The Question

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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"˜The Question' We, as human beings, have heard our fair share of trite, depressing moral dilemmas. We are involved in a universal, high-speed race towards some ambiguous answer. This answer, this goal is indefinable by any human standards. And since the dawn of man, the human race has spent its existence on earth, fruitlessly, trying to answer the unanswerable. In fact, the beginnings of literature were founded under the general premise that there is some force directing the mystic "light at the end of the tunnel." Gilgamesh, the Akkadian epic, is one of the endless examples of literature's contribution to the search "" the perpetual, indistinct question. While, ultimately, this universal question deals with the mortality of mankind, it is also comprised of many smaller issues, such as fame, nobility, and an obscure, but ever-present internal struggle to find one's self. And Gilgamesh, the god-human king of Uruk, serves as a model for everything pertaining to this question.

The construction of an epic becomes extremely apparent with the first line of Gilgamesh. The narrator is "proclaim[ing] to the world the deeds of Gilgamesh." It is obvious to any well-read individual that the text has a hero, and that there will be, throughout the piece, a blatant attempt to find a solution to a "burning" human dilemma. The following lines affirm this assumption, as the narrator continues to glorify the supernatural qualities of Gilgamesh. The hero is apparently extremely brave, beautiful, renowned and wise. He has built sturdy, immaculate city walls and provided the citizens with a wealth of knowledge on "secret things." He "brought [them] a tale of the days before the flood." The narrator makes a point, in the beginning and throughout the passage, to explain the divinity of Gilgamesh, who is two-thirds god and one-third human. This...