Epic Of Gilgamesh's Transformation

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The Transformation of Gilgamesh into a True Hero The Epic of Gilgamesh symbolizes a hero’s transformation from youth to maturity. Throughout the epic, we join Gilgamesh in his quest for growth as he faces many difficult tests and adventures to prove he is a worthy hero. Gilgamesh’s identity is composed of a multitude of characteristics including king, human, and god. He must learn to equally balance all of these traits in order to lead his society in a righteous manner. In Van Gennep’s model, he describes how rites of passage share a single 3-part structure that is defined by the necessary function of separation from one status and being reincorporated into a new one. The stages are grouped into three categories: separation, liminality, and…show more content…
In order to be an effective king, Gilgamesh must learn how to be a compassionate leader who will listen to his people instead of shutting them out. This causes a major imbalance in the city, causing all of his inhabitants to cry out to the gods for help in removing Gilgamesh as king. His people write, “[the] young men of Uruk he harries without warrant, Gilgamesh lets no son go free to his father. By day and by night his tyranny grows harsher, Gilgamesh” (George 3). Soon after, the gods answer the town’s prayers and Gilgamesh is given a solution that will change him forever. The Gods send him Enkidu, his “second half,” a person who is his equal and can guide him to grow in maturity, wisdom, and knowledge. Once Gilgamesh and Enkidu become close companions after their battle against one another, the real journey of Gilgamesh’s transformation begins. The first stage of Gennep’s 3-part model is the separation period. This occurs when Gilgamesh leaves his home of Uruk, where he abandons his old life of superiority and goes on an adventure with Enkidu to discover a new and deeper meaning of life. However, at this point of the epic, Gilgamesh still remains greedy and has not yet began his transformation into a true…show more content…
At this time, Gilgamesh is stepping across the boundary of youth into the liminal period, a time of change and transition. For the first time, Gilgamesh is showing signs of growth because instead of placing hardship on other people, he is now faced with his own obstacles, where he notices that in order to be successful, he needs help from Enkidu to defeat Humbaba. Gilgamesh notes, “[t]ake my hand, friend, and we shall go on together. Forget death and seek life” (George 38). After Enkidu and Gilgamesh kill Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven, the gods sentence Enkidu to death, which leaves Gilgamesh devastated and fearful of death. Gilgamesh mourns his friend by displaying real emotion, which shows that he is capable of compassion, a trait necessary to be a true hero. He writes, “ I shall weep for Enkidu, my friend, like a hired mourner-woman I shall bitterly wail” (George 64). Gilgamesh then goes looking for immortality, but is told by Siduri that he will never be able to become immoral, and should instead find meaning in the normal pleasures that life has to

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