Quest for Immortality

Subject: Art
Type: Process Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1424

Immortality can be defined as the ability to be able to live forever without death. Scientists and philosophers across the world have argued and theorized that human immortality is likely to be achieved in the next decades of the 21st century as more research, breakthroughs, and development continue to be done in different parts of the world. According to most religions across the world, immortality is believed to be one of the Go’s promises to his people. Therefore, this paper will focus on the theme of the quest for immortality by investigating and focusing on two diverse works of art. That is, one piece of art is visual, and the other one is literary. To be able to present a coherent explanation and to provide a clear understanding of these pieces of art, a comparative approach will be applied to observe how the initiative has traversed over time and penetrated into the contemporary culture. 

The ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ is the first work of art. It is worth mentioning that this heroic poem originated from the prehistoric Mesopotamia, which was written in 2000 BCE. The Epic of Gilgamesh was initially printed in the Semitic (Akkadian) Mother’s tongue. The contemporary form of the poem was interpreted and printed by Campbell Thompson from the indigenous tablets set up inside the British Museum. Secondly, the Statuettes of Worshippers from the square temple at Eshnunna in Sumeria which is at present identified as Iraq and was created in 2700 BCE. The piece of writing highlights the customs of the Sumerian in the eras of 2900-2350 BCE. Generally, the most important thought or notion in these works of art is the link involving human beings and God. 

Further, the Epic of Gilgamesh is a poem that represents literary art. It is an interesting piece of writing as it is characterized by unique themes on the theme of immortality. It is also filled with filled with fascinating and significant themes. It is also important to note that it is the ever brooding idea of facing one’s mortality. At the start of the epic, it is clear that Gilgamesh wants to create a legacy for himself and ensure that future generations acknowledge his works (Thompson). From the epic, it is evident that his desire for recognition is what motivates him. However, at the end of this piece of writing, his brother and best friend Enkidu die. This is seen as a punishment for his egotism and arrogance.

Apparently, the death of Enkidu drives Gilgamesh to confront his mortality. This poem reveals that through human beings relations with others, an individual can awaken to life as it is, in contrast to being deceived in thinking that a person’s achievements will last perpetually. In the beginning, the death of Enkidu causes Gilgamesh to grow fixated with dealing with his personal mortality. This prompts his hunt for the secret to eternal life (Hagger 34-101). After he fails to find or get the plant that brings back youth, Gilgamesh comes to terms with the fact that he will stay human and therefore the best Gilgamesh can wish for is to do good actions and contribute or disseminate what he has learned with the citizens of Uruk. It is worth noting that this recognition is a direct outcome of Gilgamesh’s companionship with Enkidu, which educates him that there is so much more to life than gallant achievements or attaining physical immortality. When Gilgamesh returns to Uruk, he has fully accepted or acknowledged his humanity. Perhaps Gilgamesh’s name might not exist. 

All through the alleged early on the dynastic era 2900–2350 BCE, life within the large towns of Mesopotamia (prehistoric Iraq) was centered on the gods, who were believed to be residing believed to reside in particularly built shrines (“Early Dynastic Sculpture”). Admittance to the tiny vital temples was almost certainly restricted, presumably to the clerics who perform duties or services according to the needs of the god. Possibly, it is due to this lack of admittance that the best custom-built reflections of himself or herself were taken to the god’s presence. It is worth noting that these statues personified the very spirit of the worshipper holding the belief that the spirit will be there when the physical body is not.

How figurines were offered to the gods is still mysterious. This is for the reason that none has been revealed in situ. However, they have been found put or hidden underground in groupings underneath the shrine floor, or constructed into cultic fittings for instance altars, or dispersed in parts within the temple as well as adjacent rooms, maybe having been broken when the shrine was ransacked or reconstructed in ancient times (Bertman 23-200). Notably, thousands of such figurines or pieces have been exhumed and particularly there is no other time in the history of the prehistoric Near East has non-royal statues outlived in such plentitude.

One of the biggest sets of figurines was exposed at the location of Nippur in a shrine devoted to Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of profusion. In connection with this, the Metropolitan Museum was the main supporter of the digging up all through 1957 to 1958 and 1960 to 1961 periods and was therefore awarded a part of the findings. Together with the figurines stone basins, and tablets were also found as stockpiles or dispersed all through the structure. The majority of the magnificent findings were constructed in Level VII revealing the afterward early on a dynastic era. Some figurines and parts found in Nippur were discovered to have wedge-shaped characters used in the ancient writing systems of Mesopotamia captioned on their backs or shoulders showing the name of the god along with the career and name of the sponsor.

In comparison with the Epic of Gilgamesh, there is some similarity between these two pieces of art. First, the Epic of Gilgamesh has highlighted on the aspect of gods. Similar to the Statuettes of worshipers, from the Square Temple at Eshnunna the gods are respected and accorded utmost respect. At the square temple at Eshnunna, the priests willingly serve or attend to the needs of the gods. On the other hand, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh and Enkidu discover without a doubt and with all certainty that the gods are risky for humans. They realize all too well that the gods live only by their individual rules and often act as insensitively and unreasonably as children. However, the gods are still respected. The Epic of Gilgamesh is filled with characters along with occasions that echo or bear a resemblance to one another. For instance, Gilgamesh and Enkidu appear nearly identical. Enkidu was an apelike figure while Gilgamesh was a depicted as a perfect human, On the other hand, the figurines almost resemble one another in the sense that they illustrate men dressed in fringed skirts, and women dressed in fringed dresses wrapped over the shoulders. Finally, while the Epic of Gilgamesh is focused on motifs, and symbols all through the epic, the statues are concentrated mainly on the gods.

There is a contemporary connection of immortality to modern religion. In the 21st century, most modern religions teach their believers that there is life after death. Most religions believe in the immortal souls (Elliott, 1). There are shared teachings on this issue of immortality between Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Christianity among others. According to Segal Allan, who was a renowned professor of Jewish Studies, each religion across the world has different views on the rewards and punishment of human beings by their gods in the afterlife. Most Americans in the 21st century believe that their souls are immortal by nature due to their ideas on self-actualization. However, it is also important to note that the idea of immortality is a human construct. This is because human beings invented a religion and its beliefs.

The theme immortality has mainly revolved around the gods as well as the significance of the figurines over time. This is because whereas it is evident that Gilgamesh was searching for immortality, the figurines symbolize mortals rather than immortals especially with hands folded up in prayer but their large eyes, on the other hand, represent their perpetual sleeplessness to accomplish their responsibilities to the god’s something that Gilgamesh desired. Also, in the 21st century, human beings still believe in the concept of immortality as discussed above. In my opinion, I believe the idea of immortality is human construct because it is the human beings who invented a religion and its beliefs.

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  1. “Early Dynastic Sculpture, 2900–2350 B.C.” The Met, 2017, Accessed 4 Feb. 2017.
  2. Bertman, Stephen. Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. Infobase Publishing, 2003.
  3. Elliott, Stephen. “Religion and Spirituality: On the Immortality of the Soul.” Vision Org, 2013, Accessed 4 Feb. 2017.
  4. Hagger, Nicholas. A New Philosophy of Literature: The Fundamental Theme and Unity of World Literature: The Vision of the Infinite and the Universalist Literary Tradition. John Hunt Publishing, 2012.
  5. Mitchell, Stephen. Gilgamesh: A New English Version. Simon and Schuster, 2004.
  6. Thompson, Campbell. “The Epic of Gilgamesh.” Sacred-texts, 1928, Accessed 4 Feb. 2017.
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