The Search for Everlasting Life

1. Evidently after the deluge, Utnapishtim was made immortal. Gilgamesh goes in search of him in the land called Faraway. This is the second journey in the epic poem. How is it different than the first journey to the forest to defeat Humbaba?

2. At the mountain pass: a heroic journey initially requires the hero to pass through some kind of threshold or gateway guarded by mysterious and often hostile or dangerous creatures. First Gilgamesh takes on the lions and then at the gate in the great mountains--Mashu--he encounters the Man-Scorpion. Why does Man-Scorpion allow Gilgamesh to pass?

Can you name some other gatekeepers in mythology?

3. Gilgamesh then enters the twelve leagues of darkness ( a league is an ambigious distant, but generally regarded to be three miles). What does this darkness suggest? We may have to look at this from a psychological perspectives or in such a context to fully speculate on the significance of this part of the journey.

4. On the other side of the darkness, Siduri--the maker of wine--sits in the garden by the sea. What advice does she give Gilgamesh (102)? She also tells Gilgamesh that he cannot cross the waters of the dead. Gilgamesh in a rage destroys the boat's tackle, the piece of equipment necessary to accomplish the crossing. What might this scene tell us about human behavior?

5. Who is Ursahnabi?

6. Eventually Gilgamesh will speak with Utnapishtim. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh that "There is no permanence." What does Utnapishtim mean? Is this true? And if so, how might such knowledge influence our behavior?

At the end of this chapter, Utnapishtim says he will tell Gilgamesh the secret of the gods.