The Epic of Gilgamesh In The Return
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After obtaining the magic plant, Gilgamesh tells Urshanabi that he wants to take it to the elders of Uruk to restore their youth. This signals a change in Gilgamesh. It is the first time he mentions doing something for the benefit of others. While his motives are still selfish, to restore his own youth, he does not mean to keep the plant to himself. He may be able to save others from death and reduce the suffering of others around him. The serpent that steals the plant as Gilgamesh bathes again conjures up a Biblical allegory, but there is a difference. The serpent in the Bible uses forbidden fruit to tempt Eve, eventually leading to Adam and Eve’s ejection from Eden. The serpent in Gilgamesh’s story steals the plant from Gilgamesh, who now has no choice but to face his fate. Rather than presenting a challenge to Gilgamesh, the serpent’s actions allow Gilgamesh to free himself of his attachment to immortality. His transformation is almost complete. The serpent sheds its skin as it takes the plant, attaining its own youth. This shedding may also reflect Gilgamesh’s need to shed his old ways and become a better king.