of him who knew the most of all men know;.
who made the journey; heartbroken; reconciled;.
who knew the way things were before the Flood,.
the secret things, the mystery; who went.
to the end of the earth, and over, who returned;.
and wrote the story on a tablet of stone. (Gilgamesh 3).
Immediately we are introduced to an all knowing and heroic figure; Gilgamesh. "Two-thirds god, one-third a man, the king" Gilgamesh is truly a hero, and a symbol of life, more stunning, more spirited, and more terrorizing than any other (Gilgamesh 4). However, he may be strong and almighty like the gods, but he is not immortal. He must suffer through the death of others and ultimately face his own. So we are told an epic journey, over 4000 years old, embracing life, portraying destruction, and celebrating renewal. .
Life is portrayed in the story through the city of Uruk, which Gilgamesh built himself: "He built Uruk. He built the keeping place / of Anu and Ishtar. The outer wall / shines in the sun like brightest copper" (Gilgamesh 3). Within the walls, like within any living being, there are human traits and faults. The great city of Uruk tells the life story of Gilgamesh. The abusive king and his domination over his people create a "Shadow of Darkness" (Gilgamesh 4). Hearing the people's lament, the gods create Enkidu as a match for Gilgamesh, a second self "Create his double and let the two contend / Let stormy heart contend with stormy heart" (Gilgamesh 5). This creation of life is due to Gilgamesh's lack of many things, such as his lack of compassion for the people of Uruk. He is their king but he is not their shepherd: "Is this the shepherd of the people?" (Gilgamesh 4).
Enkidu's creation makes you wonder how he was given life. Created of "earth clay and divine spittle" and dropped into the wilderness, Enkidu is innocent of human corruption (Gilgamesh 5). He lives in joy with the beasts until a trapper sees that Enkidu is destroying the traps and helping the beasts escape.