Essay, Research Paper: Gilgamesh And Power

Literature: Gilgamesh

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The Epic of Gilgamesh still touches people profoundly even after many centuries
because it is about issues that are common to all people throughout history -
the anguish of death for all human beings. For example, Gilgamesh, the
protagonist of The Epic of Gilgamesh, and King Thanh Cat Dai Tu Han (the famous
King of China in early 400 B.C.) had tried many ways to find a solution for
having everlasting lives; however, the fact was that they were human and would
die. This is the absolute difference between gods and humans: gods live forever
and humans must die. Consequently, immortality was the solution that both
Gilgamesh and Thanh Cat Dai Tu Han sought in order to overcome their fear of
death. Gilgamesh, "Two third they made him god and one third man." (Gilgamesh
13), was the mythical king of Uruk in Babylonia, on the River Euphrates in
modern Iraq. He was the greatest king on earth and the strongest man that ever
lived. As a young man, Gilgamesh had no compassion for the people of Uruk. He
was their king, but not their shepherd; he killed their sons and raped their
daughters. But when he met Enkidu, he learned many things: how to love, to have
compassion, and to understand the meaning of mortality. He and Enkidu journeyed
into the forest to confront the terrible Humbaba because Gilgamesh wanted to set
up his name where the names of famous people were written (Gilgamesh 18). When
Gilgamesh refused to marry Ishtar, she was furious. She decided to seek revenge
by sending the Bull of Heaven to kill Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh and Enkidu succeeded
in killing the Bull of Heaven, but Enkidu later died as a result. With the death
of his best friend, Gilgamesh was distraught with grief and denial. He despaired
the loss of Enkidu but also his own death, which he knew could come some day.
Seeking to avoid death, he strived to learn the secret of everlasting life. He
came upon the entrance to the land of gods, another world, which would show him
the secret to avoiding death. Upon failing the challenges necessary to become
immortal, he finally accepted that he was human, and he would have to die as
normal people. Gilgamesh's belief in immortality did not exist in human beings.
Similarly, Thanh Cat Dai Tu Han, was known as the most brilliant ruler of Mong
Co (now known as Nepal). He had helped Mong Co to become the most powerful
empire in early 400 B.C. He was successful in conquering many countries, such as
Tao (China), Cham (Thai Lan), and Giao (Kampodia). Unlike Gilgamesh, Thanh Cat
Dai Tu Han was generous to his people, encouraged them to go to school, and
devoted his energies to strengthening his empire. But as he grew older, his
personality changed. He became villainous because of his jealousy towards
younger people. He wanted to live forever, so he asked his servers to seek a way
in which to help him to remain young forever. Unfortunately, his people failed
his order, and Thanh Cat Tu Han killed all of them, and even their relatives.
The more people he killed, the more afraid he became of dying. He would do
anything to become immortal. He asked his people to build a mountain that would
touch the sky, so he could climb up to the heavens and ask the gods for a way to
avoid death. As punishment for his immoral behaviors, the gods made him fall
when he climbed the mountain. Thus, the search for immortality led to the
terrible death of Thanh Cat Dai Tu Han. Both Gilgamesh and Thanh Cat Dai Tu Han
were looking forward to finding the way to become immortal. But the fact
remains: "When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life
they retained their own keeping" (Gilgamesh 34). No matter how hard both of
them tried, they were human and still faced dead. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, I
really enjoyed the main character, Gilgamesh, and his fear of death served as a
good example for "There is no permanence. Do we build a house to stand for
ever, do we seal a contract to hold for all time? Do brothers divide an
inheritance to keep for ever, does the flood-time of rivers endure?" (Gilgamesh,
36) The lives of Gilgamesh and Thanh Cat Dai Tu Han would not be last forever,
so seeking immortality was just the dream of the two kings.
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