The next battle was Enkido and Gilgameshs battle with Humbaba. In this battle what I thought was interesting was how it tells that Humbaba begged Gilgamesh for his life and Enkidu just kept telling him to kill him anyway. Then Humbaba starts begging Enkidu to have Gilgamesh spare his life. But that was a no go, Enkidu pretty much told Gilgamesh to hurry up so the gods wouldnt show up and stop him. He also told Gilgamesh that if he killed Humbaba he would be infamous.
Then the battle with the Bull of Heaven was next. This battle happened because Gilgamesh insulted the princess goddess Ishtar after she had made sexual advances toward him. He reminded her of two other mortal lovers she had had and the fate they recieved for loving her. The part I liked about this battle was at the end how Enkidu tore off the back leg of the bull and threw it at Ishtar and pretty much told her if he could hed kill her too.
In tablet 7 is where the story takes the twist from battles to Gilgameshs struggle with his own mortality. What starts that is Enkidu starts having nightmares, so he goes to elders or priests and finds out that he is being punished for killing Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven. Enkidu suffers for twelve days then finally dies. This makes Gilgamesh realize that his own death is inevitible. The next tablet seems to be all about Gilgamesh mourning his lost friend and building a monument in his honor.
The rest of the poem is about how Gilgamesh deals with the reality of death, or rather how he doesnt deal. Tells of how he didnt bathe, shave, or take care of himself in anyway. Gilgamesh then decides that he cant live unless he can have eternal life, so he journeys to a man named Utnapishtim (and for obvious reasons Im gonna call him Ut for the rest of my paper) who he believes can grant him eternal life.
After his long journey he finally reaches Ut and Ut explains to him how he became immortal. The story that Gilgamesh is told is a lot like the Christian story of Noah. At the end of the story Ut offers Gilgamesh a chance at immortality. The stipulation is that Gilgamesh must stay awake for 6 days and 7 nights.
The instant Gilgamesh sits down he falls asleep, worn out from his long journey. Since he broke the terms Ut refused to give him immortality. But Uts wife convinces him to give Gilgamesh another chance. So Ut tells Gilgamesh of a plant that grows at the bottom of the ocean that if eatten would give him immortality. Gilgamesh doesnt trust Ut so he plans on bringing the plant home and testing it on an old man. But in the middle of the night while he was sleeping a snake ate his plant so poor Gilgamesh never had the chance to become immortal.
Okay, my take on the man Gilgamesh is that he was pretty much a moron, in a sense. Everything that went wrong in his life he created. There were so many situations if he had done one thing different the whole outcome of the story would have changed. The fact that Gilgamesh was a strong, god fearing man was brought to your attention more than once in this story. The story showed how important the gods were in everything the Mesopatamians did. Also, I liked how it told of the gods pretty much feeling bad for flooding the earth and trying to wipe out humanity. Makes it easier to understand the Mesopatamians belief that their gods where so human-like and that even gods make mistakes.
I think the reason this story has been kept alive for so long is because Gilgamesh is like everyone always going through something not always making the right decisions and paying for it in the end. The story is old as time but ageless.