Gilgamesh is an epic that has been passed down for thousands of years. The epic narrates the legendary deeds of the main character Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is two-thirds immortal and one-third mortal; however, he cannot accept his fate that one day he too will die (Gilgamesh 1). The entire epic tells the story of how Gilgamesh searches for immortality. Through his many trials and tribulations, Gilgamesh proves that he has great physical strength. However, throughout the epic Gilgamesh also shows he is emotionally unstable and immature. The author created Gilgamesh with this flaw of immaturity so that he would be a more believable character.
The depth of Gilgamesh’s physical strength first appears to the reader in the prologue. Gilgamesh is said to be “the man to whom all things are known”(Gilgamesh 13). The gods created him with great care giving him beauty and courage. “The great gods made his beauty perfect, surpassing all others, terrifying like a great wild bull”(Gilgamesh 13). Wolff writes in his study that Gilgamesh is the “strongest man of his time, and the greatest warrior…”(1). Furthrermore, his beauty and power were like that of no other man.
The poem begins by stating that Gilgamesh is an overbearing king. He never sleeps due to his over indulgence in life. Gilgamesh “keeps the city in disruption” ivolving anyone he pleases in his corrupt demands (Wolff 1). He sleeps with all the virgins before they are married, therefore, making them inpure before their husbands have a chance to sleep with them. If Gilgamesh were a mature king, he would see no reason to show he is the most powerful. He would lead his people with only good intentions and rule the land justly.
Even though Gilgamesh demonstrates great physical strength in defeating Humbaba and by killing the Bull of Heaven, his emotional strength is put to the test when Enkidu, his companion, dies. Gilgamesh wants everyone and everything to mourn his death. He could not accept Enkidu’s death. “Seven days and seven nights he wept for Enkidu, until the worm fastened on him”(Gilgamesh 13). His irrational actions prove Gilgamesh is emotionally unstable and immature.
Another example of Gilgamesh’s immaturity is his infactuation with immortality. He abandons his normal way of life, leaves Uruk, and begins a new life as a hunter. Gilgamesh goes on a long and dangerous journey to find Utnapishtim, a man who was given eternal life by the gods, to find out how he escaped death. However, Gilgamesh soon finds out that death is unavoidable.
Throughout the epic of Gilgamesh, the characteristics of immaturity are very apparent to the reader. Most stories have a heroic character who does not have any flaws, and the hero’s attributes are unattainable by normal humans. However, because Gilgamesh does have imperfect characteristics, he seems more believable to the reader. The reader is able to relate to him and compare fears and sorrows. For instance, many people are scared of death or how they will die. Through this fear of dying, they can relate to Gilgamesh. Therefore, Gilgamesh’s weaknesses add to the story and make Gilgamesh a more realistic character.