The Epic of Gilgamesh

14937193_365589317116490_370575850215520873_nIn the Epic of Gilgamesh, despite clear division between them, Humanity, the Wild, and the Divine are inextricably linked in a synergetic relationship. Throughout the text, a significant emphasis is made on the differences between this triad. However the events of the story itself only prove their strong inter-connectivity.

In the text, Humbaba was a monster tasked to guard the home of the gods, incidentally a massive Cedar Forest where Enkidu grew up. So the environment, or the Wild as it is often referred to in the text, houses and protects the Divine from the prying eyes of Humanity. Humbaba, implicitly the avatar of the gods and from a certain point of view, nature, is also there to protect the forest itself. Gilgamesh can only draw Humbaba to him by cutting down the largest, strongest cedar in the forest. This indicates that the forest, and by extension the Wild, is important to the gods, as Humbaba’s mandate is to protect both the gods and their home from destruction.

Later, when Enkidu is killed by the gods for Gilgamesh’s hubris in killing the Bull of Heaven, Gilgamesh enters the Wild to seek out the meaning of life and death. Specifically, he seeks a human, Utnapishtim, who survived the Flood, a work of both the Divine and the Wild. Utnapishtim fills Gilgamesh in, indicating that only by the grace of Enki did he survive. He was rewarded for his obeisance with immortality only AFTER he survived the Flood.

Earlier in the text, Humanity begs the gods to send a companion to Gilgamesh, who is two-thirds god and one-third human, to temper his cruelty. The gods in turn create Enkidu, who is raised in the Wild. It is not until he is tempted by a human woman, however, that he is able to complete the task set before him. So it came to Enkidu, partly of the Wild and partly human, to temper the baser nature of Gilgamesh, partly god and partly human.

Based on the text, “the Wild” seems to encompass almost everything that isn’t “the walled city of Uruk” which is not to say that it is a vast, barren wasteland. It is made clear that there is life, man and monster alike, that lives in the greater world, still under the purview of the gods. With this in mind, it is rather easy to see how the above arguments link the three concepts – man, nature, and the gods – all together. It is clear that all three are linked, or in the parlance of the text, destined to be one with the other. Perhaps more accurately: All three cannot have a balanced existence without the others: Without one to help temper, or rein in if you will, the other, no equilibrium can be reached. Without equilibrium there is chaos, and if history has taught us anything, chaos brings destruction, devastation, and additional distressing D-words.

AG