“The Epic of Gilgamesh” in seven steps

Aging and death are the deepest obsessions of humanity.

“The Epic of Gilgamesh” - our oldest surviving work of literature - wrestles with these timeless themes.

  1. Gilgamesh, faced with the death of his friend, is horrified at his own mortality.
  2. He sets out to find Utnapishtim, a mentor who survived the Great Flood and was granted immortality by the gods.
  3. Utnapishtim warns Gilgamesh against seeking eternal life, telling him that all things except gods die. Why fight it?
  4. But on the urging of his wife, Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh of a plant that may not grant immortality but will restore his youth.
  5. Gilgamesh finds the plant by strapping weights to his feet and diving to the bottom of the sea.
  6. But before he can use the plant, it is stolen by a snake. Gilgamesh does not accomplish his quest.
  7. Weeping, he returns to the city where he is king.

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