After the death of Enkidu, his friend, Gilgamesh seems carried away by emotions and uncontrollable grief. He laments the death of his friend for six days and seven nights until the body begins to decay. While it’s true that Gilgamesh was a great friend of Enkidu and feels a significant loss as result of his death, the better part of Gilgamesh is occupied by fear, and most of his reactions after the death of Enkidu are a result of fear of death. He has discovered that humans are immortal and now that his friend has died, he fears that he will die like his friend. He is not as courageous as he was and is afraid of any incident that may result in his death. As he roamed the steppe, he starts asking himself whether he shall die because he knows he is not different from Enkidu. “Shall I not die? Am I not like Enkidu?’The Epic of Gilgamesh, pg 128.
Gilgamesh has discovered that he is not immortal and death awaits him. This has made him develop a lot of fear because he has seen the sight and cruelty of death. After this discovery of his mortality, he becomes more proactive and cautious of any incident that may result in his death. Initially,he was known as the as the Gilgamesh who killed the lions in the mountain, dwelt in the forest of cedars and killed the guardian and the bull that came from heaven. But currently, he is no longer deserving such titles as fear has taken filled his nerves and is terrified. Now he is afraid of his safety and prays to the gods for protection. He is even scared of the lions which are easily killed in the past.
‘I saw lions, I felt afraid,’ The Epic of Gilgamesh, pg 128
After the death, Gilgamesh full of fear decides to the underworld and meets the female tavern keeper who lives at the end of the world to make an inquiry about the secret of immortality. The main reason is not to get a breakthrough on how to bring his friend back to live but for his protection against the current enemy, who by then happens to be death. Though he claims that his current appearance is due to the loss of his friend, deep inside he knew that the cause of emaciated cheeks, a face that is cast down and the wretched heart is the fear that is driving him.
Upon meeting the female tavern, he makes a plea seeking immortality. “May I not see that death I constantly fear?”The Epic of Gilgamesh, pg 132, After the female tavern refuses to grant him immortality and informs him that death was set for humanity and its only the gods who are immortal, he trembles with fear.
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