What My Brother

Gilgamesh, one of the oldest recorded stories in the world, is about an ancient king of Uruk, an ancient Sumerian city. Blessed by the gods with beauty and courage, he was two-thirds god and one-third human. The Epic of Gilgamesh tells a heroic story of a legendary king who, after his best friend’s death, realizes his mortality and sets off on a spiritual quest for the secret to becoming immortal.

The second part of the poem, the quest for the secret of life everlasting, begins with Gilgamesh bitterly weeping for his friend, “How can I rest, how can I be at peace? Despair is in my heart. What my brother is now, that shall I be when I am dead. Because I am afraid of death I will go as best I can to find Utnapishtim whom they call the Faraway, for he has entered the assembly of the gods” (20).And so, he sets off in search for Utnapishtim, a man who, like Noah from the bible, was saved from the flood, one who was supposed to know the secret to give everlasting life. Traveling the wilderness, he crossed grasslands until he arrived at a mountain named Mashu. There he meets scorpion guards telling them the reason for his journey so they might let him pass into the mountain. “I have traveled here in search of Utnapishtim… I have a desire to question him concerning the living and the dead” (60). When they permit him to pass, he did so and traveled the twelve leagues of darkness to emerge in the garden of the gods.

When Gilgamesh meets Siduri, I believe the words coated in wisdom that she trying to tell Gilgamesh was for him to enjoy every moment of his life he had. Gilgamesh, blinded by his grief however, refuses to accept these timeless words and pushes on, crossing the Ocean of Death to finally reach Dilmun, the place of Utnapishtim. Meeting with Utnapishtim, Gilgamesh is taught that death is unavoidable, and everyone is equal in it. This line reminded me of a verse from the bible saying, it will be like a thief in the night, no one knows the time or day of their own death. Utnapishtim spares no realities as he continues to tell Gilgamesh that life is short and goes by quick, nothing lasts forever. Despite telling him all this Utnapishtim still decides to guide Gilgamesh to the plant that restores lost youth. “Gilgamesh plucks the plant from the bottom of the lake; but on his journey back to Uruk, he bathes in a pool, leaving the plant beside the pool. A snake slithers along, filches the plant and sheds its own skin in exchange, ‘throwing off the past and continuing to live’” (Keenan).

The Epic of Gilgamesh reminded me of ‘The Iliad’. In both stories the main character suffers the loss of a close friend and either want to explore death or become immortal. In the end they both learn that death is sadly inevitable and is a consistent part of life, and accept it. It also had a funny reminder of the story of Adam and Eve from the book of ‘Genesis’. Adam and Eve both wanted what they couldn’t have, just like Gilgamesh.Also, there was a snake that messed it up for both main characters.