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Free «Introduction to Western Religion» Essay Sample

The Epic of Gilgamesh was developed over a period of approximately a thousand years. In fact, the poem is appreciably complex and is not understood completely even today. It was discovered amongst ruins of the royal library of the Assyrian empire that belonged to its last king in Nineveh. The epic was developed in three stages and has a written copy in narrative, but previously it had oral versions, hence, it is rich in relevant themes concerning human  life and nature, some of which are evident in the Enuma Elish text as well.

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First, there is the theme of deities wherein the gods are not supposed to exist in an organized explicit hierarchy, as opposed to the beliefs of Romans and Greeks, who subscribe to the thought that gods exist in a particular explicit hierarchy. This Epic (Gilgamesh) proposes that gods are an extensive tumultuous family without a generally appreciated patriarchal or matriarchal order to put them in control, or an alliance of partially independent chiefs.  There is an egotism of power amidst gods, which actually separates them, which is likened to a thin line drawn between antagonism and a cordial friendship. On the other hand, the Enuma Elish proposes a struggle between the elder and young gods, which turned hence into a hard-hitting struggle. Consequently, the majority of elder gods were awfully  annoyed and plotted to execute the young gods. However, some elder gods were against it and helped the young gods with the assistance to kill the proponent of their death, Apsu.  Thus, it was after this fight, which resulted in the creation of humans by gods for their continuity and pool of assistants, that the humans were dependent on gods for every aspect of their survival. In fact, epic of Gilgamesh’s approach pertaining to the issues of campaigning against Humbaba is a contentious one and results in underlining the significance of fame, hence, the mixed outcomes arise when adventure is taken for a personal interest. Humbaba who meant no harm to Uruk died, although his death bore no  fruit. “Humbaba’s mouth is fire; his roar the floodwater his breath is death ;” (pg. tablet II). In fact, it is clear how relations of humans with gods can be extremely risky on the example of Gilgamesh encounter with Ishtar. Although he has liberty to reject her invitations with auspicious reason, he gets it wrong and faces severe consequences for his shortcoming . Thus, gods were to be regarded with respect and accorded a great deal of attention by ensuring their needs were met. The quote above reflects on how Gilgamesh oversteps his own life and becomes subject to the god’s wrath.

 
 
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The text does not infer the process of civilization directly. Nonetheless, there are indicative parallels between the description of creation of Gilgamesh and Enkidu and the  Holy Bible in Genesis chapters one to three. The supposed process of civilization Enkidu that reclaims it out of the wild into civic world, instigates a discussion of the connection of civilization to nature. In this context, Enkidu loses and gains by this process. Thus, the settled human beings are still in conflict with nature, since civilization is to be fully beneficial without foregoing anything beneficial “you were raised by creatures with tails, and by the animals of the wilderness, with all its breadth” (pg. tablet VIII). This quote underlines the conflict between the civilized and the wild.

Another theme evident in the Epic of Gilgamesh is that of dreams. Dreams are pretty intermittent in Gilgamesh and significantly so. They play the role of a communication tool between gods and mortals, hence, there is anticipation of events in a precise way. Thus, mortals are in preparedness for upcoming events and the subsequent outcomes. More so, it was exceptionally necessary in order to please the gods and circumvent offending them “Balm for the body? The food and drink of the gods?” (pg tablet VI). This quote expounds on human’s dependence on gods.

The relationship between gods and humans is strained and exaggerated and therefore, it is ill portrayed. The relationship is master slave in context and fails to reflect an order of beings, such as hierarchical arrangement as usual. Thus, the foundation of understanding the relation of human life and deities is explicitly examinable in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Enuma Elish.

   

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