The ancient epic of Gilgamesh was one of the oldest recorded stories in the world. The epic is about the King of Uruk and his quest for immortality. This quest eventually leads to his death. By reading this novel many things can be extracted about the culture and their values threw themes and motifs. The hero characteristics of Gilgamesh can be seen in many works of world literature today.
Gilgamesh much like other old epics was spread through oral tradition. Stories told through oral tradition can be told to various cultures for thousands of years. With these many years the story may be altered from person to person. The story may often times be changed to suit a person or places needs. Gilgamesh first started out as an oral story. Over many years it eventually was written down by Sumerians; supposed inventors of writing. The story was lost for many years but eventually found by an amateur archaeologist in 1839.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh Enkidu becomes mortally ill because Gilgamesh refuses the goddess Ishtar who makes romantic overturns on him so the gods in turn punish Enkidu by making him eventually die. Enkidu says "My friend, the great goddess cursed me and I must die in shame. I shall not die like a man fallen in battle; I feared to fall, but happy is the man who falls in the battle, for I must die in shame.” What this reveals about the culture is that if a soldier dies in battle, it is a great honor for he had served his city-state well. If a man dies as an old man or as a sick man, it is seen as an inferior way to die and no pride is involved in the death at all. It is better to die in battle young, than to die of age at old. Warriors who perished on the battle field were respected and they could pick no better of a death even though they may be afraid of death itself.
Gilgamesh prays to the gods for protection in the mountain passes. Even though Gilgamesh had the ability to nearly take on anything that be