths of the waters, who grants to Gilgamesh a meeting with the dead Engidu.


Khumbaba, a fearful monster.

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