True love and immortality in life would be a dream come true to many people. To spend time with a special someone; the person one feels closest to; the so-called soul mate and to never have that high feeling of emotion end mentally and physically would greatly appeal to most people. But when death steps into the picture, even with all the pain and devastation, one starts to re-evaluate themselves and realizes the important things in life and puts it all into perspective.
In The Epic of Gilgamesh, the main character, Gilgamesh, is a powerful, arrogant king and part god. Enkidu, Gilgamesh’s partner, is animal-like but later takes on more humanistic traits such as his contemplation’s of death. The friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu is a very powerful, loving friendship. Enkidu is Gilgamesh’s soul mate, not only acting as his friend but as a lover too. Enkidu’s presence in Gilgamesh’s life allows Gilgamesh to see what is truly good in life and to accept his mortality much easier.
Gilgamesh thinks he has everything that he wants in life until the gods send down his true love, Enkidu. Before meeting Enkidu, Gilgamesh was having fun ruling his city in a very arrogant manner. For example, “Gilgamesh was a tyrant to his people” (15). He would push his people half to death working on building city walls and fortresses. He would go “into the marketplace to the family house to sleep with the virgins” (17). When Gilgamesh had the dream about a falling star he was dreaming about Enkidu coming into his life, forever changing it.
When they finally met, after their initial dispute, they looked into each others eyes and saw themselves in each other. “In the silence of people they began to laugh and clutched each other in their breathless exaltation” (24). From there is when Gilgamesh knew what true love and happiness was, which would later allow him to contemplate death. With having Enkidu in his life, Gilgamesh realizes the importance of caring for others. For this Gilgamesh wanted to change his cities perception of him. He did not want to be looked at as an evil king.
He wanted to be someone who would go down in history, never dying. So to make his city happy and to show good fortune he went forth to kill Humbaba, an evil guardian of the forest. “And then he raised his ax up higher and swung it in a perfect arc into Humbaba’s neck” (40), ultimately killing Humbaba. During this journey and small battle Enkidu had been wounded. Enkidu eventually dies from his wounds and Gilgamesh nearly goes insane from losing his best friend and lover. Gilgamesh then acknowledges death and despises it.
Although at first Gilgamesh is distraught, depressed, and very desperate to go find eternal life he realizes that what he had with Enkidu was special and should enjoy the rest of his life, care for others and acknowledge death as a part of life. When Gilgamesh is in his panic stage going to look for the eternal life he thinks irrationally. He is thinking of only himself and acting greedy as he did before his time spent with Enkidu. Enkidu made him realize his own flaws and Gilgamesh wants to change.
After obtaining the eternal life plant he left “the plant unguarded on the ground” (86) and a serpent “devoured the plant, shedding its skin as slough” (86). Gilgamesh weeps and goes back to his city wondering if his people will sympathize with the great loss of his one and only true love, Enkidu. But no one really cares. At this point Gilgamesh looks up at the city walls and “awed at the heights his people had achieved” (92), and for a second forgets about his sorrows. Gilgamesh realized right there how Enkidu made him a better person and how Enkidu will always forever be with him.
In conclusion, The Epic of Gilgamesh is a classic tale of a man lost in his ways and buried too deep in his arrogance that he is blind to see the good in life and true love allows him to rise out of that state of mind and live a better life. Enkidu allows Gilgamesh to realize his flaws and fix them, and to realize that death is as much of a part of life as love is. Their relationship allowed Gilgamesh to put his life in perspective and to change his actions for the better. The legacy of one that lives on in history books does not compare to the legacy that lives on in one’s heart.