Morality In The Ancient Mesopotamian Saga Of Term Paper

Length: 4 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Literature Type: Term Paper Paper: #5196410 Related Topics: Morality, Epic Of Gilgamesh, Drink, Adventure
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Morality in the Ancient Mesopotamian Saga of Gilgamesh as Translated by David Ferry)

"Who is the mortal that can live forever? The Life of man is short. Only the gods can live forever. Therefore put on new clothes, a clean robe and a cloak tied with a sash, and wash the filth of the Journey from your body. Eat and Drink your fill of the food and drink, men, eat and drink. Let there be pleasure and dancing."

Everyone dies. Everyone is mortal. These are not profound and new philosophical revelations. This truth about human understanding as well as human biology is evidenced by the existence of the above quotation from the ancient, heroic saga of "Gilgamesh." Life is short, thus enjoy the bodily pleasures, it suggests. Yet despite this fact regarding the transience of human existence, human beings must still face the world and deal with its finitude, emotionally and intellectually. The saga of "Gilgamesh," as seen in this above quotation, continually contrasts the mundane and the transcendent, to illustrate this fact. Continually, the hash or mundane reality of the world, and the eternal dream-like existence of the heavens are paired against one another.

Thus, even in the introduction to this poetic interpretation of the epic, as translated by the poet David Ferry, the "brick work" and "fortifications" of the mortal, military world are paired with the knowledge that there were "secret things" and a pacific beauty that existed before human time, before "the flood." (3) The central protagonist of the poem, the leader Gilgamesh begins his struggle as "the perfect" and "the terror" and "two thirds a god, one third a man," (4) but this characterization of Gilgamesh as "perfect," is somewhat ironic as soon the events of his life chastises him and brings him, both down to earth in terms of his own self-perceptions, and also up to the world of the divine as he seeks dreams to understand the fate he and his dearest friend have been dealt.

At the beginning of the epic, "there is no withstanding the power of the Wild Ox," who is both...


(5) At first, nothing seems greater than Gilgamesh. He thinks he fears nothing. "You know what danger is. Where is your courage? If I should fall, my fame will be secure." (17) He mythologizes himself in his own imagination and verbosity. "] It was Gilgamesh who fought against Huwawa!' It is Gilgamesh who will venture into the Forest and cut the Cedar down and win!" (17)

However, when his friend the wild man dies, Gilgamesh realizes that he cannot cheat or ignore death -- or argue with it. "Must I now go to sit among the dead, in the company of the dead without my brother?" importunes Enkidu. "Gilgamesh said: 'must I now sit outside the door of the house of the dead while Enkidu sits in the house of the dead?'"(38) When Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh's originally powerful desires for victory, women, and the blood and heat of battle mean nothing, and gods are cruel and deaf to pleas for mercy, to spare Enkidu, these pleas are "futile. What Enlil has ordained cannot be changed. This is the truth told in the frightening dream. Gilgamesh the brother will pray to the gods, beseeching the high gods to spare the companion," but these prayers will be for naught (39)

Thus, the quote celebrating merriment at the heading of this paper, suggests a kind of Falstaffian response to the woes of the world -- that in the face of the world's blows to one's friends and the unavoidable shortness of human existence, people must eat and drink and make merry. Still, the central protagonist of the poem must go on a physical journey of suffering, to give resonance to this truth, that life is full of both joys and sorrow of the body and mind, of wine and food and death and sorrow at the death of one's companions.

After being confronted with death, Gilgamesh realizes the fragility of his own life and legacy, as well as human joy. Gilgamesh begins the tale unaware of mortality and suffering, except perhaps on an intellectual level. But then, "Gilgamesh wandered in the wilderness grieving over the death of Enkidu and weeping saying:…

Sources Used in Documents:

Work Cited

Ferry, David. Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993)

Cite this Document:

"Morality In The Ancient Mesopotamian Saga Of" (2004, September 29) Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

"Morality In The Ancient Mesopotamian Saga Of" 29 September 2004. Web.21 September. 2021. <>

"Morality In The Ancient Mesopotamian Saga Of", 29 September 2004, Accessed.21 September. 2021,

Purpose of

The documents we provide are to be used as a sample, template, outline, guideline in helping you write your own paper, not to be used for academic credit. All users must abide by our "Student Honor Code" or you will be restricted access to our website.

Related Documents
Civilization Egypt and Mesopotamia Define
Words: 684 Length: 2 Pages Topic: History - Israel Paper #: 2530400

In Mesopotamia, the gods were actively involved in the doings of this world, but not in a way that was just or equitable -- the gods had no special moral attributes, merely greater power than humans. The lack of harmony in the natural world of Mesopotamia was also reflected in the disparate nature of Mesopotamian government, which was full of small city-states, with no cohesive national ruler. Egypt's pharaohs reigned

Heroism in Literature the Word
Words: 2114 Length: 7 Pages Topic: Literature Paper #: 67576708

The Tale of the Heike The Tale of the Heike focuses on heroic qualities as depicted by the Japanese culture of the 12th and 13th centuries. It is deeply ingrained in the Buddhist tradition, with its central morality focusing on the foolishness of an attachment to material things. Pride and arrogance are undesirable qualities that inevitably lead to a fall. These qualities are embodied in the anti-hero, the arrogant Taira no