The Epic of Gilgamesh on Immortality and Its Ramifications Essay examples

1120 Words Dec 30th, 2006 5 Pages
As long as humans have lived and died, we have strived to know the meaning of life. We assume that there is a meaning or importance to life, and in doing so try to provide some permanence to our existence so that a greater machine might continue to function. It is only natural, then, for us to be interested in the concept of immortality. If there is purpose to an ending life, a life that does not end must be supremely important. This idea is exemplified throughout time in stories both historical and fictional. The Epic of Gilgamesh is one such story. Gilgamesh deals with immortality on nearly every level, and at the same time points back to mortality, trying to extract a reason for living and dying. Ostensively, The Epic of Gilgamesh …show more content…
This process we can imagine continuing forever, thereby demonstrating a form of immortality. In a different way, we can see a cycling immortality in the way the story is told. Gilgamesh concludes with the phrase, "Of him who found out all thingsĀ…," which is exactly how the story begins (Gilgamesh 50, 125). Even here we are shown that although things may begin again, an end to them is inevitable.
The most realistic interpretation of immortality in Gilgamesh is to live forever in the minds of others. The story itself, having been recorded and retold, keeps Gilgamesh alive for us. At the end of the story, when Gilgamesh gets the plant that makes the old young again, he says that he will feed it to an elder of Uruk (Gilgamesh 119). Rather than simply increasing his longevity by eating the plant himself, this insures Gilgamesh's immortality by passing on faithfully his legend to further generations through the rejuvenated elders. Also, we are told at the beginning by the narrator that Gilgamesh built an incredible wall around Uruk (Gilgamesh 50). Undoubtedly, even the ruins of such a wall would remind people of Gilgamesh's greatness, and carry Gilgamesh's life on as long as life exists. In the end, Gilgamesh is not able to do what Ut-napishtim says will keep his body alive forever (Gilgamesh 116), but it seems Gilgamesh did become immortal. In examining The Epic of Gilgamesh, it appears that life

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