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The Mesopotamian epic, Gilgamesh, translated by David Ferry tells the tale of loss that has been so prominent to even stand around until this day and time. This concept of loss has especially been nurtured in the Mesopotamian time period because of the almost regular wars and battles that fought over power. In the end they all grieved and cheered over the lives that were lost. Loss is mainly scripted as death experienced by many throughout the story. It has depicted itself as a series of events that have impacted the characters with twists and turns in the narrative. Nevertheless, lessons are taught and learned in the relationships between different characters.
The Epic has the first revelation of loss through the deaths of evils that were defeated by Gilgamesh. These mortalities of the evils caused no grief at all but instead intensified mane of the king and changed what was to come later on. “Then the two of them together seized the demon and by the tongue pulled all his insides out…Gilgamesh the king came back to the city after the victory over the demon Huwawa…” (Ferry 29). The data implies that though the loss of Huwawa has affected the future of Gilgamesh by securing fame and honor in the name of his family and himself. “…and they killed the Bull…Then Ishtar was enraged… and spoke her curse ‘Woe be to Gilgamesh for insult to Ishtar… and killed the Bull of Heaven…’ “ (Ferry 34). From that it can be ensued the death of the Bull had been celebrated but been the loss for the goddess Ishtar, who had sent the Bull. Either way, fairly interpreted, loss has managed to manipulate events that played a great role in the thickening of the relationships between characters. In this case the two characters being Gilgamesh and Ishtar. Granted there were many other minuscule details that support loss as a major factor in transforming the path that this Epic took, but mainly these examples hosted the magnified perspective.
This path required sacrifices in order for its continuation. Yet not only did the mortals take the consequences and victories of facing off death. But in fact even the immortals shed tears on the toll loss had brought into their lives. “…whom how the sea engulfs and overwhelms, my children of fish’. The Annunaki sat and wept with her, the cowering gods wept, covering their mouths…” (Ferry 71). As clearly asserted the execution of the mortal was mourned by all the gods who took no part in arranging the flood, that had caused those numerous mortalities. Thus, loss has empowered itself a strong stance even in the hearts of the strong immortal gods. “Nothing at all… and all the human beings had turned to slay. I fell to my knees and wept…” (Ferry 71). The tears that were wept by the once-mortal Utnapishtim, solidified that they had not been shed in cause of a victory over a life that was terminated. But instead enhanced the intervention loss had played itself into once again. Simultaneously the theme pent-up the impact of its effect heavily on the main hero also, which no doubt clarified and refined the diegesis.
The most obvious portrayal of loss in this novel was- of course- when Gilgamesh lost his beloved companion, Enkidu. They grew and nurtured the hatred of each other into an inseparable love of two companions. “Gilgamesh, weeping, mourned for Enkidu… ‘Enkidu has died. Must I die too? Must Gilgamesh be like that?’” (Ferry 44). The segmented emotion of Gilgamesh losing his trusted companion to death is depicted to correlate with the theme effectively. Seemingly to also validate the influential mantle loss takes for itself when it comes to decide the forthcoming of what is to happen through the epic’s excursion. “Gilgamesh touched the heart of the companion. There was nothing at all…He hovered like an eagle over the body, or as a lioness does over her brood…” (Ferry 45). The casualty left Gilgamesh in grief, enhancing the development of the story as the journey continues.
The ancient Mesopotamian novel, Gilgamesh, contains an idealistic amalgamation of themes and concepts. But loss has played itself into so many roles and lived through so many centuries, that it has naturally given itself a strong stance in the novel.These events, that have impacted the characters through twist and turns, became a pillar to the stance loss. Moreover making the notion of loss more authoritative in the fate of the novel. Also a potential to change outcomes and yet still put together a tale that teaches a lesson or two- if analyzed right. Perfectly arranged to fit into modern language and understanding by David Ferry.
Ferry, David. Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1992. Print.
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