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Mortality can be defined as ‘the state of being subject or opposed to death.’ Most people find immortality as a prized possession. It is considered an honor to live a healthy life and die of old age. But for others, the main objective is to gain or create a legacy. And for the individuals who do not accomplish their goal of leaving a legacy, they interpret that their presence is irrelevant to society. The thing with society is that it is a double standard, and it changes every day. Even if you were to leave your mark on the world, people would praise you, but for how long? It is okay to rather live and not have a name for yourself because not everyone is going to know your name anyways. A lot of individuals say they would like to leave a legacy for their children, but the ‘world’ will not know their children; they’ll know more so of the parent because they put in the work. Immortality or mortality is better than the other in many different aspects. In the story ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh,’ he is determined to live eternally. His biggest fear is to cease after he exists. Gilgamesh is a hero, so he feels entitled to everyone to like him and worship him. If Gilgamesh were not as noble as he is, then he would have a different outlook on life. Even though Gilgamesh has the idea of wanting to live forever, he knows that he has to die someday. In my opinion, immortality is unrealistic.
Gilgamesh is a rebel who thinks he is more significant than life. With the mindset that Gilgamesh has, it is quite challenging to get him to realize that he is not as superior as he thinks. ‘The onslaught of his weapons has no equal’. It took for Enkidu to perish for Gilgamesh to step off his high pedestal. Gilgamesh did not think it could happen to him until it happened to his close friend. Enkidu was a prime example of the life cycle. He said in a panic, ‘I am going to die! Am I not like Enkidu?! Deep sadness penetrates my core, I fear death.’ There is no need to fear death. When it comes to life, you are supposed to live it to the fullest because every day is not promised. ‘If everything terminates in death, then we cannot face our deaths better than actively working for things we see important..without any guarantees of being happy’. Gilgamesh never comprehended dying because he’s arrogant and vain attitude would not allow him too. With him being a king, he does not have the best outlook on things. If Gilgamesh were like Endiku or any of the other characters, he would not be so big-headed, and his point of view would be different. Gilgamesh’s attitude does not allow him to understand why he cannot live eternally, so he is asking Utanapishtim to enlighten him about immortality and mortality. He never had to face his death, and now he is trying to learn by asking all these questions.
Immortality is unrealistic. Immortality fits nowhere into the life cycle. People get longevity confused with living eternally. There are things you can do to help prolong your life, like eating right and working out, but you can only do so much when it comes to your body. You can get multiple chances in life, but eternal life is not one of those options. Immortality is just an ideal fantasy of how people would like to live. Gilgamesh is told multiple times that his time is yet to come. ‘The eternal life you are seeking you shall not find’. Gilgamesh understands that he has to die one day, but he is also wasting time thinking about it. Personal immortality is an act that many people address in different ways. Death is neither good or bad. Eternal life is what we all want but that it most come to an end at some point. Death is used as a way to get through life and give it our best because we know we all will soon pass away. ‘Most modern scholars have interpreted it as an example of the futility of the search for immortality and the necessity to accept one’s mortal fate and enjoy life’s earthly pleasures’. Making a difference, living our dreams, and fulfilling aspirations before it’s our time to go. Wanting to live forever is different. When trying to get away from death, individuals will do anything that they think will not result in death. Life has meaning because it is surrounded by death. ‘It is often said that those who object to death have made the mistake of trying to imagine what it is like to be dead’.
In the Epic, Gilgamesh is tied up into himself and what is going to benefit him. He wants everyone to know that he battled Humbaba. Before Gilgamesh went to battle Humbaba, he was questioning himself. If Gilgamesh did not battle Humbaba, the people in the city of Uruk would have had something negative to say. This scenario can be as equivalent to dying without people knowing who you are. ‘He found himself showing little concern for his safety and focuses all of his energy upon battle, obligation, honor, and victory. These circumstances may be the requirement that one return to a peaceful occupation and pursue a normal life or that one submit to the discipline of the state and become a warrior or king and leader in its service’. People will bring up the bad you have done before they bring up the good. If Gilgamesh ended up losing the fight, not only would the people of Uruk be disappointed, but he would also give himself a hard time, and that is no way to live life. In tablet 1, line 49, it says, ‘Gilgamesh was singled out from the day of his birth,’ meaning that he will always be looked upon, get the most judgment, and be criticized since he is one of a kind.
Some individuals might view immortality as a chance to become a better person. If a person thinks about their mortality rather than if they will live eternally, than they will be more open, whether that is bettering themselves or helping others. As Gilgamesh tells Ur-Shanbani, ‘study the foundation terrace and examine the brickwork’, he makes this quote in regards to his search for immortality. He realizes that it is okay to not take all the credit for his city, given his position. Gilgamesh notices to pay attention to the little things and live in the moment. ‘There are many people capable of making every sacrifice demanded by mortality, though they believe that death ends all’. He has made peace with the fact that he is going to die, and his mortality is what he hopes it will be. Wanting to live a long and natural life is healthy, but trying to outlive your life is abnormal.
In conclusion, immortality is not a good or bad thing, but it is unrealistic. It is something that shouldn’t have much desire because it is considered false hope. Mortality would be regarded as realistic because that is how life goes. Not everyone wants to live a long life, and they may feel as if they are living is being prolonged for no reason, and that is okay. Everyone has a purpose in life; some choose not to fulfill it. Some people feel the need to live to die. Gilgamesh faces the obvious, that he will not live forever, and is now content with it. His journey made him wiser, and it made him not think about the future as much. Gilgamesh is willing to try his best to better his image and make his city proud. That is all he can do. He cannot worry about the future only about the present. That will only kill him faster. ‘Life and death are illusions. We are in a constant state of transformation’.
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