The Epic of Gilgamesh
Perseverance Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
"If you are Gilgamesh, who killed the Guardian,
who destroyed Humbaba who lived in the Cedar Forest,
who slew lions in the mountain passes,
who grappled with the Bull that came down from heaven, and killed him,
why are your cheeks emaciated, your expression desolate?
Why is your heart so wounded, your features so haggard?
Why is there such sadness deep within you?
Why do you look like one who has been traveling a long distance
so that ice and heat have seared your face?
… you roam the wilderness?" (10.35-44)
Here, Siduri seems to think that a noble, mighty warrior is never supposed to get tired. We're not so sure about that. Maybe perseverance means getting tired, but forging ahead anyway.
Gilgamesh spoke to the tavern-keeper, saying:
"So now tavern-keeper, what is the way to Utanapishtim?
What are its markers? Give them to me! Give me the markers!
If possible, I will cross the sea;
if not, I will roam the wilderness." (10.73-77)
Here we see more signs of Gilgamesh's perseverance. Even though he's totally worn out, he keeps insisting on learning the way forward. If he can cross the sea, fine. If not, he'll find something else to do. Simple as that. The man doesn't know the meaning of the word "impossible."
"Hold back, Gilgamesh, take a punting pole,
but your hand must not pass over the Waters of Death …!
Take a second, Gilgamesh, a third, and a fourth pole,
take a fifth, Gilgamesh, a sixth, and a seventh pole,
take an eighth, Gilgamesh, a ninth, and a tenth pole,
take an eleventh, Gilgamesh, and a twelfth pole!"
In twice 60 rods Gilgamesh had used up the punting poles.
Then he loosened his waist-cloth(?) for …
Gilgamesh stripped off his garment
and held it up on the mast(?) with his arms. (10.167-178)
Here, we see the most basic kind of perseverance when Gilgamesh uses punting pole after punting pole to push the boat along the perilous Waters of Death. (And let's not forget that Gilgamesh himself just went into the woods and carved these punting poles.) But then we really see what Gilgamesh is made of when the punting poles run out. Does he give up? No way. Faced with adversity, Gilgamesh comes up with a solution: he uses his clothes as a sail, and holds it in place with his arms.