Kingship In The Epic Of Gilgamesh

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The Epic of Gilgamesh serves as the oldest surviving piece of literature in existence and weaves a narrative of a tyrannical king who gradually changes into an upstanding and benevolent ruler of the ancient city-state of Uruk. This work is more than a poem surrounding Gilgamesh: it incorporates extensive themes such as longing for immortality, the clash between nature and nurture, and one man’s path to enlightenment. Through Gilgamesh’s pursuit of harmony among the multiple faces of his being: a ruler, a mortal man, and two-thirds deity, this epic reveals the changing perspective of kingship. To begin with the character the epic is crafted around, Gilgamesh is the king of the ancient city-state of Uruk. Gilgamesh’s journey transforms his manner …show more content…
In the scene in which Shamhat takes Enkidu to the shepherds’ camp to be taught how to drink and eat, Enkidu reveals his protective instincts. Enkidu has the natural instinct to protect the shepherd’s sheep from the wolves as we see in the text, “[When at night the shepherds lay sleeping,] [he struck] down wolves he [chased off lions]” (Tablet II, 59-60). This plays into a characteristic of the ideal elements of kingship of a leader who does everything in their power to keep the security of their people. As the poem opens, Gilgamesh does not demonstrate possession of this trait, and although his great feats include building a wall to secure the city-state of Uruk, many of his people were killed due to the harsh labor this achievement called for. We can ascertain that this epic serves to explain that one of the important elements of kingship includes the protective instinct that a shepherd has over his flock. Later in the epic, as Gilgamesh transforms into a king that possesses all important qualities of kingship, he is protective and holds the best interest of his people in high

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