Serpents In The Epic Of Gilgamesh

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Serpents in literature often have a negative connotation attached to them. In both “The Epic of Gilgamesh” and The Old Testament’s tale of Adam and Eve, the character of the serpent plays a large role. It can be argued that the serpent in “The Epic of Gilgamesh” played both a positive and negative role, whereas the serpent in The Old Testament was primarily an antagonistic character. By looking at the general symbolism of serpents in literature, it is easy to uncover the important yet slightly differing roles that this creature played in both tales. The serpent can be viewed as a creature of wisdom as well as the instigator of chaos and evil in both tales. Serpents typically have a negative connotation in literature (Joines 1). They are seen …show more content…
This perspective of the serpent can be applied to both texts. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, the snake is able to sniff out plant, whereas Gilgamesh had to learn about it; he did not come across it on his own (87; vol. 1). This shows how the snake was wiser than Gilgamesh in the sense that it did not need direction in finding the plant, it simply knew where it was located by using its senses. Similarly, the serpent in the tale of Adam and Eve had knowledge about forbidden tree that Adam and Eve did not have (Gen. 3. 1-7). It was the snake who used this knowledge to convince Adam and Eve to eat from the tree. There is a clear distinction between the levels of knowledge of the humans compared to the snakes in both texts. Joines argues that even though one of Gilgamesh’s main traits is wisdom, even he was not as wise as the serpent since he was unable to keep the plant of immortality safe for himself (6). Therefore, he too is subject to the concept of death. Likewise, the humans in The Old Testament were considered wiser than the animals since they had been named, however the serpent in the story still was able to use deception and trick them (Joines …show more content…
Firstly, this serpent took away the magical plant that Gilgamesh had went and retrieved. It took away the thing that Gilgamesh wanted most: immortality. However, by doing so, the serpent made Gilgamesh come to terms with the fact that he will never be immortal ( notes). In doing so, the serpent indirectly influenced how Gilgamesh would continue to live his life. With this perspective, the serpent can be viewed has having a positive role on the outcome of the story by changing how Gilgamesh viewed the

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