The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Inevitability of Death in Early Literature College

The Inevitability of Death as Shown by Early Literature Since the beginning of written literature, death, and the evasion of it, has been a prevalent theme. Furthermore, outside of literature, humans as a species have an instinctual fear of death and the unknown that lies beyond it. This theme has survived time and traversed across continents to influence readers from ancient Mesopotamia to modern day USA. The Epic of Gilgamesh from Mesopotamia, The Bhagavad-Gītā from fourth century India, and one of the most prolific Arabian texts, The Thousand and One Nights, all contain prime examples of characters who attempt to avoid “the fate of mankind” (The Norton Anthology 76). In their own way, the characters of each of these texts avoid death at all costs, only to arrive to the same truth: death is inevitable.

One of the oldest texts known to man, the Epic of Gilgamesh, tells the story of an all-powerful man who cowers at the thought of death after his friend dies. After living his life in nothing but luxury, he realizes that one day it will all be taken from him, and, in all of his muscles, he does not have the power to change that. His battle with death begins on the day Enkidu dies; Gilgamesh feels that “after his death [he] could...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1025 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7910 literature essays, 2223 sample college application essays, 341 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in