ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Written by the Winners

Updated on June 18, 2017

Book V of Gilgamesh

Although occasionally historical and usually dramatic, most literature sets itself apart from history in that it does detail not only these right and wrong scenarios but allows students to see that sometimes the “wrong” can prevail and that evil occurrences do happen to those who are undeserving of them. The characters in literature, occasionally based on historical figures, are given personalities that are intended for readers to attribute certain characteristics and values that allow them to develop the ideas of what is good or evil, moral or immoral and right or wrong. This article will examine and compare these key values in two ancient texts; the ancient Sumerian epic poem Gilgamesh and the Bible's Book of Job.

Job

Although vastly different in many ways, these two texts are eerily similar in others. As a quick overview, Gilgamesh is a Sumerian poem about a tyrant king who befriends an arch enemy who is created by divine powers. Upon the death of his friend, Gilgamesh begins a journey to find eternal life. He fails miserably due to his humanity, which Ironically, dominates the divine and demigod powers that he does have. The Book of Job is about a humble man loved by God that is afflicted with many trials and tribulations when Satan tempts God into proving the faithfulness Job has for Him. Both of the main characters in these stories are, in a sense, loved by the celestial powers that govern their lives. A reader could marvel at the misfortune each encounter throughout their experiences at the hands of these powers.

One key value that permeates each story is loyalty. Enkidu, the friend/enemy of Gilgamesh, remains loyal to the end even after a bitter and painful death staged by the gods. In turn, Gilgamesh mourns and seeks vengeance for Enkidu’s death. The author writes, “He began to rage like a lion, like a lioness robbed of her whelps” (Part 3). Enkidu had left the world he knew to be with Gilgamesh and to take part in his journeys while at the same time, literature students will study how Gilgamesh began the epic journey that was to help Enkidu find himself again. Although it is easier to see Gilgamesh as having selfish and immoral qualities, there are facets of the opposite that do become apparent in the poem when he mourns Enkidu’s death.

In comparison, the Book of Job clearly defines the loyalty and faithfulness Job has to God even when He makes Job suffer afflictions at His and Satan’s hands. For example, at the taunting of Satan, God decides to test Job’s loyalty and takes his wealth, servants and even his children in a tragic accident but still, Job does not question his misfortunes or denounces his faith. God allows Satan to badly affect Job with boils and sores and even at the prompting of his wife, Job does not curse God or ask why he is the subject of such suffering. Instead, he says, “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Book of Job, 2). The value of loyalty is never more evident than in the Book of Job, indicated clearly by this statement. Although Job does lose his composure toward the closing of the book, God intervenes and reiterates that He is all-powerful. Job repents of his sin and is once again taken in the bosom of God and is granted better fortune than he once had.

Another key value in both of the texts is the value of humility. Readers can grasp right away that Gilgamesh is far from humble at the beginning of the poem. His subjects plead to the gods immediately to create a deterrent to his selfish actions. Thus, Enkidu was created and Gilgamesh begins to understand the value of humility when Enkidu dies. He then loses the few chances he was given to obtain eternal life. The author writes, “He went a long journey, was weary, worn out with labour, and returning engraved on a stone the whole story” (Part 6). At the end of his epic, Gilgamesh returned to Uruk as a wiser leader and far more versed in reality than he had been at the start.

Similarly, when the trials Job endured from God and Satan ended, he still remained faithful and devout but yet humbled by God at the times when loyalty was demanded at its greatest and had been momentarily forgotten. Job told God, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further” (Book of Job, 40). Job accepts that with his humanity, he is not in a position to question or make demands of a God that is almighty and all powerful who has reasons beyond the comprehension of humanity. Upon repenting, Job is granted a life much richer than he previously possessed. He had kept his faith and remained loyal, recognizing that he is far removed from the divine power that oversees and creates all living creatures.

The Conversation of God and Satan

Literature is not defined by time, as these two texts may suggest. Although hundreds of years apart, the similarities in the ancient Gilgamesh and the biblical Book of Job with reference to human values are those which cannot be attributed to historical periods. Rather, these values permeate all eras, all literature and all the characters in it.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)