When the epic opens, Gilgamesh is an arrogant and strong man. He focuses on his strength and lets no one speak against him.
In Tablet 1, Gilgamesh is strutting around very proud of himself.
He walks around in the enclosure of Uruk,
Like a wild bull he makes himself mighty, head raised (over others).
There is no rival who can raise his weapon against him. (Tablet 1)
He is described as “bold, eminent, knowing, and wise!” (Tab 1), but this seems to be more his perception of himself than others’ perception of him, because the people of Uruk ask the gods to intervene.
Perhaps Gligamesh was just lonely, because the gods seem to have an answer. They decide to make him a friend who can be his equal.
"it was you, Aruru, who created mankind(?),
now create a zikru to it/him.
Let him be equal to his (Gilgamesh's) stormy heart,
let them be a match for each other so that Uruk may find peace!" (Tablet 1)
This is how Erikdu is created, and he learns that Glgamesh is “wise to perfection” but decides to challenge him. They do fight, but Gilgamesh is thrilled to have an equal and they become great friends.
Gilgamesh’s arrogant and unchecked power seems to have created a moral void that Erikdu was able to fill. Erikdu’s presence as a friend and someone who could check Gilgamesh made him very valuable. Gilgamesh is able to adventure with his new friend and learn to be a better ruler.
Essay/Term paper: The epic of gilgamesh
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The Epic of Gilgamesh
Billy R. Nordyke
The main character in the book The Epic of Gilgamesh, is Gilgamesh
himself. In the beginning of the book one realizes that Gilgamesh is an
arrogant person. Gilgamesh is full of himself and abuses his rights as king.
He has sexual intercourse with the virgins of his town and acts as though he is
a god. Although some readers of this classic book may say that Gilgamesh does
not change from the beginning of the book, it can easily be interpreted the
other way. Throughout the book, many things cause Gilgamesh to change. He
gains a friend, he makes a name for himself by killing Humbaba, and he tries to
become immortal because of the death of Enkidu. Through these main actions his
personality changes and he becomes a better person.
First, the quest for immortality after the death of Enkidu shows that
Gilgamesh has changed. Gilgamesh becomes frightened when he realizes that he
isn't immortal. After the death of Enkidu, Gilgamesh tries to find immortality
by trying to cross the ocean to find it. He sounds pathetic as he rambles of
his reason for trying to find everlasting life. His state of being at this part
in the book, which is the end, is completely different from his arrogant
beginning of this epic. Gilgamesh has gone from arrogant to scared.
Second, the death of Humbaba changes Gilgamesh. Humbaba is evil. Many
people who live in the city of Uruk fear Gilgamesh. Most would say that
Gilgamesh himself is, in fact, evil. He has sex with the virgins, he does what
he wants, and he tends to offend the gods. He has lots of problems with Ishtar.
By going into the forest and facing Humbaba, Gilgamesh makes a name for himself
and changes the views of the people in his city. This is a very arguable point.
Yes, the past of Gilgamesh does not change, but the great deed of killing
Humbaba, makes him a better person because he protects his city. This is
another arguable point. Most would say he does this only to make a name for
himself, but that is not the case. Gilgamesh does this because of his love for
Enkidu and his people, he has changed from the beginning of the epic.
Finally and most importantly, the main reason that Gilgamesh changes
from the beginning of the book is the friendship that he has with Enkidu.
Enkidu is made to make Gilgamesh more human. In the first paragraph of the book
the gods are angry with Gilgamesh and send down an equal of himself, they send
down Enkidu. After becoming friends, Gilgamesh changes because he has an equal
to be with. Enkidu and Gilgamesh become as close as brothers. Because of this,
a very arguable point comes up. Was Enkidu and Gilgamesh lovers? The answer is
obviously yes. What points in the book show this? They go to sleep holding
hands, Gilgamesh loves Enkidu like a women, and Gilgamesh goes almost insane
after the death of Enkidu. The point of Enkidu being a lover of Gilgamesh is
very important. It allows the reader to understand the reasoning of Gilgamesh
changing. There are no changes in Gilgamesh as a person until Enkidu enters the
picture. Obviously he is the reason for all eventual changes in the personality
and manhood of Gilgamesh. If the belief and understanding of Gilgamesh and
Enkidu being much more than "good" friends is present, then the understanding of
why Gilgamesh changes in the book is also present. If Gilgamesh is just
friends with Enkidu some change is possible, but not almost total recall as
Gilgamesh does in the book. People change more if there is sex involved and
there is a deep relationship. In order to make Enkidu happy, Gilgamesh has to
change, and he does, throughout thier relationship.
In reflection, although some people would say that Gilgamesh does not
change from the beginning of the book The Epic of Gilgamesh, the better
understanding of the book reveals that, in fact, Gilgamesh does change from the
beginning of the book to the end. The personality of Gilgamesh changes for
three distinct reasons. First, Gilgamesh changes in the book because of his
insatiable desire for immortality after the death of Enkidu. Gilgamesh wants
immortality after the death of Enkidu. Second, Gilgamesh changes in the book
because of the death of Humbaba. The death of Humbaba show
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