This paper will first, examine the creation, development and changes of the two main characters in the epic, and then discuss the role played by the gods in all of this. Finally a conclusion will be drawn regarding the importance of Enkidu’s death in the epic and the way it changes the relationship between Gilgamesh and the gods so that he learns to accept his place in the world and become a better ruler.
Gilgamesh, ruler of Uruk, is depicted at the start of the story as a strong and proud man, arrogant and selfish, and not behaving in a respectful way towards the gods, towards women, or towards the people he will one day have to rule. Various wronged parties, including the relatives of women he has treated badly, bring their complaints to the gods and it is because of Gilgamesh’s proud, arrogant and predatory nature that the gods decide to take action. They show displeasure at the constant complaints they are receiving on account of Gilgamesh, and seek to remove this disturbance both to the people of Uruk and to themselves. It may be also that the gods have a need to show the world that they are in control, and also find a way to get through to Gilgamesh and show him the error of his ways. One could say that Gilgamesh brought this upon himself and so in this sense he is a tragic hero, suffering the consequences of his own actions.
The gods are worried by this and one goddess Aruru creates Enkidu specifically to challenge Gilgamesh and convince him to behave better. She takes some clay and throws it into the wilderness, creating Enkidu in a miraculous way. The clay shows, however, that he is made of earthly stuff, and is a clue to his essentially mortal nature, as one who must eventually die. Enkidu is in some ways the exact opposite of Gilgamesh, because he is kind to animals and not tempted by the riches of the city including food and clothes and beautiful women. He has a true and natural strength, which comes from his physical being, unlike