Gilgamesh: Man's First Story

by Bernarda Bryson

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In Gilgamesh, how is the destruction and neglect of nature, specifically forests, animals, and wildlife, portrayed?

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In Gilgamaesh, nature is viewed as uncivilized. It is guarded by Humbaba, the one who guards the forest. For man to become civilized, nature must be tamed. Nature in itself is as wild as the animals that live in it. Gilgamesh and Enkidu attempt to tame the forest by killing Humbaba.

Mankind must tame nature in order to make a civilized kingdom. Trees must be cut down to make houses to protect man from the wilderness. Ironically, nature is a part of man and man is a part of nature. There is no life without nature. Even the bread and wine that civilized men drink and eat must be made from nature.

In trying to tame nature, mankind must destroy its perfect form. In the end, mankind must protect nature from which men receive their life substance.

Nature must be utilized but also must be replenished in order for man to survive.

Enkidu is first a wild man, a part of the natural forest. When he becomes civilized, he loses his conncection with nature. Ultimately, he dies in his civilized condition. Woud he still be alive in the rawness of nature?

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