The Epic of Gilgamesh
Pride Quotes Page 1
How we cite our quotes:
He walks around in the enclosure of Uruk,
like a wild bull he makes himself mighty, head raised (over others).
There is no rival who can raise his weapon against him.
His fellows stand (at the alert), attentive to his (orders?),
and the men of Uruk become anxious in …
Gilgamesh does not leave a son to his father,
day and night he arrogantly(?) … (1.51-58)
Here, the narrator transitions from fawning over Gilgamesh's great strength and handsomeness and accomplishment to telling the citizens to ask the god Anu to save them from Gilgamesh's horrible behavior. Is this a coincidence? Not likely. What could be more typical of an immature ruler like Gilgamesh than letting your gifts and possessions go to your head, resulting in prideful, arrogant behavior? Thus, these lines set the stage for one of the major issues in the story: how Gilgamesh learns that he is basically the same as other humans, for all that 2/3 divine parentage business.
Enkidu spoke to the harlot:
"Come, Shamhat, take me away with you
to the sacred Holy Temple, the residence of Anu and Ishtar,
the place of Gilgamesh, who is wise to perfection,
but who struts his power over the people like a wild bull.
I will challenge him …
Let me shout out in Uruk: 'I am the mighty one!'
Lead me in and I will change the order of things;
he whose strength is mightiest is the one born in the wilderness!" (1.196-204)
Gilgamesh and Enkidu sure seem to think the same way. The only problem is their shared interests—extreme pride and love of power—set them on a course to do battle with each other before they can become friends. Does this mean that Enkidu must swallow his pride after Gilgamesh beats him? Or is knowing that Gilgamesh is extremely powerful (as Enkidu shows he does, in these lines) just the thing that lets Enkidu make friends?
"I will go in front of you,
and your mouth can cry out: 'Go on closer, do not be afraid!'
Should I fall, I will have established my fame.
(They will say:) 'It was Gilgamesh who locked in battle with Humbaba the Terrible!'" (2.228-237)
Here, we see how important pride is to Gilgamesh at the beginning of the story. First of all, it looks like pride is the whole reason why he wants to go to the Cedar Forest to fight Humbaba. Knowing that humans can't live forever, Gilgamesh is determined to do great deeds that will live on in people's memory after he is dead. But what good is that to him, if he won't be around to appreciate it?