| Quote #7
"No one can see death,
Here, Utanapishtim is trying to explain to Gilgamesh the nature of death. What is it about his message that makes it so hard to accept? Uh, maybe it's because Gilgamesh has journeyed beyond the ends of the earth to find out what death is, and Utanapishtim has said, "Eh, who knows?" And yet, even if this answer is unsatisfying, it does seem to be the final answer about death that the poem gives us.
| Quote #8
"After Enlil had pronounced the blessing,
Here, Utanapishtim keeps going with his "nobody knows what death is, we don't know when we die, so just deal with it" shtick. This time, it maybe becomes a bit clearer why Gilgamesh might not accept the message. Doesn't Utanapishtim's way of putting things really leave him open to somebody saying, "Where do you get off telling people to just 'get over it?' That's easy for you to say, since you were granted immortality by the gods." Is there something about wisdom that makes us need to trust the person who is passing it on to us?
| Quote #9
"Enlil went up inside the boat
Check out the lightning quick transitions in this speech from one topic to another. At first, Utanapishtim is explaining how he was granted the gift of immortality. But then he shifts immediately to the moral of the story, when he asks "who will convene the gods on your behalf, / that you may find the life that you are seeking?" Utanapishtim's question may be rhetorical, but we know the answer he's driving at: "Nobody. Nobody is going to bring all the gods together and have them grant you immortality, Gilgamesh." Now that we hear the story and its moral, we might start to realize that Utanapishtim has a point. But, then again, we didn't make the journey beyond the ends of earth to get this answer, Gilgamesh did. And for Gilgamesh, this still might not be satisfactory. Could this be why Utanapishtim makes his next swift change of topic, when he challenges Gilgamesh to a staying-awake contest?