In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh has to travel many journeys and face many hardships. As the story progresses, it is found that the major goal of his life is to obtain immortality. Gilgamesh was created two-thirds God and one-third man, with a perfect body and great courage. After facing his hardships and returning to the city of Uruk, he placed his story upon tablets for all to know. Gilgamesh, who is the King of the city of Uruk, was wise to the fact that the Gods created man and that mankind would eventually expire.
Gilgamesh is quoted in saying “only the Gods live forever with the glorious Shamash, but as for men, our days are numbered, our occupations are a breath of wind. “(p. 71) In this time period, kings were noted as Gilgamesh was the ultimate man. There was none could match his strength or courage until Endiku was created. Endiku, who was the brother of Gilgamesh, was raised in the wild and came upon Gilgamesh in Uruk. They became great friends and cared for each other deeply. This also notes the man part of Gilgamesh, as Gods usually carry no feeling.
Gilgamesh and Enkidu conquered many battles together. Gilgamesh makes great reference to these conquests when he says “My friend, my younger brother who seized and killed the Bull of Heaven, and overthrew Humbaba in the cedar forest, my friend who was very dear to me, and who endured dangers beside me”. (p. 101) After the death of Enkidu, Gilgamesh begins to fear his fate of dying and journeys to find everlasting life. As Gilgamesh will soon find out, man cannot have everlasting life. The Gods decided to create mankind, but mankind allowed the clamour of their existence to enable the Gods to sleep.
The God Enlil then went to the council of the Gods and said “the uproar of mankind is intolerable and sleep is no longer possible by reason of the babel. “(p. 108) This is when the Gods decided that the Gods would control mankind’s destiny and the Gods would exterminate mankind. Only one man, Utnapishtim, lived through the great flood that would kill all men. This was accomplished because the God Ea came to him in a dream and told him he must “tear down your house and build a boat, abandon possessions and look for life, despise worldly goods and save your soul alive.
Tear down your house, I say and build a boat… then take up into the boat the seed of all living creatures. “(p. 108) By listening to what the God said to do, he became the only creature known as man to have ever-lasting life. Ever-lasting life was something that only the Gods could control. It would be the final decisions of the Gods in, which decided the future of how long man lived. Although Gilgamesh wanted ever-lasting life, it was something that the Gods would not grant.
Enlil said to Gilgamesh “you were given the Kingship, such was your destiny, everlasting life was not your destiny”. . 118) The relationship between the Gods and man was one of great respect and fear. People believed that the Gods who created you would be the same Gods that entailed your destiny, people had no control over life or death, as this was the duty of the Gods. The Gods lived forever, they were most wise, but created humans that favored different characteristics of each God that helped create them. In this period of time, the Gods controlled all that was and the people gave thanks by giving to the Gods. The people in this time also held great respect for their Kings.
The Kings were a godsend that protected the people and the environment in which they lived. The King was there to fight for the land and protect its subjects. People held the highest respect for the King, which in introduced when Gilgamesh’s life has come to an end. “The people of the city, great and small, are not silent; they lift up the lament, all men of flesh and blood lift up the lament. Fate has spoken… “(p. 119) This shows that the King was a “god-like” human, but not a God as they knew Gods to be. Gilgamesh was respected by all in Uruk and was held highly in memory.
In those days the lord Gilgamesh departed, the son of Ninsun, the King, peerless, without an equal among men, who did not neglect Enlil his master. O Gilgamesh, lord of Kullab, great is thy praise. “(p. 119) During this time, the man who proves himself worthy of the respect will obtain the respect. Never did the people forget of the Gods, but never did the people forget how Gilgamesh was alike to them. The difference between the two was the blood of man and the immortality of the Gods. Gilgamesh was a great warrior and leader, but because he could never obtain immortality he was never referred to as a God.