Aging and death are the deepest obsessions of humanity.
“The Epic of Gilgamesh” - our oldest surviving work of literature - wrestles with these timeless themes.
- Gilgamesh, faced with the death of his friend, is horrified at his own mortality.
- He sets out to find Utnapishtim, a mentor who survived the Great Flood and was granted immortality by the gods.
- Utnapishtim warns Gilgamesh against seeking eternal life, telling him that all things except gods die. Why fight it?
- But on the urging of his wife, Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh of a plant that may not grant immortality but will restore his youth.
- Gilgamesh finds the plant by strapping weights to his feet and diving to the bottom of the sea.
- But before he can use the plant, it is stolen by a snake. Gilgamesh does not accomplish his quest.
- Weeping, he returns to the city where he is king.