Moral Issues in the Epic of Gilgamesh

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The Epic of Gilgamesh starts off introducing Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, who was two-thirds god and one-third man. He and his new friend Enkidu go on to a journey together to find the Spring of Youth and has encounters with monsters and gods. The Epic of Gilgamesh also includes details about the biblical story of Noah.

I highly disliked how Gilgamesh started as a ruthless character who rapes women no matter who’s daughter or wife it was. “No son is left with his father, for Gilgamesh takes them all, even the children…His lust leaves no virgin to her lover, neither the warrior’s daughter nor the wife of the noble.” He forced his people into hard labor to make magnificent buildings and they ended up complaining to the gods about the awful treatment they were experiencing. To keep him in check, Enkidu was created, who was almost the same as him, yet had better morals.I was surprised to learn the Utnapishtim witnessed the destruction of the earth and that he was immortal. I felt bad for this character because he had a lot of survivors guilt since he saw a lot of men and women died, yet he could not die and watched it all happen.

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The reading made me realize how much I should cherish every moment of life I have with the people that mean the most to me. I think it made me feel closer to the ones I love the most, but I also did feel a sense of loneliness and scared what the afterlife will be like or if there is one.

Enkidu was a skilled warrior and a great friend of Gilgamesh’s. “He is the strongest in the world, he is like an immortal from Heaven.” He lived with the animals until he started having intercourse with human women because they thought he was becoming more like a human, so they rejected him. Enkidu is Gilgamesh’s faithful sidekick and they go on many adventures together. When Enkidu falls ill as a punishment from the gods for killing the Bull of Heaven, Gilgamesh’s heartbreaks and ends up losing his friend.

I was confused about why the gods decided to kill Enkidu because they at first sent him to the human world to keep Gilgamesh in check to stop hurting the people of Uruk. At the beginning of the book, Gilgamesh is written as an awful king who rapes his people’s wives and daughters while Enkidu is described as a man with better morals and doesn’t take advantage of women or putting people through hard labor. Anyways, I didn’t see any reason for the gods to kill Enkidu since he was supposed to help Gilgamesh become a better person. When Enkidu dies though Gilgamesh is very heartbroken and “he began to rage like a lion, like a lioness robbed of her whelps.”.


  1. Sandars, N. K.(1996. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Penguin.

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