Excerpt 1: The contemporary carving by Neil Dalrymple, represents Gilgamesh, who has been taken by Ur-Shanabi to fetch the thorny plant named “the old man becomes young.”
Gilgamesh, Uruk King, was two-thirds god and remaining human. However, he was the epitome of hassles. It was also said that he used to exploit women and men were his slaves. God finally heard the plea and sent Enkidu- Half-Man, Half-Beast. Gilgamesh and Enkidu bonded together and when Enkidu died Gilgamesh was shattered. He finally decided he needs to earn eternal life.
He knew that he had to find Utnapishtim and his wife who were rewarded with eternal life for saving the world from the flood.
When he finally found them, he was first given the task to conquer ‘little death’ of sleep, alas he was too tired to do so. Feeling dejected while he was about to return, Utnapishtim’s wife told her husband if he cannot earn eternal life can’t he earn youth-hood? Can’t be young again? he agreed and then ordered boatman Urshanabi to take Gilgamesh to a place amidst ocean and to help Gilgamesh dive down and fetch the thorny plant “Old man becomes Young.”
Everything is destined; that’s what we are taught. Here also, while returning, Gilgamesh was lured to an oasis to take a nap as he was too tired. He fell into that trap, and a serpent is smelling the plant came and ate it. When he got awake, all he could see was snakes dry old skin in the sand and plant missing. He realized what he did, but more importantly, it was his destiny! (Project | Neil Dalrymple n.d.)
An important lesson from this whole episode is humans should not greed for eternal life rather savor what’s given and make the best use out of it. There are many Gilgamesh in human society too who instead of living as if going to die tomorrow focus on the future. That’s something a sorry state of affair of human society. Excess greed always lands the greedy in trouble, and that’s what happened in this context too. Gilgamesh should have grieved the death of his good friend but then should have accepted that’s how life is. You come, and you leave, what matters is what you leave behind not how long you lived. Instead of focusing on finding the ways of immortality one should focus on how to make life better for society as a whole. There are many Gilgamesh in our society and no denying the fact they are in deep sleep of ignorance. We don’t need vigilantes but messengers who can convince people that rather than changing the world be the change that you would like to see in the world. (Thomas Lagos 2017)
Often it is said that once you are old, you are of no use to society only the young carry the vigor to help society – It’s a myth and no denying the fact, age is just a number all you need is perseverance and strong commitment to contribute to society.
Excerpt 2: Ishtar, the powerful goddess of fertility, is shown in this Mesopotamian stele from the 2nd millennium B.C.E.
Ishtar with her reference still existing in the Sumerian texts is a goddess of Mesopotamia and Sumeria. However, there has been confusion whether, Ishtar, Inanna, or Lilith are all the same but embody different aspects. She was a goddess of love, fertility and war, and the daughter of the air god Anu. Here in the image, she has been portrayed as a warrior goddess.
The picture shows that she is standing over a lion- the form of animal she uses to take. While her left-hand holds the animal’s leash. Also, she has a corona and wears a long sword at her midriff, and two bunches of bolts threw transversely over her back. (Gill 2018)
The important aspect is what we learn from this excerpt or what’s the take home?
There are a certain set of qualities we can embody from the goddess lets discuss one by one
It’s a bird that wanders around at night resembling wisdom- night can be thought of a moment of uncertainty & unclear moment, and owls eye helps it to navigate through the darkness swiftly and without any hassle. Similarly, wisdom can help us in times of darkness of the situation or moment. It’s a popular saying knowledge without wisdom is of no use. So, the owl which resembles wisdom supports Gilgamesh line of thought one must not be greedy and try to nurture life around us till we are alive.
Also, the goddess has clawed owl feet which resembles – “Cling upon.” No matter how rough the situation is, the right application of wisdom can help one sail through.
The goddess’ feet are on the back of the lion which means lions strong energy may not be shown to everyone but resides within us and can be brought out whenever the need be. Strength along with Power gives way to nurture and protect our surroundings the way we want.
The wings are the representation of agility. Agility to rise above the limits. Sometimes one needs to rise above a point to gauge holistic image, and that’s what wings symbolizes. Although, we must try not to succumb and hold when things are tough, but sometimes we need to let go of things in life. And that’s where agility comes into the picture. Human beings need to adapt, and that’s the only way we are going to survive global warming and other societal malaise.
4. Rod & Line
Well, there are some doubts over what Goddess Ishtar is exactly holding. Few scriptures quote it as “rod & line” something equivalent to what Egyptian hieroglyphs. But few take that as a shape resembling “Ankh” -Symbol of life. However, the important point is that her hands are not enclosing Ankh or Rod. Key virtue takeaway is -Trust. We need to trust ourselves and our ability to survive no matter how hard life is.
(Ishtar: Goddess of Fertility and Motherhood, 2014)
So, if we try to get a holistic picture of two excerpts we can easily get that instead of the greed of immortality or unleash misery on mankind, one must focus on how to make present and future better for everyone. How to utilize life’s one-time opportunity to serve the suffering humanity. We need to utilize our capabilities as well as try not to fell into the trap of the devil.
- Project | Neil Dalrymple n.d., Gilgamesh Project, Viewed 28 March 2019
- Thomas Lagos, R 2017, Gilgamesh Project: Death is not the end, Death it’s only the beginning, Medium, 7 October 2017, Viewed 28 March 2019
- Gill 2018, Ancient Goddess of Love and Fertility Viewed 28 March 2019
- Ishtar: Goddess of Fertility and Motherhood, 2014, Viewed 28 March 2019