What can I do to win eternal life? Wherever I go - even here - I am drawn back to death.
I always thought Gilgamesh was the monster that was slain in h...moreWhat can I do to win eternal life? Wherever I go - even here - I am drawn back to death.
I always thought Gilgamesh was the monster that was slain in his eponymous epic poem; likewise, Beowulf. Both protagonists have monsterish, evil-ish sounding names. So what I expected to discover in Gilgamesh was an action-packed hero story akin to Beowulf, but I was pleasantly surprised to find much more depth here. This epic poem is a treatise on suffering, friendship, mortality, loss, and redemption. And rather than Beowulf, it has the flavor of the Bible, Homer, and Hans Christian Andersen's folk tales.
The story of Gilgamesh focuses on the characters of Gilgamesh the oppressive king of Uruk and Enkidu the feral man-beast, between whom the greatest bromance ever known is struck. Together they slay a couple monsters and heavenly beasts, but for their impudence Enkidu is sentenced to death by the gods. Gilgamesh then wanders the earth in search of relief from his intense loss, which is where the story gets good. And not only is the story emotionally and philosophically interesting; being so old, it's got a lot of historical and religious significance in its parallels to the Bible. Could Gilgamesh's account of a primal flood be a precursor to Noah's flood? Is the serpent who tricks Gilgamesh out of something very important an analogue of Adam and Eve's serpent?
If you're scared off by the word "epic", don't be. It's not epic in the sense of Lord of the Rings or The Iliad, because it's very short. I read it in about an hour and a half. So instead of watching a crappy movie on Netflix tonight, take a while to read one of the oldest pieces of literature in the world. It's worth it.(less)