Death In The Epic Of Gilgamesh

1471 Words 6 Pages
Since the ancient days up until the present day, writing has taken place. Writing was and is a way for people to express certain emotions and give others the opportunity to live moments that have occurred. Writing also serves as a record. Without it, many issues and ways of living of past cultures would not be as apparent as they are today. Two major pieces of writing that serve as great tools to examine and reflect upon two particular cultures are The Epic of Gilgamesh and the book of Exodus. The Epic of Gilgamesh reveals aspects of the political and social organization and about the view of death of the Mesopotamian culture while in Hebrew culture these aspects of organization and death are seen in the book of Exodus.
The Epic of Gilgamesh
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The view of death has always been a topic of discussion between different cultures. Shown in The Epic of Gilgamesh, gods are immortal and are the only ones with the ability to give immortality to others, “Oh father Utnapishtim, you who have entered the assembly of the gods [...] how shall I find the life for which I am searching?” (Sources, 6). The immortality that a person or god possesses within the epic correlates with respect and power. Since the gods are immortal other people within the epic tend to want to be immortal. An example of this is when Enkidu dies. When this happens, Gilgamesh notices that people do die and that he may soon also die. As a result, Gilgamesh sets out on a mission to find Utnapishtim who was granted eternal life. Gilgamesh hopes that Utnapishtim will tell him how he too can avoid death. During his journey, he discovers that he cannot achieve immortality (The Epic of Gilgamesh 88). With these aspects of immortality shown in the epic, it can be interpreted into meaning that in Mesopotamian culture, people did not believe in immortality and the afterlife was not an issue of certainty. It can also be said that in Mesopotamian culture the view of death was that it occurred because the gods were the ones with the power and respect and they decided when death would occur and they were the ones that created the people like Enkidu was created and killed by their choice. The gods that the Sumerian people believed in did not believe that there were consequences or praises for humans when they died, they were just dead. Since the Sumerian people knew that the gods believed this, then they too believed this so it can be said that their view of death was that there was no afterlife. In contrast, Hebrew society had a

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