The Circle of Gilgamesh

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The Circle of Gilgamesh
The Epic of Gilgamesh begins and ends in a similar fashion, proclaiming Gilgamesh’s pride in his city, Uruk. Through most of the epic, Gilgamesh is not satisfied with his position in life and longs to attain the stature of the gods. Ending his quest in disappointment, Gilgamesh recognizes his ultimate life responsibility, to be the best king he can to his people, as part of his role in humanity, and return to where he started with a new appreciation.

Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, writes The Epic of Gilgamesh as a story of his past, explaining his journey through life. Starting and ending with a description of the city of Uruk in two parallel stanzas, “Survey its foundations, examine the brickwork…half a square mile the temple of Ishtar: and a half is Uruk”s expanse.” Gilgamesh regains his reason for being king, to be a good ruler to his people and his city. His story commemorates his passage from hardships to enlightenment (Tablet I, 120-125).

In the beginning of the epic, Gilgamesh is a tyrannical ruler of Uruk, letting no son free to his father, nor daughter to her mother, overstepping his rightful boundaries, interfering with his citizens private lives (Tablet I, 60-75). He is satisfied with his position as ruler and demonstrates many of his unwarranted powers, like sacrificing warriors whenever he feels and raping wives before they are free to their husbands. Gilgamesh embarks on two journeys and slays monsters in order to draw the attention to himself, although mostly negative attention comes of it. Gilgamesh suggests challenging Humbaba, the protector of the cedar forest, in order to show off his and Enkidus power. They also take on the Bull of Heaven sent down because of Ishtar’s wish, to kill Gilgamesh after his rejection to marry her when she proposes because of his provoking beauty. The defeat of the Bull excites Gilgamesh by making him believe that if he is strong enough to fight the gods’ protectors, he is strong enough to...